Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s performance Sunday defied neat and tidy categorization. He was accurate, completing over 70% of his passes for the third straight game. He was potent on the ground, leading the offense with 101 rushing yards (7.2 per carry) and two touchdowns. He kept the Ravens relatively on schedule, finishing 12th in offensive success rate in Week 3, according to TruMedia, a measure of snap-to-snap efficiency.
Jackson was also wasteful. In the 22-19 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts, he lost a fumble at the Ravens’ 19. Two possessions that started near midfield ended with no points. Seven of the Ravens’ 15 drives didn’t record a first down. Jackson finished the game averaging minus-0.24 expected points added per drop-back, the sixth-worst mark of his career in games with at least 10 pass attempts.
Sacks and turnovers dragged Jackson’s efficiency against Indianapolis’ four-man pass rush into mediocre territory. When he could actually get the ball out Sunday, though, he was far better when he wasn’t blitzed (15-for-19 for 145 yards, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats) than when he was (7-for-12 for 57 yards).
Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun
On Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, it was the fastest that it has been all year. At 2.43 seconds, only five quarterbacks in the NFL had quicker releases in Week 3. One of them was the Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa, whose 2.29-second average release helped him unleash fury on the Denver Broncos to the tune of 309 passing yards and four touchdowns in a 70-20 rout.
Sometimes, though, a quarterback can get rid of the ball too fast.
Coming into the game, Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley had blitzed just 17% of the time through the first two weeks. But against Baltimore, the Colts blitzed on 58% of the Ravens’ dropbacks in the fourth quarter and overtime, and it caused Jackson to get rid of the ball a little too soon at times, even before a defender reached him.
To say that Jackson, who was sacked four times, had happy feet would be inaccurate. There were times when he held onto the ball too long — specifically with 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter when he scrambled and was dropped for a 10-yard loss.
Yet there were occasions when he got rid of the ball at the earliest whiff of pressure bearing down on him when waiting a split second longer might have resulted in a better outcome.
Jamison Hensley & Jake Trotter, ESPN
When the Ravens play at the Browns on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS), it will feature two AFC North rivals looking to maintain dominant run games without their most explosive backs. Over the last three seasons, no teams have had more success on the ground than Baltimore and Cleveland. Since the start of the 2020 season, the Ravens have run for an NFL-best 8,744 yards rushing and the Browns rank second with 7,817 yards.
Ravens: Injuries remain a major storyline. Hill missed Sunday’s game with a foot injury, and Edwards left the game with a concussion. Baltimore’s best runner has been Jackson, who has been using his legs more since Dobbins’ injury. In two games without Dobbins, Jackson has run 26 times for 155 yards and two touchdowns. All of the Ravens’ running backs have totaled 186 yards and one touchdown during that span. Jackson has a history of being Baltimore’s most productive runner. He led the Ravens in rushing on Sunday for the 32nd time of his six-year career, which is the third-most by a quarterback since the start of the 1950 season, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau.
Browns: The Browns got little going on the ground against Tennessee’s stout defensive front. Ford rushed for just 18 yards on 10 carries, while Hunt ran for 13 yards on five carries. Still, both backs made plays in the passing game, with Ford — who lined up on the play as a wide receiver — hauling in a 19-yard touchdown grab to help get the Cleveland offense rolling in the first half. The Browns might not have the same efficient rushing offense they did with Chubb, but their revamped backfield should still give them production.
Doc Louallen, ClevelandBrowns.com
The Browns defense can make a strong case for being one of the best in the NFL. The defense’s ability to prevent scoring opportunities is unmatched, contributing significantly to the team’s success in holding opponents to an average of 6.67 points over three games. They currently lead the league in efficiency; the secondary has allowed 136 yards per game and the run defense allowed 156 rushing yards – 52 rush yards per game.
They have the best third-down defense in the league, allowing a conversion only 36 percent of the time. The Browns defense has also only given up one touchdown through three games. They’ve held both the Bengals and the Titans to under 150 net yards.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)
This is an enormous early-season division game between two good teams. The Ravens lost last week to the Colts at home and have been hit hard by injury. The Browns have won two of three behind a dominant defense. That defense will be the difference. Lamar Jackson and the passing game aren’t clicking yet. Browns win it.
Pick: Browns 24, Ravens 16
NFL picks, predictions against the spread Week 4: Packers get revenge on Lions; Chiefs crush Jets; Cowboys can’t cover
Vinnie Iyer, The Sporting News
Ravens at Browns (-2.5, 41.5 o/u)
The Ravens are banged up on the offensive line and their backfield keeps getting depleted. The injury bug also has eaten well into their defense and receiving corps, putting them on edge at 2-1. The Browns lost Nick Chubb and Jack Conklin, so they won’t have sympathy, just relentless pressure from Myles Garrett and coverage to contain Lamar Jackson’s transitional passing game.
Pick: Browns win 23-20 and cover the spread.