By Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens are playing the Chicago Bears on Sunday and it’s shaping up to be a harder day than Ravens fans want it to be. Lamar Jackson, who has been dealing with a non-Covid illness all week was listed on the injury report as questionable. Marquise Brown has been ruled out for the game. Chalk both of these Saturday developments as things you didn’t want to hear.
You have to expect that Lamar Jackson will suit up and play in this game. Jackson is the most important player on the field and if he can go, he will make it work. The fact that Tyler Huntley filling in is even a remote possibility makes this weekend tenser than it has to be.
Not having Marquise Brown doesn’t help an offense that needs to get back on track. In addition to Jackson being questionable so are 10 other Ravens players. The defense will be without Brandon Williams and Pernell McPhee. This is certainly is bad news for everyone except for David Montgomery and the Chicago run game.
The Ravens have played in close games all year long. They have only had three games that were decided by more than one score and they’ve lost two of them. When the Ravens win, it tends to be done the hard way. They also tend to start games out slow and without much rhythm. Jackson has missed practice time and has had a rough week. Today’s news with the injury report sounds like a slow start starter pack for the Ravens.
Not all bad news:
It’s not all bad news for the Ravens. Khalil Mack being on injured reserve doesn’t hurt. The Bears will be without one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. Chicago’s top receiver, Allen Robinson is listed on the injury report as doubtful. The Bears are a team that needs every ounce of star power they can get and they should be without a key player on both sides of the ball.
Patrick Mekari has returned to practice and is listed as questionable. If he can play at right tackle, that would be a huge help for the Ravens. That return to the starting lineup would be almost as important as the return of Nick Boyle. Boyle, who has been close to his return should be on the field on Sunday. He could spring some big run plays and should boost the overall battle in the trenches.
The absence of Marquise Brown makes for a big chance to see Rashod Bateman step up. Bateman had six receptions for 80 yards against the Miami Dolphins and has been a catch for a first down machine. The Ravens will need Sammy Watkins to return to form after a costly fumble against the Dolphins and all-around poor performance.
Justin Fields almost had a successful comeback attempt in Heinz Field against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fields had 291 yards in that game and hit on some big passes that made the game interesting. The Ravens have been giving up so many big plays, that Fields’s explosive arm and running ability must give everybody in Baltimore some pause.
Baltimore Ravens bottom line:
Is this a game the Ravens should win? Absolutely. The circumstances around this game create some doubt though, it isn’t an easy contest. The Ravens need to bring their A-game. What Lamar Jackson has in the tank is up in the air. This would be a good week for the team to pick him up with their play for a change. It would be nice if Jackson didn’t have to do the whole Superman act against the Bears, in a week where an illness has him listed as questionable.
I’m going about this game of the mind that Jackson will play. That being said, Tyler Huntley’s time to shine is not horribly unrealistic and Trace McSorley has been called up to the active roster. Not having Jackson would take this from being a difficult road game to a bad situation quickly.
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Let’s see what happens tomorrow. One thing is for sure, the lead-up to this game is an anxious one. Baltimore must win this game regardless of their circumstances.