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Late for Work 12/2: Ravens Have Reportedly Had Talks With Odell Beckham Jr.

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) runs during an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Arizona Cardinals Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) runs during an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Arizona Cardinals Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif.

Ravens Reportedly Have Had Talks With Odell Beckham Jr.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.'s free-agent tour reportedly kicked off yesterday with a visit to the team that drafted him, the New York Giants. The three-time Pro Bowler is scheduled to meet with Buffalo Bills today and Dallas Cowboys on Monday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter

You probably noticed the Ravens, whose offense could use a player with Beckham's capabilities, aren't on the itinerary. That doesn't mean they aren't interested, however.

CBS Sports' Josina Anderson reported that the Ravens have been in contact with Beckham.

"I mentioned that he was having conversations with the Ravens, who have already had talks as far as how he would fit into the offense, what to expect from Lamar from the first and the fourth quarter, who are really interested in what Odell can do for them now," Anderson said.

Anderson added that Beckham also has drawn interest from the Kansas City Chiefs.

ESPN analyst and former Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III doesn't see Beckham choosing the Ravens.

Baltimore Is a Unanimous Pick to Defeat Denver

While the Ravens' upset loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday was undeniably disappointing, it's all relative. Consider, for example, the Denver Broncos, the Ravens' opponent this Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

After acquiring nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson and a fourth-round pick from the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for three players and five draft picks — including two first-rounders and two second-rounders — in March, the Broncos entered the season projected to win 10.5 games (the same as the Ravens) and with the eighth-best odds to win the Super Bowl (one spot ahead of the Ravens).

However, the only team in the NFL the Broncos (3-8) have more wins than is the one-win Houston Texans. They've lost three straight, seven of their past eight, and are 1-5 away from Mile High Stadium.

"[Broncos Head Coach Nathaniel] Hackett is on the hot seat 11 games into his first season as head coach. Analysts are debating where the Wilson trade ranks among the worst in league history," The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker wrote. "Compared to these franchise-shaking woes, the Ravens' inability to finish off opponents feels like a minor flaw."

The Broncos are averaging a league-worst 14.3 points per game, which presents the Ravens defense with a golden opportunity to get the bad taste from its fourth-quarter collapse against the Jaguars out its mouth.

The Ravens offense, which struggled in the red zone last Sunday and managed just 13 points the week before against the Carolina Panthers, figures to have a tougher challenge getting back on track this weekend.

The lone bright side for Denver this season has been its defense, which ranks third in both points and yards. Due to its defense keeping them in games, six of the Broncos' losses have been by one score, including three in overtime.

The 41 pundits we sampled all believe the AFC North-leading Ravens (7-4) will rebound this week by bouncing the Broncos. Here's what they're saying about the game:

The Ravens will win, but it won't be pretty.

Walker: "Lamar Jackson probably won't go off against a very good Denver pass defense, but it's hard to imagine the Broncos scoring enough points to keep up with the Ravens' still-reliable ground attack. Just don't expect any of this one to be pretty."

Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith: "The Broncos' offense is broken, and it's not going to get fixed this season. This has the feel of an ugly game."

NBC Sports' Chris Simms: "I think it's going to be ugly. I don't think this is going to be an easy one. … We know the Broncos defense is damn good, but I have no faith in the Broncos offense."

The Broncos will lose by one score yet again.

USA Today’s Lorenzo Reyes: "The Broncos have, for the most part, kept their losses to within one score. On the other side, Baltimore may be the most unreliable team in the NFL, constantly blowing big leads."

The Broncos are tanking, while the Ravens are fuming.

FanSided’s Matt Vederame: "The Broncos appear to have completely given up, while the Ravens are going to be furious after losing to the Jaguars. Bad combination for Denver."

The Ravens' running game will carry them to a convincing victory.

Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton: "Though Lamar Jackson has thrown only two touchdown passes and an interception over his last three games, he can find success on the ground in a matchup with the Broncos' 19th-ranked run defense. The dual-threat signal-caller has rushed for 755 yards and three scores in 11 games. … Baltimore's second-ranked ground attack mows down Denver in a decisive home win."

Big plays on defense could be what wins the game.

Russell Street Report’s Chris Schisler: "The Ravens must have the advantage in sacks and quarterback pressures. The offense can use all the help they can get right now. The defense needs to sack Wilson four to six times in this game. If Wilson looks comfortable in the pocket, the Ravens have a big problem because that hasn't happened all year. If the Ravens get beaten by quick release passes for the second week in a row, it won't just be a problem, but a crisis. This is the ultimate get-right game for Mike Macdonald's defense, and it should produce impressive pass rushing numbers."

Bold prediction: Wilson will have just his second game of the season with two or more touchdown passes.

ESPN’s Jeff Legwold: "The Ravens have surrendered five 300-yard passing games to opposing quarterbacks this season -- one 400-yard game -- but only three opposing passers have found a way to throw for more than one touchdown pass against Baltimore's defense. If the Broncos can finally put aside their devotion to a three-wide receiver set as their primary, Wilson will find a way in this one."

Table inside Article
Source Prediction Commentary
ESPN 5 of 5 panelists pick Ravens
Baltimore Sun Ravens 20, Broncos 10 “The Ravens don’t want to contemplate where they’ll be if they lose to the drain-circling Broncos at home. Lamar Jackson probably won’t go off against a very good Denver pass defense, but it’s hard to imagine the Broncos scoring enough points to keep up with the Ravens’ still-reliable ground attack. Just don’t expect any of this one to be pretty." — Childs Walker
USA Today 6 of 6 panelists pick Ravens Ravens 26, Broncos 10 “Finally, a team Baltimore can't blow a lead against. Denver's defense has quietly turned average over the last month, worn down by injuries, the Bradley Chubb trade and trying to hold up a pathetic offense. The Broncos are averaging fewer points per game than any team since the 2000 Browns and there's little reason to think they'll improve against a talented, ornery Ravens group.” — Gregg Rosenthal
NFL Network 10 of 10 panelists pick Ravens
Sporting News Ravens 27, Broncos 10 “The Ravens' defense went back to having major lapses against the pass against Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars. There's nothing like that to worry about with Russell Wilson and an evaporating Broncos' offense, save for the running of fill-in Latavius Murray, who ran for the Ravens last season. Lamar Jackson will do enough running and short passing to keep the ball moving and avoid mistakes, while the Broncos keep folding.” — Vinnie Iyer
CBS Sports 8 of 8 panelists pick Ravens “The Broncos are lifeless on offense, which is never a good thing playing consecutive road games and especially against a team coming off a horrible loss. The Ravens haven't exactly been lighting things up on offense, but they will do enough here to win it and make the Broncos' season-long misery continue.” — Pete Prisco
Pro Football Talk 3 of 3 panelists pick Ravens “The Broncos’ offense is broken, and it’s not going to get fixed this season. This has the feel of an ugly game.” — Michael David Smith
Sports Illustrated 5 of 5 panelists pick Ravens
Fansided Ravens 24, Broncos 6 “The Broncos appear to have completely given up, while the Ravens are going to be furious after losing to the Jaguars. Bad combination for Denver.” — Matt Verderame

Which Team Should the Ravens Want to Avoid in the Playoffs?

The Ravens have a great chance of making the playoffs —a 95 percent chance, to be exact, according to ESPN's Power Football Index. ESPN's Bill Barnwell looked at the teams with the 10-best odds to make the playoffs and identified each one's biggest flaw and the team it should avoid in the postseason.

For the Ravens, Barnwell said their Achilles heel is opposing blitzes.

"In 2021, the book on slowing down Lamar Jackson involved sending extra pressure. Jackson was blitzed at the second-highest rate in the league, and it worked; he was the sixth-best quarterback when teams sent four rushers or fewer, but when they added on a fifth rusher (or more), his QBR dropped to 26th," Barnwell wrote. "Jackson is incredibly slippery in the pocket, but it's tougher to slip away from two or three rushers than it is one. This season, it looked like the Ravens had found solutions to their problem. Over the first three weeks, Jackson posted a 99.2 QBR against the blitz. He averaged nearly 13 yards per attempt against extra pressure, throwing six touchdown passes without a pick. Add in his ability as a scrambler and the threat of a big play if he made it past the blitz, and defensive coordinators were likely facing sleepless nights against the new Jackson.

"Unfortunately, it was a blip. Since then, he ranks 28th in QBR against extra rushers. He's averaging just 6.1 yards per attempt and has thrown five touchdown passes against three picks. With teams continuing to blitz him at the second-highest rate (behind only Jared Goff), the Ravens' offense has struggled to find consistency."

Barnwell said the Chiefs are the team the Ravens don't want to see come January.

"Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has a well-earned reputation for dialing up timely exotic blitzes," Barnwell wrote. "The Chiefs have more defensive line depth than they have in years past and can get by rushing four, but they have the league's eighth-best QBR when sending extra rushers. The weakness of the Kansas City defense is at cornerback; do the Ravens have the wide receivers to exploit that problem?"

Barnwell said the contender that doesn't want to see the Ravens in the playoffs is the Cincinnati Bengals, who have been below average on special teams this season and particularly struggled with punting.

"I'll throw out what would be a third matchup against the Ravens, who perennially rank among the league leaders in special teams," Barnwell wrote. "They rank first in special teams DVOA and fourth in production on punt returns. Of course, the Bengals might have to go through the Ravens to determine their postseason fate, given that these two will meet in Week 18 with a division title potentially on the line."

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