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For Whom the Bell Tolls: Ravens Week 4 Preview

Lunch Break Hot Take

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Lunch Break Hot Take

The Ravens snuck out of the Motor City with an improbably 19-17 win, a win that delivered by NFL legend Justin Tucker’s record breaking 66 yard field goal as time expired. Yes, there may have been a missed delay of game penalty that would have move Baltimore out of even Tucker’s prodigious range, but that’s neither here nor there. Ravens win, Lions get their hearts broken at the buzzer, same as it ever was. There was more of note in last Sunday’s game than the kicker. Lamar Jackson was phenomenal, despite what the boxscore or Mike Golic might tell you. He delivered dimes to every part of the field, led the team in rushing (again), and converted on a nearly impossible 4th & 19 to get the offense in position for the kick. He wouldn’t have needed those kinds of heroics if not for a nightmarish performance from another key Raven, Marquise Brown. I’m not disrespectful like some Ravens fans who want to strip him of his moniker “Hollywood” in favor of something a little less glamorous, but damn, it’s hard to imagine a worse day than the one Brown had. He dropped three, THREE, perfect passes that would have been TDs and would have given Baltimore fans a less stressful afternoon. That wouldn’t be “Playing like a Raven” though, even the defense rose to the moment, allowing scores on three consecutive drives to ensure high drama at the end.

Let’s be honest though, the defense has been preparing for that moment all season. The Ravens’ woes on that side of the ball continued with poor tackling and a distinct inability to cover underneath. We’re running out of excuses for a unit that is currently near the bottom of the league in pass defense and points against as well as the bottom third in DVOA. Good news is the Ravens get back several key defenders this week including both Justins— Houston and Madubuike. Bad news is they look to be losing starting safety Deshon Elliot and possibly “All Pro” Anthony Averett on the back end. Their opponent this week, the 3-0 Denver Broncos, would fall in the bad news category as well. They’ve got one of the most efficient offenses in the league and are a solid all around team, Baltimore won’t be able to get away with the kind of mistakes they made against Detroit this week. Coach Harbaugh has made it known he believes the tackling issues will be taken care of now that the Ravens have had a chance to start hitting in practice. I hope so because Broncos RBs Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams both have 5 broken tackles so far this season and are sure to be eager to add to that total.

Denver comes into this game pretty banged up as well. The aforementioned Gordon is questionable with a rib injury, Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler are both out along with EDGE Bradley Chubb. Their offensive line may be without Risner and Glasgow as well, so the hope is Baltimore will finally be able to put together a good performance on both sides of the ball and show they’re deserving of all the preseason hype. Like I said last week, defensively they just need to find their fire. In all three games this season the defense seems to be just going through the motions, as if opposing offenses will cower from their mere presence. That hasn’t been the case but perhaps Harbaugh is right and getting the pads on in practice will wake them up this week. The offense, on the other hand, is getting a new weapon in former Steelers star RB Le’Veon Bell. Whether he’s still live or been decommissioned remains to be seen, but he’s an intriguing piece to be sure. Greg Roman and the Ravens coaching staff cannot seem to wrap their heads around the fact that Ty’Son Williams is the best RB on the team and have insisted on wasting touches on Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman. Bell represents a chance at having a difference making talent in the backfield with Lamar Jackson. The kind of player they were hoping JK Dobbins would be prior to his season ending injury. Le’Veon spent years as one of the best players in the NFL, not only because of his patient and elusive run style, but because he was a legitimate threat in the passing game. That’s where Bell can provide the most value for Baltimore, as an outlet for Lamar Jackson who currently leads the league in average air yards per attempt. Lamar can certainly carry the pass game on his shoulders but it wouldn’t hurt to give him a dependable option for shorter, easier throws.Denver comes into this game pretty banged up as well. The aforementioned Gordon is questionable with a rib injury, Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler are both out along with EDGE Bradley Chubb. Their offensive line may be without Risner and Glasgow as well, so the hope is Baltimore will finally be able to put together a good performance on both sides of the ball and show they’re deserving of all the preseason hype. Like I said last week, defensively they just need to find their fire. In all three games this season the defense seems to be just going through the motions, as if opposing offenses will cower from their mere presence. That hasn’t been the case but perhaps Harbaugh is right and getting the pads on in practice will wake them up this week. The offense, on the other hand, is getting a new weapon in former Steelers star RB Le’Veon Bell. Whether he’s still live or been decommissioned remains to be seen, but he’s an intriguing piece to be sure. Greg Roman and the Ravens coaching staff cannot seem to wrap their heads around the fact that Ty’Son Williams is the best RB on the team and have insisted on wasting touches on Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman. Bell represents a chance at having a difference making talent in the backfield with Lamar Jackson. The kind of player they were hoping JK Dobbins would be prior to his season ending injury. Le’Veon spent years as one of the best players in the NFL, not only because of his patient and elusive run style, but because he was a legitimate threat in the passing game. That’s where Bell can provide the most value for Baltimore, as an outlet for Lamar Jackson who currently leads the league in average air yards per attempt. Lamar can certainly carry the pass game on his shoulders but it wouldn’t hurt to give him a dependable option for shorter, easier throws.

Ultimately this game, as is the case with the Ravens’ entire season, comes down to Lamar and his ability to move the ball and put points on the board. Brown has been very good outside of the disastrous few plays against Detroit and should be expected to bounce back in a big way. Newly extended TE Mark Andrews has increased his production in each game and if he continues trending up, with the addition of Bell, the Ravens should be in for a high scoring day. Assuming the offensive line can keep Lamar upright relatively free of harassment, I’m predicting a Baltimore win by blowout.

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