Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens crush the Chargers and put the AFC on notice

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens beat the doors off of the Los Angeles Chargers. They didn’t just get a win. They dismantled the Chargers to the tune of a 34-6 win. This was the most complete game Baltimore has played this season. Justin Herbert and the Chargers only had 208 total yards in the game and averaged just 3,9 yards per play. The Ravens offense held the football for a bit over 38 minutes and got the team to an early lead. Offense, defense, special teams, the Ravens put it together.

This game wasn’t close. From the beginning, all the way until the end the Ravens controlled this game. The Baltimore Ravens had 27 first downs, while the Chargers only had 14. The Ravens went six for 11 on third down conversions. The Chargers failed to convert on nine of their 12 third down tries. Do you want to know how bad this was for Los Angeles? They went one for four on fourth down attempts.

One of my keys to this game was that the running backs had to contribute their fair share to the running game. The idea was that the running backs had to contribute half of the running games, at least matching whatever Jackson produced on the ground.

Lamar Jackson had 51 rushing yards in the contest. The running backs more than matched it. Devonta Freeman had 53 yards and Latavius Murray had 44 yards. Freeman, Murray, and Bell all scored a touchdown. After two games where Jackson lifted the Ravens almost entirely by himself, it was nice to see a complete effort from the offense.

What this means for the Baltimore Ravens:

What does this mean moving forward? The Ravens just got their biggest win of the season. This was a battle between two 4-1 teams and a lot of pundits thought the Chargers would get the victory. Nobody expected to see Tyler Huntley in garbage time because the Ravens had it locked up.

This was a statement win for the Ravens. They didn’t need a long Justin Tucker field goal at the last minute. They didn’t need a huge comeback either, Against a contender, a team that could legitimately win the AFC West, Baltimore took care of their business.

The Ravens have five wins and there’s still one more game left in October. Things are good to say the least. This was the hardest game on the Ravens’ schedule until after Thanksgiving when they play the Browns on November 28th. If the purple and black can handle Justin Herbert‘s Chargers, they should be expected to beat the Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, and Chicago Bears.

If the Ravens take care of what they can control, they should have a great record by the time they have their first showdown with the Cleveland Browns. The way the Ravens won this game shows you that things may be coming together. The Ravens now have two comfortable wins this season. One of these wins came today against a good Chargers team. The other was against a Broncos team that was undefeated at the time.

When the Ravens put everything together they can beat anybody. Don’t discount their close victories though. This is a team that finds a way to get it done. They have been battle-tested. John Harbaugh’s team has shown that they can win any kind of game against any kind of competition.

The Bottom Line:

The win against the Chargers could matter when the weather gets cold and the playoff picture starts to take shape. The Browns lost to the Chargers 47-42. Beating the Chargers gives the Ravens a potential tiebreaker over the Browns.

If a playoff spot comes down to the Ravens or the Chargers, it’s the Ravens who have the head-to-head advantage. Beating a first-place AFC team is a big deal. Beating a first-place AFC team that topped your top rival is as good as it gets. This win is a heavy one for Baltimore.

NEXT POST: Marquise Brown might actually be a number 1 wide receiver after all

This win was huge for the Ravens. This was the Ravens most likely loss in this stretch of games. The Ravens have proven that they are a good team. They have a chance to essentailly earn a playoff spot before the schedule gets tough again. This was an absolutely mammoth sized win. Everything is possible for the Ravens.

This is the mark of a special season in the works. If you’re the Buffalo Bills, the Kansas City Chiefs or the Cleveland Browns, the Baltimore Ravens winning this way is the last thing that gives you comfort. The Ravens just announced that they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens host Los Angeles Chargers: Key bullet points

By Chris Schisler

Baltimore Ravens fans, it is game day. Here is a look at the Baltimore Ravens battle against the Los Angeles Chargers boiled down into simple bullet points, so you can be the smartest fan in the room.

  • The Ravens and Chargers are both 4-1 with quarterbacks who are in the MVP discussion.
  • Lamar Jackson has completed 112-167 passes for 1,519 yards and eight touchdowns. Jackson also has 341 rushing yards this season.
  • Justin Herbert has completed 139-207 passes for 1,576 yards and 13 touchdowns.
  • The Ravens have been the master of the close victory this season. They average 27.2 points per game while their opponents average 23.4 points per game.
  • The Chargers are in the same bracket on that front. They average 28.4 points and their opponents have an average of 23.2 points per game.
  • This game is expected to be a shootout. The Chargers and the Ravens are both averaging well over 400 yards per contest.
  • As much attention as the Chargers get for their passing game, this offense is balanced and the Chargers have one of the best running backs in Austin Ekeler.

Key Factors in this game:

  • Weather shouldn’t matter in this game. It’s a nice day to be at the stadium, so the fans should be happy at the very least.
  • The Ravens have are at -1 with their turnover ratio. The Ravens have to protect the football against a Chargers team against a team that makes turnovers hard to come by.
  • Odafe Oweh needs to have a big game. He has three sacks and has made an impact in every game. The Ravens need him to make life difficult for Herbert. This game could come down to a player like Oweh making one or two plays that change the game.
  • Tyre Phillips, Rashod Bateman, and Miles Boykin are back for this game. While the dichotomy at wide receiver probably doesn’t see an instant change, getting Phillips back could be big for the offensive line.
  • The Ravens have been winning the hard way. This is a game where they can’t get away with a ton of mistakes. This has to be the sharpest performance of the season.

Baltimore Ravens matchups: A mix of good and bad

  • The Chargers’ secondary has its hands full as much as the secondary of the Ravens does. Expect a lot of zone from the Ravens in this game. They have limitations and the Chargers have so much talent at wide receiver. The good news is that the Chargers have to make the choice. Do they get beat by Marquise Brown or Mark Andrews? It will be tough for them to stop both.
  • The Chargers’ defensive front could overpower the offensive line. Jackson could have to do it all again. Expect quarterback running plays to the outside to try to loosen up the middle for the running backs.
  • The offensive line of the Chargers is beatable. The front seven has to take over this game for the Ravens. The Ravens need a huge day from guys like Calais Campbell and Justin Madubuike while Brandon Williams needs to show up.

The most important players for both teams:

  • For the Chargers, it’s about their wide receivers pulling out all the stops and making plays when they have the football in the open field. This is a huge game for Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Jalen Guyton.
  • The Ravens don’t have an answer for Joey Bosa, and Jerry Tillery could force some inside pressure behind the line of scrimmage. The Chargers’ defensive front probably watched how the Raiders beat the Ravens and have eyes on taking over this game.
  • Austin Ekeler is the worst thing a defense that can’t tackle proficiently wants to see
  • For the Ravens, it’s about Lamar Jackson. It’s always about Jackson. You know he’s going to ball out but you need to see him protect each possession of the football here.
  • Odafe Oweh, Calais Campbell, and Justin Madubuike have to be the big key to the Ravens winning the line of scrimmage on defense.
  • Marquise Brown or Mark Andrews has to have a big day.

NEXT POST: NFL Week 6 picks: Quick takes on each game this Sunday

This is a big one. Let’s have some fun.

Posted in Ashley's 3 big questions

Baltimore Ravens: Three Big Questions Versus the Chargers

By: Ashley Anderson

The Baltimore Ravens are a complex team to analyze at the moment. While they are 4-1, they could be undefeated just as easily as they could be 1-4. All but one of their games this season has come down to the wire, with two going to overtime. This week is not any simpler to predict with the 4-1 Los Angeles Chargers coming to town. Here are the three biggest questions facing Baltimore.

Who Will Corral Austin Ekeler?

This has been a downright awful year for the Ravens as far as tackling goes. Teams are running all over them, and the Colts exploited a weakness in their screen defense, allowing Jonathan Taylor to go 76-yards untouched. Without a doubt, Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale is aware of the issues, but the question is how to fix them.

When L.J. Fort went down with a season-ending ACL tear, everyone thought Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison would step up and fill the void. Instead, teams are attacking both of them, and it is fair to say they are both having sophomore slumps. As a result, Chris Board has seen more action, and the Ravens have elevated Josh Bynes from the practice squad on occasion.

Nose tackle Brandon Williams has also acknowledged that he needs to do a better job shedding blocks at the line of scrimmage to stop running backs before they get going. It will likely take a combination of better defensive line play, better reads by the linebackers, and some help from the safeties to correct the problem. If they are unable to do so against the Chargers, Ekeler will embarrass them all day. That will also allow Los Angeles to keep Lamar Jackson off the field, which would almost certainly spell disaster for Baltimore.

 

Will the Ravens Find Success on the Ground?

Right now, the Ravens are without a true number one running back. As a matter of fact, they do not have a single back that has separated himself from the pack. From week to week, Baltimore is still seeking answers in their backfield.

When Ty’Son Williams was finding some success early in the season those issues were glossed over. Unfortunately, his ball security problems have given Head Coach John Harbaugh pause, and Williams was a healthy scratch against Denver. He received just four carries against Indianapolis and gained a mere six yards.

Devonta Freeman was involved in the passing game against the Colts, but he has done very little on the ground. While Latavius Murray has scored three touchdowns, he is averaging 3.4 yards per carry. Meanwhile, the Ravens have only activated Le’Veon Bell once, and he has contributed very little.

The good news is the Chargers are the lowest-ranked defense against the run so far this season. There is nothing better to cure the Ravens’ woes than to take advantage of their opponent’s weaknesses. Lamar Jackson should be heavily involved in the run game, and he will make Los Angeles pay if they sell out to stop the rush. If there was ever a time to ground and pound, this is it.

 

Can the Baltimore Ravens Keep Pace With the Chargers Offensively?

Baltimore is first in the league with 440.6 yards per game, but they are ninth in points per game. On the flip side, the Chargers rank seventh in both yards and points per game. They are coming off a 47-point performance against the Browns, and Herbert is getting MVP mentions.

In all likelihood, the Ravens are equipped to keep up with the Chargers. However, given the weaknesses in Baltimore’s defense, particularly on the ground, Los Angeles may have the edge in time of possession. If so, the Ravens will have to strike fast.

Silencing doubters, Jackson has demonstrated an ability to throw deep and outside the numbers this season. He is averaging over nine-yards per pass attempt and a whopping 13.6-yards per completion. When the Ravens were down 22-3, his up-tempo offense was what got them back into the game.

Next post: Baltimore Ravens: Keys to beating the Los Angeles Chargers

Perhaps the bigger question here is whether the Ravens defense can slow down the Chargers enough to allow Jackson to work his magic.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens: Keys to beating the Los Angeles Chargers

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens have a big game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. This is a battle between two MVP candidates in Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert. It’s a showdown of two 4-1 teams and it could have major implications when we start looking at the playoff picture down the road. Say what you will about the momentum the Chargers are coming into this game with, this is a big test for both teams.

Baltimore Ravens offense:

The first thing that has to happen is that the Ravens have to find some success with the ground game. The Chargers have a good pass rush and more importantly a good secondary. This isn’t the game to see if Jackson can have another 400-yard outing as a passer. The Ravens need to get back to some sort of balance.

The Chargers have the sixth-best passing defense in the NFL. They average only 214.2 passing yards allowed per game. Joey Bosa is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. Derwin James and Nasir Adderly are top-shelf safeties who can make a difference. Other than maybe the Denver Broncos, this is the best defense the Ravens have been matched up with this season.

The Ravens don’t have to get back to their dominant ways on the ground. I’m not looking for 200 yards from the run game here, right now that doesn’t even seem possible. What I’m calling for is the running backs to at least do their fair share in this game. If the Ravens rush for over 100 yards, the running backs need to contribute at least half of those yards.

Ben Powers needs to step up as a run blocker. The Ravens need to be able to run inside and they have to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. If the Ravens could get a carbon copy performance of the offensive line from the Chiefs game, that would be huge. That was the one week the offensive line put it all together. This game is going to be a shootout. The Ravens need to help Jackson to get the win.

Defensively:

Defensively, the Ravens have to get to Justin Herbert. This is a game where Don Martindale has to balance aggression with sensibility. He can’t just call all the dogs on Herbert. He also can’t sit back and have this be the death of 1,000 cuts. It’s a tough position to be in. Martindale has to feel out the game and send pressure at the right moments.

The Ravens need a big day from their pass rushers in this game. Odafe Oweh and Justin Houston have to make life easier for Martindale. They don’t have to rack up a ton of sacks, but they must get pressures and impact plays. Rashawn Slater is a very impressive rookie left tackle from Northwestern. He’s still a rookie. The Ravens may be able to exploit his inexperience. Right tackle is a much weaker point for the Chargers. This could be the path to getting to Herbert.

The secondary is going to be under a lot of stress. Mike Williams is having a big season and Keenan Allen is an impressive wide receiver as always. Don’t rule out Jalen Guyton and Jared Cook as weapons that can make an impact. Austin Ekeler is a matchup nightmare for the Ravens and there is no getting around that.

The key here is to bend but don’t break. The Ravens are going to give up some plays. Martindale is going to be forced into playing more zone and keeping things in front of him.

The Baltimore Ravens bottom line:

There are going to be times where the Ravens defense gives up a string of first downs and it will seem like they can’t stop Los Angeles. The key is coming up with stops in the red zone and creating a turnover or two.

NEXT POST: Ravens showdown vs. Chargers: 4 predictions and a score

The Ravens need to keep pace with the Chargers’ offense. This isn’t a game where you can get away with an epic comeback. There are games where you just have to see who gets the ball last, and there are games where you just have to see which offenses crack first. This game could be either one of those. The pressure is heavily on the offense. Jackson can’t give up the ball, and the defense needs to be opportunistic when it can be.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Ravens showdown vs. Chargers: 4 predictions and a score

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens face their most interesting test since the Kansas City Chiefs came into town. The Ravens have to battle the 4-1 Los Angeles Chargers team that just took down the Cleveland Browns 47-42. The Ravens have their hands full and yet I’m optimistic about this game. Let’s talk about it. Here are four predictions and a score for this game:

1. The Ravens keep the Chargers under 30 points:

Just about everyone in the football world is expecting a barnburner of a game. The Chargers are averaging 28.4 points per game. They aren’t going to score 47 every week. They’re hot this season but it’s not a volcano eruption that can’t be stopped. The Chargers opened the season with 20 points over the Washington Football Team. This looks less impressive each week. Washington’s defense isn’t what it was expected to be.

The Dallas Cowboys held the Chargers to 17 points in the second game of the season for Los Angeles. The Chargers put up 30 to beat the Chiefs and 28 against the Raiders. There is a thing called regression to the mean, the Chargers are a west coast team playing at 1:00 pm in Baltimore, and Don Martindale has a ton of my trust. Do I think the Ravens shut the Chargers down completely? No, this one is going to be tough. I just don’t see a circus show where Justin Herbert has five or six touchdowns every time you blink. The Chargers are good… but relax guys. This is just as big a test for Los Angeles as it is for Baltimore.

2. Austin Ekeler gives Ravens linebackers some more humble pie:

The Chargers offense is going to put on a show. I predicted they would score under 30 points. If that’s where I am setting the bar, you already know the defense will give you things to be frustrated about in this one. The biggest problem the Ravens have had is the play of their inside linebackers. The biggest weapon the Chargers have against this is Austin Ekeler.

Patrick Queen has been awful in pass coverage and it isn’t Malik Harrison‘s forte either. Ekeler has 23 receptions on 25 targets this season. He’s a deadly efficient weapon in the passing game. He has three games with over 50 yards receiving, which is a nice contribution from a running back. If you have Ekeler in a PPR Fantasy Football league, it’s easy money this week.

There will be at least a couple of Chargers drives that will be continued by this problem the Ravens have defensively. Look for Ekeler to be the safety valve that allows Justin Herbert to manage a fairly impressive game for the Chargers.

3. Lamar Jackson makes another case for his second MVP award:

A comeback against the Chiefs…Check! A comeback against the Colts… Check! Going head to head against Justin Herbert and getting the win… If Jackson checks that off, he’s practically cruising towards the MVP award. Let’s look at Jackson’s recent work. Against the Colts he had the franchise record for passing yards in a game with 442. He made a lot of history is a good summation of it. Against the Broncos he had over 300 yards. Jackson is feeling it as a passer.

Can you imagine how badly Jackson wants this game? Do you remember the 2018 Wild Card game? Jackson does. Do you remember that the Chargers were the team that asked Jackson to consider playing wide receiver before the 2018 NFL Draft? Jackson does. The rightful MVP of the NFL wants this game and I doubt there will be a human more prepared for a moment than Jackson is for this game.

Give me Jackson to have 275 yards passing with three touchdowns. Let’s add 100 yards on the ground while we’re at it.

4. Rashod Bateman gets his first touchdown in his first game:

Guess who’s coming back into the Ravens offense? Rashod Bateman is prepared to play in his first game with the Baltimore Ravens. Bateman is an ultra-talented receiver who will be mixed in lightly. I think the Ravens are itching to see him play as much as the fans are. Look for Jackson to get Bateman involved in the red zone; that’s where Bateman’s traits can shine the brightest.

I doubt Bateman will have a monster game. It wouldn’t be shocking if he only got a few targets. I just don’t think the rookie wide receiver needs much of a chance. If he gets even a bit of a chance he’s going to show off. I admit this is more of a fun prediction than anything else. I’m going with it.

Now a score: Ravens win 31-28

I’m sorry if you wanted your heart to get some rest this Sunday. It’s going to beat out of your shirt and if the Ravens win, it’ll come the hard way per usual. I just see a Ravens team that’s harder to beat in Baltimore than people realize.

Next Post: Marquise Brown might actually be a number 1 wide receiver after all

I see a team that keeps finding a way, and a team that has the most valuable player, Lamar Jackson. This one is either going to be amazing or horrible and there’s no in-between. I’ll go with amazing on this Purple Friday because every time I’ve doubted the Ravens they pulled through.