NFL Preview: Battle of the Birds on Thursday Night

Ricky Rothstein | Updated Oct 04, 2017

falcons ravens

Baltimore Ravens (6-2) at Atlanta Falcons (6-2)

It’s a short week for both the Ravens and Falcons as they prepare to do battle this Thursday night.  The Ravens are coming off a 26-10 wipeout of Miami on Sunday afternoon while Atlanta fought tooth-and-nail before putting away NFC South rivals Tampa Bay 27-21.

This promises to be one of the most intriguing games on the Week 10 slate. Both these teams are virtual locks for the playoffs and in the conversation for best team in the AFC and NFC respectively. The Falcons are largely doing it on the shoulders of QB Matt Ryan, who has been solid all year and borderline outstanding at home. In four home games this season, Ryan has thrown for 1,032 yards and eight touchdowns, to just three interceptions. Ryan boasts an impressive 96.8 passer rating at home and was very efficient against the Buccaneers on Sunday, completing 24 of 36 passes without turning the ball over.

On the Baltimore side of things, keep an eye on RB Ray Rice, who has been lethal in recent weeks. A solid all-around performance against Miami (83 rushing yards on 22 carries, 97 receiving yards on seven catches) highlighted what Rice is all about — a multi-purpose threat that is equally dangerous running with the ball as he is catching it. Rice got off to a slow start this season but his recent run of good form has — not surprisingly — coincided with Baltimore winning five of its last six. Rice has averaged 134.5 yards of total offense over his last four games, so expect him to be a focal point of the Atlanta defense on Thursday.

New York Jets (6-2) vs. Cleveland Browns (3-5)

The Browns scored the biggest upset of Week 9 with a 34-14 win over New England — and the Jets avoided what could’ve been the biggest upset by narrowly defeating Detroit 23-20 in overtime. So, it’s safe to say nobody has any idea what to expect when these two meet on Sunday.

One thing is for certain, though — the Browns are definitely making a name for themselves this year. They’ve beaten the defending Super Bowl champions (New Orleans), the defending AFC East champs (New England) and the defending AFC North champs (Cincinnati) while suffering narrow losses to 6-2 Baltimore (24-17), 5-3 Kansas City (16-14) and 6-2 Atlanta (20-10).

The Jets meanwhile…Well, nobody’s quite sure what to say about the Jets. Their 6-2 record indicates a team that’s vying for AFC supremacy and the shortlist for potential Super Bowl winners, but their play suggest something entirely different.  New York was lucky to escape from Denver with a win three weeks ago (only a controversial fourth-quarter pass interference call on fourth down kept the Jets alive), had one of the worst offensive performances in franchise history against Green Bay two weeks ago (a 9-0 loss at home) and then needed to rally from a 10-point deficit against Detroit to emerge with a shaky win on Sunday.

The Browns will be a quality test for a New York team that needs a win to keep pace with Baltimore for first place in the conference.