The Ravens enter Week 12 with an 8-2, jockeying for a first-round bye in the American Football Conference. The Ravens’ success this year has fans thinking of the Super Bowl, but Baltimore must first get through Los Angeles, the National Football Conference’s delegate to the Super Bowl last year. This Monday’s showdown will show what happens when an overperforming team and an underperforming team battle each other on the gridiron. The Ravens are the favorites to win the game, but the matchup feels like a trap.
Here is what the Ravens need to do to win:
Ravens Must Keep Jared Goff Uneasy
Jared Goff’s career with the Los Angeles Rams has been an interesting one to follow. As the number one pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, many believed Goff was a sure-fire franchise quarterback. This feeling quickly turned sour, as Goff played very poorly in his rookie year. Many labeled him a bust, but with the help of a new head coach, Sean McVay, he turned the conversation in 2017. Between 2017 and 2018, Goff was at the top of the league and looked like one of the games’ best young quarterbacks. After signing a lucrative contract extension this offseason, Goff’s play dropped off a steep cliff. He is nearly unrecognizable. The Ravens must take advantage of Goff’s struggles this season, and keep him uneasy throughout the game.
Ravens Must Stop Todd Gurley
Like Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley has declined in production from 2018 to 2019. The former Pro Bowl running back ran for 1251 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2018, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Gurley also accounted for 580 receiving yards and four touchdowns in 2018. In 2019, Gurley’s yards per carry dropped from 4.9 to 4.1, and he’s only rushed for 525 yards ten games into the season. Gurley’s production as a receiver does little to make up for his absence as a runner. So far this season, Gurley has only caught 18 passes for 117 yards. Under normal circumstances, the Ravens would not list Gurley as a top priority to defend, but it is clear that the Rams want to get him more involved. In Week 11, Gurley rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown. He also received for 36 yards. The Rams will want to get Gurley involved early against the Ravens to establish the foundation of a run game and the Ravens will need to prevent that.
Ravens Offense Must Continue Blitzkrieg
The Baltimore Ravens have the most exciting offense in football. With Lamar Jackson leading the way, the Ravens are putting up numbers that don’t even seem real. Baltimore ranks second in the NFL with total yards per game, first in rushing yards per game, and first in scoring. The Ravens offense is so good, that Baltimore has punted just once in the last two games. The Ravens need to keep the fast-paced and insanely productive offense at full throttle against the Rams.
Lamar Jackson is now the odds-on favorite to win the MVP award. The Rams defense will look for a way to harness Jackson, but is there really a way to stop him at this point?
The chance for revenge is one of life’s most motivating factors. Marcus Peters will have the chance to score a revenge victory over his former team, the one that traded him to Baltimore this season.
Bynes will be tasked with tracking down Todd Gurley and preventing the Rams from establishing a productive ground game. Bynes will need to do this effectively because a solid ground game can be the basis for a potential upset.
Despite the favorable matchup, this just feels like a game that the Ravens will lose. It’s a gut feeling that makes no logical sense, but I see the 2019 Rams offense looking like the 2018 Rams offense. Jared Goff will ultimately lead his team to victory in a nail-biter matchup.