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Ravens News 12/17: Dangerous Efficiency and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Tyus Bowser Is Rising to the Occasion During Playoff Push - Clifton Brown

Bowser is doing special things that have forced people to notice. His latest highlight was a spectacular one-handed interception of Baker Mayfield on Monday Night Football, a play that displayed Bowser’s athleticism and instincts.

Not only did Bowser make an amazing catch by pulling the football into his body as he tumbled to the ground, but he bounced up quickly and nearly scored on the interception return. His play set up a 1-yard touchdown run by J.K. Dobbins, a key momentum swing during Baltimore’s 47-42 victory.

“Honestly, Tyus deserves a lot more credit, man,” Judon said. “It’s hard. You’ve seen people dropping balls in the cold, and he came up with it one-handed. That’s his third pick in four weeks. So, he’s been working hard behind the scenes. He catches and throws almost every day. You all have to respect this man in coverage, man. Respect him – he can rush, and he can cover. He does both, and he’s an extremely hard worker.”

“On that interception, I will tip my cap to them,” Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski said. “That was a good defensive call. It was a great play dropping on a Fire Zone. We got fooled there. I got fooled there.”

The Ravens offense is finding its form. Now it’s time for the defense to tighten up - Mike Preston

On offense, the Ravens appear to be gearing up. It’s the opposite on defense.

“They exploited some stuff,” Judon said. “We have to go to the film. And we have to correct that stuff. But everybody isn’t going to jump off the ship over here, at least we’re not. So, we’re going to go to work, like we always do. We’re going to correct it. We’re going to come back next week and we’re going to fight.”

The Ravens didn’t have any sacks against Cleveland and only hit quarterback Baker Mayfield five times. They only had one sack against Dallas and five pressures. Martindale has been trying several different stunts and an assortment of blitzes to get pressure, but the Ravens only have seven sacks in the past six games.

Maybe that’s why the Ravens were so soft in coverage in the second half Monday night. That didn’t make much sense because the Browns receivers, with the exception of Jarvis Landry, are just as average as the Ravens’ crew. Cleveland went to the short passing attack and scored touchdowns on four of its last five possessions with drives of 75, 70, 70 and 75 yards.

The Ravens also might have a safety issue. Both of their starters, DeShon Elliott and Chuck Clark, are great at going forward and making tackles, but don’t cover a lot of ground defending deep passes.

4 Baltimore Ravens takeaways as dust clears from stunning win over Browns - Aaron Kasinitz

Lamar Jackson’s ability to make plays on third down is the factor that keeps the offense dangerous even when it can’t shake other struggles

Baltimore finished 6 of 11 on third downs as a team Monday night and 5 of 8 while Jackson was in the game. And on the team’s lone fourth-down try, Jackson rolled to his right and delivered a 44-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to Marquise Brown with a bit less than two minutes remaining on the clock.

Jackson’s ability to shine on third down, whether he does it on a designed running play in short-yardage situations or after dropping back to create magic, is especially valuable this year because the Ravens’ offense is far from flawless. Injuries and a retirement have sapped the offense of three standout blockers and shaky play at receiver has limited Baltimore’s explosiveness.

The Ravens rank 21st out of 32 NFL teams in total yards, but thanks to Jackson, they rank eight in the league with a 44.3% conversion rate on third down.

Therein lies a way Baltimore can mask its offensive deficiencies and compete with the league’s best teams. When all else fails, Jackson has the talent to keep the offense on the field.

NFL Week 15 Preview: Fantasy football advice, betting tips and matchups to watch - PFF

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS @ BALTIMORE RAVENS

Headline of the game: Lamar Jackson’s rushing ability remains one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the NFL

Jackson ran the ball fewer than 10 times this past week against the Browns for the first time since Week 6 against Philadelphia, but that didn’t stop him from having his most productive rushing performance of the season. Jackson ran for 124 yards on just nine carries — averaging over 10 yards before contact per attempt — and found the end zone multiple times with his legs for the first time this season.

His unique athletic ability for the position and the attention that defenses must give him in the designed run game has allowed the Ravens to create by far the league’s most efficient rushing attack in each of the past two seasons, and his scrambling ability is something that defenses have to account for in the passing game, as well. If the Ravens’ offense can start to click down the stretch like it did in 2019, the team can become a legitimate threat in the AFC out of a Wild Card spot.

Week 15 NFL picks: Giants, Cowboys, Washington all deliver upset wins in tight NFC East race - Pete Prisco

Jacksonville Jaguars at Baltimore Ravens

Latest Odds: Baltimore Ravens -13

The Ravens have won two straight, while the running game is going wild lately. The Jaguars can’t stop the run, which will be a major problem. Gardner Minshew is back in at quarterback for the Jaguars, but it won’t matter. This will be ugly.

Pick: Ravens 37, Jaguars 10