The Ravens have won four straight while the Jaguars have lost six of their last seven. So this one should be easy, right? Not so fast. Jacksonville has a formidable offense when quarterback Trevor Lawrence is on his game. Will the underdogs hold any advantages in their matchup with the Ravens?
Ravens passing game vs. Jaguars pass defense
In the midst of a sloppy offensive performance, Lamar Jackson connected on all nine of his throws to wide receiver Demarcus Robinson in the Ravens’ 13-3 win over the Carolina Panthers. Robinson has emerged as the team’s top outside threat in the absence of Rashod Bateman. Tight end Mark Andrews also came back from a week lost to injury in fine form, playing 64 of 69 offensive snaps and catching six passes on eight targets. The Ravens seem to have forgotten wide receiver Devin Duvernay, who started the season so well. Jackson has targeted him just once in each of the last two games. Rookie tight end Isaiah Likely also faded to the background with Andrews in the lineup, catching one pass for one yard on three targets. With a paucity of pass catching talent compared to other top contenders, the Ravens need to squeeze more out of the receivers they do have. Their pass protection, so good in recent weeks, suffered a blow when left tackle Ronnie Stanley left the Carolina game with an ankle injury. Patrick Mekari has played well as a stand-in, but Stanley’s elite pass blocking and mobility are essential.
The Ravens will face one of the league’s worst pass defenses when they travel to Jacksonville. The Jaguars rank 12th in pressures per drop-back but have just 16 sacks to show for it. They have a few talented starters in cornerback Tyson Campbell, a second-round pick in 2021, and outside linebacker Josh Allen, a first-round pick in 2020. Devin Lloyd is a prolific playmaker in the middle, though he struggles in coverage. They don’t have a lot of defenders who scare anybody.
Jaguars passing game vs. Ravens pass defense
Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick in 2021, has been erratic in his second season, mixing brilliant games against the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers with stinkers against the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans. The Jaguars tend to rise and fall with his performance, but their offense is by no means toothless, ranking 11th in pass DVOA, per Football Outsiders. Wide receiver Christian Kirk (52 catches on 82 targets, 679 yards, seven touchdowns) is Lawrence’s favorite target. Wide receivers Zay Jones (47 catches on 65 targets) and tight end Evan Engram (36 catches on 51 targets) have also produced as underneath options. Jacksonville’s pass protection, anchored by tackles Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor, is solid.
The Jaguars will face a Baltimore defense that gave the Panthers fits on Sunday, sacking Baker Mayfield four times and picking him off twice. The Ravens blitz less frequently and generate fewer pressures than the Jaguars but rank eighth in the league with 31 sacks, an equation they’ll happily accept. Outside linebacker Justin Houston leads them with nine sacks, while fellow veteran Jason Pierre-Paul played his best game as a Raven against Carolina, with two tackles for loss and an interception. Inside linebackers Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith have also produced as pass rushers in coordinator Mike Macdonald’s scheme. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey essentially eliminated any Panthers receiver who came his way and helped seal the win with his third interception of the season. Marcus Peters’ fourth-quarter strip, meanwhile, set up the Ravens’ only touchdown. The Ravens, now eighth in pass DVOA, will miss rookie Kyle Hamilton, who had become their primary option at nickel back, if he’s unable to go against the Jaguars after he hurt his knee against Carolina.
Ravens running game vs. Jaguars run defense
The Ravens averaged just 3.8 yards per carry against a Carolina defense that was geared to cut off their outside lanes and spy on Jackson’s every step. They still average 5.4 yards per carry overall, second in the league, and had run for at least 150 yards in eight straight games before meeting the Panthers. They hope to have their most powerful runner, Gus Edwards, back from a hamstring injury against Jacksonville. Kenyan Drake (390 yards, 4.7 yards per carry) was running back No. 1 in their last two games, though Jackson (666 yards, 6.9 yards per carry) is always the most important in this ground attack. He was sick going into the Carolina game and finished with a subpar 31 yards on 11 carries.
The Jaguars rank 15th in run DVOA and allow just 4.2 yards per carry, though the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles both gouged them for more than 200 rushing yards. Lloyd is an effective run defender at linebacker, while 6-foot-4, 320-pound defensive tackle Davon Hamilton is Jacksonville’s best interior run stuffer.
Jaguars running game vs. Ravens run defense
The Jaguars will present a significant challenge to a Baltimore defense that has not allowed an opponent to rush for more than 50 yards since Week 7. Travis Etienne is a dynamic runner who averages 5.5 yards per carry and 72.5 yards per game. His Pro Football Focus run grade of 90 ranks fourth among all running backs. Lawrence (4.8 yards per carry, three touchdowns) is also a threat if left unattended.
The Ravens smothered a solid Carolina running attack and have played with increased speed and ferocity in their two games since the trade for Smith. He and Queen combined for 19 tackles against the Panthers with both playing every defensive snap. Defensive end Calais Campbell and defensive tackle Justin Madubuike grade as very good run defenders on the interior. The Ravens allow just 4.1 yards per carry, seventh best in the league.
Ravens special teams vs. Jaguars special teams
The Ravens continue to lead the league in special-teams DVOA. Justin Tucker has made 20 of 22 field goal attempts, with his only misses coming from 56 and 61 yards. Duvernay is the league’s best returner, though he has managed just five return yards over the last two games. Rookie punter Jordan Stout has raised his game after an inconsistent start, putting 15 of his 36 kicks inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
The Jaguars rank 13th in special teams DVOA thanks to good work from kickoff returner Jamal Agnew and punter Logan Cooke. Kicker Eddy Pineiro has made 18 of 20 field goal attempts, though he has tried just one from 50 yards or beyond and has missed two extra points. Kicker Riley Patterson, on the other hand, has missed four of 18 field goal attempts with three of those coming inside 50 yards.
Ravens intangibles vs. Jaguars intangibles
The Ravens have won four in a row and are gaining confidence that they have a championship-caliber defense to go with Jackson on offense. Coach John Harbaugh has them on track for a fourth playoff appearance in five years after they struggled to hold leads early in the season.
The Jaguars have gone in the opposite direction under first-year coach Doug Pederson, finding ways to lose close games after they jumped to a positive start with a pair of early blowouts. They dropped three straight home games in October by a combined 17 points. They will be rested coming off their bye week.
The Ravens cannot afford a flat performance against the Jaguars, who run the ball efficiently and string together first downs when quarterback Trevor Lawrence is on form. Jacksonville has not been blown out all season, so expect a nail-biter before the Ravens assert themselves with superior defense and more reliable special teams. Ravens 23, Jaguars 16
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