Ravens have analytics nerds to thank for their success - Jonas Trostle
According to The New York Times’ fourth-down bot, which looks at the down, distance and years of data to recommend whether a team should (at least according to statistical models) go for it, the Ravens keep their offense on the field for fourthdowns 70 percent of the time that they should. The next best team? The Bills, at 55 percent, and the average is sub-50.
Even beyond the raw percentages, Baltimore has built a team designed to take advantage of the free points that other teams are leaving on the field. Usually, the NFL analytics community frowns upon running the football; for the most part, it’s inefficient. But when you as a team have decided that you have a whole extra down, and you run as well as the Baltimore Ravens do, this inefficiency barely even matters.
With an electrifying young quarterback on a rookie contract, aggressive fourthdown decision making and an offense built around converting those fourth-downs, the Ravens are dragging the NFL into the future.
K Justin Tucker
“I believe the translation would be something along the lines of, ‘Trust that when I say something, I’m going to do it.’ I think that’s what it stems from.”
WR Willie Snead IV
“It’s just basically like trust but with no ‘t’. Trust your brother, trust your coaches, trust the process. All that. Lamar came up with ‘truss.’ Mark [Ingram] came up with ‘biiig truss’ because everything Mark does is big. He put the ‘biiig’ on there to give it his own splash.”
OT Ronnie Stanley
“I don’t think you can put one definition on it. It’s a feeling. It’s a movement. It’s not just about trusting someone. It’s about biiiig trusting someone. You have full-fledged faith in that person – more than they even understand.”
TE Mark Andrews
“I think it’s hard to describe exactly what it means, but I think this city, the energy in this locker room … we all trust each other. This is a close-knit locker room. ‘Big truss’ kind of speaks to that. It’s like an unsaid thing that we put into words.”
3 KEY MATCHUPS TO FOLLOW
1. Buffalo’s linebackers vs. Lamar Jackson
A Bills linebacker or safety figure to spy on Jackson a good deal in this game in an effort to keep him contained. Easier said than done, but Buffalo has two of the most athletic backers in the league in Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano.
2. Dion Dawkins vs. Matt Judon
The Baltimore linebacker has capably filled the void of the team’s top pass rusher left behind by Terrell Suggs. Judon has seven sacks on the season. Dawkins has held his own against quality pass rushers of late like Dallas’ Robert Quinn.
3. Jordan Poyer vs. Mark Andrews
Poyer won’t be covering the Ravens leading pass catcher the whole game, but he’ll have his share of coverage assignments against Baltimore’s top tight end. Andrews is a deadly red zone threat and the team’s leading receiver in receptions, yards and touchdowns.
Players to Watch
Lamar Jackson‘s running ability has always spoken for itself. He currently leads all quarterbacks in both designed rushing yards (615) and rushing yards on scrambles (362). What’s allowed him to take the leap this season has been his consistency as a passer. Jackson’s passing grade of 88.7 from inside the pocket is second to only Drew Brees.
Despite being targeted 72 times so far in 2019, Tre’Davious White is still yet to allow a touchdown reception.
White trails only Gilmore in passer rating allowed (52.0) among that same group of cornerbacks with 50 or more targets.
NFL Week 14 picks: Ravens beat down the Bills in Buffalo, Patriots and Chiefs play thriller - John Breech
Baltimore (10-2) at Buffalo (9-3)
Before the Bills played the Cowboys last week, all I heard about for five straight days was how the Cowboys had yet to beat a team with a winning record, so I wasn’t too surprised when they lost to the Bills, who have a winning record. As fate would have it, while I was eating some pumpkin pie over the weekend, I decided to make a list of all the teams the Bills have beaten this season that currently have a winning record, and let’s just say that it’s an extremely short list.
Here’s the list: Tennessee.
Now, that’s not to take anything away from Buffalo’s nine wins, because it’s not like they make their own schedule, but I think what I’m saying that I can’t in good faith pick the Bills to win over a good team. The Bills biggest problem going into this game is that stopping the run is probably their biggest weakness on defense.
The Bills are giving up 4.5 yards per carry this season, which isn’t ideal when you’re about to play the team that leads the NFL in rushing. The Ravens are averaging 207.8 yards per game on the ground this season, which is an absurd number when you consider that no other NFL team is even averaging above 150 yards. I think what I’m trying to say here is that the Ravens might be able to win this game without throwing a forward pass.
The pick: Ravens 31-24 over Bills
Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills (+5.5)
This is one of the best games of the week. The Ravens are rolling and they are the best team in the league right now, but this will be a big proving game for the Bills. Can that defense slow Lamar Jackson? Will Josh Allen outplay him? I think this will be close with both quarterbacks playing well. Upset special.
Pick: Bills 21, Ravens 20