AFC North

Ravens (8-6) vs. Chargers (11-3) Preview

The Ravens currently have the best scoring defense in the NFL. They rank near the top of the league in just about every major statistical category, with the exception of takeaways, where they rank 31st. Still, that doesn’t mean quarterbacks can feel safe against this unit. The Ravens can be as unpredictable on defense as it gets. Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale loves to both vary and disguise his coverages and pressure schemes, using late movement before the snap often. Just watch the movement on the play below:

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There is a reason teams just haven’t had a lot of success throwing the ball against Baltimore this season (1st in the league in Net Yards Per Pass Attempt allowed and 3rd in Passer Rating against).

We’ve seen Ken Whisenhunt draw up some great route concepts that attack the defense where they’re vulnerable. Philip Rivers has executed Whisenhunt’s plan almost flawlessly this year. We look forward to seeing what they have in store for Martindale’s schemes.

On the other side of the ball, Lamar Jackson has added a significant element to the Ravens running game since taking over as starter. He is a dynamic rushing talent. Just about everything this offense does now is based off of the threat of Jackson running the ball.

Throwing the ball is another story. Jackson has been fairly inconsistent through the air. His accuracy has been erratic at times. He breaks down in the pocket often. He has primarily been a one-read-and-go quarterback, meaning if his first read isn’t there, his instinct is to take off. He’s had success with this approach given his athleticism and running skills, thus far. Over the long-haul, this style of play doesn’t tend to lead to consistency.

Jackson has also benefitted from a great schedule. His five starts have come against the Bengals, Raiders, Falcons, Chiefs, and Buccaneers. Those are the five worst defenses in the league in points allowed. The Chargers present a different challenge. They have been steady against the run and have some very good talent on defense. Gus Bradley’s schemes tend to take away big plays. This means Lamar Jackson will have to be more precise on an every-down basis to consistently move the ball against the Chargers. It remains to be seen if he can do this.

Check out how these teams match up below:

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