Ravens Back in Pads as Colts Pose a Tackling Challenge
Coming off back-to-back tough tackling games against the Chiefs and Lions, the Ravens broke out the pads for practice. After one ugly play against Broncos rookie Javonte Williams early in the game, Baltimore’s defense brought the physicality and sound tackling the rest of the way.
This week, Baltimore is strapping on the pads again for Thursday’s practice.
“They’ve got some great running backs that can really tilt the rock, and they really want to be a running team,” Humphrey said. “So, it will be another emphasis this week – to really wrap up, tackle [with] the first guy. You can’t have guys running through the defense, so it will be a big emphasis today in practice.”
After that fumble, Taylor went on a tear down the stretch and now sits at No. 10 in the league in rushing this season (274 yards). He’s one of the tougher running backs in the league to bring down.
The Colts also love to get the ball to running back Nyheim Hines, who is third on the team with 14 catches for 124 yards. Hines is likely a player inside linebacker Patrick Queen will be studying intently this week.
“They use their [running] backs every kind of way you can use them,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “They’re even primary receivers in the passing game, a lot of the times. They’re a big screen team. They use them in high-to-low checkdown situations in the flats, or over the middle of the field. They try to match them up in man coverage.”
COLTS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Michael Pittman Jr. Yes, Indianapolis is a run-first team. But with the Ravens having more trouble defending the pass and the Colts looking for more deep throws, Pittman could become Indy’s focal point this week.
RAVENS PLAYER TO WATCH: LB Justin Houston, who played for Indianapolis the last two seasons before joining Baltimore. He needs 1 1/2 sacks to reach 100 for his career.
SERIES NOTES: Last year, the Ravens punted on their first five possessions, then opened the second half in a no-huddle offense and rallied for 24-10 victory. It was Baltimore’s fourth win in the last five meetings.
STATS AND STUFF: Only five NFL players have forced more fumbles than linebacker Darius Leonard (10) since 2018. ... The Colts have forced five turnovers over the past two weeks. ... The Ravens are 16-2 in home prime time games under coach John Harbaugh.
Matchup to watch: Colts depleted OL vs. Baltimore’s defensive front
Chris Reed is filling in for Quenton Nelson at left guard, and Julie’n Davenport and Matt Pryor are battling it out at swing tackle to fill in for Braden Smith on the right side. Meanwhile, Eric Fisher has not looked 100% in his return from injury, earning just a 41.8 overall grade in his three starts this year. The result is an offensive line that is a far cry from the unit that has been one of the NFL’s best the past few years.
Wink Martindale will look to exploit the Colts’ weaknesses up front, with 35-year-old Calais Campbell leading the charge. Campbell’s 88.9 PFF grade through four weeks ranks fourth among interior defenders.
Biggest Storyline: No quarterback has pushed the ball downfield more this season than Lamar Jackson
Jackson’s MVP season in 2019 was built on the back of his ability to produce big plays both with his legs and his arm, and he’s actively seeking out those explosive passing plays again this season. Jackson’s 12.5-yard average depth of target represents the only aDOT over 10 yards by a quarterback this season. His 6.9% big-time throw rate ranks sixth at the position, sandwiched between Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers.
That ability to gash defenses for big plays both on the ground and through the air makes Baltimore one of the AFC’s most dangerous teams.
Week 5 NFL game picks: Rams beat Seahawks in Seattle; Chiefs top Bills on Sunday night - Gregg Rosenthal
Baltimore Ravens 27, Indianapolis 16
I’m so impressed by Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s ability to dial up creative pressures, no matter who he has playing cornerback. Indianapolis’ offensive line is now a vulnerability worth attacking, and Baltimore’s big uglies up front are well-suited to stop Jonathan Taylor on the ground.
NFL Week 5 Picks, Odds: Bengals stun Packers, Rams take out Seahawks, Steelers beat Broncos - Will Brinson
Assuming TNF and SNF deliver, could this be our first prime-time snoozer of the year? Every single big game has been outstanding theater on a prime-time stage. I don’t think the Ravens will just completely steamroll the Colts and it was good to see signs of life from Carson Wentz and Indy last week in South Florida. But this is a different animal. John Harbaugh and Lamar Jackson at home are a problem. Indy’s actually sporting a good rush defense but I think we can expect some shots down the field to Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews. If the Ravens can get vertical they can put the Colts in a rough position needing to come back.
The Pick: Ravens 24, Colts 14
NFL picks against the spread - Sheil Kapadia
It hasn’t been fully reflected by the box scores, but Lamar Jackson has thrown the ball really well the past two weeks. He’s been aggressive pushing the ball downfield. On the season, 17.1 percent of Jackson’s passes have traveled at least 20 yards; that’s the fourth-highest percentage for any starter. Jackson is fifth in yards per attempt (YPA) at 8.7.
When Carson Wentz faced the aggressive Ravens defense last year with the Eagles, he took six sacks and 17(!) quarterback hits. The situation is obviously different with the Colts, but I think Baltimore’s defense will find ways to get after Wentz in this game.
The pick: Ravens (-6.5)