The Chess Game Is On - John Eisenberg
After studying tape all week, the Ravens expected Washingtons defense to play a certain way. But Washington tried different approaches against Lamar Jackson and his offense approaches that werent always on the tape.
Obviously, Washingtons game plan contained surprises. But it wasnt surprising in the least that the Ravens opponent put aside its normal tendencies and tried something unexpected. Everyone is doing that against Baltimore in 2020.
Jackson added, Defenses play us a lot differently. We watch film on them. We study teams. When we go out there, its a totally different ball game.
Bottom line, the chess game definitely is ON when it comes to defenses taking on Baltimores unique offense. Defensive coordinators had neither the time nor, in some cases, the manpower to adjust.
But there was little doubt things would be different in 2020 after those defensive coordinators had an entire offseason to study the Ravens methodology.
After the first quarter of the regular season, the Ravens offense is ranked No. 25 in the league in yards per game quite a slip for a unit that finished No. 2 in that category last year and set the NFLs all-time single-season record for team rushing yards.
The Ravens need Judon to ignite the pass rush. They acquired defensive ends Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe in the offseason to generate more pressure on the quarterback, but that didnt materialize in the first three games.
Some of the criticism of Judon was justified because of his contract, but not his past performance.
Ive had a lot of good rushes if you go back and watch the film. Yall really only care about stats, but it was a good team win, Judon said about the victory in Washington.
He got two Sunday against Washington and provided a pass-rushing presence off the edge. Reserve outside linebacker Tyus Bowser has two sacks in four games, and maybe he and Judon can give the Ravens some type of 1-2 punch in the final three quarters of the season.
Stanley, you kind of know his situation, so were very hopeful for him, coach John Harbaugh said Monday at his weekly press conference. Madubuike looks like hes getting close, so theres a good chance he could be ready this week. Wolfe, he has a little elbow situation. He should be fine. Thats really all that I think. I think were in good shape going forward unless something jumps up and that, I tell ya, has happened. So you never know.
After a loaded injury report Friday, which had eight players listed as questionable, the Ravens have two weeks to go before their bye week where theyll look to remain similarly healthy. Against the Bengals and Eagles the next two weeks, health and wins no matter what fashion are the biggest factors.
Then, after the bye week, theyll face the Steelers, Colts, Patriots, Titans and Steelers in five straight weeks. Its imperative the Ravens stay healthy for that playoff push in November. After Week 4, theyre on a good trajectory.
Tampa Bay is a surprise No. 1 in DVOA this week but the Bucs dont have a huge lead. While the media may leap to crown a new king of the hill every week, the fact is that there really isnt a king of the hill this year. Kansas City isnt going to finish 16-0, Green Bay isnt unstoppable, and all the undefeated teams have weaknesses. No team is dominating its opponents week after week, and thats reflected in the DVOA ratings. Tampa Bay barely gets over 30%, finishing the week at 30.1%. Usually at this point of the season, the best team is at least over 40%.
The Bucs are just a couple of percentage points ahead of No. 2 Kansas City, and the Chiefs are just one point ahead of No. 3 Baltimore, and Indianapolis and Green Bay are also above 25%. The 2020 season has a lot of very good teams so far but nobody who is having a legendary start like last years Patriots or the 2018 Rams.
The series: Baltimore leads the series, 25-23.
The Ravens sweep last season was their first season sweep over the Bengals since 2011. The Bengals most recent sweep of the Ravens was in 2015.
It hasnt been an easy series for the visiting team. The Ravens lead 16-8 in Baltimore, and the Bengals lead 15-9 in Cincinnati.
Since 2010, 14 of the teams 19 meetings have been one-score decisions, by eight or fewer points.
Turnover margin is key vs. Ravens: In the 37 all-time Bengals-Ravens meetings in which the turnover differential has not been even (1995-present), the team who wins the turnover battle has posted a 32-5 record. Putting it another way, the Bengals are 14-3 against the Ravens with a plus turnover differential, and 2-18 with a minus. Looking at it from Baltimores point of view, the Ravens are 18-2 with a plus and 3-14 with a minus. Cincinnati leads 7-4 in games against Baltimore in which the turnover margin was even.
300 x 3 = rookie record for Burrow: Bengals QB Joe Burrow now stands as the only rookie QB in NFL history to ever throw for 300 yards in three consecutive games. He hit the mark in Game 2 at Cleveland (316), Game 3 at Philadelphia (312) and Game 4 vs. Jacksonville (300).
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