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Ravens News 12/29: Peaking Units and more

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Atlanta Falcons v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Five NFL units peaking at right time: Bills’ run game, Ravens’ defense, more - Ted Nguyen

The Roquan Smith-led Ravens defense

The Ravens’ trade for linebacker Roquan Smith has worked out as well as everyone thought it would. He was a perfect fit for a team that needed a steadying presence next to Patrick Queen and an enforcer on the second level. Since trading for Smith in Week 9, the Ravens rank second in points allowed per drive, third in defensive EPA per play and third in run defense success rate.

Smith’s ability to read and close against the run is impressive, but his ability to restrict space in the middle of the field against the pass is what makes him so valuable.

Since joining the Ravens in Week 9, Smith ranks second among linebackers in splash plays (29), which TruMedia defines as pressures leading to throwaways, stuffs for no gain, interceptions, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, pass breakups and stops on third down and fourth down. The Ravens’ defense has carried this team while Lamar Jackson has been injured. If Jackson gets healthy and the Baltimore defense continues to get stops, the Ravens will be a dangerous team in the postseason.

NFL offensive line rankings ahead of Week 17 - Sam Monson


Projected Week 17 Starters:

LT Ronnie Stanley

LG Ben Powers

C Tyler Linderbaum

RG Kevin Zeitler

RT Morgan Moses

The Ravens’ offensive line allowed just two hurries against Atlanta.

Baltimore has surrendered just 98 pressures as an offensive line this season despite not having their starting five all year.

Upcoming Opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers

Cameron Heyward is the highest-graded interior lineman in the NFL over the past two weeks and will target Ben Powers.

Ravens film study: Even with QB Lamar Jackson out, running game can’t be boxed in - Jonas Shaffer

With quarterback Lamar Jackson sidelined by a knee injury over the past three-plus weeks, the Ravens’ passing game hasn’t been able to regularly threaten defenses. Facing Huntley, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Falcons knew what was coming. They still weren’t able to stop it.

On their way to nearly 600 rushing yards total over the past three weeks, the Ravens have run through and around defenses selling out to stop them. Against eight or more defenders in the box, according to TruMedia, the Ravens have averaged 6.4 yards per carry and posted a 47.4% success rate since Week 14, ranking first and sixth, respectively, in the NFL.

Against nine or more defenders in the box, the Ravens have averaged 5.2 yards per carry and posted a 45.0% success rate over the past three weeks. (A play is considered successful for the offense when it gains at least 40% of the yards to go on first down, 60% of the yards to go on second down, and 100% of the yards to go on third or fourth down.)

The Ravens have all but invited big crowds up front. With Rashod Bateman out and Devin Duvernay likely lost for the season, offensive coordinator Greg Roman has distanced himself even further from three-wide-receiver formations, a staple across the NFL. Fullback Patrick Ricard played all but eight offensive snaps Saturday against Atlanta. Top blocking tight end Josh Oliver got as many snaps as Andrews (42 of 52 total), the team’s top receiver.

Tylan Wallace Designated for Return to Practice - Clifton Brown

Second-year wide receiver Tylan Wallace (hamstring) was cleared to return for Wednesday’s practice.

Wallace was placed on injured reserve Dec. 3 after suffering a hamstring injury. A fourth-round pick in 2021, Wallace has appeared in eight games this season, playing primarily on special teams. He’s made three catches for 21 yards this season and had two catches for 23 yards as a rookie.

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

By The Numbers

14 – Consecutive games in which the Ravens have outrushed their opponent, marking the longest such streak in team history. It’s also the league’s longest streak since the 2015-16 Panthers outrushed their opponents in 15 straight contests.

2022 Rankings

Ravens: Total Offense: 17; Total Defense: 10

Steelers: Total Offense: 23; Total Defense: 18

The Ravens might be hard-pressed to run for more than 200 yards against Pittsburgh in this rematch. The Steelers will make the necessary adjustments and are playing much better defensively as linebacker T.J Watt has gotten healthier. Pittsburgh is ranked sixth against the run, allowing 105.6 yards per game. Nonetheless, Baltimore is going to have to run the ball effectively to win this game with its quarterback situation unsettled. The Ravens also need to avoid turnovers that can help the Steelers manage a short field.


The Ravens have already qualified for the playoffs but likely need a win to stay in contention for the AFC North title. The Ravens could hand Steelers coach Mike Tomlin his first losing season with a victory. The Ravens managed to edge the Steelers on the road in the first meeting by playing solid defense and running the football. They’ll stick to the script in the rematch.

Ravens 16, Steelers 13

Week 17 NFL picks - Pete Prisco

Pittsburgh Steelers (+3) at Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are still alive, but barely, while the Ravens are pushing for the division title. Baltimore still isn’t doing a lot on offense, but the defense is playing well. The Steelers beat the Raiders on a last-minute touchdown to keep their hopes alive. This will be a low-scoring defensive game with the Ravens winning it late.

Pick: Ravens 19, Steelers 17