Late for Work 10/16: Ravens Near Unanimous Choice in Ravens vs. Eagles

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TE Mark Andrews

Ravens Near Unanimous in Ravens vs. Eagles Picks

It'll be a battle of second-place teams when the Ravens and Eagles meet in Philadelphia on Sunday, but only one of those squads has multiple wins thus far.

Despite their spot in the NFC East standings, the Eagles are 1-3-1, which includes an 0-1-1 record at Lincoln Financial Field. Philadelphia is a 7.5-point underdog against the Ravens (4-1), who have won eight straight road games, the longest current streak in the NFL.

The Eagles have played better the past couple weeks. They beat the San Francisco 49ers, 25-20, on Oct. 4, and gave the undefeated Steelers a scare in Pittsburgh in a 38-29 loss last week. The overwhelming majority of pundits don't see the Eagles upsetting the Ravens, but some think it'll be a competitive game.

Forty-six of the 47 pundits we looked at picked the Ravens (Sports Illustrated's Andrew Brandt was the exception). Of the 25 who predicted the score, seven believe the Ravens will win by seven points or less, and four have the Ravens winning by five points or less.

Here's a sample of what the pundits are predicting for the game:

The Ravens defense is primed for a big day.

The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer: "The Eagles have an error-prone quarterback, a leaky offensive line and a depleted receiving corps. The Ravens couldn't ask for anything more on defense."

The Baltimore Sun's Daniel Oyefusi: "Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has already thrown nine interceptions this season and he's facing a Ravens defense that has taken the ball away 10 times, second-most in the NFL. If the Ravens can force Wentz into some mistakes early, they should run away with this game easily."

NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal: "The Ravens' lack of a one-on-one pass rusher could haunt them against a great offense, but their blitz-happy scheme is a nightmare for vulnerable offensive lines like the Eagles' unit, especially if Lane Johnson is out."

Just because the Eagles had some success against a stout Steelers defense last week doesn't mean they will duplicate that success against the Ravens defense.

Pro Football Talk's Chris Simms: "There's going to be less easy throws for Carson Wentz this week than there was last week. They're a little bit more sound with what they do in Baltimore, and I don't see them getting gashed in the run game for a big play or doing something like that. The fact is they can blitz and really lock you up man to man; Pittsburgh can't do those types of things. Pittsburgh doesn't have good man-to-man corners."

Ravens DB Jimmy Smith isan'anideal option' to contain Eagles TE Zach Ertz.

Penn Live's Aaron Kasinitz: "Sure, Eagles star Zach Ertz has struggled to match his production from previous seasons so far this year, but he's still a three-time Pro Bowler and one of the most respected tight ends in the NFL. Smith, a [10-year] veteran, is likely to be at the heart of the Ravens' plan to combat him. Smith played a variety of roles in the secondary this season and his size and cover skills make him an ideal option to line up across from tight ends with pass-catching prowess, like Ertz."

The Eagles will need to have a balanced offense to have a chance of pulling off an upset.

Philadelphia NFL analyst Ron Jaworksi: "If you become one-dimensional against this Raven defense you'll be in for a long day. So I think they have to run the ball effectively on first down [and] stay out of that known passing situation. One of the Achilles' heels this season has been their inability to run the football on first down — they're averaging only 3.03 yards. That means the defense knows on second and third down it's likely you're going to pass, and that's when they come after you."

The Eagles could be the perfect opponent for Lamar Jackson and the deep passing game to get back on track.

Next Gen Edge: "Philadelphia's expected completion percentage on downfield passes is 51.5 percent, allowing five TD passes and a passer rating of 103.7, all of then them down near the bottom defensively. So Jackson has an opportunity to get his engine revved back up. The Ravens offense [is] one of the quickest from zero to 60 when all of their cylinders are firing."

The Ravens should use their running game to wear down the Eagles.

Ebony Bird's Darin McCann: "Though the Eagles have a very good defensive line, the Ravens can wear them down by consistently sending waves of fresh running backs at them, and peppering in some outside runs by Lamar Jackson and J.K. Dobbins. It will be hard to open big creases in that front from opening kickoff, but a constant barrage of bodies at them will eventually open the floodgates. …It's a good game to feature the physical Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards to lead this attack, with the sprinkling in of the speed and tackle-breaking ability of Dobbins. Wear them down — then wear them out."

Ravens TE Mark Andrews vs. Eagles LBNathanGerry is a mismatch in the Ravens' favor.

Baltimore Beatdown's Jakob Ashlin: "According to Pro Football Reference, opponents have completed 20 out of 21 pass attempts for 209 yards and three touchdowns, when targeting Gerry. The Steelers exploited Gerry in pass coverage last week by utilizing Chase Claypool. Gerry has been on the field for 99% of the Eagles' snaps this season, so the Ravens will have plenty of opportunities to challenge him in coverage. He will likely be matched up against tight end Mark Andrews often. The Ravens need to take advantage of that mismatch throughout Sunday's game."

Table inside Article
Source Team Selected Panelists Score Comments
ESPN
10 of 10 panelists pick Ravens N/A
Baltimore Sun
4 of 4 panelists pick Ravens “Philadelphia’s talented front four could fluster Lamar Jackson, but count on the MVP to deliver a bounce-back performance, fans or no fans.”— Jonas Shaffer
USA Today
7 of 7 panelists pick Ravens N/A
NFL.com
Ravens 30, Eagles 23 “Lamar Jackson and the Ravens' offense are playing dramatically worse than they did in 2019, but they are still playing well enough to win with obvious room for improvement.”— Gregg Rosenthal
NFL Network
6 of 6 panelists pick Ravens N/A
Sporting News
Ravens 23, Eagles 20 “Jackson and [Carson] Wentz play to a tough draw, with a big late kick by Justin Tucker making the difference.” — Vinnie Iyer
CBS Sports
8 of 8 panelists pick Ravens “Look for Lamar Jackson to have a big day against the Eagles secondary. The Ravens defense will also get the best of the Philly offense. Ravens win it big.”— Pete Prisco
Pro Football Talk
3 of 3 panelists pick Ravens “Carson Wentz is looking better the last couple weeks than he did in his disastrous start, but the Ravens’ defense should dominate the Eagles up front and the Ravens’ running game will sit on the lead.” — Michael David Smith
Sports Illustrated
5 of 6 panelists pick Ravens N/A
Fansided
Ravens 29, Eagles 17 N/A

Ravens Defense Ranked No. 1 By Pro Football Focus

Last season it was the Ravens' record-breaking offense getting all the headlines. This season, it's the defense's turn.

Coming off a dominant performance in a 27-3 win over the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday, Baltimore has the No. 1 defense in Pro Football Focus' rankings.

"The Ravens have been one of the league's heaviest blitz proponents and have called one in 2020 on nearly half their pass plays faced at 49.6% — the second-highest rate in the NFL and over 20 percentage points higher than the league average," PFF's Anthony Treash wrote. "Their daunting blitz terrorized rookie quarterback Joe Burrow this past week and is one of the biggest reasons why Baltimore had the best EPA (expected points added) per play allowed of Week 5 at -0.46, the best in a single game by an NFL team this season.

"With the help of Marlon Humphrey shining in the secondary (eighth highest-graded cornerback) and the stout defensive front led by Calais Campbell, this Ravens defense is one of two defenses to rank in the top five in both EPA per rush and pass allowed."

ESPN's Jamison Hensley said the Ravens defense, which is allowing a league-low 15.2 points per game, has become the team's MVP.

"When you exclude the Week 3 loss to Kansas City, this defense has created more than twice as many turnovers (nine) as touchdowns allowed (four)," Hensley wrote. "In the four wins this season, this defense has totaled more quarterback hits (43) than points given up (42).

"So far this season, Jackson and the Ravens are not reaching the end zone as frequently and not eating up as much clock. This hasn't affected the defense, which ranks in the top five in yards per play, rushing yards allowed and third-down conversions."

Sports Illustrated Trade Proposal: Julio Jones to the Ravens

The Ravens adding a proven veteran wide receiver has been a frequent topic of discussion among fans and pundits for some time. Could they swing a trade for one before the Nov. 3 trade deadline?

Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr said he'd like to see the Ravens acquire Atlanta Falcons star Julio Jones in exchange for a first-round pick.

"Jones would electrify the market, which is desperate for game-breaking wide receiver talent and he'd been a boon for the Ravens, a team that flirted with a bunch of different options at the position in the preseason," Orr wrote. "Lamar Jackson openly lobbied for Antonio Brown, and while his target share to tight ends has decreased since last year — leading to more opportunities for Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin — the Ravens could balance an offense that is second in the league in percentage of explosive running plays (17%) but 15th in percentage of explosive passing plays (9%).

"Despite being 0–5, the Falcons have a formidable explosive play rate. Jones has only played in three games this year, but is working with his highest career catch rate to date despite one of the lower average separation numbers in the NFL. A developing gunslinger like Jackson might be the perfect pairing."

Jones, 31, has had seven 1,000-yard seasons, including six straight heading into this season. He's been hampered by a hamstring injury this year and has just 15 catches for 213 yards and no touchdowns.

Meanwhile, NFL.com's Bill Barnwell has proposed a three-team trade between the Ravens, Seahawks and Falcons that would send Seattle tight end Jacob Hollister to Baltimore, which would give up a 2021 seventh-round pick.

Hollister, signed by the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2017, had a career-high 41 catches for 349 yards and three touchdowns with the Seahawks last season. He has just two catches for 10 yards and a touchdown this season.

"For the Seahawks, moving on from Hollister is more about cap space than anything else, given that the 2019 contributor has played just 48 offensive snaps this season and has a cap hold of $3.3 million, Barnwell wrote. "The Ravens have disappointed a bit on offense this season, and while trading away Hayden Hurst probably wasn't the difference between what we've seen in 2020 and what we saw in 2019, they are down to two tight ends in Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle.

"Hollister would fill the Hurst role from a year ago and give Baltimore some insurance if Andrews gets banged up in an expanded role. Baltimore would need to free up some short-term cap space to get the deal done."

Last Year's Trade for Marcus Peters Was 'Perhaps the Deal of the Year'

Speaking of midseason trades, it was a year ago yesterday that General Manager Eric DeCosta acquired All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters for backup linebacker Kenny Young and a fifth-round pick.

"It turned out to be perhaps the deal of the year," The Baltimore Sun's Shaffer wrote. "In his first game with the Ravens, Peters returned an interception for a touchdown in a road win against the Seattle Seahawks. In his third game, he had another pick-six. Peters finished the season with three interceptions in 10 games and All-Pro honors."

Peters, who signed a three-year extension in December of 2019, already has two interceptions this season, and he recorded his first career sack last week against the Bengals.

"He's helped take the Ravens' secondary to the next level," Baltimore Beatdown's Kyle P Barber wrote. "In all, the trade was undoubtedly a masterful flip by DeCosta to bolster the roster and demonstrate his desire to win."

Quick Hits

  • Rookie linebacker Patrick Queen appeared on "Good Morning Football" to discuss being named AFC Defensive Player of the Week and more.

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