Happy gameday, everyone. This came around quickly, huh?
After getting just three days to rest their bumps and bruises and prepare mentally following their games on Sunday, the Ravens and Falcons will take the field tonight for the first Thursday night game of the season.
Both teams have a 6-2 record, and both are being talked about as the top team in their conference. Is this a potential Super Bowl matchup? I guess, but I personally think that Week 10 is a bit too early to be predicting who will end up squaring off in Dallas.
Regardless, it should be an exciting matchup, one which will tell us a lot about how strong the Ravens really are.
Here's how the Ravens and Falcons match up statistically so far this season:
Ravens: 348.0 (15th)
Falcons: 370.1 (t-5th)
Ravens: 118.8 (11th)
Falcons: 136.5 (t-6th)
Ravens: 229.3 (15th)
Falcons: 233.6 (t-11th)
Ravens: 310.8 (9th)
Falcons: 346.4 (t-21st)
Ravens: 104.8 (13th)
Falcons: 95.9 (6th)
Ravens: 206.0 (9th)
Falcons: 250.5 (26th)
Ravens: +1 (t-15th)
Falcons: +7 (4th)
Offensively, the Falcons are led by their QB/RB/WR trio of Matt Ryan, Michael "The Burner" Turner, and Roddy White.
It all starts with Turner, a 5-10, 244 pound battering ram, who has been on fire recently, rushing for over 100 yards in four of his last six games. Turner has the strength to bust it between the tackles and pick up tough yards, but as his nickname suggests, he's got the speed to break it outside as well. He'll be a tough matchup for a Ravens defense which has struggled with stopping physical running backs this season.
White, who is listed as questionable with a knee injury, has had a monster season, leading the NFC with 58 receptions and 796 yards. He notched 201 receiving yards two weeks ago in a win over the Bengals, and assuming he plays, will be a matchup problem for the Baltimore secondary.
Another guy to watch is tight end Tony Gonzalez. The old man is still getting it done, and if the Ravens decide to roll coverage over towards White to try and slow him down, Gonzalez could be a big threat over the middle.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Falcons play a 4-3, and while they don't have a ton of size up front, they play very fast. Atlanta won't send a lot of exotic looks at Joe Flacco, but they get good pressure off the edge from defensive ends John Abraham (six sacks on the year) and Kroy Biermann, and are stout against the run.
While Atlanta has allowed over 250 passing yards per game, they've been very effective at turning the ball over in the passing game, grabbing 13 interceptions on the season, which ranks third in the NFL. Flacco hasn't thrown a pick in 129 passing attempts, but he'll have to be careful against these ball-hawking Falcons DBs, led by strong safety William Moore (three INTs).
The Ravens will have their work cut out for them tonight, playing in a tough road environment just four days after their win over Miami.
I think the key to this game is Turner. If the Ravens can keep the Falcons' RB to about 75 yards and force Atlanta to turn elsewhere for their offensive production, they have a decent shot to earn the win.
I just don't see that happening. I expect Turner to have a big night and Gonzalez to be a problem in the passing game. Put me down for a 24-20 Falcons win.
What about you, how do you see this one shaking out?
Do you see the Ravens earning their third straight win and establishing themselves as a legitimate top-of-the-league team? Or will the Falcons have too much tonight on their own turf?
Who you got?