Gordon McGuinness, PFF
LAMAR JACKSON IS HOUDINI
Jackson earned an 85.4 PFF grade against the Jaguars, his third-best mark of the season. He didn’t get to that grade by torching Jacksonville through the air, though. His 171 passing yards were his second fewest in 2023. Instead, he made things happen when plays broke down.
Jackson had five plays where he passed the ball or crossed the line of scrimmage 6.5 seconds or more after the ball had been snapped. He attempted three passes, completing all three for 47 yards, including a big play to tight end Isaiah Likely late in the third quarter. He also scrambled twice, picking up a first down on one and turning a second-and-10 into a third-and-1 on the other.
His three completions on those plays weren’t just the most in the NFL this week, they were more than the rest of the league combined. His ability to extend plays was key to the Ravens’ offensive success.
ODAFE OWEH’S BEST GAME OF THE SEASON
While Oweh is having a career year in his third NFL season, he struggled to make much of an impact in Weeks 12 and 14. That changed on Sunday night, with the 31st overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft putting together his best game of the campaign.
Oweh rushed the passer 28 times and, despite not recording any sacks or hits, racked up six quarterback hurries and won another four reps that didn’t result in pressure. Those results gave him a 21.4% pressure rate, which led all Ravens defenders with 10-plus pass-rushing snaps in the game, and a 35.7% pass-rush win rate, which ranked third in the league in Week 15.
Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic
It seems likely, however, that it is Justice Hill who absorbs Mitchell’s role. Mitchell is one of the fastest players in the league. His speed and explosiveness, which helped the rookie average 8.4 yards per carry, will be nearly impossible for Baltimore to replace.
Hill doesn’t have Mitchell’s breakaway speed, but he can still get outside and run past defenders. He can still pick up tough yards between the tackles. He has experience with some of the counter and quick handoff plays. He’s also a threat out of the backfield as a pass catcher.
Hill ran hard and well earlier this season when he was being featured more offensively. His problem came with struggles at the mesh point between him and Lamar Jackson, resulting in multiple fumbles. Jackson hasn’t had those same issues with Gus Edwards or Mitchell. If Hill and Jackson have ironed those issues out, Hill could see a significant uptick in touches.
Gordon, meanwhile, figures to fall in as the No. 3 back. The 30-year-old was reasonably effective in limited action earlier this season. In three games as a practice squad callup, Gordon rushed for 53 yards on 13 carries and had three catches for 46 yards.
Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun
Baltimore’s defense ranks second in the NFL in red zone scoring, with opponents finding the end zone just 37.5% of the time. Only the Tennessee Titans (37.25%) have been better.
It’s no wonder, too, the Ravens are allowing the fewest points per game at 16.1 — just ahead of the 16.7 by the 49ers, who they will face on Monday night in Santa Clara, California, in a Christmas showdown between the teams with the two best records in the NFL at 11-3.
Whether Baltimore can have that same kind of success against the 49ers, however, remains to be seen. San Francisco is third in the league in scoring with 30.4 points per game and features perhaps the game’s most dynamic offensive attack, led by quarterback Brock Purdy, running back Christian McCaffrey and receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.
Plays like the one at the end of the first half against the Jaguars would certainly help, against San Francisco and over the next three weeks as the Ravens try to stay atop the AFC in their bid for a first-round bye in the playoffs and home-field advantage throughout.
Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner
Diagnose and react to presnap motion
Entering Week 14, according to ESPN, the 49ers had used presnap motion on 76.2% of their plays, the NFL’s second-highest rate, and had put a player in motion at the snap on 36.9% of their plays, the league’s third-highest rate.
On plays with presnap motion this season, Purdy is second in the NFL among qualifying quarterbacks in passing yards (2,719), fourth in completion percentage (70.3%) and first in expected points added per drop-back (0.27), according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats.
The Ravens, who pride themselves on their “obnoxious” presnap communication, led by Smith, should be one of Purdy’s stiffest tests yet. Against passing plays with presnap motion this season, the Ravens rank tied for second in yards allowed per attempt (5.9), fourth in sack rate (8.5%) and first in EPA per drop-back allowed (minus-0.23).
Their past two weeks have been a struggle, though. The Los Angeles Rams’ Matthew Stafford and Jacksonville Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence combined to go 12-for-15 for 160 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens with the help of motion, averaging an elite 0.71 EPA per drop-back. Lawrence’s 65-yard touchdown pass Sunday to wide receiver Jamal Agnew came after a motion out wide led to an apparent coverage bust downfield.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
Monday, 8:15 p.m. (ESPN, fubo)
This is the game of the week, maybe the year. These are the two best teams in either conference. The 49ers get a break getting the Ravens playing consecutive road games. The 49ers offense is the best unit of all four in this game, which is why I think they win this one. Brock Purdy wins the MVP battle with Lamar Jackson.
Pick: 49ers 29, Ravens 21