Isaiah Stumpf makes his pick:
Ladies and gents, this is the cream of the crop. The 10-1 49ers versus the 9-2 Ravens. If this game doesn’t get your spine tingling than I don’t know what will. Many are calling this a “Super Bowl preview”, and while I won’t go that far, this is definitely a match up versus arguably the two most complete teams in the league. It’s going to be a test for both teams, and whoever comes out on top will be making a huge statement.
This game really is number one versus number two. The Ravens hold the league’s top run offense, while the 49ers are second. San Francisco’s defense is first in yards allowed, first in passing defense, and second in points allowed. Baltimore’s offense is second in total yards and first in points scored. The 49ers’ front seven will be Baltimore’s most difficult challenge yet. Rookie linebacker, Nick Bosa has already dubbed himself as one of the league’s most dominant pass rushers. Dee Ford, DeForest Buckner, D.J. Jones, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas round out a dominating group of men.
The Ravens’ offensive line will need to be on their A game in order to keep Lamar Jackson upright. With Center Matt Skura being ruled out for the season, rookie Pat Mekari will step into the starting role. It will be a huge first test for the young lineman’s first career start. The Ravens were able to contain Aaron Donald very well last week in Los Angeles. Let’s hope they can replicate that same success.
The only weakness of the 49ers defense is their run defense, where they rank 19th in the league. This week will not only be a challenge for the Ravens offense, but a challenge for the 49ers defense. The last weeks, Baltimore has faced the third and fifth ranked run defenses in the NFL. Once the clock hit triple zero, the Rams and Texans both plummeted to the teens in the same category. That is what this offense is built to do. Run the ball down the opponents’ throats, while delivering the crushing blow through the air. With both Jackson and Mark Ingram on pace for 1,000 yard seasons, San Francisco will try to do what no other team has been able to. Stopping the run.
The weather doesn’t help as conditions are expected to be as bas as one could imagine. Lots of rain and winds in the upwards of 10 miles per hour. This offers a huge advantage for Baltimore and should allow for another big game on the ground, if San Francisco obliges. The 49ers are average through the air same as Baltimore. I can’t imagine either team will be looking to push the ball down the field with the passing game. It will be an old fashioned grind it out type of day for both squads, with the turnover battle being the deciding factor.
The Ravens are going to make life miserable for Jimmy Garoppolo. The defense will come up with three interceptions and four sacks. The 49ers run game will produce, but not at as high a level as usual. On the flip side, Baltimore will continue to torture teams with their ground and pound offense. Mark Ingram will go for 150 yards with three combined touchdowns (two on the ground, one through the air). Lamar Jackson will continue his MVP run tossing two red-zone touchdown passes, while running for another pair, racking up 240 total yards. I have been hesitant to predict a blowout during this seven game win streak, thinking the next game will be a tough one. No more.
This is a different Baltimore Ravens team. They strike fast and kick you while you are down. They look for the kill shot every drive and never fail to deliver. The Ravens push their winning streak to eight, moving to 10-2, and one step closer to locking their second consecutive AFC North title.
Ravens 38, 49ers 16