Ravens Are Unanimous Pick to Beat Atlanta
Coming off last week's loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens enter tomorrow's home game against the Atlanta Falcons with a sputtering offense; a struggling wide receivers corps that will now be without Devin Duvernay; and Lamar Jackson, Calais Campbell, and Marcus Peters all ruled out.
And they're still a unanimous pick to win.
All 41 of the pundits we looked at predicted Baltimore (9-5) to defeat Atlanta (5-9), which has lost three straight and five of its past six, and has rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder making just his second start.
If the Ravens win and get a little more help, they could secure a playoff berth this weekend. Despite their record, the Falcons are still in the playoff hunt, as they're just one game behind the NFC South-leading Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Here's what the pundits are saying about the game:
The Ravens will rebound after last week's disappointing loss.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio: "I just think the Ravens understand that after [losing] in that Saturday game at Cleveland that I thought they would win easily, they've got to get their act together. They can't afford to fall two games behind the Bengals; they need to be in striking distance for Week 18 in order to win that game and win the division."
Sports Illustrated’s Todd Karpovich: "There are various scenarios where the Ravens can clinch a playoff berth with a victory. There is also a sense of urgency after last week's dismal showing in Cleveland."
The Ravens will prevail in another low-scoring game.
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec: "It's impossible to have confidence in the Ravens dominating anybody. That's just not their way in 2022. But facing a rookie quarterback and with a hot run game opposing a suspect run defense, the Ravens should grind out a 17-10 type of game. The weather might even be enough to get Greg Roman to stick to the run."
The Ringer’s Sheil Kapadia: "There's a scenario in which this is just an ugly, low-scoring game, both teams stick to the run all afternoon, and the Falcons keep it close. But this Ravens defense is a physical group that will likely force Ridder into a mistake at some point."
The game will boil down to dueling top-three rushing offenses.
Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton: "The Falcons placed running back Caleb Huntley on injured reserve, and quarterback Marcus Mariota is out for the season as well, but rookie fifth-round running back Tyler Allgeier had a breakout Week 15 outing, rushing for 139 yards and a touchdown against the Saints. He'll pair with Cordarrelle Patterson to keep Atlanta's third-ranked run game on track in a battle with Baltimore's second-ranked ground attack."
The Falcons offense will be hard-pressed to move the ball against the Ravens defense.
Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer: "The Falcons were competitive with rookie QB Desmond Ridder because of a dominant running game in Week 15. That won't happen again vs. the Ravens' front, putting Ridder in uncomfortable passing situations."
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal: "Desmond Ridder should improve over the stretch run, but Baltimore's defense is stout and sound. Atlanta's receivers are unlikely to be open, and Ridder's accuracy issues popped up big time in his first start."
The Ravens' will ride their run game and defense to victory.
The Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer: "The Falcons are going through some growing pains with their rookie quarterback, and Baltimore should take advantage. This is the type of game the Ravens run it 40 times and control the clock."
Look for Tyler Huntley to have a bounce-back game.
NBC Sports’ Chris Simms: "I think Tyler Huntley will have more success throwing the ball against this defense compared to Cleveland's defense, which is definitely better than Atlanta's."
Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey vs. Falcons WR Drake London is the key matchup.
Russell Street Report’s James Ogden: "The absence of Kyle Pitts has left Drake London as the biggest receiving threat on this Falcons team. Ridder was determined to feed him last week in his first start and he will look his way early and often again when they face the Ravens. The problem for Ridder and London, is that they come up against Marlon Humphrey playing some of the best football of his life. Humphrey should be able to shut down London this week and it will be crucial to the Ravens getting the win, as the defense does need to keep the score low this week to escape with a much-needed victory."
The weather forecast favors the Ravens.
The 33rd Team’s Ryan Reynolds: "Another positive factor for Baltimore is that it will be getting a dome team in a late December game with cold temperatures."
The Falcons can pull the upset if …
FanSided’s Matt Vederame: "… Desmond Ridder makes a few throws, avoids turnovers and the running game is humming. But that's a lot to ask of a kid in his second start."
|ESPN||5 of 5 panelists pick Ravens|
|Baltimore Sun||Ravens 16, Falcons 13||“The Ravens need at least one more win to secure a playoff spot, and they’ll benefit from a favorable matchup against a slumping opponent that doesn’t throw the ball any better than they do. We’ll see a lot of running in this one, with a far superior defense carrying the Ravens through.” — Childs Walker|
|USA Today||6 of 6 panelists pick Ravens|
|NFL.com||Ravens 23, Falcons 17||“Lamar Jackson (knee) hasn’t yet returned to practice, and the team is now dealing with the absence of its best defensive player, Calais Campbell (knee), and another wideout, Devin Duvernay (foot). With Tyler Huntley under center, the improved Ravens running game should be enough to control the clock against a Falcons defense that doesn’t have many answers. Desmond Ridder should improve over the stretch run, but Baltimore's defense is stout and sound. Atlanta's receivers are unlikely to be open, and Ridder’s accuracy issues popped up big time in his first start.” — Gregg Rosenthal|
|NFL Network||10 of 10 panelists pick Ravens|
|Sporting News||Ravens 24, Falcons 10||“The Falcons were competitive with rookie QB Desmond Ridder because of a dominant running game in Week 15. That won't happen again vs. the Ravens' front, putting Ridder in uncomfortable passing situations while either Tyler Huntley or Lamar Jackson get better rushing support.” — Vinnie Iyer|
|CBS Sports||8 of 8 panelists pick Ravens||“The Ravens could have Lamar Jackson back in this one. They need him in the worst way. The passing game is struggling. The Falcons have defensive issues, though, which could help. Desmond Ridder was just OK last week in his first start, and now faces a tougher defense. Ravens win it.” — Pete Prisco|
|Pro Football Talk||3 of 3 panelists pick Ravens||“The Ravens are struggling after a hot start, but I think if they make the playoffs they can be dangerous. They’ll take care of business at home against the Falcons.” — Michael David Smith|
|Sports Illustrated||5 of 5 panelists pick Ravens|
|Fansided||Ravens 19, Falcons 17||“Atlanta can win if Desmond Ridder makes a few throws, avoids turnovers and the running game is humming. But that’s a lot to ask of a kid in his second start.” — Matt Verderame|
Do the Ravens Have an Iconic Play Akin to the Immaculate Reception?
In honor of Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris, who died this week, The Athletic asked its AFC North writers if the team they cover has a play or moment that's anywhere close to as iconic as the Immaculate Reception.
Zrebiec said the Ravens don't have anything "that resonates with the football populace on that level," but there are two plays that "have a permanent place in Ravens lore."
"The two most celebrated plays in franchise history are probably Ray Lewis taking the ball away from Titans running back Eddie George and returning it for a touchdown during the 2000 Super Bowl run, and Joe Flacco and Jacoby Jones connecting for the Mile High Miracle against the Denver Broncos in the 2012 playoffs," Zrebiec wrote. "The Lewis play was emblematic of how that record-setting 2000 defense bullied its way to a championship, while the Mile High Miracle speaks to just how improbable that Super Bowl run was for Flacco and the Ravens."