Sun, 06 Dec 2020

Game Preview | Ravens vs. Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles
18 Oct 2020, 18:12 GMT+10

Chris McPherson

Will the Eagles give the fans something to cheer for on Sunday? For the first time this season, the Eagles will play in front of fans at Lincoln Financial Field when they host the Baltimore Ravens tomorrow at 1 PM (The Kickoff Show presented by Axalta, 12:15 PM on PhiladelphiaEagles.com).

The Eagles are 1-3-1 after last week's 38-29 loss to another AFC North foe, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Eagles did, however, show plenty of heart, rallying from a 17-point deficit to cut it to two before ultimately falling short. The Eagles scored a season-high 29 points and they'll need similar production against the league's top-ranked scoring defense (15.2 points per game).

There are a lot of connections between these two teams. Both Doug Pederson and John Harbaugh are former Andy Reid assistants who have won the Super Bowl as head coaches. Quarterback Lamar Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP, was selected with a draft pick acquired by the Ravens from the Eagles in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The Ravens are off to a 4-1 start. Last year's top seed in the AFC, the Ravens' only loss was a battle against the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. They are coming off a dominant 27-3 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Some interesting tidbits:

• The Ravens have not allowed a single point in the third quarter of games in 2020.

• The longest run allowed by the Ravens' defense all game long was 7 yards.

• According to Pro Football Reference, the Ravens' five sacks by defensive backs were the most ever in a single game since sacks officially became a statistic in 1982.

• If the Ravens watched the Eagles' loss to the Steelers, expect them to duplicate the game plan for wide receiver Devin Duvernay and/or wide receiver Miles Boykin. Both are big, athletic receivers who can be utilized in the run game as well.

• The Ravens have scored in every quarter of the 2020 season.

For a more detailed scouting report, check out the rest of our Game Preview, presented by Unibet.

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro offers his three keys for an Eagles victory:

1. Baltimore has forced a turnover in 18 straight games, the league's longest streak. The Eagles have 11 turnovers, tied with Dallas for most in the NFL. Obviously, this is a statistic that matters. The Eagles are 31st in the NFL in turnover differential (-6) and Baltimore, at +5, is tied for second best in the league. How can the Eagles maintain ball security and attack a Baltimore defense that overwhelmed Cincinnati on Sunday (seven QB sacks, 15 QB hits, nine tackles for loss, three takeaways, one returned for a touchdown)?

2. What is the defensive approach to containing Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 949 yards, nine touchdowns, and two interceptions, and who is a huge threat with his legs, averaging 47 yards per game and 5.8 yards per attempt? The Ravens are third in the NFL in rushing yards per game with 160.8 yards. If the Eagles were to consider using a "spy" on Jackson to slow his rushing attempts, who is fast enough to stay with Jackson, an elusive, game-breaking player who breaks down pass rushes with his speed? The Eagles have been dominating at times with their pass rush, but Jackson represents a different challenge. He can break containment and threaten the second and third levels of a defense with his legs unlike any quarterback in the league.

3. Scoring 29 points at Pittsburgh represented a season high for the Eagles and quarterback Carson Wentz found a big-play threat in wide receiver Travis Fulgham. That's all encouraging, but the Eagles must be more consistent with their running game. Miles Sanders had a 74-yard touchdown run but gained only 6 yards and a touchdown on his other 10 rushing attempts. Baltimore is fifth in the NFL against the run, allowing only 92 yards per game on the ground. With an offensive line continuing to battle injuries, the Eagles have their work cut out to establish the ground game.

Scouting Report

Aaron Moorehead on Travis Fulgham: "We knew pretty early on he was a guy we wanted to keep around and see where it would go. You keep looking up through the first few weeks of the season and he's over there on the scout team taking every rep. He's not coming out. He's not complaining. He's just catching everything thrown to him. It actually as a coach made me want to sit over there and watch the defensive scout periods because to watch him and Deontay Burnett. They were fun over there. Honestly, I think we got a really good steal in Travis. I can't wait to see him continue to grow."

Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz on Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson: "Lamar Jackson is probably the most dangerous player in the league because there are times you can do everything right on defense and can't catch him, or he can throw a ball sidearm underneath of a free rusher and complete a pass. I think that you've got to have a resilient attitude when you play him, and you know that a playmaker like him is going to make some plays. You just have to limit his big plays, and you have to stay resilient."

Eagles Game Plan analyst Ike Reese on how to attack Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson: "There's no sense of dying a slow death when you're facing a guy like Lamar Jackson. You want to make these guys make quick decisions. In my opinion, you gotta heat them up, send extra pressure, make him think on his feet. And then, there's gonna be times where you gotta sit back and give him a different look and you're going to have to contain him with the entire defense."

Eagles Game Plan analyst Greg Cosell on the Ravens' offense: "The Ravens are an offense that's different from every other offense that the Eagles will face because it's an offense that's built on Lamar Jackson as a runner, not as a passer. Everything they do works off the run game and, of course, Lamar Jackson is a critical component of that run game. ... (it is) the most creative run game in the NFL."

Eagles Game Plan analyst Greg Cosell on Ravens tight end Mark Andrews: "I don't want to say number one target, but in certain situations he clearly is. He works the middle of the field very well. Good athlete, catches the ball."

Eagles Game Plan analyst Ike Reese on defending wide receiver rushing attempts: "The guys on the back end have to be aware of the formations and the tendencies in which these runs are coming out of. Last week, Baltimore ran a receiver rush with Devin Duvernay, who is a track star. This is a copycat league. This started back in the Rams game when Robert Woods scored a rushing touchdown. It's pretty much happened once a week. Until the Eagles' defense shows that it can stop this play, they'll continue to see it."

Eagle Eye in the Sky host Fran Duffy on the Ravens' defense: "They bring pressure and they bring it from all angles - safeties, corners, explosive linebackers, lots of different looks from dime, from nickel. Dime has been their primary subpackage front in terms of when they come after you. It's a fast group. The thing that stands out to me too is they use everybody. All of their guys play because they have specialty roles for basically everybody on the defense at all three levels."

Ravens Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale on linebacker Patrick Queen, the AFC Defensive Player of the Week: "He's grown by leaps and bounds. He's still learning, as all the rookies are, but I think he's just scratching the surface of what he can be in this defense. He did a great job last week. He's playing faster each week. He's starting to see schemes slow down. The game is slowing down for him."

Ravens tackle Orlando Brown on cornerback Marcus Peters: "Marcus is a football junkie. He loves ball. He loves the history of the game. He loves coverages. He loves knowing defenses. He likes knowing route schemes."

By the Numbers

29 - The Eagles have increased their scoring each week following a season-high 29 points against the Steelers. According to NFL Media's research team, the Ravens have allowed 30 or more points three times since 2019 and those are their only three losses in that span.

100 - The Eagles are the only team with multiple players averaging at least 100 scrimmage yards in 2020 (Travis Fulgham, 104.5, and Miles Sanders, 103.3), according to NFL Media's research team.

.526 - Will fans make a difference? According to NFL Media's research team, league-wide home win percentage is currently the third lowest since 1970.

316 - Running back Miles Sanders is third in the NFL in rushing yards since Week 2, his season debut.

18 - The Eagles rank third in the NFL in sacks with 18. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has been sacked 12 times, tied for the fourth-highest amount in the AFC.

18 - Another 18 here, but the Ravens have forced a turnover in the last 18 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL.

3 - Lamar Jackson was on the injury report prior to the Bengals' game with a knee injury last week. He rushed for only 3 yards, the lowest single-game total since he became a starter in 2018.

1 - The Ravens are the only team to have scored in every quarter this season.

22-0 - The Ravens' record is 22-0 when leading at halftime since Lamar Jackson was named the starter in Week 11 of the 2018 season.

35-0 - Lamar Jackson's career TD/INT ratio in the red zone in 35 touchdowns and no interceptions.

8 - The Ravens have won eight straight road games.

28 - The Ravens have scored at least 20 points and gained 100 yards rushing in 28 straight contests.

47.1 - The Ravens blitz at the highest rate in the league, 47.1 percent of the time, according to NFL Media's research team. The Steelers, last week's opponent, rank second in the league.

Behind Enemy Lines

Gerry Sandusky, the play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Ravens, offers an inside look at this week's opponent from a different perspective.

What is it like as a play-by-play announcer trying to follow a dynamic playmaker like quarterback Lamar Jackson? "He does things that no other quarterback does. He does things that are completely unexpected. But he also does things that as a play-by-play guy, you have to really change the way you call a game because his ball skills are so good. He is a magician with the ball. If you think he's handed it off, you'll be dead wrong nine out of 10 times if you think that. You have to literally wait and see where the ball is, which gives me an appreciation for what defensive players have to go through."

What was the moment when Lamar arrived? Was there a pivotal moment that sticks out in your mind? "Week 7, 2019 season, Ravens are in Seattle. The Seahawks are 5-1. The Ravens are 4-2. And it looks like Seattle has the MVP. It looks like the Seahawks' quarterback (Russell Wilson) is clearly the favorite to win the MVP. The Ravens are tied in the third quarter, 13-13. It's fourth-and-short, and Lamar Jackson goes to the sideline and says to John Harbaugh, 'Let's go for it.' And Marshal Yanda is right behind the young quarterback and he says, 'Yeah, let's do it.' And so Harbaugh sees Yanda give his thumb up to go for it. And Jackson not only gets the first down, he gets the touchdown. And from that moment forward, he was the leader. He goes on to become the MVP and that was his moment when he arrived."

What have teams done to contain him? "If you go back and look at what the Tennessee Titans did in the playoff game last year and I've seen it now, the Cleveland Browns did it, and the Bengals did it just last week. What they tend to be doing is they are committing both an edge-setter and a safety on a delayed blitz to take away the edge. To his credit, Lamar Jackson only ran the ball one time against the Bengals. He didn't try to force it. The next thing I see evolving in this Ravens' offense is the pass off the read option because defenses are doing a great job of using safeties and the secondary to string Jackson out along the line of scrimmage. But if you're committing those kinds of resources in your secondary, that means the back end has to be open. And I think it's only a matter of time before the Ravens start to exploit that."

What else can we expect on Sunday from Baltimore's offense? "I think what we can start to expect is more consistent execution. It's nothing the Ravens are that's vastly different. They lost Marshal Yanda to retirement. There aren't a lot of right guards in the NFL who have that profound impact on the execution of his team's offense. But Marshal Yanda is that rare guy and I think it's one of the reasons he's a Hall of Famer.

"This week, I expect to see this offensive line start to be the offensive line we saw last year, which is a unit that works well together, that executes at a high level, that creates for Mark Ingram and Lamar Jackson and now for J.K. Dobbins to have the creases they need to turn 4-yard plays into 14-yard plays and you start stringing those together over the course of four quarters. That's how the Ravens wear teams out. It's kind of like a boxing philosophy of body blow, body blow, body blow, jab, jab, jab, hook. The hook doesn't come in the first quarter. It comes in the fourth quarter."

Is Baltimore's defense as good as it usually has been? "Yeah and probably better than what we've seen in the last couple of years because in the last two weeks, the pass rush has started to really come on. It's seven sacks against the Bengals. They had three sacks the week before that against the Washington Football Team. So they're starting to get the pressure up front. I think it's the best secondary we've ever seen, certainly the best cornerback combination we've ever seen from the Ravens. But what makes this a true Ravens defense, I think, is the arrival of Patrick Queen, the first-round pick from LSU, who is only the third inside linebacker the Ravens have ever used a No. 1 draft pick on. And the other two were Ray Lewis and C.J. Mosley."

Final Injury Report

For the Ravens

OUT

The Ravens placed starting NT Brandon Williams on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday.

DOUBTFUL

• DE Derek Wolfe (neck/concussion)

QUESTIONABLE

• WR Miles Boykin (thigh)

• DE/LB Anthony Levine (abdomen)

• WR Chris Moore (finger/thigh)

• CB Marcus Peters (thigh)

• G Tyre Phillips (shoulder)

• CB Jimmy Smith (knee)

• T Ronnie Stanley (shoulder)

For the Eagles

OUT

• S Marcus Epps (rib)

• WR DeSean Jackson (hamstring)

• WR Alshon Jeffery (foot)

• T Lane Johnson (ankle)

• CB Avonte Maddox (ankle)

• G Matt Pryor (illness; placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list)

• LB Duke Riley (rib)

QUESTIONABLE

• CB Darius Slay (concussion)

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