Tony Lombardi looks after the always informative Ravens blog Ravens24x7.com and breaks down Baltimore for us:RAVENS BREAKDOWN
The Ravens appear to be the cream of the crop in the AFC. If you had to give me one weakness this team has that could keep Baltimore out of the Super Bowl, what would that be?
The Ravens offensive line is a work in progress and the starters have been slow to gel, leading to inconsistencies and too often leaving Joe Flacco open to blind side hits. Left guard Ben Grubbs is struggling with turf toe and has missed three starts. Five-time Pro Bowl C Andre Gurode is a quality sub but in addition to getting acclimated with his new surroundings, he’s occupying a position that he hasn’t played in years.
If this group doesn’t play better, Flacco despite his toughness (he’s taken every single snap since he’s been a Raven) might not be enough to keep his consecutive games string alive. Is this the best Ravens team under John Harbaugh?
Yes. They have more playmakers on both sides of the ball and greater team speed. The Ravens have been unable to take the top off of zone defenses in the past but with the additions of WR’s Torrey Smith, Lee Evans (injured ankle) and the development of athletic tight end Ed Dickson, Cam Cameron can open more of his playbook.
Defensively the team fields four premier defenders in Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata and their supporting cast is young and capable. The Ravens have benefitted from unexpected plus contributions from CB Cary Williams and young defensive linemen like Terrence Cody, Pernell McPhee and Arthur Jones are also making their mark.
CB Lardarius Webb is a playmaker both in the passing game and in run support and he’s a very effective blitzer. And soon they’ll add some quality depth to the
Why do you think Baltimore will cover the spread?
In a word – defense.
The Jaguars will present some problems for Joe Flacco & Company but the Ravens defense is a mismatch for Jacksonville. Baltimore is very successful against a one-dimensional offense, particularly when that dimension is rushing.
Look for the Ravens to invest ample resources to thwart Maurice Jones Drew’s efforts in order to win first down and force Blaine Gabbert into many second and third and long situations. When that happens, d-coordinator Chuck Pagano will dial up some exotic blitzes to confuse Gabbert and force turnovers.
It would be no surprise if the Ravens defense outscores its offense which has struggled to score TDs in the red zone.
Final score prediction:
Ravens 31, Jaguars 6
Covers.com associate editor and Underdogs columnist Ashton Grewal gives us his thoughts on the underwhelming Jaguars.
No one averages fewer offensive yards per game than Jacksonville and only the Rams are scoring fewer points per game than the Jags at (12 ppg). If you were calling the shots on the sidelines, what would you do to ignite the offense?
Maurice Jones-Drew needs more targets in the passing game. He’s got great hands and doesn’t need screens to gain yards after the catch. Just makes sense to get the ball in the hands of your best offensive player more often.
Of course, a deep-threat would be a big bonus to this offense and help open things up underneath for MJD and tight end Marcedes Lewis. If it’s my call, I would dial up at least two long pass attempts each half just to keep the Ravens honest. Besides, in this league, you’ve got a 50 percent for a defensive pass interference call on those plays.
The Jags are starting a rookie QB and seem to be long shots to win the AFC South even with the Colts on pace to go 0-16. Is coach Jack Del Rio’s job safe if Jacksonville doesn’t make the playoffs?
I say yes only because Del Rio chose to cut his starting quarterback, David Garrard, just before the season started. I don’t think you make that move unless you feel confident about his job security.
It’s tough playing in Peyton Manning’s division but the Jags have still put together two double-digit win seasons under Del Rio.
Why do you think the Jaguars cover the spread?
Because 10 points is a lot to give to a road team even for Baltimore. The Packers won but failed to cover with the same spread at Minnesota on Sunday. Besides, Jacksonville’s defense is better than most people think.Final score prediction:
Ravens 20, Jaguars 13Make sure to check out Ravens24x7.com anytime you're looking for the latest update on Ray Lewis and Company.