Hank Williams Jr. isn't ready for some football, but I'm guessing most of the Baltimore area is.
We're just a couple hours away from kickoff as the Ravens are set to take on the 1-5 Jaguars, hoping to avoid their second surprising road loss of the season.
Anyone actually taking Jacksonville in this one? No? Didn't think so.
Here are three keys to tonight's game from the Ravens' perspective:
1. All eyes on MJD
There seems to be a common theme in Baltimore this season: Stop the run and the rest will take care of itself. Week after week, that's the message delivered in the Ravens' locker room, and it was no different the last handful of days with Baltimore preparing to face Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew. The "rolling ball of butcher knives" is the NFL's third-leading rusher and can break off a big gainer at any time, as evidenced by his 17 rushes of 10-plus yards this season, tied for second-best in the league. With a rookie quarterback starting under center for Jacksonville, the Ravens know they'll be in good shape if they can slow MJD and put the pressure on Blaine Gabbert to beat them through the air.
2. Don't let the Jags hang around
Jacksonville is 1-5 on the season, but believe it or not, they've been in all but one of those five losses. The Jags held a potent Saints offense to just 23 points in a 13-point loss back in Week 4, hung with the Bengals in a 10-point setback two weeks ago and then had a shot at a fourth quarter comeback last week in a 17-13 loss to the Steelers. I'm not exactly anticipating a dramatic finish at the end of regulation tonight, but given the resiliency of Jack Del Rio's bunch and the fact that they'll be fired up playing at home in front of a national television audience, the Ravens would be wise not to let the Jaguars hang around and have a chance to pull some late-game magic.
3. Let's see some Jimmy
It looks like tonight will be our first in-game glimpse of Jimmy Smith in quite a while, as the rookie cornerback is expected to suit up and play against the Jaguars after missing Baltimore's last five games with a high left ankle sprain. The Ravens' top priority is getting Smith out of tonight's game healthy, but beyond that, it'd be nice to see him get rotated into the mix a bit at corner and let him get his feet wet. Smith has still yet to play a regular season snap on the defensive side of the ball this year, and he got limited time in the preseason, as well. Now that the team has declared him healthy, and with a matchup with the Steelers less than two weeks away, I'd like to get a sample of what Smith can bring to the table.