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Ravens News 10/15: Third primary Target and more

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Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

Lamar Jackson Has Confidence in Passing Game, Is Fine With Fewer Runs - Ryan Mink

The passing game has particularly been a struggle. The Ravens sit 31st in the NFL in passing yards per game at 178.8, just barely above the New York Jets.

Jackson was quite sharp the first two weeks, leading to numerous pundits talking about how his passing accuracy improved this offseason. But he’s missed a number of passes the past three weeks, including several opportunities for deep plays.

“The passing game, we’re still working on it,” Jackson said. “We’ve got young guys that came in and stuff like that. We’re just finding ourselves right now. I feel we’re going to be good.”

The Ravens would benefit from a third primary target emerging in the passing game.

Brown has a team-high 36 targets and Andrews has 29. Willie Snead IV has the third-most targets on the team with 13. While the Ravens are still winning games, Harbaugh said having more ways to threaten opponents in the passing game “will matter in the long run.”

“People will defend the guys you’re throwing to,” Harbaugh said. “We’re not trying to throw to two guys all the time. We’re not trying to throw to seven guys either. But we have had games where we’ve spread it out quite a bit this year, where he’s hit multiple targeted guys. I think it’ll play out week to week, but it will be something we need to continue to look at.”

To Baltimore Ravens, Jimmy Smith is ‘the O.G.’ — and a key to unlocking a creative defense - Aaron Kasinitz

“Jimmy, he’s an old-head; he’s the O.G.,” Elliott said. “I know he can do his job. I know he’s going to make plays, so we don’t have to worry about ‘Jimbo.’”

Smith, the longest-tenured defensive player on the Ravens’ roster, has earned a reputation among teammates and coaches for his steady play.

“His experience makes a big difference,” Harbaugh said. “He’s just seen a lot of things. He’s been in a lot of meetings, he’s played in a lot of games. He, basically, fundamentally, knows how all the coverages are built.”

“It’s been fun,” Smith said. “I get to do different things. I play tight ends, I drop down in coverage from safety, I play some corner, which is something I’m used to.”

The Ravens could rely on Smith’s versatility and knowledge even more than usual Sunday in Philadelphia. Three-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz, despite experiencing a dip in production in recent weeks, remains one of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz’s favorite targets.

Eagles vs. Ravens: Five matchups to watch - Jimmy Kempski

The Eagles’ linebackers vs. TE Mark Andrews

The Eagles have allowed 32 catches for 323 yards and 5 TDs to tight ends this season. If you were to include 6’4, 238-pound Chase Claypool, who plays something of a tight end role in the Steelers’ passing game, then it gets really ugly.

We all knew the Eagles’ linebackers could be an issue heading into this season, and as feared, they have been a major weakness through the first five games. Against a power running team with a dynamic tight end, the Eagles will have a serious mismatch disadvantage at linebacker.

Zach Ertz and Miles Sanders vs. the Ravens’ linebackers and safeties in the passing game

Ertz is averaging 4.1 yards per target, while Sanders is averaging 4.2 yards per target.

Rookie Patrick Queen has made some plays this season, in that he has a pair of sacks, a pair of forced fumbles, and a pair of fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a TD. However, if there’s a player I would look to attack in the passing game on Sunday, it’s him.

NFL Week 6 Preview: Fantasy football advice, betting tips and matchups to watch - PFF

BALTIMORE RAVENS @ PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Headline of the game: Carson Wentz will get a heavy dose of blitzes for the second straight week

The Eagles didn’t come away with the victory in Week 5 against Pittsburgh, but they did come away with some good news. After playing like the worst quarterback in the NFL through the first three weeks of the season, Wentz has started to turn things around, and this past Sunday was pretty comfortably his best game of the season, as evidenced by the 81.9 PFF grade.

It’s not as if that came in a cupcake matchup, either. The Steelers brought the heat against Wentz, but he did a good job of beating their blitz. Wentz went 11-for-16 with 104 yards, two touchdowns and an interception against Pittsburgh’s blitz — part of a game where he notched a season-high three big-time throws.

The Steelers’ 50% blitz rate leads the NFL, but Baltimore is right on their heels at 48% through five weeks. Few defensive coordinators bring the extra rusher as often (or as well) as Wink Martindale does — just ask Joe Burrow. The rookie was blitzed a league-high 25 times by the Ravens in Week 5 and earned just a 29.0 passing grade on those dropbacks.

Betting

This matchup sets up well for the Ravens, who continue to obliterate inferior teams. Nineteen places separate these teams in our Elo rankings, with a wide discrepancy found between these teams’ offensive ratings. This is not a spot that many are looking to back the home dog, with 88% of the cash and 73% of the tickets on the Ravens — 7.5 feels untouchable on either side, despite our predictive models finding this movement to be an overcorrection.

The narrative surrounding the Ravens is that they blow out teams they are better than and struggle to keep pace with teams they are roughly equal to. This line of thinking is leading the market to an untouchable level. The Eagles defense was incapable of slowing the Steelers, which makes their chances against the Ravens concerning.

NFL Week 6 picks: Bills bounce back to stun Chiefs, Steelers cool off rival Browns - Pete Prisco

Baltimore Ravens (-7.5) at Philadelphia Eagles

The Ravens haven’t quite played as well on offense this season as expected. But that will change against the Eagles. Look for Lamar Jackson to have a big day against the Eagles secondary. The Ravens defense will also get the best of the Philly offense. Ravens win it big.

Pick: Ravens 29, Eagles 20