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Ravens News 9/29: Third Down Troubles and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Washington Football Team Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Marquise Brown shouldn’t be a prime Ravens’ concern, inside LB play/tackling should be: Observations from wild win - Jeff Zrebiec

Tackling, too

Marlon Humphrey said that as he exited the field with Harbaugh on Sunday, the cornerback talked to the coach about the need for the defense to improve tackling. Harbaugh mentioned at his news conference Monday that was a popular topic when he met with his staff earlier in the day.

Harbaugh said that the nature and timing of the games the team’s already played and the Ravens’ injury situation have prevented them from doing fully padded practices. However, it’s clearly something the team needs to work on. Last year, they were one of the worst tackling teams in the league. This year, it feels like things have gotten worse. Pro Football Focus credited the Ravens with 12 missed tackles against the Lions, which was three more than they missed against the Chiefs. Queen and Tyus Bowser combined for five of them.

The Lions had no answers for the Ravens’ third-down blitzes in the first half Sunday, but their offensive fortunes changed when they went to a quick game and started getting their backs and receivers the ball and taking advantage of Baltimore’s tackling issues. You can bet other teams took notice and the Ravens will continue to see more of that approach until they start getting off blocks and tackling better.

Ravens Offense Mostly Effective, Need to Have Improvement on Third Down - Todd Karpovich

The Ravens have not been able to put teams away this season partly because of their struggles on third down.

Over three games, Baltimore is just 10 of 33 (30%) on third down. Baltimore has also lost the time of possession battle in two of those three games.

Overall, the Ravens offense has been effective.

They are ranked:

4th in total yards (1,274)

4th in Yards per Game (424.7)

11th for Points per Game (27.3)

1st in Rushing Yards per Game (185.3)

18th for Passing Yards per Game (239.3)

“We’re starting to get ready for the Broncos in Denver – [an] undefeated team. It’s a crazy stadium,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve been there numerous times. So, it’s a big challenge.

NFL Rookies: Top 15 highest-graded players through Week 3 - Michael Renner

EDGE ODAFE OWEH, BALTIMORE RAVENS

PFF overall grade: 79.1

Oweh was always a perfect scheme fit for what the Ravens do defensively. Their stunts and slants have tapped into his elite athleticism, especially in the run game. His 88.8 run-defense grade is the third-highest at the position in the NFL, and he’s registered nine pressures in three games.

Ravens Have the Intangibles to Go Far - Ryan Mink

The intangibles don’t always win games. The Ravens didn’t win in Vegas to open the season despite an improbable and miraculous goal-line stand in overtime from the one-foot line.

It remains to be seen whether the Ravens’ permanent losses of the season – J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Marcus Peters, to name a few – ultimately leave them just too shorthanded to keep winning. The flip side of Baltimore’s thrilling back-to-back wins is they could have easily gone the other way.

But some of those unquantifiable attributes can make up for real-life deficiencies. They carry real weight. There will still surely be more kicks to the shin this season for the Ravens, but with every Band-Aid applied, it seems this team just gets a little tougher.

“To be on the sideline for that, with our players – they play their hearts out and they give you everything they’ve got,” Harbaugh said after the win in Detroit.

Broncos Week 4 Talking Points: In last two years, starting 4-0 has meant qualifying for playoffs - Ryan O’Halloran

Jackson, the passer

The Broncos face Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson for the first time. During the teams’ last meeting, Week 3 of 2018, he was backing up Joe Flacco. Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP, ranks fifth in the league with 251 rushing yards and his 7.17 average is tops among the top 40 players. But the Broncos will also need to be on alert for his passing. Jackson is averaging 12.3 yards per attempt, well ahead of second-ranked Josh Allen of Buffalo (9.7), and also leads in yards per completion (14.4). The Ravens have 14 completions of at least 20 yards. The Broncos have allowed 11 explosive pass plays (at least 16 yards), including seven of 20-or-more yards (tied for seventh-fewest).

NFL Week 4 picks: Tom Brady gets revenge on Bill Belichick and the Patriots, four undefeated teams go down - John Breech

Baltimore (2-1) at Denver (3-0)

4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Broncos are one of just two undefeated teams left in the AFC, but despite that, I have no idea what to make of them and that’s mostly because they’ve had possibly the easiest schedule in NFL history through the first three weeks.

Also, if there’s one team in the NFL that’s more banged up than the Ravens, it might be the Broncos.

Every Ravens game this year has been absolutely bonkers and I expect nothing less in this game. In Week 1, they were leading the Raiders 14-0, but lost in overtime. In Week 2, they trailed the Chiefs by double-digits in the fourth quarter, but somehow managed to win. In Week 3, they won on a freaking 66-yard field goal. This week, they’re playing in Denver, which is the one city most kickers love to play in, so I’m guessing Tucker wins it on a field goal, which may or may not be from 67 yards out.

The pick: Ravens 27-24 over Broncos