We're just a few hours from kickoff in Carolina, where the Ravens hope to get back in the win column with a victory over the struggling Panthers.
Carolina is beat up by injuries and sits at just 1-8, so this should be a good opportunity for the Ravens to take care of business and improve to 7-3 on the season.
Here are a few keys to today's game from the Ravens' perspective:
1. Put pressure on St. Pierre
Getting a solid pass rush is important every week, but when you're facing a quarterback who has thrown only five career NFL passes entering today, you want to disrupt his timing and make him as uncomfortable as possible. That will be the case today as the Panthers will turn to journeyman QB Brian St. Pierre, who will make his first NFL start. The Ravens don't have a ton of tape on St. Pierre (in fact, they only were able to find 37 regular season and preseason reps of him under center to study) but they know they need to get after him and force him to make quick decisions under duress.
2. Start playing at the beginning of the first quarter, not the beginning of the second half
We've talked about the Ravens' issues with getting slow starts on the road this season. They've only scored three first quarter points on the road all year, which has left them needing to dig their way out of early deficits and earn comeback wins. Today, the Ravens want to crush Carolina's upset hopes early and not let them hang around. Baltimore let the Bills believe they had a shot at the upset, and the Ravens needed OT to put Buffalo away. The quicker the Ravens can jump out on top and pile up points on Carolina, the better off they'll be. Plus, it would just be nice to know that these guys are aware that the game starts at 1:00, not 2:30.
3. Develop some chemistry in the secondary
This afternoon's game will be a good chance for a Baltimore secondary which has struggled lately to bounce back and get some momentum going. The Ravens have allowed an average of over 300 passing yards their last three games, and at times, cornerbacks Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb and safety Dawan Landry have looked lost on the back-end. The Panthers have a Pro Bowl wide receiver in Steve Smith, but have the league's worst passing offense and are going with a very inexperienced quarterback today. The Ravens would love to see their defensive backs respond with a solid performance and show that they might be starting to turn things around.