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Ravens News 11/1: Win shares, measuring-stick game and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Projected 2019 AFC win totals at midseason: South up for grabs - Cynthia Frelund

Baltimore Ravens: 10.3 wins (projected AFC North champions)

Current record: 5-2.

Projected playoff percentage: 61.9.

One thing I find useful to consider is win-share, in which I assign a value for each player, position group and side of the ball reflecting their production on each play. (That is, does the entity in question help the team earn a first down or score a touchdown on offense or prevent opponents from earning first downs or scoring touchdowns on defense?) The Ravens’ defense has averaged a higher win-share than their offense in eight of the past eight seasons ... until now. Of Baltimore’s five wins, the offense has accounted for roughly 2.7, while the defense has accounted for 2.0 (special teams have accounted for 0.3). In past full seasons, the defense’s win-share was about 0.8 games higher, on average.

News & Notes: Earl Thomas Stoked to Match Wits With Tom Brady - Clifton Brown

“It’s a great challenge; you always want to go against a champion,” said Thomas, who won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks the year before losing to Brady. “It’s champion on champion. I’m excited to go against him.

“He’s a very tough guy to play against because of his instinctiveness and awareness. You have to really be careful with a guy like him,” Belichick said. “Obviously, Ed Reed was the best of all time, in my opinion, at that. [Eric] Weddle had an element of that, but Thomas is a special player back there.”

“The black-on-black jerseys are going to be fire,” Thomas said. “The fans are going to be fired up. It’s going to be at night. I’m very excited about it. Everybody in this locker room is excited about it. I feel like every week is a measuring-stick game, but this is a game where we can go out there and make another statement just like we did last week.”

Lamar Jackson vs. Patriots D: Deep dive into saucy Week 9 battle - Mike Giardi

Lamar Jackson, by passing location in his career:

Inside the tackle box: 8.5 air yards per attempt, 64.9% completion percentage, 8.0 yards per attempt, 16:7 TD-INT ratio, 97.2 passer rating

Outside the tackle box: 11.0 air yards per attempt, 46.7% completion percentage, 5.3 yards per attempt, 1:1 TD-INT ratio, 61.9 passer rating

Jackson has also increased his percentage of passes in the short area (0-9 air yards) and his numbers have shown an uptick here as well, although perhaps the greatest sign of growth is that the former Heisman Trophy winner has reduced his time to throw on short passes by 0.29 seconds. That suggests -- strongly -- that it’s coming to Jackson earlier in his progressions. In other words, he sees it and slings it.

Lamar Jackson, on short passes:

2018: 2.78 seconds (average time to throw), 65.1% completion percentage, 72.0% expected completion percentage, 6.3 yards per attempt, 2:0 TD-INT ratio, 90.2 passer rating

2019: 2.49 seconds (average time to throw), 73.9% completion percentage, 75.3% expected completion percentage, 7.3 yards per attempt, 4:3 TD-INT ratio, 95.0 passer rating

”Yeah, he can throw,” said Gilmore. “He got a pretty deep ball. He throw a lot of passes on the money. He got a good arm. We can’t sleep on his passing game.”

How Do the Patriots Prepare for Lamar Jackson? - Albert Breer

How does he complete 63.3% of his throws with an accuracy issue?

Jackson’s athleticism and the structure of the offense naturally simplifies some things.

“We had a tough time with him in that sense,” the third team exec said. “And teams that play a lot of man, because of the inability to throw in an anticipatory manner, and throw guys open, they can have success covering them that way, but then you’re exposed because everyone’s backs are to the ball and guy can run. You really have to keep eyes on him … So you’re better off playing zone against him, but even then, he steps up, guys lose responsibility in the flat, and he dumps it off. It’s hard.”

Plays man against him, and he kills you running; play zone against him, and the throws get easier unless you can get heat, and pressuring can create scramble situations a team would rather avoid. Then, there’s the fact that a team has to commit so much to stopping the run that fewer resources are poured into the passing game. And the fewer guys are in good position in coverage, the bigger his throwing windows are.

Week 9 NFL picks: Why Ravens will upset Patriots - Tom Fornelli

Ravens +3.5 vs. Patriots

It’s never fun to bet against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Their record against the spread during Belichick’s reign is remarkable, and it’s not by accident. That doesn’t mean there aren’t spots where you can go against them, though. New England’s defense has been spectacular in 2019, and it’s thanks in large part to Belichick’s schemes to slow down modern passing attacks.

I know Belichick will have a plan for Lamar -- he always has a plan -- but mobile quarterbacks have always been a problem for Belichick defenses. They’re a bit of an equalizer. I’m taking the points, but I wouldn’t be shocked in the least if Baltimore wins straight up.

Prediction: Ravens 24, Patriots 23