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Week 7 Preview: Ravens at Cardinals

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Baltimore Ravens (1-5) at Arizona Cardinals (4-2)

Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, at University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz. – TV: ESPN

*TV announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters

*Keys to the game: GM Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh exhausted options in the secondary and none of the moves settled much for the Ravens, who rank 27th against the pass, 30th in third-down defense and have just four takeaways. Enter Cardinals QB Carson Palmer, who chewed through the fearsome iteration of Ravens’ defenses to the tune of a 9-4 record while he was with the Bengals. Arizona brings balance to the table and the Cardinals are loaded at wide receiver if Michael Floyd continues to work his way back from a finger injury.

The Ravens prefer a snail’s pace and not only to spare their defense but so as to avoid exposing QB Joe Flacco, who rarely has thrown from a clean pocket and has seven interceptions. With just 17 total first-quarter points in four road games this season, the Ravens must take a shot or two downfield in hopes of striking first and quieting the crowd. The Cardinals have a secondary full of sharks, but Arizona is also known to gamble with a blitz-happy scheme. After two straight games where he ran for more than 100 yards, Ravens RB Justin Forsett was held to 62 yards on 17 carries against San Francisco. He’s nursing a sore ankle and the Cardinals are ninth in the NFL against the run.

*Matchup to watch – Ravens WR Steve Smith Sr. vs. Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson: Arizona has the ninth-best pass defense in the league, allowing 224.2 yards per game with 11 interceptions. With the exception of Smith, Ravens’ receivers have struggled to make impact plays.

*Player spotlight – Cardinals RB Andre Ellington: A man without a role, what with Chris Johnson starting and David Johnson on short-yardage and third-down chores, Ellington is angling to work into the base offense for a chance to regain at least a niche role.

*Fast facts: Baltimore’s five losses are by a total of 22 points. … The Ravens allowed 797 passing yards in the past two games. … Arizona is 7-for-14 in the red zone the past three games.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Ravens typically play well on the road, but unless they dominate the turnover battle – a season-long issue – the Cardinals have too much firepower to fall prey to the upset.

*Our pick: Cardinals 24-19


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