The Baltimore Ravens hope to continue what has been a trend of domination the last couple of times the two teams have met. In 2008 Baltimore beat Miami in the regular season and then again in the playoffs, both times on the Dolphins home turf. Today, they square off in Baltimore for a change of pace, and both teams once again are fighting for positioning in the playoff race, although half the season remains to be played.
In both of the Ravens victories in 2008, Baltimore manhandled and physically outplayed Miami to dominate both contests. However, this season the Dolphins have already played two AFC North teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals, splitting the two games. Their loss to the Steelers was arguably stolen from then at the end, when an apparent fumble recovery in the end zone by the Dolphins was overturned, giving Pittsburgh the chance to win the game on a field goal.
Based on the way the Dolphins have stacked up against the Steelers and Bengals, if the Ravens think they can just manhandle the Dolphins like in the past, they might be sadly mistaken and disappointed. If Baltimore plans to continue their recent string of success against Miami, they better plan on getting their offense in gear and playing solid defense, something they just have not been able to do in their last two games.
The Ravens pass defense has been burned both on short and long passes against the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills, losing ten point leads late in both games. Those issues in their secondary cost them the Patriots game and almost cost them the Bills game as well, but thanks to a critical turnover caused by Ray Lewis, the Ravens escaped with the OT win.
The Dolphins are inexplicably 0-3 at home, yet 4-0 on the road and today's game is their third in a row vs. the AFC North. The Ravens need to defend their home turf, where they are 3-0 this season. A balanced offensive showing, with success running the ball and throwing to their new set of wideouts, including the previously injured Donte Stallworth, will go a long way to proving they deserve mentioning as one of the top teams in the conference as ell as the entire league.
Miami boasts a solid offense, with two decent running backs and now have an excellent receiving threat in former Denver Bronco Brandon Marshall, who should draw double team attention from the Ravens secondary. Ed Reed had best cheat towards whatever side of the field that Marshall lines up on, as their cornerbacks were repeatedly burned over the past two games. Despite his two picks in his first game of the 2010 season, Reed seemed out of place and slow to compensate for many of the long pass completions against the Buffalo Bills.
However, the Bye week came at a great time for Baltimore and the rest should give them the advantage over Miami, who should still be recovering from the bruises they probably have after finding out what it's like to play the toughest defenses in the league in both the Steelers and the Ravens. The toll that they have paid for their good efforts will be in the Ravens favor as Baltimore will find a way to run and pass against Miami to put points on the board. Mimi has been able to move the ball but has had a difficult time turning those drives into touchdowns, as evidenced by their ten field goals in the past two games. If Miami pans on trading three-pointers for TD's for the Ravens, the game should turn in Baltimore's favor in the second half.
Unfortunately, this will not be the dominating victory that the Ravens have enjoyed in the past, as they have not been able to put teams away when they have the lead and their collective feet on their opponent's throats. The week off should be enough to turn the tide of the game and end with a victory to keep the Ravens atop the AFC North for another week.