The Baltimore Ravens are No. 1 against the run. The Dallas Cowboys are the top rushing team in the NFL. Something has to give on Sunday.
Let’s state the obvious: the Ravens offense is average at best. But this has been the case ever since the franchise moved to Baltimore. Defense has always been the calling card with this team.
This year’s team is no different. The Ravens are the top ranked defense in the NFL, and without a doubt the best group against the run. Opposing teams are averaging just 71.3 rushing yards per game, and the next closest team is the Carolina Panthers at 79 yards per game.
The Ravens kept the Cleveland Browns winless on Thursday, limiting them to 144 yards on offense. They forced three turnovers, capitalizing on the Browns mistakes to run away with the game in the second half.
Furthermore, the Ravens were the beneficiary in the Cowboys come-from-behind win over the Pittsburgh Steelers yesterday. Baltimore is now in sole possession of first place in the AFC North. But now the Cowboys are looming for the Ravens, and it is going to be a battle of the league’s best units.
The Cowboys offensive line and rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott have been near unstoppable all season. The Ohio State product leads the NFL with 1,005 yards, and despite all the rumors circulating about his off-the-field issues, he has to be the front runner for MVP this season. He has made some of the league’s best defensive units look average, but this Sunday will be a true test.
The Ravens defensive line has been stout all season long, and is two weeks removed from limiting Le’Veon Bell to just 32 yards on the ground. Brandon Williams, who we have regularly raved about on our podcast, and Timmy Jernigan have been disrupting team’s ground attack all season long. Zach Orr – who is not getting enough credit for his play – has excelled with the attention his linemen have demanded.
Sunday’s matchup will be a telling sign of how well the Ravens can fare against the better teams in the NFL. If Baltimore can hold Elliott to under a 100 yards rushing, they have a good chance of staying on top of the division.