Predictions for Ravens vs. Colts
To say it's been a challenging week for the Ravens would be an understatement.
They lost All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley to a season-ending ankle injury during a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at home last Sunday. The next morning, All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Seven players deemed "high-risk close contacts" joined Humphrey on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, and six aren't eligible to practice until tomorrow.
Not exactly an ideal way to head into Sunday's game against the Colts (5-2), the AFC South co-leaders, who are 3-0 at home.
However, the majority of pundits we looked at believe the Ravens (5-2) — who have not lost two games in a row since September 2019 and have won nine consecutive road games, the longest active streak in the NFL — will overcome adversity. Thirty-five of 44 pundits are predicting a Ravens victory.
Here's a sample of what they're saying about the game:
The Ravens are the better team overall.
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal: "I love Darius Leonard. I love Julian Blackmon. I love DeForest Buckner. But the Ravens' running game is coming off its best game of the year, and Baltimore still has more ways to win, with more firepower than the Colts, on both sides of the ball."
The Ravens will prevail in a defensive contest.
Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer: "The Colts' defense comes in playing well, making big plays all over the field. Philip Rivers has played better of late, too. This screams like an ugly battle of attrition where yards are tough to come by with two stout all-around defenses on the field. While [Lamar] Jackson will run out of trouble at key points, Rivers cannot."
Lamar Jackson will rebound from last week's four-turnover game against the Steelers and lead the Ravens to victory.
CBS Sports' Pete Prisco: "I know the Colts are better on defense. They've played much better on that side of the ball because of a lot of young players growing up, but I think this is a spot where the passing game gets going for the Ravens. … Lamar Jackson finally gets the passing game cranked up."
The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker: "Everything seems to be pointing the Colts' way. They're undefeated at home, with one of the league's best all-around defenses, and they'll face a diminished version of the Ravens without Stanley or Humphrey. The Ravens will need Jackson to recapture his MVP form to have a chance, and the guess here is he will have a bounce-back game against a team that's feasted on soft competition."
Ravens RB J.K. Dobbins vs. ColtsLBDarius Leonard is a key matchup.
Russell Street Report's Matt Wise: "Leonard is a sideline-to-sideline playmaker who can cause headaches for opposing offenses. Dobbins' ability to make plays with Leonard roaming around on the second level of the Colts defense could have a big impact on the game."
The Ravens' No. 1 rushing attack will have success against the Colts' No. 2 run defense.
Pro Football Talk's Chris Simms: "The Ravens can run the football on anybody; it doesn't matter. I don't give a damn how good your defense is. Look what they did to the Steelers last week. … As much as I respect this Colts defense, it's hard when you haven't played this offense before.
The Ravens have a pass rush that could force Philip Rivers into making mistakes.
CBS Sports' Brady Quinn: "I'm concerned about the Ravens getting pressure on Philip Rivers, forcing him to get the football out and potentially making some poor decisions turning the football over."
|Source||Team Selected||Panelists Score||Comments|
|ESPN||8 of 10 panelists pick Ravens||N/A|
|Baltimore Sun||Ravens 30, Colts 24||“The Ravens will need Jackson to recapture his MVP form to have a chance, and the guess here is he will have a bounce-back game against a team that’s feasted on soft competition.”— Childs Walker|
|USA Today||6 of 7 panelists pick Ravens||N/A|
|NFL.com||Ravens 24, Colts 20||“I love Darius Leonard. I love Julian Blackmon. I love DeForest Buckner. But the Ravens' running game is coming off its best game of the year and Baltimore still has more ways to win, with more firepower than the Colts, on both sides of the ball. ” — Gregg Rosenthal|
|NFL Network||5 of 6 panelists pick Ravens||N/A|
|Sporting News||Ravens 23, Colts 17||“This screams like an ugly battle of attrition where yards are tough to come by with two stout all-around defenses on the field. While [Lamar] Jackson will run out of trouble at key points, [Philip] Rivers cannot.” — Vinnie Iyer|
|CBS Sports||5 of 8 panelists pick Ravens||“The Baltimore offense has run it well, but it will be the passing that wins this game. Lamar Jackson gets it going.”— Pete Prisco|
|Pro Football Talk||3 of 3 panelists pick Ravens||“The Colts’ strong run defense keeps this game close, but the Ravens manage to pull out a low-scoring win.” — Michael David Smith|
|Sports Illustrated||4 of 6 panelists pick Ravens||N/A|
|Fansided||Ravens 24, Colts 22||“Baltimore is the better team but the Colts are home. Ultimately, do you trust Lamar Jackson or Philip Rivers more?” — Matt Verderame|
Midseason Grades for Ravens Defense, Specialists
In yesterday's Late for Work, we looked at The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec's midseason grades for the Ravens offense. Today's it's the defense's turn. Here are some excerpts:
Defensive linemen: B+
Comments: "The Ravens' prized offseason addition, [Calais] Campbell has solidified the team in the interior and provided both leadership and a pass-rush presence. … For the most part, the Ravens have been stout against the run and that usually means that [Brandon] Williams, their big nose tackle, is doing his part. … The coaching staff seems pleased with [Derek Wolfe's] play although they'd like to see a few more disruptive plays. … [Rookie Justin Madubuike] flashed at times in three games, but he's yet to make a significant impact. The Ravens feel that will come."
Outside linebackers: C
Comments: "[Judon] does a lot more for the Ravens defense than he's given credit for, and he plays his role well. The Ravens, though, would surely like to see him get to the quarterback and make a few more game-changing plays in the second half. … [Pernell McPhee] still flashes as a pass rusher and has two sacks and nine quarterback hits on the year. He also sets a solid edge in the running game and has emerged as a vocal leader. … [Tyus Bowser] has come on as a solid all-around player. He has two sacks and he's made a few plays in pass coverage. … [Jaylon Ferguson] has strung together three of his best games as a Raven. He has two sacks and 13 tackles over his last four games and he's pushing for even more playing time. … Acquired late last month for two draft picks, [Yannick] Ngakoue had a relatively quiet debut against Pittsburgh with just one tackle. He should get more and more comfortable and be the type of explosive edge rusher that the Ravens have coveted."
Inside linebackers: B
Comments: "[First-round pick Patrick Queen] has been as advertised, starting all seven games and leading the team with 48 tackles to go along with two sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and a defensive touchdown. … [L.J.] Fort is a steady performer who has been a valuable veteran resource for Queen and also an integral presence on special teams. … [Rookie Malik Harrison] has made a few plays, but it doesn't seem that he's gained the full trust of the coaching staff and that's understandable for a rookie."
Comments: "Humphrey has been the team's best and most consistent player, emerging not only as a shutdown-type corner, but a defensive playmaker. He has 40 tackles, four forced fumbles, 2.5 sacks and five passes defended. He's also again moved into the slot after Tavon Young's season-ending knee injury and his play hasn't dropped off. … [Marcus Peters] has gotten caught at times being too aggressive and he's also seemingly been impacted by a quad injury. However, there's still been more good than bad from Peters and he continues to take the ball away with two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. … [Jimmy} Smith has done a little bit of everything, playing outside, matching up against tight ends in the slot and playing some safety. The most important thing so far is that he's stayed healthy, which other corners have struggled to do."
Comments: "[Chuck Clark] has been steady as expected and continues to call the signals for the defense. Clark is second on the team with 42 tackles and he also has 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. … There have been a few struggles and [DeShon] Elliott was a little tentative early, but he's settled in nicely and seemingly finds himself around the ball a lot."
Comments: "[Kicker Justin] Tucker continues to be the gold standard at his position. … [Punter Sam] Koch hasn't pinned teams as deep as he'd probably like on occasion, but he is still nullifying opposing return games and getting the football down for Tucker to put it through the uprights. … Reliable and steady, this season has been business as usual for veteran long snapper [Morgan Cox]."
Are the Ravens Still Legitimate Super Bowl Contenders?
After suffering losses to the Kansas City Chiefs and Steelers this season, are the Ravens still legitimate Super Bowl contenders? The Good Morning Football crew tackled the question, and there were differing opinions.
"I know that Lamar Jackson hasn't necessarily caught his MVP-like rhythm, but I guarantee that he will," Nate Burleson said. "You know what's going to work when the weather starts to change and these teams are playing outdoors? Nothing when it comes to Lamar's speed. When other teams slow down, Lamar will remain fast.
"They will start to implement Lamar Jackson running the ball a little bit more and he will become dominant. And a dominant Lamar means this team is always in the hunt and they're always legitimate contenders."
Kay Adams agreed, saying: "You can't be out on them yet. It's only Week 9. … I also feel like a little adversity isn't this worst thing for the Baltimore Ravens. They won 12 straight [last year], a lot of things have come to them pretty easy. This might be helpful in the long run."
Kyle Brandt offered an opposing viewpoint.
"Super Bowl contender? No, not now. Maybe a month from now they will be," Brandt said. "Every team does have its own strengths and weaknesses, but your weakness can't be that you lose to the good teams when you play them."