The Ravens don’t should win Saturday to presumably clinch a playoff berth. They may tie the Atlanta Falcons and get in with some assist. They may even lose at M&T Bank Stadium and get in with a whole lot of assist.
But after a dispiriting loss Saturday to the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens (9-5) aren’t searching for handouts.
“We’ve just got to win this game and worry about this game,” tight finish Mark Andrews mentioned Tuesday. “I don’t worry about anything else. If you take care of what you’ve got to take care of — win the game — everything else will fall into place.”
The Ravens must do it with out some key items. (5-9). Atlanta has its personal issues, after all, together with a leaky protection and an inexperienced rookie quarterback. Here’s what to observe within the groups’ Week 16 matchup.
1. With Jackson (knee) dominated out and Duvernay (foot) on injured reserve, the Ravens’ finest hopes for giant performs Saturday may lie with their runningQuarterback Lamar Jackson, large receiver Devin Duvernay, defensive lineman Calais Campbell and cornerback Marcus Peters are all unavailable for Saturday’s recreation in opposition to the Falcons recreation. Since operating again J.Okay. Dobbins’ Week 14 return, the Ravens are tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for probably the most runs of 15-plus yards (six) within the NFL, in response to TruMedia. In that very same two-week span, the Ravens are additionally tied for twenty eighth in completions of 15-plus yards (5).
“It’s a week-to-week thing,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman mentioned Wednesday. “Three weeks ago, the thing was, ‘What’s wrong with the running game?’ I really think the running game has been very productive the past couple weeks. We want to continue to build on that, and then we want to become more balanced in our offense as well and continue to work on the passing game.”
The Falcons’ run protection is weak. Atlanta is twenty sixth in effectivity, in response to Football Outsiders, and has the NFL’s lowest success price in opposition to runs in “12″ personnel (one operating again, two tight ends and two large receivers), one of many Ravens’ commonest groupings.
Still, the Falcons have largely denied chunk performs on the bottom. Atlanta has given up simply 14 carries of a minimum of 15 yards this season (tied for sixth finest within the NFL) and simply two of a minimum of 30 yards (tied for third finest).
2. Ravens large receivers and tight ends may have a whole lot of time to get open Saturday.
Under Dean Pees, the previous Ravens defensive coordinator who was cleared to educate in Baltimore after colliding with a participant earlier than Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Falcons’ go rush has not often pressured the difficulty this season. Entering Week 16, Atlanta ranks thirtieth in strain price and twenty seventh in blitz price, in response to TruMedia, sending 5 or extra go rushers on simply 17.5% of opponents’ drop-backs.
That strategy could possibly be excellent news for Huntley. He’s been pressured on 32 drop-backs this season and gone 11-for-18 whereas taking six sacks. He’s additionally scrambled eight instances for 41 yards when pressured, none for a primary down.
Pees’ conservative strategy may be unhealthy information for Huntley, who’s struggled on long-developing passing performs all through his profession, each as a scrambler and as a pocket passer. When he’s had a minimum of three seconds to go, he’s 23-for-54 for 259 yards, one landing and 4 interceptions. He’s additionally taken 18 sacks on these 108 drop-backs, a 16.7% sack price.
Huntley acknowledged Thursday that the offense has to “go get us some touchdowns. That’s all that matters. It’s literally the game of inches, so between a fourth down and a touchdown down there, it’s just that big.”
3. Before the snap, the Falcons can look rather a lot just like the Ravens. They function nearly solely out of pistol and shotgun formations. They not often use three-wide-receiver units. They deploy two tight ends on over a 3rd of their performs, and two backs on slightly below a 3rd.
But whereas the Ravens’ elite floor recreation is powered largely by hole (energy) schemes, Atlanta’s depends closely on zone schemes — exterior zone, particularly. The idea calls on offensive linemen to maneuver in unison towards one facet of the sphere, chargeable for blocking zones on the sphere, quite than particular defenders. From there, the operating again can both “bend” again to the weak facet of the play, “bang” into an open speeding lane or “bounce” the run exterior the sort out.
Falcons rookie operating again Tyler Allgeier, who leads the workforce in speeding yards (743), has extra yards on outside-zone performs (257) this season than on another sort, in response to Sports Info Solutions. On stretch runs, which depend on an analogous blocking scheme, he has 230 yards. Altogether, the Falcons are averaging 5.5 yards per keep it up outside-zone and stretch runs this season, led up entrance by Pro Bowl proper guard Chris Lindstrom.
Even with out Campbell (knee), the Ravens could possibly be their hardest take a look at but. They’ve allowed simply 3.4 yards per keep it up outside-zone and stretch runs this season, in response to SIS. Cleveland Browns star Nick Chubb had 10 such carries for 47 yards Saturday, however the Ravens have held each different opposing operating again underneath 40 yards on the idea this season.
“We have the guys for the job,” defensive lineman Justin Madubuike mentioned Tuesday. “I feel like everybody on our defensive line, I believe in them, they believe in me, and we believe in each other. So all we’ve got to do is just execute and just do our job — just do our one-11th — and we’ll put ourselves in position to win.”
4. Falcons rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder didn’t full a go thrown greater than 11 yards downfield in his NFL debut Sunday. But that doesn’t imply he wasn’t wanting lengthy.
The third-round choose from Cincinnati tried 5 passes of a minimum of 15 air yards, and two of a minimum of 25 air yards, in opposition to the Saints, in response to SIS. Just two of the 5 had been catchable, and just one was on track. Ridder struggled general, ending 13-for-26 for 97 yards, a meager 3.7 yards per try.
But with a play-action-heavy playbook, big-play looking is baked into Atlanta’s offensive DNA. Marcus Mariota, who began the primary 13 video games at quarterback, leads the NFL in common supposed air yards (10.2), in response to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats. Unfortunately for the Falcons, Mariota simply didn’t full many deep pictures. He was 13-for-44 (29.5%) on throws of a minimum of 20 yards downfield, in response to SIS, with two touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
Opponents haven’t gone after the Ravens too usually on shot performs this season. But after they have, the Ravens have struggled mightily. With Peters dominated out due to a calf damage, their secondary will most likely be examined deep Saturday. That could possibly be excellent news for Ridder — or excellent news for the Ravens.
“We’ve just got to do our job and just eliminate those explosive plays, eliminate the deep shot,” security Marcus Williams mentioned Tuesday. “For us, especially, keep the top on the defense, as safeties and [defensive backs], and we rush the quarterback, get after him, and he throws it up, and we take the ball away.”
5. Under coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens are 5-5 in regular-season video games performed at or under freezing temperatures, in response to TruMedia. Their final take a look at got here in 2018, when Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes led a fourth-quarter comeback to power extra time in a 27-24 win at Arrowhead Stadium.
6. Outside linebacker Tyus Bowser wants a half-sack to turn out to be the fourth participant to report a minimum of 20 sacks, 4 interceptions and 4 pressured fumbles since 2017, together with Seattle Seahawks security Jamal Adams, Green Bay Packers exterior linebacker Preston Smith and Pittsburgh Steelers exterior linebacker T.J. Watt.
Patrick Queen, in the meantime, wants a half-sack to hitch fellow inside linebacker Roquan Smith as considered one of 4 gamers with a minimum of 300 tackles and 10 sacks since 2020. New Orleans Saints inside linebacker Demario Davis and Tampa Bay Buccaneers inside linebacker Devin White, whom Queen performed with at LSU, have additionally hit these marks.
Falcons at Ravens
Saturday, 1 p.m.
TV: Chs. 45, 5
Radio: 97.9 FM, 101.5 FM, 1090 AM
Line: Ravens by 6 1/2