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Ravens News 11/24: Bunch Right and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Chicago Bears Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Ravens film study: The formation that gets wide receivers wide open, plus a surprising slide on defense - Jonas Shaffer

Three of the Ravens’ biggest pass plays this season have at least this much in common: No one bothered to guard the wide receiver running downfield.

In Week 2, it was Marquise “Hollywood” Brown who was left unmarked as he ran a vertical route against the Kansas City Chiefs on a 42-yard jump-pass touchdown from quarterback Lamar Jackson.

In Week 4, it was James Proche II who had an unbothered path across the field on a 32-yard catch-and-run to help put away the Denver Broncos in the fourth quarter.

And on Sunday, it was Sammy Watkins whom the Chicago Bears forgot to pick up on a crucial 29-yard catch late in the fourth quarter, setting up running back Devonta Freeman’s go-ahead 3-yard touchdown run one play later.

All three completions came on third down. All three came in the second half. And all three had a similar origin: with the wide-open wide receiver having started the play in a “bunch” formation to the quarterback’s right.

The bunch formation is a favorite of Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s. According to Sports Info Solutions, only the Arizona Cardinals’ Kyler Murray and Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger had more drop-backs out of “bunch right” looks last season than Jackson, who finished 17-for-22 for 245 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the formation. Entering Sunday’s game, he was 11-for-15 for 130 yards and a touchdown out of bunch right.

NFL Week 12 predictions for every quarterback - Ian Hartiz

MOST LIKELY TO SEE ALL SORTS OF COVER 0: BALTIMORE RAVENS QB LAMAR JACKSON VS. CLEVELAND BROWNS

Jackson (illness) didn’t suit up in Week 11, meaning the last time the NFL saw him play was his pressure-induced Week 10 dud. Nobody has faced more Cover 0 than Jackson this season, which is mainly due to the Dolphins utilizing this look on a whopping 19 of Jackson’s dropbacks on that fateful Thursday night. To this point, the 2019 league MVP hasn’t managed to make defenses pay, as Jackson has posted middling marks in PFF passing grade (56.5, No. 20 among 30 qualified quarterbacks), yards per attempt (4.9, No. 19) and QB rating (61.1, No. 28) against Cover 0 this season.

The NFL is a copycat league so don’t be surprised if the Browns (29th in total snaps played in Cover 0) dabble a bit more often with this strategy in an effort to make life difficult for Jackson. It remains incredible that the Dolphins held this prolific Ravens offense to just 10 points. Jackson will need to prove he can decimate this coverage scheme before the offense gets back to looking like the group that scored 30-plus points in three of their previous four games prior to Week 10.

Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens Pick, Prediction, Opening Betting Lines: Who wins on Sunday night? - Alex Buck

The Browns’ defense is saving their offense

Cleveland has failed to score more than 17 points in six of its last eight games.

If the Browns can’t hold Lamar Jackson and Co. to fewer than 21 points, Cleveland’s offense might not be able to climb out of a hole. There’s every chance Jackson gets hot and puts 30+ points on the board.

Baker Mayfield has had two bad weeks in a row. He threw for only 73 yards against the Patriots in Week 10 and 176 yards against the Lions in Week 11.

Cleveland needs to get back on the straight and narrow in a hurry if they want to hit form and make the playoffs. Nonetheless, Baltimore’s defense is not what you want to be facing. The Ravens have held both the Chargers and the Broncos to 7 points or less so far this season. But they’ve struggled in other weeks, giving up 41 to the Bengals and 31 to the Vikings.

Browns vs. Ravens prediction

Given the recent results from both teams, this is one of the tougher games to make a call on in Week 12. This is one of those contests where you back the under and it ends up being 42-41, or you back the over and it finishes 13-10. Either way, I’m choosing to avoid the O/U.

I’ll take the Ravens to win the game, anticipating that we see Baltimore’s offense click. Despite the return of Nick Chubb, I can’t see the Browns keeping up. The Ravens win it and cover.

Browns vs. Ravens Prediction: Ravens 34, Browns 17

Ravens Sign Three Players to Practice Squad, Including a Quarterback - Clifton Brown

Quarterback Kenji Bahar, cornerback Kevin Toliver and offensive tackle Jaryd Jones-Smith were signed to the practice squad, while offensive tackle Adrian Ealy was released.

Toliver was undrafted in 2018 out of LSU, but he made the Chicago Bears’ 53-man roster and made two career starts for them, appearing in 15 games as a rookie and 12 games in 2019. He joined the Denver Broncos after being released by the Bears last year and saw action in two games in 2020 before suffering a torn ACL last December that ended his season.

Toliver’s signing comes during a time when the Ravens have been hit hard by injuries at cornerback.

One thing we learned about each NFL team in Week 11 of 2021 season: Raiders, Seahawks look listless - Cody Benjamin

Baltimore Ravens

They’re built for the home stretch. Yes, they played the Bears on Sunday, but even without Lamar Jackson, they dominated time of possession, stepping up on the ground and on defense.