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Late for Work 9/16: What Pundits Expect in Ravens' Home Opener vs. Dolphins

QB Lamar Jackson
QB Lamar Jackson

Majority of Pundits Predict Ravens to Prevail Over Dolphins

The Ravens' home opener this Sunday will be the third meeting between Lamar Jackson and the Miami Dolphins. To say Jackson experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows in the first two meetings would be an understatement.

In the 2019 season opener, Jackson went 17-for-20 with five touchdown passes and posted a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating to lead the Ravens to a 59-10 win in Miami. The Ravens set single-game franchise records for points and total yards (643).

Last season in Miami, the Dolphins blitzed Jackson relentlessly en route to a shocking 22-10 upset. It's the fewest points the Ravens have scored in a regular-season game since Jackson became the starter.

The pundits are expecting Sunday's game to be unlike either of the first two. The majority of the prognosticators we looked at (42 of 50) picked Baltimore to win, but of the 31 who predicted the score, 28 have the game being decided by seven points or less, including 14 who have margin of victory at four points or less.

Both teams are coming off convincing season-opening victories.

"I've decided I'm giving a slight edge to the Ravens because it's their home opener," CBS Sports’ John Breech wrote. "Not only is Lamar Jackson undefeated in home openers (3-0), but the Ravens have won six straight dating back to 2016."

Here's a sample of what the pundits are saying about the game:

How the Ravens offense counters the Dolphins' blitzes will dictate the outcome of the game.’s Gregg Rosenthal: "How Lamar Jackson and the Ravens' staff handle the Dolphins' blitzes will be a great litmus test after these teams' Week 10 meeting last season, when Miami exposed a hole in the Ravens' passing game that wasn't (presumably) plugged until the offseason. Baltimore tried more runs under center last week, without great success, but I'll take Lamar over Tua Tagovailoa if both offenses are in one-dimensional, figuring-it-out mode."

The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker: "The Dolphins ranked second in the league in blitz percentage last season, and they trust cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Nik Needham to press on the outside. Jackson will have to beat them with big plays to achieve a different result this time around. The Dolphins, led by Christian Wilkins and Emmanuel Ogbah upfront, will bring pressure from every angle to try to rattle him."

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio: "Last year, the Dolphins flummoxed the Ravens offense by crowding the line. The Ravens will be ready for it this time."

The Ravens offense will need to be creative and aggressive from the outset.

Baltimore Positive’s Luke Jones: "By their own admission, the Ravens kept it simple and conservative on offense in the season opener, but they cannot allow the Dolphins to dictate how Sunday's game is played like they did last year."

S Brandon Jones is the Dolphins' X-factor.

Pro Football Network’s Adam Beasley: "Ten months later, [the Ravens and Dolphins] meet again, this time in Baltimore. While many of the specifics have changed, one aspect will almost certainly remain the same: [Miami Defensive Coordinator] Josh Boyer will dial up a ton of blitzes, and ascending Dolphins strong safety Brandon Jones will be asked to execute many of them. Jones and fellow safety Jevon Holland blitzed Jackson 15 and 17 times, respectively, in that last meeting — and often did so on the same play. The Dolphins' use of the Cover Zero blitz — when every receiver is single-covered, and every other available player gets after the QB — completely broke the up-until-then effective Ravens offense."

Will the Ravens be able to run the ball effectively against the Dolphins' stout run defense?

Walker: "The Jets went all out to stop the Ravens on the ground, and the bad news for offensive coordinator Greg Roman was that they succeeded. The Ravens, using recently signed Kenyan Drake as their primary ball carrier, ran for 63 yards on 21 attempts, their second-worst rushing performance of the Jackson era. … J.K. Dobbins, the team's No. 1 running back when healthy, has said he hopes to play against Miami. The Dolphins' aggressive play stifled the Ravens' run game last year, and they held the Patriots to 78 yards on 22 attempts in Week 1. Former Raven Zach Sieler has grown into the top interior run defender for a productive front seven. With Boyer's defense crowding the line of scrimmage, this will not be an easy week for the Ravens to get their ground attack on track."

The Ravens' secondary is banged up and the Dolphins have two explosive wide receivers in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, but Tagovailoa is a question mark.

NBC Sports’ Chris Simms "The Ravens losing Kyle Fuller last week at corner with Marcus Peters not being back yet either, that bothers me a little. But I still think the Ravens' defense, like the Dolphins', is damn awesome. And even though they have Waddle and Tyreek Hill … I gotta see it before [Tagovailoa] goes bombs away and really scares teams."

Jackson and Tagovailoa have a lot riding on this season.

Bleacher Report: "On one hand, Lamar Jackson has bet on himself in a contract year after he rejected a lucrative six-year extension from the Ravens, per ESPN's Chris Mortensen. On the opposing sideline, Tua Tagovailoa needs to make strides in a crucial third year with the addition of All-Pro wideout Tyreek Hill, three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Terron Armstead, slot wideout Cedrick Wilson Jr. and three-down running back Chase Edmonds. With a little more at stake for the quarterbacks, this matchup could turn into a duel late in the fourth quarter."

DTJustin Madubuike vs. Dolphins OGs Liam Eichenberg/Robert Hunt is a key matchup.

ussell Street Report’s James Ogden: "A huge key to this week's game is the Ravens' ability to get pressure on Tagovailoa and make sure any completions to Hill and [Jaylen] Waddle are quick ones into tight coverage. Crucial to this will be the Ravens' ability to get pressure up the middle quickly. Some of us forgot that Madubuike's second year was really his rookie year after missing so much time his first season. He showed in Week 1 that he's ready for a breakout as the Ravens' interior wrecking ball. I've already talked about him working in tandem with [Odafe] Oweh on stunts, but he has a straight-up winnable matchup against the weakness of the Miami offensive line, in Robert Hunt's pass protection, or if he moves to the other side, Liam Eichenberg has struggled with most things since he entered the league. Madubuike should feast. And, more than likely, as goes Madubuike and the Ravens interior pass rush this week, as goes the Ravens' pursuit of a second win to open the season."

Table inside Article
Source Prediction Commentary
ESPN 8 of 10 panelists pick Ravens
Baltimore Sun 4 of 5 panelists pick Ravens “This is the Ravens’ first real test of 2022, against a team that gave them fits in November. The Dolphins will attack from every angle at the line of scrimmage and dare [Lamar] Jackson to beat them over the top. Meanwhile, they’ll count on [Tyreek] Hill and [Jaylen] Waddle to run wild against a revamped Baltimore secondary. This would be an easier call if the Ravens had all their key players, but Jackson will hit on enough downfield throws to pull them through at home.” — Childs Walker
USA Today 7 of 7 panelists pick Ravens Ravens 24, Dolphins 17 “How Lamar Jackson and the Ravens' staff handle the Dolphins' blitzes will be a great litmus test after these teams' Week 10 meeting last season, when Miami exposed a hole in the Ravens' passing game that wasn't (presumably) plugged until the offseason. Baltimore tried more runs under center last week, without great success, but I'll take Lamar over Tua Tagovailoa if both offenses are in one-dimensional, figuring-it-out mode.” — Gregg Rosenthal
NFL Network 7 of 10 panelists pick Ravens
Sporting News Ravens 23, Dolphins 17 “Lamar Jackson has had one awesome game against his hometown team from Miami to launch his MVP campaign in 2019. Last season, he turned in a clunker on Thursday night. This time, the Dolphins come to Baltimore with Tua Tagovailoa healthy in a new-look offense to face a daunting overall defense. Expect a grinding, physical game where the running of Jackson and former Dolphin Kenyan Drake are a key factor, while the Ravens' loaded secondary contains Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.” — Vinnie Iyer
CBS Sports 6 of 7 panelists pick Ravens “The Dolphins and Ravens both won in impressive fashion last week, but now Miami goes on the road for the first time. The Dolphins dominated the Ravens last year at home, but this will be different. The Ravens and Lamar Jackson get the best of the Dolphins.” — Pete Prisco
Pro Football Talk 3 of 3 panelists pick Ravens “Both teams looked good in Week One, but I’m more sold on Lamar Jackson having a big year than I am on Tua Tagovailoa. I like the Ravens to win this one comfortably.” — Michael David Smith
Sports Illustrated 4 of 5 panelists pick Ravens
FanSided Ravens 31, Dolphins 19 “The Ravens and Dolphins both looked good in Week 1. Baltimore is the more complete team, at home. Tua Tagovailoa will need to have a great game to crack the Ravens’ defense.” — Matt Vederame

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