With the Ravens looking to improve to 5-1 in Sunday’s trip to Philadelphia before entering the bye week, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. One of the Eagles’ biggest strengths is their defensive line, which is sound against the run and can pressure the pocket. However, their linebackers are a clear weakness, which sets up for Mark Andrews and Lamar Jackson’s legs to have a big day.
2. Miles Sanders may not find much rushing room, but the Philadelphia running back is an explosive receiver out of the backfield despite modest 2020 numbers in that department. He caught 50 passes for 509 yards as a rookie, so Baltimore must again be ready for screens and swing passes.
3. It’s no secret the Ravens miss Marshal Yanda, but the Eagles will have only one member of their original 2020 starting offensive line — veteran center Jason Kelce — with Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson sitting out with an ankle injury. That’s a nightmare against Wink Martindale’s deceptive front.
4. I had completely forgotten Marty Mornhinweg was back on the Philadelphia coaching staff as a senior offensive consultant, which should give the Eagles a massive advantage, right? Sarcasm and kidding aside, the former Ravens offensive coordinator could have some useful intel on Jackson at the very least.
5. Speaking of the Mornhinweg era, I can’t help but see some parallels between the present-day Carson Wentz and the post-Super Bowl Joe Flacco in Baltimore. Wentz definitely needs more help around him, but he hasn’t been a big enough part of the solution there either.
6. Congratulations to Sam Koch, who will become the Ravens’ all-time leader in regular-season games played. The 38-year-old punter arrived when Ray Lewis and Ed Reed were still in their prime, saw the entire Joe Flacco era, and now plays with Lamar Jackson, who was 9 when Koch was a rookie.
7. Zach Ertz will command the attention as a three-time Pro Bowl selection, but unknown receiver Travis Fulgham has 209 receiving yards the last two weeks and Wentz has left throws on the field to an open Richard Rodgers, who’s filling the Dallas Goedert role now. Don’t sleep on those two.
8. Thursday marked the anniversary of the Marcus Peters trade, a deal that completed a remarkable transformation for the defense that’s carried over to 2020. Eric DeCosta trading Kenny Young and a fifth-round pick and signing the three-time Pro Bowl corner to a reasonable extension was as good as it gets.
9. To no surprise, Jalen Hurts has played Jackson on the Philadelphia scout team in practices this week. The rookie quarterback probably offers a more convincing look than many asked to fill that role for Ravens opponents, but I always feel for those defenses playing Jackson for the first time.
10. The Ravens have now rushed for at least 100 yards and scored at least 20 points in an NFL-record 28 consecutive regular-season games, a streak that began with Jackson’s first start. Of course, the two times they’ve failed to do that have been their two playoff losses.
11. Winning eight straight away games is impressive enough, but the Ravens have outscored those opponents by a 269-123 margin. Though playing on the road may not be as daunting because of the pandemic, the domination away from M&T Bank Stadium going back to last year has been something else.
12. It was interesting hearing Martindale say last week was the first time his defense “really, really got used to not playing in front of fans and having fun doing it.” You wouldn’t anticipate several thousand fans making a major difference in Philadelphia, but players are looking forward to that.