Monday, October 10, 2011
Off the bye: Ravens
By Jamison Hensley
A look at the Ravens following their bye:
Record: 3-1, first in the AFC North
Where they stand: The Ravens have established themselves as one of the best teams in the NFL after beating the Steelers, Rams and Jets by an average margin of 25 points (combined score of 106-31). The only hiccup was a 26-13 loss at Tennessee, which might have been the result of an emotional hangover from the victory over Pittsburgh. The offense, which is ranked 14th, relies heavily on running back Ray Rice, who leads the Ravens in rushing yards (297) and receiving yards (242). The defense, which is ranked third, has scored as many touchdowns (four) as its allowed (four) this season.
Where they’re headed: The Ravens play against a Texans team that likely will be without its best player on offense (wide receiver Andre Johnson, who had hamstring surgery) and defense (pass rusher Mario Williams, who tore his pectoral muscle Sunday). Baltimore then has winnable games at Jacksonville (1-4) and against Arizona (1-4) before the Nov. 6 showdown at Pittsburgh.
Injury report: Wide receiver Lee Evans (ankle) is shooting to return Sunday, which would bump Torrey Smith back to the No. 3 wide receiver. Left guard Ben Grubbs (toe ) is also expected to come back after missing three games. There is a chance that cornerback Jimmy Smith (high ankle sprain) could play Sunday, but it's more likely that the first-round pick will be back next week. The status of safety Tom Zbikowski (concussion) is unknown.
Track record after bye: Baltimore is 8-1 after byes since 2002, which is the NFL's second-best record over that span. Under coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens are 3-0 coming off the bye week.
Burning question: Which Joe Flacco will show up the rest of the season – the one who ripped the Steelers and Rams, or the one who couldn’t complete half of his passes against the Titans and Jets?