By Abe Gutierrez
Looking to extend their win streak to seven games, the (7-4) Miami Dolphins will have an uphill battle to climb when they take on the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13 of the 2016 NFL season. M&T Bank Stadium will be filled to capacity to urge the home team to victory against the red-hot visitors. Opening kickoff for this AFC clash is slated for Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on CBS.
Despite the fact that they reside in the same conference, Sunday’s game marks only the 13th meeting between the Dolphins and Ravens. Baltimore comes in leading the overall head-to-head series 7-6-0, but Miami was victorious the last time they met, which was on nearly the same date a year ago.
Snapping a five-game skid, the hosting Dolphins defeated the Ravens by a final score of 15-13 in South Florida. However, it’s worth noting that Joe Flacco did not play in this game, as he was out for the season, leaving Matt Schaub as the starter. Ryan Tannehill threw for just 86 yards on 9-for-19 passing (1 TD), but then-Dolphins running back Lamar Miller torched Baltimore’s defense to the tune of 113 yards on 20 carries.
Baltimore Ravens Record: 6-5-0
In his ninth season as Ravens head coach, John Harbaugh has this team in the midst of a heated divisional crown chase with the hated (6-5) Pittsburgh Steelers. Heading into Week 13, the Ravens sit atop the AFC North, ahead of the Steel Curtain by virtue of a perfect 4-0 record against divisional foes—Pittsburgh is 2-1 against the AFC North. The Ravens’ 6-5 mark consists of 4-2 record at home, 2-3 on the road, 6-2 against the AFC, 0-3 versus non-conference foes and they are 3-2 in their last five games played.
Ravens on offense
Following the firing of Marc Trestman last month, Marty Mornhinweg was promoted to the position of Ravens offensive coordinator. The former quarterbacks coach, also known as “Air Marty,” is at the helm of a Ravens offense that ranks among the worst units in the National Football League.
Heading into Week 13, Baltimore’s offense ranks 28th in rushing yards (87.8), 25th in points (19.8), 24th in total yards (334.2), and 18th in passing yards per game (246.4). Mornhinweg’s scheme is made up of his own version of the West Coast offense he learned from former Niners coach Steve Mariucci and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
Ravens on defense
In contrast to the offense, Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees is in charge of a unit that’s among the very best in professional football. With 11 games in the books, the Ravens defense ranks tops in rushing yards per game (74.9), second in total yards (297.8), fourth in points allowed (18.3) and sixth in passing yards per contest (222.9).
Pees, a two-time Super Bowl champion as an assistant coach, has managed to turn the Ravens defense around following a forgettable 2015 NFL campaign. This year, he leans on the play of the following three defenders to get the job done: Inside linebackers Zach Orr (99 tackles: 69 total, 30 assist) and C.J. Mosley (51 tackles: 38 total, 13 assist), and free safety Lardarius Webb (41 tackles: 37 total, 4 assist).
Ravens players to watch: Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs
Offensively, everyone knows that this team only goes as far as quarterback Joe Flacco takes them, and thus, he’s one of two Baltimore players to watch. While the Super Bowl (XLVII) MVP isn’t exactly setting the world on fire with this year’s statistics (285-for-450 attempts, 2877 yards, 11 TDs, 10 INTs, 80.4 QBR), he still has the ability to put the team on his shoulders and carry them to victory.
On defense, the Miami Dolphins must game plan on containing outside linebacker, Terrell Suggs. In his 14th season as an NFL pro, the six-time Pro Bowler is still wreaking havoc in backfields across the country. The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year comes into Week 13 leading the team in sacks (8), forced fumbles (3) and is ninth on the roster with 26 tackles (22 total, 4 assist).
According to NFL Week 13 oddsmakers, the Miami Dolphins will have to defy the odds in order to keep their win streak alive against the Baltimore Ravens. Opening point spreads for this AFC clash list the Ravens (-3½) as three-and-a-half-point favorites versus the underdog Dolphins (+3½). Meanwhile, this is expected to be a high scoring affair, as the OVER/UNDER is set at a combined total of 41½ points.