American football aficionados are currently gearing up for Week 5 of the 2016 NFL season, which projects to be laden with enough storylines and plot twists to make a Hollywood reality show jealous.
One of the most intriguing matchups on the schedule is the “Battle of the Beltway” showdown between the 2-2 Washington Redskins and the surprisingly 3-1 Baltimore Ravens. Both teams reside in Maryland, and bragging rights are on the line.
The Redskins bring some momentum into this AFC-NFC matchup, as they easily defeated the lowly Cleveland Browns in Week 4. Meanwhile, the Ravens will look to regroup after losing a devastating heartbreaker in their own building to the up and coming Oakland Raiders.
So, will Jay Gruden’s bunch show up with a sensational road effort to move to 3-2, or will John Harbaugh’s Ravens run roughshod over their regional rival to the absolute delight of the M&T Bank Stadium faithful?
Find out with these predictions.
Kirk Cousins Throws Three Boneheaded Interceptions
Kirk Cousins was solid in Week 4 against Cleveland, going 21/27 for 183 yards and three TDs. Cousins has been decent overall this season but has thrown an unfortunate four INTs through four games, and at times has made some absolutely puzzling decisions.
However, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden clearly doesn’t seem overly worried. According to Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post, Gruden saw far more good than bad from Cousins against Cleveland.
“There’s always going to be high expectations for the quarterback, but he was 21 of 27 with three touchdowns and got the victory. So he did some good things. If I talked about all the good things he did, I’d be up here for a while. If I talked about the bad things, it’s only going to be a couple — which is good. Expectations are going to be high for him. This offense has very high expectations we have on each other, and it’s never going to change. But I think he played pretty well, good enough to get the win, but there are some things that we have to fix with Kirk.”
Baltimore’s defense has been stingy this season and held the Raiders to just 63 rushing yards in Week 4. Thus, I’m expecting the Redskins to revert back to their struggles in the run attack despite showing signs of life on Sunday against the Browns, which will put a ton of pressure back on Kirk to move the ball aerially.
A flustered Cousins will spend most of this game running for his life from overwhelming pocket pressure, which will lead to three boneheaded interceptions.
Joe Flacco Electrifies
Don’t let Baltimore’s 3-1 record fool you into thinking Joe Flacco has played at an “elite” level thus far in 2016, because nothing could be further from the truth.
Flacco’s been pedestrian at best, tallying 1,072 yards, six TDs (four passing, two rushing) and a concerning four INTs. However, his lackluster showing hasn’t entirely been his fault.
Baltimore’s offensive line has been abysmal at times this season, which has put Joe in some terrible spots.
Flacco should have a tad more time to make decisions in the pocket this week against the Redskins, who don’t exactly scare anyone with their feeble pass rush. And after releasing veteran RB Justin Forsett, Terrance West should provide some stability to what has been a disappointing run attack this season, which will take some pressure off the Ravens’ longtime gunslinger.
With Steve Smith Sr. back playing at a high level, expect Flacco to electrify with over 300 yards and three TDs.
Ravens Dominate, Win By No Less Than 10 Points
According to Pro Football Locks, the swell folks in Las Vegas favor the Ravens by four points over the Redskins in Week 5. While I totally understand why many NFL experts think this could be a close game, I disagree and firmly believe Baltimore will be in complete control from start to finish.
Expect the Ravens to establish the run early with the aforementioned Terrance West. Once coverage begins to loosen on Mike Wallace and Steve Smith Sr., Flacco will take some chances deep using play action and carve the Redskins to shreds.
In the end, Baltimore will be 4-1 after cementing a victory by no less than 10 points, and Washington will be making the short trip home wondering why everything went wrong.
[Featured Image by Larry French/Getty Images]