Late for Work 9/23: ESPN Analyst Explains Why Ravens Could Win Big on Monday Night

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OLB Matt Judon

Orlovsky: Chiefs Could Be 'Door Stomped' by the Ravens on Monday Night

The Ravens enter Monday night's matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs as close favorites, but one analyst believes the game could be one-sided.

After the Chiefs narrowly avoided an early-season upset against the Los Angeles Chargers, ESPN's Dan Orlovsky warned that Kansas City could be in danger of being "door stomped" by the Ravens if they repeat their Week 2 performance.

"They've got to play better," Orlovsky said. "They have not executed efficiently. They've been poor on first downs. That's why they got into so many third-and-longs. So it's great when you can win football games in the NFL but also learn from them, right? We so often talk about how we can learn from our mistakes. They can go learn from this football game while also sitting 2-0 and that's going to matter next Monday night."

It's not often you hear those words used to describe the reigning Super Bowl champions, but the Chiefs didn't look like their dominant selves on Sunday. They didn't lead in the game until Harrison Butker's 58-yard game-winning field goal kick in overtime.

The Chargers provided a potential blueprint to slowing down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense. Mahomes finished 27-of-47 for 302 yards and two touchdowns, but completed less than half of his passes in the first half. Tyreek Hill was held without a catch in the first half and dynamic rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was limited to just 38 rushing yards.

The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer dove into the film and looked at two questions that could dictate Monday's matchup.

Shotgunformation could be an advantage.

"The bad news for Kansas City defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo isn't that this Ravens offense has more talent than the Texans' or the Chargers'," Shaffer wrote. "It's that this Ravens offense is committed to using the kind of formations that the Texans and Chargers bludgeoned the Chiefs with. ...

In Baltimore, the Chiefs will face an offense that avoids traditional under-center formations like they're potholes. The Ravens have run 123 offensive plays this season. Only seven weren't out of a shotgun or pistol formation; three were in 1-yard-to-go scenarios, and the rest were kneel-downs."

Mahomescould change Ravens' blitz plans.

"The Ravens' first two matchups with Mahomes offer few clues as to how defensive coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale might approach Monday's game," Shaffer wrote. "In 2018, Mahomes finished 16 of 22 for 180 yards and a touchdown against five or more Ravens pass rushers, according to ESPN. Overall, Mahomes went 35-for-53 for 377 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, one of his least impressive performances in a Most Valuable Player-worthy season.

"In 2019, it was a different story with a similar ending. According to a review of the Chiefs' Week 3 win, the Ravens blitzed just 17 times on Mahomes' 39 drop-backs. A defense that finished the season with a league-high 54.9% blitz rate sent five or more pass rushers after Mahomes just 43.6% of the time. (Even that rate might be inflated, as two 'blitzes' came on delayed, passive rushes by linebackers.)"

"[T]he two games we saw Mahomes struggle in was against a four-man rush, an unrelenting four-man rush," ESPN's Marcus Spears added."The Ravens are going to have to not only keep Jackson with the rock in his hand, but they also are going to have to make timely defensive plays."

L.J. Fort is Pro Football Focus' Highest-Graded Inside Linebacker

In Monday's edition of Late for Work, we highlighted how important L.J. Fort's contributions have been this season, and he's no longer flying under the radar. Through two games, Fort is Pro Football Focus' highest-graded inside linebacker (89.4).

Fort has combined for seven tackles and one quarterback hit. He leads the league with two fumble recoveries, one which he returned for a touchdown against the Texans.

Inside linebacker was one of the offseason's biggest storylines. Fort has provided stability at the position along with rookies Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison.

Russell Street Report's Dev Panchwagh said Fort is the unsung hero of the defense, and it's far from a hot take.

"One of the most underrated signings of Eric DeCosta's era as a general manager has to be Fort coming in last season off the scrap heap to fill a major hole at ILB," Panchwagh wrote. "You could argue that DeCosta's decision to extend him on a long-term deal was an even better move.

"As Queen and Harrison continue to learn the ropes as rookies, Fort continues to be a steadying influence for this defense, and his value goes beyond the stat sheet. He's typically the guy not standing out on the splash plays, but it was good to see him get the recognition on the key TD scoop and score."

Ravens Crack the Top of Latest Power Rankings

There's little debate about who is the best team in the NFL, at least when you look at the power rankings.

After a 33-16 win over the Texans in Week 2, the Ravens went from a consensus top-three team to cracking the top spot.

"The Ravens are unfair right now," NFL.com's Dan Hanzus wrote. "The running game returned to its dominant ways against the Texans, piling up 230 yards, including the game-icing 30-yard direct-snap Mark Ingram touchdown on fourth-and-1. The design and execution -- in that spot of the game -- tells you everything you need to know about this team and the confidence it's playing with. The passing game was deadly, as well, as Jackson connected on 75 percent of his passes to nine different targets. Did I mention the defense smothered Deshaun Watson and had a score of its own? That January playoff loss to the Titans is ancient history. This is the best, most complete team in the NFL right now."

The Ravens ranked first or second in four of the six publications we looked at (NFL.com, Bleacher Report, ESPN, USA Today). NFL.com, BR, and USA Today moved them up to No. 1 spot, while CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated kept them at No. 3.

"[T]wo weeks into the 2020 campaign, the Ravens once again look like the best team in the league," BR wrote. "Jackson and the offense barely worked up a sweat in dispatching the reigning AFC South champions in their own house Sunday. On offense, the Ravens piled up 230 yards on the ground and amassed over six yards per carry. On defense, the Ravens barely allowed 300 yards of offense and just one touchdown.

"It's the Ravens in my mind, and then everybody else," BR's Adam Lefkoe added. "Because they're the only team that I feel like are solid in every aspect of a football team."

What can Jackson and company do to become the consensus No. 1 team in the power rankings like we saw for most of last season?

"They rolled over the Texans, dominating on both sides of the ball," wrote CBS Sports' Pete Prisco, who moved the Ravens up three spots in the rankings. "Now they get that chance they didn't get in the playoffs last year to take on the Chiefs."

Table inside Article
Source Ranking Last Week's Ranking Comments
ESPN No. 2 No. 2 N/A
NFL.com No. 1 No. 2 “The Ravens are unfair right now. … That January playoff loss to the Titans is ancient history. This is the best, most complete team in the NFL right now.”
Bleacher Report No. 1 No. 2 “[T]wo weeks into the 2020 campaign, the Ravens once again look like the best team in the league.”
USA Today No. 1 No. 2 “They've won 14 consecutive regular-season games – their last five by at least 16 points – and this year's dominant 2-0 start comes with an average margin of victory of 24.5 points.”
Sports Illustrated No. 3 No. 3 “We’re seeing Jackson develop a pocket presence that is so far beyond his age. He has completed more than 75 percent of his passes and his bad throw percentage is down to six—six!—through two games this season.”
CBS Sports No. 3 No. 6 “They rolled over the Texans, dominating on both sides of the ball. Now they get that chance they didn't get in the playoffs last year to take on the Chiefs.”

Ray Rice Sees Himself in J.K. Dobbins on the Field

One of the easiest on-field comparisons for J.K. Dobbins when he arrived in Baltimore was Ray Rice. After all, both were drafted 55th overall and wear No. 27.

Rice joined 105.7 the Fan's "Inside Access," and said he sees shades of himself watching the rookie running back.

"Have y'all seen that video where Chad Ochocinco was watching Davante Adams?" Rice said. "Seeing Dobbins, hand hit the ground, kinda get up and go, it was like an emotional moment because it's like poetry. … You're watching yourself, you're feeling everything that supposedly he felt in that moment.

"As long as he wears No. 27, I have all due respect for him to just take off and do it better. It makes me proud to know that he was the pick, same stature. There are things that are so similar, I probably could call Eric [DeCosta] and if I wanted to disguise myself. I can get in there and I'd be alright."

Playing behind Willis McGahee, Rice rushed for 454 yards in 13 games as a rookie. Dobbins entered a similar situation behind Ingram this season and has made his presence felt through two weeks. He found the end zone twice in the Week 1 win against the Cleveland Browns, and broke off two long runs on Sunday.

"He's a great young back, man," Ingram said of Dobbins back in August. "He had a great career at Ohio State. That's what this league is all about, especially running backs. Being able to pay the game forward. I had guys that paid the game forward to me. Just to be able to pass the game down — pass knowledge down — anything he wants to know, I'm there to help him. I'm there to support him."

Quick Hits

  • Ronnie Stanley and Marcus Peters made PFF's Team of the Week.
  • NFL.com's David Carr ranked Jackson as the NFL's second-best offensive player behind Russell Wilson.
  • Praise continues to roll in for DeShon Elliott. "Solid is a good word," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "I think he's still getting a feel for it and playing a bit conservative and not wanting to let receivers get behind him. That's not a bad thing. But as he gets more comfortable, I'd expect him to put himself in a few more play-making opportunities. He'll be tested Monday, no doubt. Interesting that Mahomes is one of his close friends. Should be fun chess match."

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