Ravens know long-awaited homecoming will impact playoff fate - Jamison Hensley
It’s not an easy road. But at least the Ravens aren’t repeatedly on the road.
Analytical models give the Ravens a 69-percent chance to make the playoffs, primarily due to the fact they have already played all three of their intra-divisional games on the road.
Record: 4-2 (.472) Previous week: No. 25 This week’s game: vs. Saints Biggest needs: WR, edge rusher, ILB
Is it weird to see edge rusher listed as a need for a team that racked up 11 sacks on Sunday? Yes, but hey, T-Sizzle is 36 and in the final year of his deal, as is the much younger Za’Darius Smith. Stud ILB C.J. Mosley is in his contract year, too. This club still lacks a true No. 1 receiver.
Many of the Ravens draft needs will be determined by their choices in free agency. John Brown, Terrell Suggs, Za’Darius Smith, C.J. Mosley, Maxx Williams, Brent Urban and Robert Griffin III headline the list of impending unrestricted free agents.
2018 NFL Offensive Line Rankings: All 32 teams’ units after Week 6 - Michael Renner
17. BALTIMORE RAVENS
With a handful of unproven commodities going into this season, the Ravens have so far exceeded expectations. Left guard Alex Lewis has been their lowest-graded player with a 54.1 overall grade this season, but he probably won’t be losing his starting spot anytime soon. When Bradley Bozeman was forced into action this past weekend after Lewis suffered a neck injury that thankfully looks to be minor going forward, the backup guard earned only a 54.8 overall grade.
Alex Lewis did not practice on Wednesday with what John Harbaugh termed a ‘pinched nerve’. Considering his blocking this season, the Ravens could potentially upgrade their line by replacing him.
Saints vs. Ravens first look: Scouting Baltimore on offense, defense, special teams - Nick Underhill
Offense: Joe Flacco is throwing the ball more than he has in the past. The Ravens quarterback is averaging 298 yards passing per game, which is the highest mark of his career. Last year he averaged 196.3 yards per game. One of the reasons for that was he passed for 376 yards in a loss to the Bengals, and 363 in a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. … Look out for some trickery. The Ravens like to find ways to get rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson on the field in ways that are not that different from how New Orleans uses Taysom Hill.
Defense: While the rest of the league changes and has shifting identities, the Ravens are still a team that is built on defense first. Baltimore is allowing a league-low 270.8 yards per game (188 passing), and a suffocating 12.8 points per game. It helps that the Ravens have played the Bills (31st in offensive yards per game), Titans (30th), Bengals (23rd) and Browns (20th), but they’ve gotten it done. … Baltimore plays mostly Cover 1 defense, with a handful of Cover 3 looks mixed in. Drew Brees has completed 68 percent of his passes against Cover 1 defenses this season.
Special teams: Baltimore takes its special teams seriously. Punter Sam Koch ranks fifth in the league with 47.8 yards per attempt, but the Ravens allow 7.7 yards per return. Twenty of his 28 attempts have been inside the 20-yard line or fair caught.
Baltimore’s kicking game prowess could be an x-factor on Sunday.
Week 7 NFL picks against the spread - Vinnie Iyer
NFC-AFC Game of the Week: New Orleans Saints at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5)
The Saints tend to be a different team offensively when away from the Superdome. But in a battle of high-powered passing games played in the elements, New Orleans is better equipped to run the ball with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. The Ravens will get their share of big plays from Joe Flacco, but Drew Brees will make more of the little ones (including TD pass No. 500) in a more balanced attack. PICK: Saints win 27-24.
Approximately 65-percent of early wagers have been placed on the Saints to cover the spread.