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Ravens News 11/15: Unstoppable rushing, predictions and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens designate Brynden Trawick to return from injured reserve - Aaron Kasinitz

Trawick, a one-time Pro Bowl special teams player, can begin practicing with Baltimore this week and will be eligible to return to the 53-man roster in Week 14, when the Ravens are slated to play at the Buffalo Bills. Trawick landed on injured reserve Oct. 3 with an arm injury.

Trawick’s potential return could help bolster a Ravens special teams unit that has experienced attrition in recent weeks. Baltimore cut another former Pro Bowler, Justin Bethel, last month to save a compensatory draft pick and wide receiver Chris Moore has been battling a thumb injury.

The Film Room: The Baltimore Ravens’ Unstoppable Run Offense - Matt Weston

Sure, there are ways to stop these plays. You can crash the pullers, have an absurd edge defender who can defend both the back and the quarterback at the same time, bring an extra safety down in the box and put as many defenders around the line of scrimmage as possible, or flood the same gap with multiple defenders.

It will work on occasion. But these decisions are guesses. Pick the wrong direction and it amplifies the damage. The best and proper way to hinder the Ravens’ rushing attack, since stopping is out of the question, is to get penetration with the first level to constrict the space they have to operate. Then, from there, tackle well on top of it.

This has been impossible to pull off. Baltimore’s offensive line doesn’t miss first level blocks. The line is great on its own. Everything else piled on top of it accentuates the success. The Ravens haven’t played a great run defense yet. That changes this week when they host the Texans.

But no one has come close to stopping Roman’s magnus opus, the offensive line’s crunching, the commendable secondary blocking, and Jackson’s transcendence with defensive performance alone.

Week 11 Preview: Ravens-Texans - Todd Karpovich

By the Numbers

949 – An NFL-high receiving yards by Baltimore’s tight ends this season. Kansas City ranks second with 801 yards. The Ravens’ tight ends have also combined for an NFL-best 83 receptions.

Notable

The Ravens are 9-0 when quarterback Lamar Jackson runs for at least 70 yards in a game. Baltimore is 11-2 when he reaches 60 rushing yards in a game, including 6-1 this season.

Prediction

This will be a tough test for both teams with playoff implications. The Texans would replace the Ravens as the No. 2 in the AFC postseason race with a victory. Baltimore is playing its best football and will have the advantage playing in front of its home crowd. Jackson and Watson should be a fun matchup.

Ravens 28, Texans 24

NFL picks, predictions for Week 11: Steelers top Browns, Texans get by Ravens, 49ers roll - Todd Haislop

Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (-4)

This is by far the best early Sunday afternoon game on the Week 11 schedule thanks to what should be a showcase of QB talent. The Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and the Texans’ Deshaun Watson are high on the list of NFL MVP candidates this season, and on top of that, both teams are leading their respective divisions as the AFC playoff picture becomes more relevant. Baltimore has the NFL’s best rushing offense, but Houston is not far behind. The Texans are the fresher team coming off their bye, which will give them the slight edge they need in a close game.

Pick: Texans 28, Ravens 26

NFL Week 11 game picks: Visiting Steelers win ugly over Browns - Gregg Rosenthal

Baltimore Ravens 29, Houston Texans 27

The Ravens are among the most improved teams since September, with the offense hitting the stratosphere and the defense steadily improving. The Texans remain mysterious. The best performance from their mediocre defense came without J.J. Watt in London. Their offense is playing against expectations with good pass protection and little vertical passing.

Both teams are impossible to prepare for on third down because there is no perfect play call against Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson. In a coin-flip matchup, the overpowering Ravens rushing attack remains the defining group of two teams that can transform so seamlessly from week to week.