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Ravens News 10/7: Chess Match and more

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Washington Football Team Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Chess Game Is On - John Eisenberg

After studying tape all week, the Ravens expected Washington’s defense to play a certain way. But Washington tried different approaches against Lamar Jackson and his offense – approaches that weren’t always on the tape.

Obviously, Washington’s game plan contained surprises. But it wasn’t surprising in the least that the Ravens’ opponent put aside its normal tendencies and tried something unexpected. Everyone is doing that against Baltimore in 2020.

Jackson added, “Defenses play us a lot differently. We watch film on them. We study teams. When we go out there, it’s a totally different ball game.”

Bottom line, the chess game definitely is ON when it comes to defenses taking on Baltimore’s unique offense. Defensive coordinators had neither the time nor, in some cases, the manpower to adjust.

But there was little doubt things would be different in 2020 after those defensive coordinators had an entire offseason to study the Ravens’ methodology.

After the first quarter of the regular season, the Ravens’ offense is ranked No. 25 in the league in yards per game – quite a slip for a unit that finished No. 2 in that category last year and set the NFL’s all-time single-season record for team rushing yards.

Ravens need Matthew Judon to jolt their slumbering pass rush - Mike Preston

The Ravens need Judon to ignite the pass rush. They acquired defensive ends Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe in the offseason to generate more pressure on the quarterback, but that didn’t materialize in the first three games.

Some of the criticism of Judon was justified because of his contract, but not his past performance.

“I’ve had a lot of good rushes if you go back and watch the film. Y’all really only care about stats, but it was a good team win,” Judon said about the victory in Washington.

He got two Sunday against Washington and provided a pass-rushing presence off the edge. Reserve outside linebacker Tyus Bowser has two sacks in four games, and maybe he and Judon can give the Ravens some type of 1-2 punch in the final three quarters of the season.

Ravens ‘in good shape’ health wise after quarter-mark of season - Andrew Gillis

“Stanley, you kind of know his situation, so we’re very hopeful for him,” coach John Harbaugh said Monday at his weekly press conference. “Madubuike looks like he’s getting close, so there’s a good chance he could be ready this week. Wolfe, he has a little elbow situation. He should be fine. That’s really all that I think. I think we’re in good shape going forward unless something jumps up — and that, I tell ya, has happened. So you never know.”

After a loaded injury report Friday, which had eight players listed as questionable, the Ravens have two weeks to go before their bye week where they’ll look to remain similarly healthy. Against the Bengals and Eagles the next two weeks, health and wins — no matter what fashion — are the biggest factors.

Then, after the bye week, they’ll face the Steelers, Colts, Patriots, Titans and Steelers in five straight weeks. It’s imperative the Ravens stay healthy for that playoff push in November. After Week 4, they’re on a good trajectory.

Week 4 DVOA Ratings - Aaron Schatz

Tampa Bay is a surprise No. 1 in DVOA this week but the Bucs don’t have a huge lead. While the media may leap to crown a new king of the hill every week, the fact is that there really isn’t a king of the hill this year. Kansas City isn’t going to finish 16-0, Green Bay isn’t unstoppable, and all the undefeated teams have weaknesses. No team is dominating its opponents week after week, and that’s reflected in the DVOA ratings. Tampa Bay barely gets over 30%, finishing the week at 30.1%. Usually at this point of the season, the best team is at least over 40%.

The Bucs are just a couple of percentage points ahead of No. 2 Kansas City, and the Chiefs are just one point ahead of No. 3 Baltimore, and Indianapolis and Green Bay are also above 25%. The 2020 season has a lot of very good teams so far but nobody who is having a legendary start like last year’s Patriots or the 2018 Rams.

Bengals Face Ravens In A Week 5 Showdown

The series: Baltimore leads the series, 25-23.

The Ravens’ sweep last season was their first season sweep over the Bengals since 2011. The Bengals’ most recent sweep of the Ravens was in 2015.

It hasn’t been an easy series for the visiting team. The Ravens lead 16-8 in Baltimore, and the Bengals lead 15-9 in Cincinnati.

Since 2010, 14 of the teams’ 19 meetings have been one-score decisions, by eight or fewer points.

Turnover margin is key vs. Ravens: In the 37 all-time Bengals-Ravens meetings in which the turnover differential has not been even (1995-present), the team who wins the turnover battle has posted a 32-5 record. Putting it another way, the Bengals are 14-3 against the Ravens with a plus turnover differential, and 2-18 with a minus. Looking at it from Baltimore’s point of view, the Ravens are 18-2 with a plus and 3-14 with a minus. Cincinnati leads 7-4 in games against Baltimore in which the turnover margin was even.

300 x 3 = rookie record for Burrow: Bengals QB Joe Burrow now stands as the only rookie QB in NFL history to ever throw for 300 yards in three consecutive games. He hit the mark in Game 2 at Cleveland (316), Game 3 at Philadelphia (312) and Game 4 vs. Jacksonville (300).