What: Dolphins (7-4) at Ravens (6-5)
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Where: M&T Bank Stadium
OUT – TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh), G Alex Lewis (ankle), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh).
DOUBTFUL – RB Buck Allen (non-football issue).
QUESTIONABLE – WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (ankle).
OUT – C Maurkice Pouncey (hip).
DOUBTFUL – CB Xavien Howard (knee).
QUESTIONABLE – OT Branden Albert (wrist), LB Kiko Alonso (hamstring), G Jermon Bushrod (calf), RB Kenyen Drake (knee); LB Jelani Jenkins (knee/hand); DT Earl Mitchell (back); WR DeVante Parker (back); G/T Laremy Tunsil (shoulder).
Five questions you should ask:
1. Are the Dolphins ready to win a big road game in December?
Despite their six-game winning streak, the Dolphins are just 2-3 away from home. Now you’re asking them to win at M&T Bank Stadium, where the Dolphins are 0-2 all-time? We’ll see. The Dolphins will gain credibility as an AFC playoff threat if they win this game.
2. Can the Ravens put together a complete offensive performance?
Quarterback Joe Flacco wasn’t satisfied with the Ravens’ 19-14 win over the Bengals in Week 12. Actually, he hasn’t been satisfied with the offense all season.
“When you have a team 16-3, you would like to choke them out and get it over with,” Flacco said.
He knows the Ravens have to play better offensively to go on a December run. And part of that improvement starts with Flacco.
3. Can the Ravens’ offensive line handle Cameron Wake (8½ sacks) and Ndamukong Suh (five sacks)?
The Dolphins’ defensive line has the ability to make Flacco’s day miserable. The Ravens’ offensive line will need one of its better performances.
4. Which team’s running game will be most effective?
This could be the key to victory, because both teams want to run and utilize play-action passing. Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (847 yards, 5.3 yards per carry) is a load, but the Ravens have the NFL’s top-ranked run defense. Ravens rookie running back Kenneth Dixon is coming off his best game (13 carries, 49 yards), and looks ready to share more carries with Terrance West (600 yards).
5. Can the Ravens get enough pressure on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill?
Tannehill has nine touchdown passes and just one interception during the Dolphins’ six-game winning streak. The Dolphins like to get Tannehill outside the pocket and take advantage of his ability to throw accurately on the move. Tannehill’s game has grown under new head coach Adam Gase. If the Ravens don’t throw Tannehill off his rhythm, he will make plays.
Prediction: Expect a typical close Ravens game, but I see them squeezing out a critical victory, on the strength of Justin Tucker’s leg.
Ravens 20, Dolphins 17
MORE RAVENS: How Ravens could still win AFC North