Redskins vs Ravens Game Preview
Washington and Baltimore meet in the final week of preseason as two top bounce-back candidates for the 2018 season. The Ravens just missed the postseason thanks to losing the final game of the season while the Redskins were ravaged by injuries.
New changes are in place for both teams beginning at quarterback. Baltimore still has Flacco but has a hot prospect right behind him while Washington will roll with Alex Smith.
Washington pulled the plug on Cousins letting him walk via free agency opting instead to trade for Kansas City’s Alex Smith. While he doesn’t have Cousins’s upside, Smith is more athletic and his added mobility stretches the offensive possibilities.
Joining Smith will be a slew of new talent including blue-chipper Derrius Guice at running back along with significant upgrades to the defensive line. The Redskins did a little remix and it could pay off huge in 2018.
Speaking of remix, the Ravens could also be reshuffling their offence. Joe Flacco is still listed as the day-one starter but Baltimore traded up to draft former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson.
Jackson is raw and may still be a season away but that won’t rule out the possibility of him taking over come mid-season. The Ravens still have an elite defence if they can reinvigorate their offence, they will return to becoming Super Bowl contenders.
As exciting as Jackson is, the Redskins have the better team to support Colt McCoy and whoever else plays the quarterback position. The starter may get a few reps but it will be the second unit’s show for most of the game. Washington wins on the depth of their lines.
Redskins vs Ravens Head-to-Head Records
All square. The Redskins and Ravens are tied up 3-3 in their series beginning in 1997. Baltimore won their first game 20-17 and would win two of the next three. The series has been characterized primarily by the low scoring. Of their six meetings, only one game has seen a combined score of over 34 points.
That took place in 2012 in a game that saw the teams combine for 59 points and 782 yards. In this aberration, the Redskins featured Robert Griffin III while the Ravens were at their peak winning the Super Bowl during this season.
The Ravens have consistently been a defensive powerhouse while the Redskins haven’t been too shabby in that department. Both teams have also lacked an elite quarterback and have mostly employed a smashmouth run-heavy style of offence.
But the culture is changing a bit. Washington has slowly transitioned into becoming a pass-heavy prolific offence and Baltimore is inching toward a more dynamic style of offence. They will continue to play each other close in future games even if the Ravens have seen a larger share of success.
Washington Redskins Recent History
The height of the Redskins’ franchise came between the ’70s and the early ’90s. In the span of two decades, Washington captured three Super Bowls and five NFC titles. Their rivalries with the 49ers, Bears, and Cowboys would be iconic as would be the many MVPs that played for the team.
But since 1992, the Redskins haven’t come close to recapturing this era much like their divisional rivals, the Cowboys. Washington has only made five playoff appearances with only three division titles and hasn’t advanced past the divisional round in 26 seasons.
The franchise has also swapped coaches and quarterbacks nearly a dozen times. Some say there is a “curse” floating around the team, mainly starting at ownership. Dan Snyder hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the fans or media and since he purchased the team in 1999, they haven’t been the same.
Baltimore Ravens Recent History
Bill Belichick will always be associated with the Patriots’ dynasty but he laid the groundwork for another modern-day power: the Ravens. While still the original Browns, Belichick helped create one of the NFL’s most dominant defences that would eventually win the Super Bowl in 2000.
The Ravens would remain a fixture in the AFC and their rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers is arguably the best in the 21st century. Baltimore would consistently be a top team winning double-digit games repeatedly as well as alternating with the Steelers for AFC North supremacy. They would capture a second Lombardi trophy in 2012.
But even as they still boast an elite defence, Baltimore has regressed the last few seasons primarily due to a lacklustre offence. Former Super Bowl hero Flacco has become a shell of a quarterback and Baltimore could be transitioning to a new era.
Washington Redskins Outlook
Cursed or not, the Redskins appear headed for a better 2018. They are hoping new quarterback Smith doesn’t become their newest high-profile acquisition that busts. Smith threw for a career year in 2017 recording career-highs in almost every major passing category including a league-leading 104.7 QB rating.
Smith will also be playing behind one of the NFC’s best offensive lines led by Trent Williams at left tackle. Guice will also give the ‘Skins a dynamic running back who will play off of Smith’s versatility while a healthy Jordan Reed looks to recapture his 2015 form.
On defence, Washington loaded up on the front stacking their defensive line with not one but two nose tackles in first-rounder Da’Ron Payne and fifth-rounder Tim Settle. Their schedule is mixed and their special teams could be better but the ‘Skins are a playoff-calibre squad.
Baltimore Ravens Outlook
As long as Baltimore’s defence stays intact, they will be a tough team even if their record doesn’t reflect it. Baltimore was still a top-six defence in 2017 and they would’ve been better if they had more support from their offence. That’s why they focused on acquiring new offensive pieces in the offseason.
They drafted Jackson, who is a contrast to Flacco at quarterback. They reshuffled their receivers taking flyers on Michael Crabtree and John Brown and drafted two tight ends in Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews and also added Orlando Brown at tackle.
These additions would help but Flacco remains the elephant in the room and unless they find a way to trade him or cut him, they’ll be severely limited. And general manager Ozzie Newsome is stepping down after 2018, giving the franchise more uncertainty.
Baltimore will roll out both Jackson and Griffin as they have done in previous games. Jackson usually received reps with the third team and Griffin with the second. The latter will be playing the franchise that drafted him and could be inspired to put on a better performance even if it is against backup squads.
Washington will counter with Colt McCoy and he will be playing behind a better offensive line and defence. McCoy has also proven to be a solid backup and arguably better than Griffin as he showed when he took over while they were teammates in Washington.
The Redskins loaded up on the front to deal with their issues stopping the run. While Baltimore’s running backs, Javorious Allen and Kenneth Dixon, are pedestrian, Jackson will be another threat. It comes down to how well Washington can adapt to a quarterback that will be using his legs more than his arm.
The Ravens will have a more exciting offence but they are thin and the Redskins’ stout defence up-front should do its job for the most part. Jackson and co. will keep Baltimore in it but McCoy and the Redskins’ d will be more reliable and should get the win.