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Ravens News 9/23: Battle Tested and more

Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

Latavius Murray Is Bringing a Hammer to Ravens’ Rushing Attack - Ryan Mink

In two games, Murray has two touchdowns – rumbling in from 8 yards out against the Las Vegas Raiders and 5 yards out versus the Kansas City Chiefs.

Considering he didn’t join the team until three days before he stepped onto the field in Las Vegas, it’s not a bad start for the 6-foot-3, 230-pound veteran. And his success in the red zone certainly doesn’t surprise quarterback Lamar Jackson.

“That’s a strong guy, huge guy. People don’t want to tackle man, I’m not going to lie to you,” Lamar Jackson said. “You all see it. They were iffy when they see him up getting up close. He’s a huge guy. I wouldn’t want to tackle him either.”

“Finding the end zone; that’s what I’ve got to do if I’m going to in there and be effective,” Murray said. “That’s something I want to keep doing – finding the end zone. There is no better feeling than that.”

“I just think there are a lot of ways that we can hurt you, and it starts with Lamar just being beside you,” Murray said. “[With the defense] not knowing if he’s going to keep it or give it, that right there is difficult in itself. Then [there’s] all the different things that we’re doing. Coming at you north and south and then getting the ball outside, it’s just tough on the defense. It keeps them on their toes, and it gives us the opportunity to really just hurt them.”

2021 NFL Divisional Power Rankings: Ravens showcase power of AFC North; Packers, Bears don’t help NFC North - Jeff Kerr

3. AFC North

Last week’s ranking: 3

The gap from No. 2 to No. 3 significantly closed in these rankings thanks to the Ravens’ impressive victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, the first time Lamar Jackson has defeated Kansas City. Baltimore has averaged 220 rushing yards per game through two weeks, this without their top two rushers — who are out for the entire season. We still are unsure who will be the favorite in this division after two weeks.

This division would have been ranked second if the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to beat the Las Vegas Raiders at home, instead of another game where they failed to put up 20 points. Even will all the pass catchers and Najee Harris at running back, Pittsburgh’s offense has shown no signs of improvement through two games. Cleveland got back on track with a victory over Houston, even though the Texans gave the Browns trouble much of the first half. The Bengals had opportunities to beat the Bears as well.

Detroit Lions Week 3 scouting report: The Baltimore Ravens are good, but very, very injured - Jeremy Reisman

Biggest strength: Rushing attack

Despite the shuffling along the offensive line and some injuries, this team is still set up to destroy opposing defenses on the ground. Obviously, Lamar Jackson’s mobility helps—he leads the team both in rushing yards (193) and rushing touchdowns (2)—but second-year running back Ty’Son Williams is averaging 6.5 yards per carry, too. Last year, they were held below 100 rushing yards exactly zero times. They rushed for over 200 yards six times.

Biggest weakness: Pass defense

The aforementioned injuries have left the Ravens in a tough spot in the secondary. While they still have a great talent in cornerback Marlon Humphrey, they could be missing three potential starters in Peters, Smith and Elliott this week.

Baltimore also has struggled to generate pressure through two weeks. Their pass rush win rate is just 38 percent (t-24th) and their PFF team pressure grade of 66.6 is 23rd in the NFL.

Week 3 opponent: What the Ravens are saying - Tim Twentyman

Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike was asked about the matchup with Detroit, and he told baltimoreravens.com he was impressed with Detroit’s offensive line play and the skill level of Detroit’s running backs. He considers them the strength of Detroit’s offense. He said the Ravens are a run-stopping defense, so they’re really focused on “stopping (Detroit) from doing what they want to do.”

Detroit comes in averaging 112.0 rushing yards per game. The Ravens rank sixth in rushing defense (72.0).

In their first two contests, the Ravens have faced two of the best tight ends in the game in Darren Waller and Travis Kelce. The task gets no easier this week facing Lions Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson, who has caught at least eight passes and a touchdown in each of Detroit’s first two games. The Ravens know Hockenson is Detroit’s best receiving threat. Harbaugh said Hockenson is “the straw that stirs the drink” for the Lions’ offense, and he’s a guy the Ravens have to be very aware of.

Ravens-Lions Week 3 Preview, Prediction, Where to Watch - Todd Karpovich

Defense

The Ravens have uncharacteristically struggled over the past two and are allowing 448 yards (31st) and 34 points (29th) per game, Quarterbacks Derek Carr (Raiders) and Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) have made big plays downfield. Lions quarterback Jared Goff has thrown for 584 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. He will test the Ravens’ secondary. His favorite targets are T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift, both of whom could create some matchup problems. Goff is not very mobile so the Ravens should be able to keep him under pressure. The Ravens run defense has been strong again, allowing just 72 yards per game. Lions running back Jamaal Williams has played mostly uneven and is averaging 79 yards over the first two games. The Ravens have the advantage in this matchup.

Prediction

The Ravens have adapted to all of their injuries and are coming off a spirited 36-35 win over the Chiefs. Don’t expect any letdown against the Lions. The Ravens know they have to stack some wins in the coming weeks. Baltimore is battle-tested after playing two tough games to start the season. The Lions played well in the second half against the 49ers but fell apart against the Packers. Look for the Ravens to wear them down.

Ravens 37, Lions 17