TIME: 08:20 P.M. EST
VENUE: Georgia Dome
The Atlanta Falcons and the Baltimore Ravens had byes to close October, giving them plenty of time to prepare for their last game - and both remained atop their divisions. They won't have nearly as much time to get ready this week.
Four days after each team last played, the Falcons and their high-powered offense square off with the Ravens and their formidable defense Thursday night at the Georgia Dome.
Atlanta (6-2) and Baltimore (6-2) are led by third-year quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, respectively, and this will be the first time each will be facing a short turnaround.
"In college when we played on a Thursday night, it seemed like we had a bye the week before so we had ample time to prepare," Ryan said.
The Falcons and the Ravens each had their bye weeks prior to Sunday, when Atlanta defeated Tampa Bay 27-21 to take over sole possession of the NFC South lead, while Baltimore beat Miami 26-10 to stay atop the AFC North.
"The thing is, that both teams are going through the same thing," said Flacco, who completed 20 of 27 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns Sunday. "I've never gone through it before. It should be fun. Instead of practicing on Thursday, we'll be playing a game so I think we'll all be happy about that."
Immediately following his team's win Sunday, Falcons coach Mike Smith and his staff went to the training complex to break down film and begin installing the gameplan for Thursday. Ravens coach John Harbaugh had similar time constraints, but his team also must deal with a flight to Atlanta.
"We lost two days of our life I think," Harbaugh said. "Both teams played less than 24 hours before we were back at practice so it was a little different tempo."
Harbaugh's biggest concern this week will be trying to slow down an Atlanta offense that has averaged 30.8 points in winning its four home games. The Falcons have won 13 straight home games when starting Ryan, who is 17-1 all-time at the Georgia Dome and expects to have his favorite target available.
Atlanta got a big scare in the first quarter Sunday when Roddy White twisted his right knee making an 11-yard catch along the sideline. He went to the locker room to get treated and played the second half with a leg brace.
White, second in the NFL in receptions with 58 and receiving yards with 796, was limited in Atlanta's final practice Wednesday and is listed as questionable.
"It's tough on your body because it's so quick," Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson said of the short week. "Usually around Wednesday, you're still healing. Well, this Wednesday, we'll be talking about playing a game on Thursday. That's a quick turnaround, so guys have got to do everything they can to take care of their bodies."
Atlanta, held below 16 points only once this season, now faces a Baltimore defense that has limited six of its eight opponents to 17 or fewer.
The Ravens held the opposition under 85 rushing yards for the third time in five games Sunday, a span in which they haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher. Falcons running back Michael Turner has topped the 100-yard mark in back-to-back games and four of six.
"Obviously, they have a defense that does a lot of things and they have a lot of talented guys," Ryan said. "We are going to have our work cut out for us."
The Ravens held the Dolphins scoreless after halftime Sunday while also forcing three turnovers, giving them nine takeaways in the last three games.
Baltimore's offense is also finding its rhythm, averaging 28.5 points and 389.5 yards in the last four games.
Flacco has seven touchdown passes with no interceptions in his past three games, throwing for at least 250 yards in each. Ray Rice had 97 yards receiving and 83 rushing Sunday, giving him 538 total yards in his last four games.
"We're hitting our stride right now as a team," Rice said. "We're finding ways to put everything together."
The Ravens are 2-1 all-time against the Falcons and won the last meeting 24-10 in 2006.
Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited