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Defense could sink Falcons vs Ravens

What: Atlanta Falcons (2-4) at Baltimore Ravens (4-2)

When: 1 p.m.

TV: Fox (Hinesville cable channel 6)

Standing in the path of an Atlanta team intent on establishing the run to spare its own sinking 31st-ranked defense is Baltimore’s 3-4 scheme capable of winning — if not dominating — every matchup up front. Atlanta's edge is on the perimeter with wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White, who had 12 catches in his last game against the Ravens. Quarterback Matt Ryan makes too many throws eye-to-eye with pass rushers and more horizontal patterns and dump-offs to running backs Antone Smith and Steven Jackson spreads Baltimore's attacking linebackers.

The Ravens are capable of balance. WR Steve Smith, the team's most consistent performer with four 100-yard outings in six games, has begun dragging safeties away from the line of scrimmage. Atlanta will gear up to stop a running attack averaging 133 yards per game behind Justin Forsett's 6.4 yards per carry.

• Matchup to watch — Falcons Left tackle Jake Matthews vs. Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil: Matthews' lateral slide and ability to anchor is impacted by his nagging ankle injury. Dumervil leads the Ravens with 5.0 sacks and there is no help available with two blockers needed to contain LB Terrell Suggs and, occasionally, DL Haloti Ngata.

• Player spotlight — Ravens safety Will Hill: Eligible to return from a six-game suspension, Hill could shore up a pass defense allowing 271 yards per game.

• Extra points — Ryan became the fifth quarterback in NFL history with 25,000-plus passing yards in his first 100 games. ... The Falcons are 1-10 on the road the past two seasons, including six straight losses. ... Baltimore is second in the NFL with a point differential of 11.2 per game.

• Prediction —  This isn't the 1976 Steelers — or 2000 Ravens — defense, but Baltimore's battle-tested personnel is getting the job done in a supporting role. For Atlanta, defense starts when the game ends. Our pick: Ravens, 32-24.

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