Large Majority of Pundits Predict Ravens to Win in Jacksonville
The Ravens' three-week stretch of facing division leaders begins Sunday night at Jacksonville against a team that desperately needs a victory.
The Jaguars (8-5) were in the thick of the race for the No. 1 seed in the AFC just a couple weeks ago, but they've lost two in a row and their lead in the AFC South is down to one game over the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans.
Complicating matters for Jacksonville, Pro Bowl quarterback Trevor Lawrence is dealing with an ankle injury he suffered two weeks ago.
The Ravens (10-3), coming off a thrilling overtime victory over the Los Angeles Rams for their seventh win in eight games, need to beat the Jaguars to guarantee they remain the AFC's No. 1 seed heading into Week 16.
An overwhelming majority of the pundits we looked at (47 of 54) are predicting the Ravens, who are favored by three points, will take care of business in Jacksonville.
When the teams met in Jacksonville last year, the Jaguars, who were 3-7 at the time, pulled out a dramatic 28-27 upset that turned their season around. They went on to win five of their final six games to capture their first division title since 2017.
Here's what pundits are saying about Sunday night's game:
The Ravens will prevail in a close game.
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec: "If I'm the Ravens, the Jaguars matchup would scare me. The Ravens never play well there and are facing a Jaguars team that is staring a three-game losing streak in the face. Jacksonville should be desperate, but I do think Baltimore is better. I'll take the Ravens in a close one."
It could be a big game for Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense.
**The Baltimore Banner’s Jonas Shaffer:** "Lamar Jackson has to like what he sees: a Jaguars pass defense that just gave up a combined 655 yards to two backups, the Bengals' Jake Browning and the Browns' Joe Flacco. Jacksonville's run defense might be the team's most reliable unit, but that group hasn't faced a dual-threat quarterback like Jackson in months. If the Ravens can limit their turnovers, they could roll in prime time."
**ESPN’s Jamison Hensley:** "Bold prediction: Jackson will throw for more than 300 yards in back-to-back games for the second time in his career. Jackson ranks 16th in the NFL with 225.7 yards passing per game, but he threw for 316 yards against the Rams on Sunday. The Jaguars have allowed 265.2 passing yards per game, second worst in the NFL, and have given up 300 yards through the air in each of their past three games to C.J. Stroud, Jake Browning and Joe Flacco."
NBC Sports' Chris Simms: "This is a Jaguars defense that does not get a lot of pressure on the quarterback with their front four. I think Lamar's going to have time to throw and let people work down the field. Jacksonville has been undisciplined, making mistakes on that side of the ball."
Lawrence and the Jaguars' offense is going to have a tough time against the Ravens' defense.
**CBS Sports’ John Breech:** "This will mark the fourth time this season that Lawerence has faced a top-8 defense in the NFL and the Jags are 0-3 in the previous three games with losses to the Chiefs, Browns and 49ers. I don't think this game is going to go any better for them."
**Bleacher Report’s Ian Hanford:** "Trevor Lawrence struggled to take care of the ball against the Browns last week. That's not likely to change against a Ravens defense that leads the league in sacks and will look to heat up the pocket to test Lawrence's injured ankle."
**ESPN’s Mike DiRocco**: "One week after facing the top-ranked defense (Cleveland), the Jaguars get the No. 2 defense with the Ravens. Baltimore leads the league in sacks (49), which is not good for a Jaguars offensive line on its fourth left tackle and third left guard because of injuries. Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been sacked 31 times this season, which is one shy of his career high set in 2021."
Jaguars TE Evan Engram could be a problem for the Ravens.
**The Baltimore Sun’s C.J. Doon:** "The Jags' best hope is tight end Evan Engram, who had a career-high-tying 11 catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns against the Browns last week to continue a standout season. He could create matchup problems if star safety Kyle Hamilton is limited by his knee injury or can't play."
The Jaguars will "get off the schneid."
**Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio:** "Opportunity still exists for the Jaguars to get the No. 1 seed, and this could be the thing that ultimately determines it — beating the Ravens and picking up a game on them in the standings. So that's why I believe in the Jaguars in this one."
|8 of 9 panelists pick Ravens
|4 of 4 panelists pick Ravens
|“Will Trevor Lawrence make fewer mistakes against the Ravens’ pressure than he did last weekend against the Browns? If not, it’s difficult to see where the Jaguars have a matchup advantage against the Ravens, who have been a better all-around team for the past two months. Lamar Jackson simply has more ways to win against a slumping Jacksonville defense.” — Childs Walker
|7 of 8 panelists pick Ravens
|5 of 5 panelists pick Ravens
|“The Jags rank better than the Ravens in two categories: passing offense (Jacksonville is ninth and Baltimore is 19th) and rushing defense (Jacksonville is fourth and Baltimore is 12th). Even with Trevor Lawrence fully participating in practice again, I don't think it'll be enough against a Ravens team that is limiting its opponents to 4.3 yards per offensive play and outscoring them by an average of 11 points.” — Tom Blair
|8 of 10 panelists pick Ravens
|Jaguars 23, Ravens 20
|“The Jaguars didn't come through in their long-awaited Monday night chance vs. the Bengals two weeks ago. They are on a two-game losing skid vs. the AFC North. But they have been waiting much longer for a true Sunday night game and will be pumped with a gritty Trevor Lawrence and an inspired playmaking defense to end the slump. The Ravens were pushed by the Rams into overtime and their defense showed more key cracks Lawrence can exploit. On the other side, Lamar Jackson gets contained with little help from the running game.” — Vinnie Iyer
|8 of 8 panelists pick Ravens
|“The Jaguars have lost two straight and have big injury issues to go with poor defensive play the past two weeks. The Ravens are in the top spot in the AFC. Their defense has struggled some lately as well. This could be a shootout between Lamar Jackson and Trevor Lawrence. I'll go with the better defense and take the Ravens.” — Pete Prisco
|Pro Football Talk
|1 of 2 panelists pick Ravens
|“Opportunity still exists for the Jaguars to get the No. 1 seed, and this could be the thing that ultimately determines it — beating the Ravens and picking up a game on them in the standings. So that’s why I believe in the Jaguars in this one.” — Mike Florio
|6 of 7 panelists pick Ravens
Veteran Additions Are Major Part of Ravens' Success
The Ravens have a history of bringing in respected veterans late in the offseason and beyond who become significant contributors, and that has never been more evident than this season.
"From Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor's production and leadership in a young receiver room to Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy's ability to bring down the quarterback to Ronald Darby and Arthur Maulet's solid play in the secondary, the group of veteran 2023 additions is a major reason why the Ravens are 10-3 and in the top spot in the AFC heading into Sunday's prime-time matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars at Everbank Stadium," Zrebiec wrote.
Zrebiec noted that many of this season's veteran additions credited General Manager Eric DeCosta, Head Coach John Harbaugh, other team decision-makers for knowing how the pieces would fit and building a strong roster with a healthy mix of veterans and young players.
"Of course, winning helps bring everything together," Zrebiec wrote. "Still, Agholor said it was his free-agent visit to Baltimore where he met with DeCosta and Harbaugh and learned what they were about that sold him on signing with the Ravens. Others pointed to how members of the front office and coaching staff embrace players of different personalities and backgrounds and don't try to stifle them or have them conform to a definitive way of doing certain things."
Maulet said: "Every team is trying to be player-friendly now, but they don't want you to be no one but yourself here. That's what I appreciate so much. I can get in my feelings if I don't like something and they are not going to be like, 'Oh, he's not a good player.' It's like, 'It is what it is. He's a human being.' I respect that. They know their personnel and they judge it off of that."
Tylan Wallace's Punt Return for a TD Is Justin Tucker's Favorite Moment As a Raven
Justin Tucker has been responsible for several memorable moments over the years, but his favorite NFL moment as a Raven occurred last week when he was standing on the sideline.
Tucker said he had never experienced anything as exciting and special as Tylan Wallace's game-winning 76-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Rams.
"I can say this because I feel like I've been involved in some pretty epic game-winning moments – just the energy and the stadium, the vibe was just absolutely electric," Tucker said on "Green Light with Chris Long." "And then when you know Tylan and you hear a little about his story and you know what he's battled through just from a football perspective, to see him come through in that moment, to see our special teams come through in that moment, it was incredibly special."