The Baltimore Ravens (11-2) look set to continue their quest towards the big dance as they welcome a New York Jets (5-8) team that have won four of their last five games to M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens have won four of the last five meetings between the two sides and are in the midst of nine game winning streak.
MVP front runner Lamar Jackson continues to rewrite the script at the quarterback position. The 22-year-old has gracefully navigated his way through opposing defenses with an air of grace and panache leaving dumbfounded defender’s in his wake. Beyond the 1017 yards rushing Jackson has been equally affective through the air with 28 touchdown passes.
Whilst Jackson provides a level of gracefulness to the ground game, Mark Ingram on the other hand methodicly erodes your soul via an unprecedented degree of relentless physical punishment. The 30-year-old has ammased 1088 yards from scrimmage (887 yards rushing, 201 yards receiving) during an impressive first year with the Ravens. Ingram faces a stern test against a Jets run defense that’s surrendering an average of just 78 yards (2nd overall) per game.
The Ravens face a second straight game without stud tight end Mark Andrews (thigh). Andrews has been an invaluable weapon throughout the year with 707 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. The emphasis falls on fellow tight ends Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle to compliment the running game. Interestingly the Jets defense has allowed the second fewest (2) touchdowns by opposing tight ends.
Rookie receiver Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown has put forward an impressive first season in the NFL with 518 yards and six touchdowns. Opposite Brown, Willie Snead has put together an interesting season of sorts. The 27-year-old hasn’t recorded more than 18 yards receiving in over eight games, but has three touchdowns in as many games.
Defensively the Ravens have improved as the season has progressed with defensive coordinator Don Martindale consistently dialling up pressure. Cornerback Marcus Peters has proved to be a real game changer since his switch from the LA Rams. Peters has three interceptions (two of which he returned for a touchdown), 33 tackles and eight passes defensed (three against the Bills last week). Opposite Peters, 2017 first round selection Marlon Humphrey’s has two interceptions and 11 passes defensed.
Amid numerous talented individuals Outside linebacker Matt Judon has caught the eye on several occasions and has put together what should surely amount to Pro Bowl selection. Judon has lived in opposing backfields with 8.5 sacks,13 tackles for a loss and 28 quarterback hits.
Sold to the Jets fans as a quarterback whisperer of sorts, a maverick who’d propel Sam Darnold to new heights as the rest of the NFL looked on in envy has yet to materialize. It’s safe to say that outside of a three-game winning streak Darnold has performed like a below average starter. The sophomore quarterback has completed less than 60% of his passes during his last two starts.
The Jets front office have already confirmed that head coach Adam Gase returns in 2020 in a move to showcase a rare form of stability. A notion that most Jets fans can relate to as they’ve endured the warm cosy feel of stability, be it in the form of abject misery for years.
Le’Veon Bells masterplan to reset the running back market by sitting out for a year before signing a four-year $52m deal with the Jets may have actually hurt his fellow professionals, especially if you factor in his statistics as a Jet (589 yards, 3TD’s, averaging 3.2 yards per carry). Granted Adam Gase has failed to utilise Bell correctly but when your offensive line resembles an open gate someone has to try and keep Darnold clean.
Bell has flashed on occasions, however the two-time Pro Bowler has rushed for over 70 yards once during 2019 and has recorded more recieving yards than rushing yards during his last two games. It remains unclear if he’ll suit up against the Ravens after missing the Dolphins game with flu.
Ironically in Bell’s absence Bilal Powell moved the ball affectively during the Jets 22-21 victory over the Dolphins, with 74 yards rushing and another 14 yards through the air. Like Bell, Powell is listed as questionable (hamstring) leaving TY Montgomery to dissect the Ravens sixth overall run defense.
Tight end Ryan Griffin (320 yards, 5TD) has been one of the few positives emanating from MetLife Stadium during 2019, but looks unlikely to suit up due to ankle injury. Wideout Robbie Anderson has found a rich vein of form (303 yards, 2TD’s) over the course of the last three games. Anderson reeled in 7-of-11 targets for 116 yards and a touchdown last Sunday.
After a promising start to life as Jet, Jamison Crowder has looked a shadow of himself over the past two games. The fourth round pick of the 2015 draft by the Washington Redskins has reeled in just five of his last 16 targets for 38 yards.
Defensively the Jets have been ravaged by injuries within the secondary, Arthur Mauler, Darryl Roberts and Nate Hairston are just a few names thrust into action alongside stud safety Jamal Adams (listed as doubtful, ankle). The third year safety has been phenomenal throughout the year and leads the team with 6.5 sacks, 8 tackles for a loss, 2 forced fumbles and 12 quarterback hits.
The Jets face a uphill struggle to contain an offense that’s averaging 33.1 points per game. I fully expect the Ravens to throw the kitchen sink at Sam Darnold throughout the early stages of the game and should cruise to an easy victory.
New York Jets entertain the Pittsburgh Steelers whilst the Baltimore Ravens travel to Cleveland to face the Browns.