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Ravens News 12/30: Slot Production and more

Baltimore Ravens v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Mark Andrews Might Draw Jalen Ramsey Matchup - Clifton Brown

A potential matchup between Mark Andrews and Jalen Ramsey is an intriguing subplot of Sunday’s Ravens-Rams game.

Andrews leads all NFL tight ends in receptions (93) and receiving yards (1,187), making a strong case to be considered the best player at his position.

Ramsey is regarded by many to be the best cornerback in the NFL, a unique player who is physical and agile enough to cover outside receivers, slot receivers and tight ends. He spent last weekend virtually erasing star wide receiver Justin Jefferson from the Minnesota Vikings passing attack.

The Rams are deploying Ramsey all over the field more than ever this year, and Andrews is sizzling hot, with more receiving yards than any player in the league over the past three weeks. It’s anticipated that Ramsey may cover Andrews at least some of the time, and he’s well aware of how gifted Ramsey is.

“He’s a different type of corner than most out there,” Andrews said. “Very versatile, extremely strong but fast, physical, all those different things makes him an elite guy. That’s going to be a tough matchup for anybody that he goes against.”

2021 NFL playoffs: One reason to hope for each of the 10 remaining fringe teams - Cynthia Frelund

Baltimore Ravens

Prob. 30.9%

Tight end Mark Andrews leads the NFL in receptions (24) and yards (324) when aligned in the slot over the last three weeks, per NGS, while his two touchdowns trail only Davante Adams (four) and Cooper Kupp (three). This week, the Ravens face a Rams defense that has allowed opponents to complete 76.5 percent of passes to slot targets over the past four games — which ranks 28th over that time span.

6 stats and facts to know for Rams vs. Ravens in Week 17 - Cameron DaSilva

Ravens have 2nd-best red zone offense

The Ravens have reached the red zone 51 times in 15 games so far, and more often than not, they punch it into the end zone. They’ve scored touchdowns on 66.7% of their red zone trips, which ranks second in the NFL. They’re also the third-best team on fourth down (63.6% conversion rate) and allow teams to convert just 34.9% of the time on third down, also third-best.

Baltimore has allowed most passing yards, fewest rushing yards in NFL

It’s been a tale of two stories for the Ravens defense this season. They’ve allowed the most passing yards in the NFL, giving up 4,207 yards and 28 touchdowns through the air. They rank last in yards allowed per pass attempt (7.3), too, so it’s not simply a volume thing.

Conversely, the Ravens have been good against the run. They’ve allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL (1,284) and allow just 3.9 yards per carry, fifth-best in football. Teams have resorted to throwing it often against Baltimore, especially with the recent rash of injuries that have hit the secondary.

Week 17: Ravens Vs. Rams Preview, Where to Watch, Prediction - Todd Karpovich

The Ravens got a boost with the return of right tackle Pat Mekari, who helped solidify the offensive line. That unit will be under pressure the entire game against Aaron Donald (12 sacks). Leonard Floyd (9 sacks). Whoever plays quarterback for the Ravens will need to get rid of the ball quickly and be mobile out of the pocket. Los Angeles has a solid secondary led by Jalen Ramsey and Taylor Rapp, who have three interceptions each.

The Rams have a dominant offense and score 27.7. points per game, which ranks sixth in the NFL. Quarterback Matthew Stafford ranks fourth in the NFL with 4,339 yards passing with 36 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp leads the NFL with 1,734 yards receiving with 14 touchdowns. Los Angeles also had a solid one-two punch at running back with Sony Michel (728 yards rushing) and Darrell Henderson (688 yards rushing.) However, Henderson was placed on IR this week with a knee injury.

Prediction

The Ravens have fought hard in a season full of challenges. However, the injuries and COVID issues are catching up with them. Baltimore has lost four consecutive games and the Rams have won four straight. Los Angeles is dealing with some injuries but not nearly as many as the Ravens and that will be the difference in this game.

Rams 37, Ravens 24

NFL picks, predictions for Week 17: Chiefs fend off Bengals; Raiders upset Colts; Ravens rebound - Bill Bender

Los Angeles Rams (-3) at Baltimore Ravens

Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX

Will Lamar Jackson return and help the Ravens avoid a potentially devastating loss? That’s Baltimore’s best hope. The Ravens have allowed 29 points per game through a four-game losing streak, and the Rams are rolling in a four-game win streak. If Jackson comes back, however, we’ll say he saves the day in a classic.

Pick: Ravens 33, Rams 30