Six days after a frustrating loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Ravens host the Arizona Cardinals and get a chance to put that wreck in their rearview mirrors. The 1-5 Cardinals, who have lost five straight, have arrived in slushy Baltimore from sunny Arizona hoping to get their season headed in the right direction.
Here are five storylines I'll be watching from the cozy press box at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday:
1. The Ravens strike back: The Ravens have had few embarrassing losses in the John Harbaugh era, and Monday night’s 12-7 loss to the Jaguars was one of them. But they usually respond with resounding wins the following week. They have to like the situation this time. The Cardinals are flying an average offense and a defense that is ranked 28th in the NFL in points allowed across the country to play in 40-degree weather in Baltimore. If the Ravens get off to a fast start, they could run away with this one.
2. Good Flacco or Bad Flacco? Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was a pretty consistent performer in his first three seasons in the league, but he has been volatile this season, playing well in three games and looking pedestrian in three others. Good Flacco should show up Sunday against the NFL’s 28th-ranked pass defense. I don’t think Flacco has regressed, nor do I think his streaky play will continue all season.
3. Fitz and Q meet again: A couple of seasons ago, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin were arguably the NFL’s best wide receiver tandem. Fitzgerald made acrobatic plays down the field while Boldin did the dirty work between the numbers. On Sunday, they face each other for the first time since Boldin was traded to Baltimore. Of course, they probably won’t be on the field together; it will be up to the Ravens secondary to keep the 6-foot-3 Fitzgerald under wraps, which won’t be an easy task at all.
4. Another reunion in Baltimore: Todd Heap signed with the Cardinals after the Ravens released him before training camp, and he made it clear that it was his preference to stay here in a letter he wrote to fans that was published in Friday’s Baltimore Sun. He should receive a hearty round of “Heeeeeeaps” at M&T Bank Stadium, but this storyline isn’t as compelling because Heap isn’t expected to play.
5. Chasing after Kevin Kolb: The last time the Cardinals quarterback was at M&T Bank Stadium, he was backing up Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb in 2008. McNabb was ineffective and Kolb replaced him in the Ravens’ win, first spinning the QB carousel that finally stopped this summer with Kolb in Arizona and Michael Vick getting a huge payday from the Eagles. The Ravens forced Kolb to throw two interceptions in one half back in 2008. They will try to frighten Kolb, who has thrown seven picks and lost three fumbles this season, into a few turnovers Sunday. It is Halloween weekend, after all.