The Baltimore Ravens now sit at 8-5 on the 2020 season and will likely need to win-out if it wants to make the post-season. This is how they do just that.
Tighten up defensively:
The Baltimore Ravens sure are paying a lot of money for this defense to be playing as average as they are. Currently, four Ravens defenders are making north of $10 million this season alone and plenty are going to make some serious cash over the next few years. And yet the defense couldn’t be more suspect than it is.
Baltimore’s defense ranks 15th in total defensive YPG, 16th in passing YPG, 14th in rushing YPG, tied for 17th in total sacks, and tied for 24th in interceptions. Those numbers are alarming for a defense that should be in the top-10 across all major categories.
Despite this, the Ravens still have the fifth-best defense in PPG this year. That seems so odd but at the end of the day, it’s the only statistic that truly matters. It’s a classic “bend but don’t break” defense.
Nonetheless, this defense needs to get its act together. Offensive juggernauts like the Kansas City Chiefs await Baltimore in the playoffs, and other teams like the Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, and Cleveland Browns will also be enticed by these subpar numbers. Giving up points will ultimately be what wins and loses games, but the yards allowed need to decrease significantly. If they do this, we should feel much more comfortable about the team moving forward.
Lean on the run game:
The Ravens offense has been stellar over the last two weeks and it will need to stay red-hot for the remainder of the year. The key to doing this is to lean on the run game.
More from Ebony Bird
- Should Baltimore Ravens have interest in bringing back Justice Hill
- Should the Baltimore Ravens trade up for Anthony Richardson?
- Should Baltimore Ravens re-sign Kenyan Drake?
- Will Baltimore Ravens tender Tyler Huntley?
- Ranking 5 teams most likely to trade Baltimore Ravens for Lamar Jackson
J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards are playing as well as any other running back tandem in football right now, combining for 1,040 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the year. Both are also averaging north of 5.0 YPC and are powering this offense to be the number one rushing unit in YPG.
Teams that can run the ball effectively are typically the best teams when the post-season rolls around. The Titans a year ago road Derrick Henry to an AFC Championship appearance despite only winning nine games. Baltimore can do something similar by leaning on its run game. Doing this can also open up the passing game and keep opposing defenses honest. It’ll be crucial to winning games moving forward.
The Ravens run game is about as good as it gets across the league right now, so playing smash-mouth football is what it should do. Play to your strengths and break the will of opposing teams by running the football down their throats.
Trust in Lamar Jackson:
At the end of the day, you will only go as far as your quarterback can take you. Thankfully for Baltimore, it has an MVP quarterback in Lamar Jackson.
Jackson has certainly regressed from his historic 2019 season, but he’s still one of the league’s best quarterbacks. Jackson is starting to heat up, too, with six touchdowns over the last two weeks. It’s no coincidence the Ravens have scored 81 points in that timeframe with the way Jackson is performing. The offense is simply firing on all cylinders right now and it’s because of how well “Action” Jackson is playing.
What’s most impressive is that Jackson has been elevating the talent around him the same way he did a year ago. Marquise Brown has caught a touchdown in three straight games and might be hitting his stride (when he catches the ball, of course). The run game that we previously covered is also getting hot with Jackson leading the way with over 200-yards in each of the last two games alone.
This will be the biggest key to victory over the last three games of the season. Jackson will need to keep his hot streak going both as a passer and a runner. Baltimore needs to entrust everything they have into him. Thankfully, betting on Jackson is as good a bet as any.
The Baltimore Ravens are going to need to win-out if it wants to make the playoffs and be a respected contender. The recipe for doing that has been laid out now. All they need to do is play to these strengths to get back to the promised land.