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Baltimore Ravens Vs. Atlanta Falcons Preview: The Season's First Thursday Night Game

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The 6-2 Atlanta Falcons welcome the equally 6-2 Baltimore Ravens into the Georgia Dome, kicking off this year's run of NFL Thursday nighters. The leaders of the AFC North and NFC South meet in a continuation of a bizarre little mini-rivalry. This is one of the tougher games left on the schedule for both squads, and both have charging division contenders to hold off.

The Ravens' offense, which was supposed to take off with the addition of Anquan Boldin, is hanging near the middle of the NFL. A strong running game, ranked 11th and led by Ray Rice's 606 yards, has buoyed their somewhat disappointing passing game through the season's first half. Atlanta's offensive attack ranks tenth in points and fifth in yards, with Michael Turner's ground game leading the way.

Baltimore's defense is a top-ten unit across the board, while the Falcons have struggled to stop the pass. They're 26th in the league at the moment, up from the past two years, but do still present an opportunity for Joe Flacco to put up some numbers. The Birds do have the league's sixth-best rushing D, which would get a big boost from the return of LB Sean Weatherspoon.

Much more to come on this game.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.