In order to illustrate how dependent Baltimore has been on Lamar’s legs over the first three weeks of the season, let’s break down how the offense is moving the ball. Outside of the red zone, the Ravens currently rank eighth in total EPA, per TruMedia. But how much of that is just Lamar? Take scrambles out of the equation and the Ravens drop down to 11th. Only four passers have generated more production on scrambles.
And if you take out QB runs altogether, the Ravens drop to 15th. What that means is: The offense has been elite when Lamar ends up running with the football. When the ball ends up in someone else’s hands, it’s been about average—and that’s not even giving Lamar credit for the attention he attracts in the run game when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands. Then, when you exclude scrambles, designed QB keepers, and read-option plays, the Ravens rank last in EPA per rush and 30th in success rate.
The concerns don’t end there. While the passing game has been very productive on early downs, that hasn’t been the case on third down. The Ravens rank a mediocre 23rd in success rate on third-down dropbacks, per RBSDM.com, which means Baltimore hasn’t been able to pass when the defense knows it’s coming. That’s a prerequisite for winning in today’s NFL.
Ravens vs. Bills scouting report for Week 4: Who has the edge? - Childs Walker
Ravens passing game vs. Bills pass defense
Buffalo is confronting its own injury woes in the secondary, with safety Micah Hyde and cornerbacks Tre’Davious White and Christian Benford (hand) out and cornerback Dane Jackson (neck) and safety Jordan Poyer (foot) dealing with injuries that sidelined them in a 21-19 Week 3 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Despite their health woes, the Bills have held opposing quarterbacks to 4.9 yards per attempt. Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds are every-down linebackers who have excelled in coverage. Eight-time Pro Bowl selection Von Miller (two sacks, four tackles for loss) is off to another strong start at age 33, and second-year edge rushers Gregory Rousseau (3 1/2 sacks, five tackles for loss) and Boogie Basham round out a stellar group that will sorely test Jackson’s pass protection. The Bills blitz less than any team in the league, because they don’t need extra rushers to create pressure.
Bills-Ravens roundtable: Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson jousting for AFC supremacy again - Jeff Zrebiec
Who or what not named Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson should scare the team you cover the most Sunday?
Where do I start? Offensively, there’s a decent chance rookie fourth-round pick Daniel Faalele, who never played a down of left tackle in college, will be the guy tasked with blocking Von Miller and protecting Jackson’s blind side. Starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley still hasn’t played yet as he recovers from an ankle injury and it’s hardly a lock that he’s ready Sunday. Week 1 starting left tackle Ja’Wuan James is done for the year with a torn Achilles, and his replacement, Patrick Mekari, sprained his ankle last week. That could leave Faalele as the last man standing.
Defensively, the Ravens have the 32nd-ranked pass defense in the NFL and they’ve struggled to match up with just about everybody. So, Stefon Diggs and the rest of the Bills’ cadre of weapons in the passing game will be quite the challenge.
Allen leads the NFL with 1,014 passing yards. He’s second behind Jackson in touchdown passes with nine. Allen ripped a whopping 63 passes last week against the Miami Dolphins and threw for 400 yards.
“He’s a D-end body type. He’s pretty much the same size as Odafe [Oweh], and he’s strong and athletic, and he can make every throw on the move,” veteran Calais Campbell said. “He is a guy where I feel like you can’t really worry about penalties, because you’re going to get run over. I’ve seen him run over D-linemen, which is rare for a quarterback.”
“I think we have a good plan to contain him, get to him, make him uncomfortable and cover well on the back end,” rookie safety Kyle Hamilton said. “I don’t think we have to do anything really outside ourselves but execute. But obviously he’s going to make you pay if you don’t communicate and do things the right way.”
NFL Betting 2022: Favorite Week 4 picks - Sam Monson
Even though the Bills lost to the Dolphins this past week, I think Buffalo emerged with its standing enhanced rather than diminished. They were dealing with a slew of injuries and the baking Miami sunshine and still came within a play of rescuing that game. Their offense is a juggernaut, and the defense was good enough to limit Miami’s new explosive offense despite missing almost their entire secondary. Lamar Jackson obviously presents his own challenges, but the last time he faced Buffalo (2020), he ended with just 196 yards of total offense.
NFL Week 4 Picks Against the Spread - Sheil Kapadia
Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens (+3)
Lamar Jackson has accounted for more offensive touchdowns on his own (12) than 30 of 32 NFL teams. The only exceptions are the Ravens (he’s accounted for all of their offensive touchdowns) and the Lions, who also have 12.
Josh Allen dropped back to pass 71 times in last week’s loss to the Dolphins. That’s the most dropbacks for a quarterback in a single game in TruMedia’s database, which goes back to 2000.
Both quarterbacks are off to MVP-caliber starts this season. There’s a scenario where Allen lights up this Ravens defense and the Bills’ pass rush harasses Jackson all afternoon. But given how banged up the Bills’ secondary is and how grueling that Week 3 game was, I’m going with Baltimore.
The pick: Ravens (+3)