This matchup features a pair 2-1 teams that have high expectations for the remainder of the season. The Ravens started off the season with a loss to a tough Bengals team and has defeated Pittsburg and Cleveland for the last two weeks. They have been dealing with the drama of star running back Ray Rice who has been released by the team and suspended indefinitely from the NFL for domestic violence. The Panthers started off the season with consecutive wins over Tampa Bay and Detroit but did not look impressive in last weeks 37-19 loss to the Steelers in which they gave up 28 second half points. Both of these teams will look to advance to 3-1 with this big Sunday matchup.
For Carolina the story appears to be quarterback Cam Newton. He played throughout the game but appeared to be still suffering the effects from a rib injury that he suffered in the preseason. He does not move as well as he used to and seems much more reluctant to run with the football. He is also falling victim to an offensive line that is struggling mightily in pass protection and has a brand new group of wide receivers that he has not a chance to develop any type of chemistry with. Rookie wideout Kelvin Benjamin may be the breakout star of the group and he had a big day with 8 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. Veteran tight end Greg Olsen had 5 catches for 69 yards and a touchdown, he is the biggest constant in the Panthers offensive attack. Starting running back Deangelo Williams was not active for the game and backup Johnathan Stewart received only 5 carries for 31 yards. In an effort to get some time for Newton as well as balance the offense, look for the team to get the running game going more against the Ravens.
The Ravens had a tough fight with the Browns last week and were able to get the win with a Justin Tucker 32 yard field goal as time expired. A 32 yard pass to veteran wide receiver Steve Smith set that field goal up and now that game sets up Smiths first game against his longtime Carolina Panther teammates. He was very upset that the Panthers didn’t offer him a contract at the end of last season after all of the years of production he had given the organization. He will look to get his revenge against his old team for the first time on Sunday. He has always been very vocal and he made it clear that this date was circled on his calendar when he signed with Baltimore in the offseason. The Ravens may have found a new running back in Larry Tallaferro who had 18 carries for 91 yards last week. He teams with veteran Justin Forsett who had 11 carries for 63 yards to form a potentially dangerous tailback combo.
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