Don’t let the record fool you as the Ravens travel to Jacksonville to take on the 3-7 Jaguars.
The only losing team in the NFL with a positive point differential, the Jaguars have two victories of 24 or more points and just one loss by more than one score this season. Meanwhile, the 7-3 Ravens haven’t won a game by more than 15 points and have played six one-score games despite holding a double-digit lead in every contest.
Jacksonville is also coming off its bye and doesn’t have a single player on this week’s injury report.
In other words, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you’re expecting an easy victory for Baltimore.
It’s time to go on the record as these old AFC Central rivals meet for the 23rd time with Jacksonville holding a 12-10 advantage. For what it’s worth, the teams have alternated victories over their last eight meetings with the Ravens having won the last encounter, a 40-14 final in Baltimore in 2020.
Below are five predictions for Sunday:
1. Mark Andrews will catch his first touchdown since Week 6. Predicting a score from one of the NFL’s elite tight ends is hardly bold, but Andrews hasn’t found the end zone since the 24-20 loss to the Giants, which was also when his nagging injuries began to pile up. The good news is Andrews is finally off the injury report and facing a pass defense ranking last in the league in coverage efficiency against tight ends, per Football Outsiders. Even with this offense struggling to throw the ball for weeks now, that’s a matchup that can’t be ignored.
2. Josh Allen and Travon Walker will each register a sack for Jacksonville. The Ravens are fortunate to have the versatile Patrick Mekari, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be real drop-off at left tackle with Ronnie Stanley out for Sunday’s game. This Jaguars defense has just 16 sacks on the season, but a pair of former top 10 picks will still be disruptive in the pocket, especially if Jacksonville can duplicate some of the success Carolina found containing Baltimore’s ground game last week.
3. Geno Stone will register his first interception of the season. Trevor Lawrence went into Jacksonville’s bye week with good performances against Kansas City and Las Vegas and has thrown only two interceptions since Week 5. However, the Baltimore defense is a different animal and will do plenty to confuse a young quarterback still chasing consistency in his second season. The expected absence of rookie Kyle Hamilton will hurt at the nickel, but Stone has played at a high level on the back end of the defense and is due to be rewarded with an off-target throw in his direction.
4. Jaguars running back Travis Etienne will make his first career touchdown catch. Anyone who watched Etienne shine at Clemson might be surprised to learn he’s yet to find the end zone as a receiver, but he’s averaged an impressive 5.5 yards per carry and 9.2 yards per catch as Ravens coaches compared him to a faster version of Alvin Kamara this week. The combination of Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen made Kamara a non-factor in the Week 9 win in New Orleans and should stop Etienne from wrecking the game, but the second-year back will still make some plays here and there, especially with Lawrence trying to avoid pressure in the pocket.
5. The Ravens will hold an opponent under 20 points for the third straight game in a tight 20-19 win. The hype train for this defense has been at full speed for a few weeks now, but this will be the best offense Baltimore has faced since the Tampa Bay game and Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson has had extra time to prepare his team, which could lead to some unexpected wrinkles. The health of Lamar Jackson’s hip and a chance of thunderstorms could make this matchup even more interesting, but a surging defense and a strong running game should be enough for the Ravens to grind their way to a fifth straight victory that will again be lacking style points. Of the games remaining on Baltimore’s schedule, this is certainly one of the trickier tests if John Harbaugh’s team doesn’t come ready to play.