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Ravens News 9/21: Legit Threat and more

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Baltimore Ravens v New York Jets Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Who’s a Real Threat—and Who’s Not—From the AFC’s Murky Middle Class? - Steven Ruiz

The Legit Threats

Baltimore Ravens

It’s disconcerting that one banged-up player would have such a dramatic impact on the rest of the defense, but I’m skeptical that this will continue to be a problem going forward. The Ravens are a well-coached team that will be incentivized to work on communication after this painful setback. And based on everything else we saw on Sunday, Baltimore still looks like the clear favorite in the AFC North.

Lamar Jackson is off to his best start since the 2019 MVP campaign. Over two games he’s shown the ability to make plays downfield and carry the Ravens run game on his back, leading the team with 136 rushing yards. (Kenyan Drake is second with just 39 yards.)

Baltimore will have to fix its run game if it’s going to pose a threat to Buffalo and Kansas City, but there is reason for hope: Running back J.K. Dobbins and left tackle Ronnie Stanley were close to making their returns from injury in Week 2 and should be back any time now.

It’s hard to feel too good about this team after a loss like that, but if getting this passing game humming again was the chief concern for the Ravens headed into the season—and it should have been—they have to be encouraged by Lamar establishing himself as an early MVP candidate.

NFL coaches on the rise and decline: Jaguars’ Doug Pederson trending up, Bengals’ Zac Taylor sliding - Cody Benjamin

Ravens DC Mike Macdonald

Season: 1st with Ravens | Last Game: 42-38 loss vs. Dolphins | Team Record: 1-1

Martindale’s successor, Macdonald fared just fine overseeing a Week 1 rout of the Jets, but everything came apart on Sunday against Miami. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle aren’t the easiest wideouts to defend, of course, but the way the Ravens secondary folded was an eyesore. Not a single big name, from Marcus Peters to Marcus Williams, seemed in sync or fully dialed into Macdonald’s strategy as Tua Tagovailoa unloaded one deep ball after another.

The Signing of Marcus Williams Paying Dividends for Ravens - Todd Karpovich

Williams has three interceptions in two games and leads the team with 22 tackles.

“[I’m] coming out here, learning as much as I can [and] trying to do it as fast as I can, so that we can be ready, so I could put myself and my teammates also in position [to] all make plays and go out there and ball out this season,” Williams said.

Williams corralled his own deflection for an interception on Miami’s opening drive. He became the third player to register an interception in each of his first two games as a Raven, joining cornerback Brandon Carr (2017) and cornerback Eugene Daniel (1997).

Williams’ second interception of the game – a toe-tapping grab – helped set up a 6-play, 80-yard touchdown drive before halftime.

In making the pick, Williams became the first Raven in franchise history to produce three interceptions in the first two games of a season. The last Ravens safety to record multiple interceptions through the first two weeks of a season was Ed Reed in 2012.

2022 NFL Season: Grading all 32 first-round rookies after Week 2 - Sam Monson


Overall Rookie Grade: 63.1 (Rank: 1/5)

Principal opponent: JAYLEN WADDLE

Week 2 Grade: 68.8

Week 2 SNAPS: 38

Hamilton was involved in some of the breakdowns in the Ravens’ secondary that caused them to lose track of both Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle on occasion, but there were positive plays on his tape as well in another active performance. Hamilton spent most of his time lined up as a free safety, but he also saw snaps in the box, covering the slot and on the blitz from the line of scrimmage, and some of those free safety alignments gave him very challenging coverage assignments. There were hints of what Hamilton is capable of here, but also evidence of just how tough this role is.


Overall Rookie Grade: 64.3 (Rank: 1/3)

Principal opponent: CHRISTIAN WILKINS

Week 2 Grade: 66.1

Week 2 SNAPS: 58

Linderbaum struggled in his NFL debut to deal with Quinnen Williams a few times and was exposed a little for his relative lack of size and length. Despite Miami lining up with Christian Wilkins directly opposite him a lot this week, the same thing didn’t really happen. Linderbaum ended up surrendering only one pressure — a hurry — across 34 pass-blocking snaps.

Back on the road, Ravens are field-goal favorites in Week 2 meeting vs. Patriots - Jonas Shaffer

After a stunning collapse in a Week 2 loss to Miami, the Ravens are three-point favorites over New England, which fell to the hosting Dolphins in Week 1 before bouncing back Sunday with a narrow road win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After allowing 469 passing yards to Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa on Sunday, the Ravens will face another former Alabama quarterback in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Mac Jones leads the Patriots’ offense, while former star Ravens outside linebacker Matthew Judon headlines their defense. Judon, who had a career-high 12 1/2 sacks last season, has two in two games this year.

The Patriots lead the all-time series 11-4 and have won four of their past five meetings. The Ravens were touchdown favorites entering their 2020 matchup in New England but lost, 23-17, in a rain-soaked prime-time game. They’re 0-6 in regular-season games in New England.

NFL picks, predictions against the spread Week 3: Buccaneers best Packers; 49ers solve Broncos; Colts, Raiders fall to 0-3 - Vinnie Iyer

Ravens (-3, 44 o/u) at Patriots

Sunday 1 p.m. ET, Fox

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ downfield passing game is humming and he became the entire running game in Week 2, too. The Patriots don’t have the receivers to keep the Ravens’ secondary slumping and Mac Jones isn’t getting what he needs from the rushing attack. There are enough holes in the New England defense in intermediate to deep coverage for John Harbaugh’s team to get the better of Bill Belichick’s in this long-standing coaching rivalry.

Pick: Ravens win 24-20 and cover the spread.