The Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson is currently the odds-on favorite to win the NFL MVP award. The Ravens currently ranks 1st in the NFL in scoring averaging 35.1 points per game. The Ravens offense also lead the NFL in Time of Possession (35:05 seconds). Jackson put on an impressive show five days ago on Monday Night Football vs the Los Angeles Rams throwing five touchdown passes.
Now the burning question seems to be: Can anybody stop Lamar Jackson and the Ravens?
Admittedly, the Ravens appear to be a juggernaut that few teams have an answer for right now. But I have analyzed how teams have been able to beat them this year.
How To Beat The Ravens
1) Have the lead at halftime. The Ravens are 0-2 this year when trailing at the half. They are 9-0 when tied or leading at halftime. This is key because when the Ravens are behind, it prevents them from controlling the clock with their running game which is ranked #1 in the NFL by a wide margin. It makes Lamar Jackson put the ball in the air more and means less RPO (run-pass option) that makes the Ravens so difficult to defend against.
2) Score 27 or more points. Going back to last year when Lamar Jackson became the starter, the Ravens are 0-3 when the opposition puts 27 or more points on the board.
- December 9th 2018 – Kansas City 27, Baltimore 24 in overtime
- September 22nd 2019 – Kansas City 33, Baltimore 28
- September 29th 2019 – Cleveland 40, Baltimore 25
Overall, having a great offense that executes is the key to beating the Ravens. The Kansas City Chiefs are one of three teams to beat the Ravens with Jackson as the starting QB and their defense has been below average at best the past two seasons.
Having a great defense helps though. The Baltimore Ravens are 0-1 when they score 17 or less points. The Los Angeles Chargers beat the Ravens in the playoffs last year 23-17. However, I don’t see any team holding the Ravens to 17 or fewer points this season. The fewest points that any NFL team has held the Ravens to in 2019 was 23 points. Surprisingly, that was the Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals.
Teams That Could Beat The Ravens
My list of teams that I think feel are capable of beating the Ravens is rather small: The New England Patriots in a rematch, the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans Saints. Perhaps the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo depending how well Josh Allen performs. The Bills surprised many shutting down the Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys yesterday.
My general feeling is that if the New England Patriots get the #1 seed in the AFC, I don’t see the Ravens beating Belichick and Brady in Foxboro. Belichick knows how to scheme for big games and the Patriots defense is one of the best in the NFL. The Patriots will make adjustments on both sides of the ball.
If the Ravens and Patriots tie with the same record, the Ravens will get the #1 seed since they beat the Patriots head-to-head already. In this scenario, I would give the Ravens a 50-50 chance of beating Belichick and Brady twice in the same season. It would likely be a pick’em by Vegas oddsmakers. But if the Patriots get the #1 seed and the game is played in Foxboro, I see the Patriots being a 3 point favorite.
The next two Sundays, the AFC conference seeding at the top should all be sorted out as the Patriots and Ravens play two of their toughest opponents left on their schedules. For the Patriots, @ Houston and then at home vs Kansas City. For the Ravens, a home game with San Francisco and then @ Buffalo.
This Sunday’s noon game, San Francisco @ Baltimore will probably get the highest TV ratings nationally for any of the Noon or 3 o’clock games. The Ravens are 5 1/2 point favorites and it appears that the weather will be nasty in Baltimore. So I expect another Ravens victory. But it should be interesting to see if the 49ers have an answer defensively for Jackson and the Ravens. A few NFL analysts feel that this game might be a Super Bowl preview. I still think it will be the New England Patriots vs the New Orleans Saints.