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Ravens vs. Bills: 5 players to watchby Jakob Ashlin on December 6, 2019 at 2:00 pm
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports The Ravens will seek their 9th straight win against Josh Allen and the Bills The Ravens defeated the 49ers last Sunday and have now established themselves as the best team in the NFL right now. They will look to maintain their momentum and win their 9th consecutive game against the 9-3 Bills. Here are 5 players to watch this Sunday. Mark Andrews Mark Andrews is the Ravens leading receiver this season. He has 53 receptions for 693 yards and 7 touchdowns. Still, the Bills defense has done an excellent job of limiting tight end production. From a fantasy football perspective, the Bills have allowed the 2nd fewest standard scoring fantasy points to tight ends this season. Of course, the Bills linebackers and safeties will be preoccupied with attempting to contain Lamar Jackson, but look for their defense to focus on slowing down Andrews. Marlon Humphrey The Bills will need big games from former Raven John Brown and slot receiver Cole Beasley to keep up with the Ravens offensively. The Ravens are 1st in the NFL in points per game, while the Bills are 19th. Brown is on pace for a career season with 61 receptions for 882 yards and 5 touchdowns. Beasley just had a big game against the Cowboys with 110 yards. Marlon Humphrey will be standing in their way on Sunday, and he is clearly one of the best cornerbacks in the game. Humphrey is a versatile corner, so he could be matched up with both players at different times during the game. If not, he has the ability to shut either one down. The matchup between Humphrey and the Bills receivers could be the most critical one in the game. Patrick Mekari The Bills have a great pair of defensive tackles in Jordan Phillips and Ed Oliver. Phillips leads the team in sacks with 7.5. The rookie Oliver has been improving as the season progressed. He has 4 sacks and a forced fumble in his last 3 games. Undrafted rookie free agent Patrick Mekari was inserted into starting lineup against the Rams two weeks ago due to starter Matt Skura suffering a season-ending injury. Mekari has been put through the wringer as he faced Aaron Donald followed by the 49ers elite defensive line. Mekari has been exceptional thus far and has not allowed a single sack. He will face another difficult test on Sunday. Let's see if he can maintain the strong play. De'Anthony Thomas Since joining the Ravens, De'Anthony Thomas has gotten off to a somewhat slow start as a kick returner. He has returned 5 kicks for only 68 yards in 4 games. Thomas was an explosive return man for the Chiefs. Let's see if he can have a breakout game and make a big play. Nick Boyle Nick Boyle missed Wednesday's practice due to an illness. He returned to practice on Thursday. Nevertheless, his health is worth monitoring. Boyle is an integral part of the Ravens offense. He is arguably the best blocking tight end in the league. He is also having a career season as a receiver. He already has a career-high this season in receiving yards and scored the first receiving touchdown of his career.
Ravens News 12/6: Key matchups, ‘Big Truss’ and moreby Vasilis Lericos on December 6, 2019 at 1:00 pm
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Ravens have analytics nerds to thank for their success - Jonas Trostle According to The New York Times’ fourth-down bot, which looks at the down, distance and years of data to recommend whether a team should (at least according to statistical models) go for it, the Ravens keep their offense on the field for fourthdowns 70 percent of the time that they should. The next best team? The Bills, at 55 percent, and the average is sub-50. Even beyond the raw percentages, Baltimore has built a team designed to take advantage of the free points that other teams are leaving on the field. Usually, the NFL analytics community frowns upon running the football; for the most part, it’s inefficient. But when you as a team have decided that you have a whole extra down, and you run as well as the Baltimore Ravens do, this inefficiency barely even matters. With an electrifying young quarterback on a rookie contract, aggressive fourthdown decision making and an offense built around converting those fourth-downs, the Ravens are dragging the NFL into the future. Here’s What Ravens Catch Phrase ‘Big Truss’ Means - Ryan Mink K Justin Tucker “I believe the translation would be something along the lines of, ‘Trust that when I say something, I’m going to do it.’ I think that’s what it stems from.” WR Willie Snead IV “It’s just basically like trust but with no ‘t’. Trust your brother, trust your coaches, trust the process. All that. Lamar came up with ‘truss.’ Mark [Ingram] came up with ‘biiig truss’ because everything Mark does is big. He put the ‘biiig’ on there to give it his own splash.” OT Ronnie Stanley “I don’t think you can put one definition on it. It’s a feeling. It’s a movement. It’s not just about trusting someone. It’s about biiiig trusting someone. You have full-fledged faith in that person – more than they even understand.” TE Mark Andrews “I think it’s hard to describe exactly what it means, but I think this city, the energy in this locker room … we all trust each other. This is a close-knit locker room. ‘Big truss’ kind of speaks to that. It’s like an unsaid thing that we put into words.” 3 key matchups to follow for Bills vs. Ravens | Scouting Report - Chris Brown 3 KEY MATCHUPS TO FOLLOW 1. Buffalo’s linebackers vs. Lamar Jackson A Bills linebacker or safety figure to spy on Jackson a good deal in this game in an effort to keep him contained. Easier said than done, but Buffalo has two of the most athletic backers in the league in Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano. 2. Dion Dawkins vs. Matt Judon The Baltimore linebacker has capably filled the void of the team’s top pass rusher left behind by Terrell Suggs. Judon has seven sacks on the season. Dawkins has held his own against quality pass rushers of late like Dallas’ Robert Quinn. 3. Jordan Poyer vs. Mark Andrews Poyer won’t be covering the Ravens leading pass catcher the whole game, but he’ll have his share of coverage assignments against Baltimore’s top tight end. Andrews is a deadly red zone threat and the team’s leading receiver in receptions, yards and touchdowns. NFL Week 14 Preview: Players to watch, fantasy football advice and betting projections - PFF BALTIMORE RAVENS @ BUFFALO BILLS Players to Watch Lamar Jackson‘s running ability has always spoken for itself. He currently leads all quarterbacks in both designed rushing yards (615) and rushing yards on scrambles (362). What’s allowed him to take the leap this season has been his consistency as a passer. Jackson’s passing grade of 88.7 from inside the pocket is second to only Drew Brees. Despite being targeted 72 times so far in 2019, Tre’Davious White is still yet to allow a touchdown reception. White trails only Gilmore in passer rating allowed (52.0) among that same group of cornerbacks with 50 or more targets. NFL Week 14 picks: Ravens beat down the Bills in Buffalo, Patriots and Chiefs play thriller - John Breech Baltimore (10-2) at Buffalo (9-3) Before the Bills played the Cowboys last week, all I heard about for five straight days was how the Cowboys had yet to beat a team with a winning record, so I wasn’t too surprised when they lost to the Bills, who have a winning record. As fate would have it, while I was eating some pumpkin pie over the weekend, I decided to make a list of all the teams the Bills have beaten this season that currently have a winning record, and let’s just say that it’s an extremely short list. Here’s the list: Tennessee. Now, that’s not to take anything away from Buffalo’s nine wins, because it’s not like they make their own schedule, but I think what I’m saying that I can’t in good faith pick the Bills to win over a good team. The Bills biggest problem going into this game is that stopping the run is probably their biggest weakness on defense. The Bills are giving up 4.5 yards per carry this season, which isn’t ideal when you’re about to play the team that leads the NFL in rushing. The Ravens are averaging 207.8 yards per game on the ground this season, which is an absurd number when you consider that no other NFL team is even averaging above 150 yards. I think what I’m trying to say here is that the Ravens might be able to win this game without throwing a forward pass. The pick: Ravens 31-24 over Bills NFL Week 14 picks: Bears upset Cowboys, Bills end Ravens’ winning streak - Pete Prisco Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills (+5.5) This is one of the best games of the week. The Ravens are rolling and they are the best team in the league right now, but this will be a big proving game for the Bills. Can that defense slow Lamar Jackson? Will Josh Allen outplay him? I think this will be close with both quarterbacks playing well. Upset special. Pick: Bills 21, Ravens 20
Film Review: No passing? No problemby Spencer Schultz on December 5, 2019 at 6:00 pm
Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images On a rainy, cold day, two of the NFL’s most well-coached teams did battle. Both the Ravens and 49ers made plays, but the former won because they made plays when they had to. There seems to be a narrative that the Ravens were flawed or exposed while defeating the previously 10-1 49ers. In the freezing, pouring rain, the Ravens gained merely 101 yards through the air. No deep completions. Hollywood Brown doesn’t appear in the box score. Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards were contained, although bruising their opposition. They still won. The 49ers played just about as well as they’d hoped to. With the game on the line, the team that had only lost one game by an overtime field goal, couldn’t come out on top. This speaks volumes about the Ravens ability to improvise, adapt and overcome. Lamar Jackson played a game without forcing mistakes. He did lose a fumble, but that was the result of one of the most spectacular defensive plays I’ve witnessed in 2019. No. 8 also was hesitant at times, while rushed in others. His reads weren’t as sharp as they have been on the Ravens historic tear, but neither were Jimmy Garoppolo’s. The rain certainly forced both passers to attempt to judge what they could and couldn’t do under unique circumstances. Another one. Crossers with Boyle and Roberts. Watch how wide open Roberts is, Jackson was looking right at him and stuck with Boyle.Roberts is generally always open. So is Hayden Hurst. pic.twitter.com/BsBxFpo5Oc— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 5, 2019 Maybe the worst decision Jackson made all day— going inside. Receiver had outside leverage, Jackson gets to the 5 or scores if he rides the sideline with a step.Unreal play to strip the ball AND take it. Different game if Lamar goes outside. pic.twitter.com/bryF0XVF8Y— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 5, 2019 Jackson certainly left some points on the board in the passing game, although he made throws when he needed to. He seems to be able to elevate above his competition when it matters the most. Since the Ravens were unable to get much going through the air, the 49ers safeties didn’t play the deep ball. Instead, they loaded the box and stuffed the run game. The read option won the game for the Ravens, with Jackson’s ability as a runner carrying the brunt of the work. Goodnight. pic.twitter.com/VQ1rCOW6Jh— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 3, 2019 Run - 26 Pass- 11 PA - 15 RO - 13 RPO - 0 Screen - 0 Greg Roman dialed up a ton of bootlegs and options, with some play action sprinkled in. The Ravens offensive line man handled the 49ers front, keeping clean pockets all day. Ronnie Stanley is the best LT Nick Bosa has ever seen.Bullied him all day.I don’t think the rain helped Bosa’s footing, but hot damn. pic.twitter.com/qUEolRvBnr— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 5, 2019 Yanda banging down on the nose pic.twitter.com/1mJ5x45NBo— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) December 3, 2019 I mean the line truly dominated the 49ers front.Stanley handled Bosa with ease all game.I will attest from my own experience that keeping your footing while coming out of a 3 pt stance in the mud isn’t easy, have to keep a SUPER wide base. pic.twitter.com/D5cNsL4eIZ— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 5, 2019 @ZEUS__78 and Yanda are double teaming the best defenders in the NFL and driving them off the ball. Maybe the best 2x duo in the league.They COMPLETELY neutralize Deforest Buckner, one of the NFL’s premier defenders. pic.twitter.com/Y3BC9xBrJL— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 5, 2019 Ravens OL really did stonewall SF’s pass rush. This is 3rd and 10, SF can pin their ears back and rush 4.@BSBoze dealt with Buckner’s bull no problem-o pic.twitter.com/NCp59WncwL— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 4, 2019 So many battles went on in the trenches in this game. Niners ILB Fred Warner has great recovery speed.Lamar, as he said himself, consistently threw threw the ball behind receivers in this one, but Warner really made an amazing play to recover. pic.twitter.com/lKNwpoRnG5— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 4, 2019 Jackson will probably be sick watching tape, realizing how much more time he had to throw. He could’ve hung in the pocket, rolled, and let receivers find more soft spots. The lack of deep shots really didn’t allow Ravens receivers to get involved. Hollywood Brown’s lone catch was on a pop pass. San Francisco’s safeties were daring the Ravens to throw the ball over their heads, and as much as I would’ve liked to see more deep passing, the Ravens won without it. There need to be more one on one shots to Miles Boykin, but the Ravens won by playing keep away regardless. Offensive notes: Lamar is starting to get better with hard snap, making defense jup. His cadence can be a weapon, which adds another element to the puzzle that the Ravens offense presents. Hayden Hurst is about as reliable as it gets. His feel for where to be and when is coming up in huge moments. I’ll continue to scream from the mountain top that he needs more targets. When the Ravens offense takes field, the home crowd goes wild. It’s the first time in that the Ravens offense has been truly admired by fans in team history . . . as they should be. The Ravens offense has a chance to break NFL single season records in: • Points per possession • Percentage it drives ending in a score • Time of possession per drive • Rushing yards in a 16-game season The Ravens offense needs to be talked about as one of (if not the) best and most efficient offenses in league history. In close games, Lamar seems to rely a bit too heavily on Mark Andrews. It’s predictable. Conversely, Jackson needs to look to Seth Roberts and Miles Boykin more. They’re open. Patrick Mekari is looking like an upgrade from Matt Skura in some aspects. His pass protection is probably stronger as a whole. Defensive notes: The Ravens were stubborn to defend the outside zone runs. They seemingly were anticipating counters and weak side runs all game, before finally adjusting to shut down the Shanahan family staple at the end of the third quarter. 49ers simply had as many, or MORE blockers, lined up playside. The Ravens seemed to expect more counters, misdirections, reverses. Niners torched them until mid way through third, Ravens adjusted, Niners didn’t have another run over 5 yards pic.twitter.com/Q3ktkjtnrE— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 3, 2019 Onwuasor tries to tell Brandon Williams to shade outside guard and hold that gap.. Williams doesn’t.Jihad Ward gets washed all the way inside, doesn’t set edge.Peanut flies through trash to go wrestle Coleman down. Clark does a nice job making a mess. pic.twitter.com/d0I1GZlGDP— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 5, 2019 Fort had great vision. Understood what OL was trying to do all game.Judon gave Kittle the OLAY when Kittle tries to cut backside pic.twitter.com/3ZppC0mKiT— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 5, 2019 Bowser signals he’s coming back, Onwuasor needs to move WAY over to the edge. Ends up letting a receiver seal him off. Watch Josh Bynes, who gets held pretty badly and can’t shoot the gap because of it.Ferguson gets SEALED by Jusczyck pic.twitter.com/fsn0u3P7RX— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 5, 2019 Jaylon Ferguson couldn’t have been more lost here. Hard to see this one coming, but entire defense is running right, he runs left.Ferguson has been a tank over past month, this game will be good experience for him against a unique rushing attack. pic.twitter.com/C1DKEBKM3O— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 5, 2019 Ravens run D between the tackles was INSANE, per usual. Running inside is truly an act of futility at this point.I’m testing Ravens outside early and oftenVery same drive Ferguson made sure not to make the same mistake twice.He also had a better line of sight to the ball. pic.twitter.com/JZ65zUmwYR— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 5, 2019 Ravens got beat for long Mostert touchdown... respond with... no inside linebacker?Earl Thomas 8 yards off was the closest thing.Go ahead and take this one off the call sheet when you’re getting gashed on the ground. pic.twitter.com/dQOz6QNwzM— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 5, 2019 The Ravens line up, adjust, and play this like the KNEW a counter was coming...NOPE! Just the same play that Kyle Shanahans dad ran for 20 years, and Shanahan has run for 5 years, then all game in the first half, including a 40 yard touchdown...The outside zone pic.twitter.com/b9OwVTCOoN— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 5, 2019 Now the Ravens FINALLY have it right. Clark is in the box on the strong side. Wormley is head up over tackle.Judon does an awesome job taking on Kittle then preventing FB from reaching anyone. pic.twitter.com/rXDTRxh0Ti— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 5, 2019 This is where it all ended.Wormley adjusts with motion, makes sure to ride outside. Bynes knows the Niners are going back to the well and blows it upBowser scraps and fights to let nothing outside of him.At this moment, the Ravens won the game. pic.twitter.com/JdKzhtFDaV— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 5, 2019 The 49ers run the ball well and gave the Ravens similar trouble to what the Cleveland Browns presented in Week 4. Earl Thomas III popped George Kittle and sent him out of bounds, Earl made good plays against run aside, from being juked by Raheem Mostert. Thomas also recorded his career first sack. @Earl_Thomas notched his first career sack and he earned it!Thomas cut off both of Jimmy G’s reads, comes up and sticks him. pic.twitter.com/P5Jl2WRCiR— Spencer N. Schultz (@ravens4dummies) December 3, 2019 Thomas also laid a cold shoulder on Kittle out of bounds. Marlon Humphrey also knocked into Kittle and blew him backwards near the first down marker. Speaking of Humphrey, the third-year corner has exclusively taken over slot corner duties. It’s a bit of a conundrum. Humphrey is one of the premier boundary cornerbacks in football. He also is a force as an outside corner in the run game, who forces everything back inside and can blow up screens. He also happens to be the most well-equipped man for the job as a slot corner. He has the best feet, he’s a great tackler and covers over routes well. There is certainly drop off with Humphrey being moved inside, but the Ravens have no other option. It will help in the long run, so hopefully Humphrey is a quick learner. The Ravens blitzed on 21 of the 49ers’ 26 drop backs, which forced Jimmy Garoppolo to be a bit trigger happy. Chuck Clark’s forced fumble was a pivotal play in the game. “Wink” Martindale was never going to let Jimmy G’ get comfortable. The defense had a few fluke plays, which happens in extreme weather conditions. They were able to hold the 49ers to just three points in the second half, despite having significant problems stopping the run. The Ravens surely tighten up on third down and in the red zone, which is what any defensive coordinator strives for. Final thoughts: The 49ers were holding, blocking in the back, hitting late, grabbing and cut blocking in an attempt to out physical the more physical team. To beat the Ravens, that’s the best you can hope for, especially on the road. The Ravens heroes aside from Lamar Jackson were Chris Moore, Hayden Hurst, Chuck Clark, Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort. Oh, and that dude Justin Tucker. The Ravens operate as a whole, where the role players step up when called on. Every player seems to be patiently waiting for their turn to make a game defining play, yet without causing any headaches in line. Baltimore’s offensive line is playing the type of football that takes teams far in January and into February. This game was supposed to be the unstoppable force vs. the immovable object, headlining Lamar Jackson and the 49ers vaunted defense. In the fourth quarter, the game turned into the unstoppable force being protected by immovable objects. The offensive line was the MVP of this game, alongside Justin Tucker.
Baltimore Beatdown Game Picks: Week 14by Frank J. Platko on December 5, 2019 at 5:00 pm
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images An up-and-down week for much of the staff in Week 13 did little to alter the standings. With four weeks left in the regular season, our writers are still playing catch-up to you guys, the readers and voters. Be sure to vote on all the matchups this weekend in the polls below! Updated standings: 1) BB readers 126-66 2) Vasilis 122-70 3) Frank 114-78 4) Kyle 113-79 5) Jake 111-81 Unanimous selections All of our writers were in consensus on the following picks: Vikings > Lions Texans > Broncos Ravens > Bills Packers > Redskins Eagles > Giants After a tough loss to the Seahawks this past Monday, our writers envision the Vikings bouncing back in a favorable matchup against the Lions. Same goes for the Texans, who are playing the Broncos after a convincing victory over the Patriots. Elsewhere, the team sees the Ravens continuing to roll against a streaking Buffalo squad, led by an improved Josh Allen. The Packers are heavy favorites to defeat the Redskins, as are the Eagles in their MNF matchup against the Giants. Our writers are going chalk on both of these games across the board. “Lone Wolf” The following writers veered from the norm with these picks: Jake is the only staff member to pick the Bears over the Cowboys Jakob is alone in picking the Dolphins to upset the Jets Dustin is rolling with the Bengals over the Browns in an AFC North showdown In a Thursday night showdown, Jake is by himself in choosing the Bears to handle the Cowboys at home. Dallas is coming off a disappointing defeat at the hands of the Bills, who they lost to on thanksgiving. Jakob went out on a limb in picking the Dolphins to beat the Jets, although the former is coming off an upset victory over the Eagles, while the latter just handed the Bengals their first win of the season in Week 14. “Coin flip” Colts (5) > Buccaneers (4) Saints (5) > 49ers (4) Chargers (4) > Jaguars (4) Titans (5) > Raiders (4) Steelers (5) > Cardinals (4)
Lamar Jackson wins AFC Offensive Player of the Month for Novemberby Kyle P Barber on December 5, 2019 at 3:42 pm
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images These numbers are ridiculous After winning three out of four AFC Offensive Player of the Week awards in November (he was robbed of the fourth), it comes as no shock to see the Ravens franchise quarterback earn the AFC Offensive Player of the Month award. The AFC Offensive Player of the Month: @Lj_era8 ‼️#ProBowlVote pic.twitter.com/jn92c6wZVP— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 5, 2019 It’s now time to look back and stare at these ridiculous numbers put up by Jackson. Averages 77.0 completion percentage 194.3 passing yards 3.3 passing TDs 136.2 QB Rating (158.3 is perfect) 75 rushing yards 8.2 Yards Per Carry Also, this was against some of the NFL’s heralded top-flight defenses and he produced all of this without a single interception or lost fumble. I don’t have every four-game stretch by a quarterback or offensive player in front of me but I’m confident this is one of the better ones in history. What is also shocking is this being Jackson’s second year in the league and he’s only 22 years of age. If this young man continues to progress, I’m not sure what can stop him.