With the Ravens looking to win their fifth straight game and secure the seventh 8-3 (or better) start in franchise history in Jacksonville on Sunday afternoon, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. All but one of the Jaguars’ losses have come by a single possession, and they’re the only team with a positive point differential and losing record. They’re fifth in the NFL in offensive play success rate, per Sharp Football. After last Sunday, there’s no excuse to take 3-7 Jacksonville lightly.
2. After facing a Carolina team that had extra time coming off a Thursday game, the Ravens will now face an opponent coming off its bye. That feels notable after how well Jacksonville came out of the gate in September when teams spend extra time on their early-season opponents.
3. Where Jacksonville has really struggled has been with its pass defense. There’s no shame in Patrick Mahomes or even Derek Carr giving you problems, but Matt Ryan and Daniel Jones having strong days didn’t say much for the Jaguars defense.
4. Can Baltimore’s passing game capitalize? According to Sharp Football, the Ravens have collected a first down or touchdown on 30.4% of passing plays, which ranks 19th in the league. Since Week 4, that falls to 28.8%, which is 24th. This has been a bottom 10 passing game since early October.
5. There are multiple reasons for that, but the offensive line has rarely been part of the problem, which wasn’t the case the last two seasons. Both Pro Football Focus and ESPN’s win rate metrics put this group among the very best in the NFL.
6. Even with Ronnie Stanley avoiding serious injury to his problematic left ankle, the prospect of again playing without him for even a short period of time is unsettling. It helps to have the versatile Patrick Mekari filling in, but Stanley’s play has been outstanding in his long-awaited return.
7. Calais Campbell has registered at least a half-sack in each of his last four games and is just two shy of 100 career sacks, the rare individual goal the team-oriented defensive lineman has mentioned in recent years. You’d never know he was 36 with the way he’s playing.
8. The Jacksonville pass rush has upside between Josh Allen and 2022 top overall pick Travon Walker and some solid pressure rate numbers, but the Jaguars have just 16 sacks on the season. That reminds of where the Ravens defense was prior to this season.
9. With Kyle Hamilton unlikely to play, we’ll likely see Marlon Humphrey move inside as Brandon Stephens plays an outside corner spot in the nickel. That’s not a bad alignment for the challenge of slowing slot receiver Christian Kirk, who is Jacksonville’s best pass-catcher.
10. Darious Williams remains a good story going from being an undrafted free agent out with Baltimore to winning a Super Bowl with the Rams and fetching a $30 million contract with Jacksonville. However, his slight 5-foot-9, 187-pound frame doesn’t match up well against most of Baltimore’s slot options.
11. Having returned to practice, Marcus Williams won’t play in Jacksonville, but it’s fair to wonder how Baltimore will proceed at the safety position when Williams returns with Pro Football Focus grading Geno Stone among the top safeties in the league. Does Stone cut into Chuck Clark’s every-down role?
12. I usually mention the old AFC Central whenever the Ravens renew their rivalry with Tennessee, but Baltimore also had some classic battles with Jacksonville in the early days of both franchises. I’ll never watch a Ravens-Jaguars game without thinking about Tony Banks to Shannon Sharpe.