The Baltimore Ravens will square off against the Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium this Sunday. The Ravens are 4-1 after last week's uninspiring 9-6 victory over the hapless Kansas City Chiefs. The Cowboys enter the game at 2-2 after a Week 5 bye.
The Ravens will look to extend their home winning streak to 15 games with a victory on Sunday, October 14. Baltimore is a different team on the road. The Ravens blew a 10-point halftime lead in a Week 2 loss at Philadelphia and turned in a lackluster effort in last Sunday's victory in Kansas City. Baltimore has emerged as one of the league's best home teams thanks in large part to a raucous crowd. The Ravens are hoping that crowd noise will give Cowboys QB Tony Romo fits this weekend.
Chiefs RB Jamal Charles gashed the Ravens' vaunted run defense and posted over 100 yards on the ground in the first half last Sunday. The Ravens adjusted at halftime, but it is clear that this defense is simply not the same with reigning Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs on the sidelines. Suggs is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon that he suffered in the offseason and isn't likely to play this season. The Ravens have had trouble generating a pass rush in Suggs' absence. Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe currently leads the team with just 2 1/2 sacks on the season. Defensive lineman Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee need to do a better job of pressuring opposing quarterbacks.
Dallas presents some match-up problems for Baltimore. Pass rushers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer will look take advantage of the Ravens' inexperienced offensive line to get after QB Joe Flacco. The Cowboys also play a physical style on the outside with cornerbacks Brandon Carr and rookie Morris Claiborne jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Baltimore's receivers struggled to get open against the Eagles' physical corners in their Week 2 loss. The Ravens will need to keep Flacco upright and get off the line of scrimmage to have a chance to make big plays down the field. WRs Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones have been reliable deep threats for Flacco this season but the physical style of Anquan Boldin may come in handy on Sunday.
On paper, the Ravens have the clear advantage this week. The Cowboys have struggled on offense, scoring just 65 points in four games this season. By contrast, Baltimore has scored 130 points in five games. Tony Romo is coming off a five-interception performance in his last game, a Week 4 loss to the Chicago Bears. If Romo plays fast and loose with the ball again look for Ravens safety Ed Reed or corner Lardarius Webb to make a big play.
*Information gathered from http://www.nfl.com.