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Ravens News 10/12: Week 6 predictions, the run/pass conundrum and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

2018 PFF NFL Power Rankings : Week 6 - ERIC EAGER AND BEN BROWN

BALTIMORE RAVENS

2018 Week 6 ELO Ranking: 9

When you thought that the Ravens were in a position to take control of the North, they go and lose to a Cleveland team that scored exactly 12 points in their home stadium. Joe Flacco was back to doing Joe Flacco things, generating under a 60.0 passer rating on his 42 (!) non-pressured dropbacks. He was 0-7 throwing the ball over 20 yards downfield and hampered by four drops, including three by Michael Crabtree. They go to Tennessee this weekend as short favorites in a game that could very well decide who gets one of the AFC Wild Card spots come January.

PFF’s ‘ELO’ ranks the Steelers 8th, Bengals 14th and the Browns 24th.

NFL Week 6 Picks: Odds, Analysis And Predictions For Every Game - Mike Cole

(-3) Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans, 4:25 p.m.

Mike: Titans. Had to double-check the line here. It’s not that the Titans are great, it’s just kind of puzzling for the Ravens to be laying points on the road coming off an overtime divisional road loss — to the Browns.

Ricky: Titans. Tennessee is much better at home (5-0 ATS in its last five home games) and typically plays well after a loss (12-3 ATS in games after a loss since 2016). Baltimore, meanwhile, was way too conservative on offense in last week’s loss to Cleveland and has had some road struggles in recent years.

Andre: Ravens. Tennessee is 30th in yards per play and they go up against a Ravens team that allows the fewest yards per play. The Ravens defense has allowed completions on just 54 percent of passes — a league-low. Not good news for Marcus Mariota.

More than 90-percent of all bets placed so far against-the-spread are on the Titans and 62-percent of gamblers expect Tennessee to win outright.

Behind Enemy Lines: An Inside Look at the Baltimore Ravens - Jim Wyatt

Titans coach Mike Vrabel on what stands out about the Ravens:

“Well, they’re big, physical, long, defense-veteran group. They have long corners, instinctive linebackers. They have a young guy that can run. Obviously, (C.J.) Mosley gets them lined up and he’s productive. (Terrell) Suggs continues to produce at a high level into his mid-30s. They have two big, stout guys with (Michael) Pierce and (Brandon) Williams inside. They have length with (Chris) Wormley and (Brent) Urban. (Matthew) Judon has worked his way into being a very good outside linebacker in this league. Za’Darius Smith is a hybrid guy. When you have a veteran safety that can get guys lined up and disguise, it makes it very difficult. They’ve batted 40 balls this year. They have 40 PBU’s, which is about a season for some teams. They’ve drawn 15 holding calls as a defensive front. That means they’re active and they’re getting off blocks.

Offensively, they got two backs that are good backs in (Alex) Collins and (Javorius) Allen. They have four tight ends that are basically interchangeable, and a speed receiver in (John) Brown. They have a big strong guy in (Michael) Crabtree and a crafty, strong, tough, warp the middle of the field guy with (Willie) Snead IV. I hope I’m not forgetting anybody.”

The Ravens lead the NFL with 39 pass breakups. Cleveland is the only team within ten of Baltimore’s total.

10 Questions With Eric Weddle - Ryan Mink

What’s the most difficult part of football?

“At this point, there’s really not much. Maybe just dealing with the pain that you get. There’s not a day that this brings that I don’t enjoy it. Early in my career, it was dealing with losses or not playing well. Now I’m at the point where I have too much other stuff to worry about. I prepare, I give it everything I have and leave it out there on Sundays. You want to win every time you go out there, but it doesn’t affect who I am as it did when I was younger. But the daily grind, the practice, working, I still love it. There’s not much that I don’t like about what I do. I’m living the dream.”

How did you become a leader?

“I think there are different types of leaders. I think the way you are as a man and how you present yourself … how you work, how you act, how you treat people gains validity on being a leader. I can say a bunch of things, but if I don’t back it up and people don’t trust me, then what I say or how I act is irrelevant. I think I grew up with great parents who taught me great values, respecting everyone I come in contact with and working hard for everything I want. It’s who I am. I’m comfortable in my own skin. And I know at the end of the day, the best interests are what’s best for the team. It’s not about myself. I know nobody is going to outwork me, so that’s what sets me apart.”

Eric Weddle will apparently continue relaying the calls to the defense. He has lost some of the physical ability that made him an All-Pro with the Chargers, but there is no doubt his communication has stabilized Baltimore’s secondary over the last few years.

Can Ravens win with Joe Flacco throwing 700 passes this year? - Jamison Hensley

“The optimum pass attempts and run attempts are really whatever the hell gets you the win,” Flacco said Wednesday.

Flacco is on pace to throw 726 passes this season, which is one shy of the NFL single-season record set by Matthew Stafford in 2012. The Ravens are 3-2 and one game back of the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North, but league history and Flacco’s track record suggest that Baltimore can’t win with Flacco averaging 45 throws per game.

Flacco has a record of 8-22 (.266) when passing 45 or more times in a game. Over the past five years, only 10 quarterbacks have reached the postseason after finishing the season in the top five in pass attempts.

The Ravens have relied more on the pass this season because their running game has yet to get on track.

Baltimore is averaging 3.4 yards per carry, which is third-worst in the NFL. It has been a combination of poor run-blocking and the inability of Alex Collins and Buck Allen to break tackles. The Ravens rank in the bottom 10 in both average yards before first contact and average yards after it.

Baltimore can’t really run the ball on both first and second down because it would result in third-and-long. This season, the Ravens have 12 runs of 10 or more yards and 33 runs on which they’ve been held for no gain or negative yardage.

Naturally, more passing attempts are correlated to losing football because teams pass more when they are trailing in the game. While it may be true that Flacco plays better with the assistance of a balanced attack, an argument can also be made that this offensive line needs the help of a pass-heavy scheme to generate running room. Quite the conundrum.