Dolphins Watch

November 6, 2010 4:10 PM

Dolphins battle Ravens in Baltimore

FLACCO.bmpThe Dolphins continue their AFC North tour with a battle against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday.

So far, Miami is 1-1 against teams in the division, having lost to the Steelers at home, and beating the Bengals last week. This game marks the end of a tough stretch for the Fins, who have played at Minnesota, hosted the Jets and Pats, and at Green Bay, in addition to the aforementioned games.

If Miami wins and improves to 5-3, the schedule gets better: The Dolphins host Chicago, Cleveland and Buffalo down the home stretch.

Last week, Miami improved to 4-0 on the road with a 22-14 win over Cincinnati, shutting out the Bengals' high-powered offense in the second half.

The Ravens have been a good offensive team this season, ranking in the top half of the league at 14th, one spot behind Miami. Quarterback Joe Flacco has been solid so far, passing for 1,651 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions.

He has weapons at wide receiver in free agent acquisition Anquan Boldin, the ageless Derrick Mason, in-season pickup T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and tight end Todd Heap.

Of course, Baltimore is a running team first, ranking 12th in the NFL in that category with the three-headed monster of Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and LeRon McClain.

The Ravens were taken to the wire by Buffalo two weeks ago, holding on for a 37-34 overtime win.

Flacco threw for 250 yards and three TDs, and Boldin caught six passes for 92 yards and a score.

The matchup with the Dolphins secondary will be one of the keys to the game.

Last week, Vontae Davis continued his stellar season by holding Chad Ochocinco to three catches for 34 yards.

Terrell Owens feasted on Jason Allen for three early catches for two TDs, but Sean Smith replaced Allen and T.O. was a nonfactor the rest of the game.

The Dolphins could be missing a key cog in safety Yeremiah Bell, who is questionable with a knee injury.

Miami will have to attack a Ravens defense that has been vulnerable against the run this season, ranking just 17th. The Dolphins ran well last week for the first time since the Buffalo game, as Ronnie Brown had his third-best performance of the season with 61 yards on 16 carries, and Ricky Williams added nine carries for 47 yards and a TD.

The Ravens are ninth against the pass, so quarterback Chad Henne will have to pick his spots, though Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick surprised the Ravens with four TD passes in their last game.

This is a battle between two conservative teams who would rather run the ball and grind out a victory than conduct an aerial circus.

Because Baltimore is suddenly susceptible on defense, and Flacco struggles at the end of close games -- throwing two interceptions at the end of the Ravens' loss to Cincinnati and being unable to generate offense at the end of their OT loss to New England -- I think Miami steals this one, and improves to 5-0 on the road.

Dolphins 21, Ravens 16.

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