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Ravens News 11/29: Lamar’s durability, stats to know and more

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

Mike Vick to Lamar Jackson: ‘Proceed with caution’ - Kevin Patra

Mike Vick, who has long supported Lamar Jackson, warned the Baltimore Ravens rookie to “proceed with caution” on taking so many hits.

”With quarterbacks, we’re not used to getting hit all the time,” Vick told ESPN’s Jamison Hensley on Tuesday. “When we do it, it can either get you into the game or it can shake you up a little bit. It’s not like a guy sitting in the pocket, you run the risk of getting injured. I’m not saying that should deter Lamar or scare him; I’m just saying proceed with caution.”

The Ravens rode Jackson hard in his first start, calling his number 26 times on the ground. In his second game, that number went down to 11 attempts as Baltimore consciously tried to develop the passing attack.

The key for Jackson and the Ravens will be mitigating the big hits. As Cam Newton has repeatedly said when defending his running ability, some of the biggest hits a QB takes come in the pocket, not on the run. However, Jackson doesn’t have the framework Newton possesses, and the hits could take a bigger toll.

Some signal-callers own an uncanny ability to avoid taking huge shots. Russell Wilson is the preeminent player in this regard, always seeming to get down or out of trouble before the defender can land a big blow. Robert Griffin III, Jackson’s backup the past two weeks, was perhaps the inverse. RGIII couldn’t avoid hits and slid worse than a 7-year-old little leaguer.

As Joe Flacco can attest, quarterback injuries are inevitable whether inside or outside the pocket. Still, it would be prudent to limit Jackson’s carries to a maximum of 15 per game and impress upon him the benefits of avoiding unnecessary contact.

2018 PFF NFL Power Rankings – Week 13 - Pro Football Focus

BALTIMORE RAVENS

2018 Week 13 ELO Ranking: 9

Left for dead a few weeks ago, the Ravens have come out of the bye with their new quarterback 2-0, and are now in the thick of the race for the AFC Playoffs. Lamar Jackson’s 188 rushing yards the last two weeks, along with the 233 from Gus Edwards, are an excellent example of how important quarterback rushing yards are and how interchangeable the running back position is at the NFL level. The Ravens have a top-10 most-difficult schedule coming up, whereas teams like the Colts are in the bottom 10, so the battle is uphill for the birds.

Indianapolis will face Jacksonville this Sunday, followed by the Texans, Cowboys, Giants and Titans.

4 stats to know as Baltimore Ravens, Atlanta Falcons prepare for Week 13 matchup - Aaron Kasinitz

The Ravens are 1-6 in December road games the past three years

Why it matters Sunday

Three of the Ravens’ five remaining games this season will come on the road, and it’s fair to assume Baltimore must win one (and maybe two) to have a shot at making the postseason for the first time since 2014. Baltimore plays at the Chiefs (9-2) and Chargers (8-3) later this month, so Sunday’s game in the domed Mercedes-Benz Stadium could mark their best chance to score that road win.

The Ravens allow the fewest yards per pass attempt (5.3) in the NFL

Why it matters Sunday

While the quarterback situation in Baltimore will draw the headlines, the battle between Ryan and the Ravens’ defense could decide the game. Ryan, the 2016 NFL MVP, has the tools to beat the best secondaries. Baltimore’s secondary has stymied its share of explosive signal-callers. And defense is often what matters most for the Ravens, who are 0-4 this year when they allow an opponent to score more than 21 points.

It will require a team effort - offense, defense and special teams - for Baltimore to change their fortunes on the road in December.

Week 13 NFL picks against the spread - Vinnie Iyer

Baltimore Ravens at Atlanta Falcons

The Ravens are trying to create mystery at quarterback with Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson, but if Flacco is healthy, he needs to play, because a mostly running approach won’t work on the road against the Falcons like it did against the Bengals and Raiders at home. Matt Ryan will continue his strong non-playoff season, as Baltimore is not deep enough defensively to handle all of his targets. Atlanta will begin its late-season spoiler stretch with a bang. PICK: Falcons win 24-20.

After opening as a 1-point favorite, the Ravens are now 1-point underdogs versus Atlanta. Roughly 85-percent of early wagers have been placed on the Falcons.