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Ravens News 11/28: Developing Lamar Jackson, newfound rushing attack and more

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Oakland Raiders v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Awakening of Running Game Could Carry Ravens Into Playoffs - Clifton Brown

In just two weeks, Baltimore has vaulted from 27th in the league in rushing to 11th. Gus Edwards has gone from seldom-used undrafted running back to consecutive 100-yard games. People knew Lamar Jackson could run before he became the starting quarterback. Now they really know.

If the Ravens stick with Jackson as their starting quarterback, there is every reason to think their running game will remain a huge part of the offensive equation. Should Joe Flacco return as the starting quarterback, the Ravens will need to figure out how to run the ball better than they did the first nine games when Flacco was under center. The question is how much of Baltimore’s improved ground attack can be attributed to Jackson being under center.

Jackson has rushed for 190 yards over the last two weeks, the most by any quarterback in his first two starts during the Super Bowl era. If wide receiver John Brown is not the Ravens’ fastest offensive player, Jackson is. With him under center, the Ravens have a big-play threat who makes the defense react. The threat of Jackson as a runner, coupled with Edwards’ emergence as a power back who can break tackles, has created an effective thunder-and-lightning combination for the Ravens and a new set of problems for opponents.

The beauty of the Ravens newfound rushing attack is twofold. First, controlling time of possession is quite valuable when facing top ranked offenses. And unlike many teams, a Lamar Jackson led backfield has shown an ability to produce chunk plays on the ground, as evidenced by their eight runs of 15 yards or more over the last two games.

Can Ravens win and develop Lamar Jackson? Schedule suggests yes - Jamison Hensley

Here are the Ravens’ opposing defenses in the final five weeks:

The Atlanta Falcons’ defense ranks No. 28 after being decimated by injuries. It starts with first down, where teams are gashing Atlanta for an average 6.7 yards (worst in the league). The Falcons have also allowed 205 rushing yards to quarterbacks this season, including 52 yards on Thanksgiving by Taysom Hill, who is the Saints’ version of Jackson.

The Kansas City Chiefs are 30th in the NFL in defense because they’ve struggled to stop the run. Teams are averaging 5 yards per carry against Kansas City, and the Chiefs have allowed 42 runs of 10 or more yards (fifth worst).

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are allowing 30.7 points per game, which is second worst in the league. The Buccaneers will come to Baltimore after failing to hold any team under 34 points this year away from home.

The Chargers are the best defense left on the schedule. Last Sunday, the Chargers spotted the Arizona Cardinals to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and then held them to 41 yards the rest of the game.

The Cleveland Browns are giving up the fifth-most rushing yards this season (131.8), and they can’t keep runners out of the end zone. Cleveland has allowed 15 rushing touchdowns.

The potential return of defensive difference-makers, specifically Falcons linebacker Deion Jones and Chiefs safety Eric Berry, could make some of these matchups more difficult than they appear on paper.

A quick look at the Baltimore Ravens - D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Ravens’ defense, led by the legendary Terrell Suggs, are ranked No. 1 in points allowed at 18 per game and in yards allowed with 295.4. per game.

The Ravens are second in passing yards allowed at 203.3 and third in rushing yards allowed with 92.1 yards per game.

“Defensively, they are a stout, square group,” Quinn said. “Especially upfront, they’ve got 3-4 principles, they like to pressure. So those are some of the things – the outside linebackers for them just feels like forever has always been a big part of what they do.”

The Ravens secondary comes up strong in run support.

“Safeties that can blitz and play down in the box, guys like (Eric) Weddle,” Quinn said. “I’ve always been impressed through the years with their ball-hawking ability, it may not show in the numbers with them this year, but that’s certainly been in the calling card for them through the years.”

With an average of 400 yards per game, the Falcons will be the third best offense the Ravens have faced this season, behind only the Steelers (421 yards) and the Saints (417). Baltimore opened as slim road favorites at most Las Vegas sports books.