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Ravens News 10/21: Smash Mouth Matchup and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Ravens vs. Browns scouting report for Week 7: Who has the edge? - Childs Walker

Jackson and Co. will try to regain their footing against a Cleveland pass defense that has been less than the sum of its parts. Defensive end Myles Garrett (five sacks, six tackles for loss) remains the league’s top edge defender, as graded by Pro Football Focus, and Jadeveon Clowney is not far behind, but the Browns rank in the bottom 10 in pressures per drop-back. Cornerback Denzel Ward signed a $100 million contract in the offseason but has played poorly by his standards. The Browns have forced just five turnovers, and Patriots backup Bailey Zappe shredded them in that 38-15 thrashing in Cleveland last Sunday.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s ground attack will take aim at one of the league’s worst run defenses. The Browns have allowed opponents to average five yards per carry and gave up more than 200 rushing yards to both the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Chargers. Linebackers Jacob Phillips and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah have graded poorly against the run, and the Browns don’t have a powerhouse interior defender to complement their stars on the edges. If the Ravens dominate the game, this will be where it happens.


The Ravens could enter full-on crisis mode if they lose to the floundering Browns at home. But they’re the better all-around team with the right offense to gash Cleveland’s tender middle and keep running back Nick Chubb off the field. For once, they will not have to sweat until the final seconds. Ravens 30, Browns 20

A Look at Browns Running Back Nick Chubb Vs. the Ravens - Todd Karpovich

Nick Chubb leads the NFL in yards rushing but has mixed results against the Ravens.

In some games, he’s run amok for more than 100 yards, and other times Baltimore has shut him down.

Sept. 29, 2019 — 20 carries, 165 yards, 3 touchdowns

Score: Ravens 40, Browns 25

Dec. 22, 2019 — 15 carries, 45 yards, 0 touchdowns

Score: Browns 31, Ravens 15

Sept. 13, 2020 — 10 carries, 60 yards, 0 touchdowns

Score: Ravens 38, Browns 6

Dec. 14, 2020 — 17 carries, 82 yards, 2 touchdowns

Score: Browns 47, Ravens 42

Nov. 28, 2021 — 8 carries, 16 yards, 0 touchdowns

Score: Ravens 16, Browns 10

Dec. 12, 2021 — 17 carries, 59 yards, 0 touchdowns

Score: Browns 24, Ravens 22

NFL Offense Is Dead — But It’s Unlikely Two-High Coverage Is The Guilty Party - Josh Hermsmeyer

There is no shortage of theories as to why scoring is down, but one of the more prominent ideas has to do with the NFL’s continual shift toward “two-high” safety defenses, which are designed to stop the pass. As the name implies, two-high defenses keep two defensive backs downfield to protect against deeper throws.

So far in 2022, the rate of two-high safety coverage deployed on first and second down is 34.2 percent — up 9.1 percentage points from 2016.1 Meanwhile, single-high coverages have fallen out of fashion slightly, dropping from 56.2 percent on early downs in 2016 to 52.7 percent this year.

And this year’s narrative of choice isn’t without some weaknesses anyway, as two-high coverages certainly aren’t preventing the league’s top quarterbacks from putting points on the board. Through six games of the season, the top offenses in the NFL by EPA per play are exactly what you might expect: The Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens. Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes are tied for the league lead in passing touchdowns at 17, and Lamar Jackson is third with 13 TD tosses — and all three are above league average this season in terms of number of dropbacks against two-high coverage.

Week 7 NFL game picks: Jaguars end Giants’ win streak; Chiefs bounce back against 49ers - Gregg Rosenthal

Baltimore Ravens 27, Cleveland Browns 23

It’s sad yet fitting that the analytically driven Ravens’ numbers are so much better than their record. Despite the big leads they’ve built, very little about their season has been consistent. Rashod Bateman’s return should help, but the Baltimore defense struggles to get big stops because of a lack of edge-rushing pressure. Look for Nick Chubb to get back on track, but the Browns’ poorly coached defense will cost them again.

NFL picks against the spread - Vic Tafur

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-6.5)

The Browns don’t tackle all that well, among their many problems, and they have the worst rushing defense the Ravens have faced this season. Cleveland is 27th in rush defense success rate (56.5%) and last in defensive EPA/rush (-7.2). That is good news for J.K. Dobbins, a reborn Kenyan Drake and Jackson. The Browns have allowed a league-leading four touchdown runs of 12-plus yards, including a 31-yard rushing score on third-and-10 vs. the Patriots in an ugly loss last week.

While the Browns can run the ball themselves, losing right guard Wyatt Teller is a big deal.

The pick: Ravens (-6.5)

Week 7 NFL Picks Against the Spread - Sheil Kapadia

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-6.5)

The Browns have lost three in a row. Their defense has been one of the NFL’s most disappointing units. Cleveland’s D ranks 31st in EPA per drive, ahead of only the Lions.

It’d be no surprise to see the Ravens blow the Browns out. Baltimore feels like a good team that is coming up small in high-leverage situations. But given how well the Browns run the ball (setting aside last week against the Patriots), I think this one could be tight.

The pick: Browns (+6.5)