Baltimore Ravens Week 10 Preview

The Baltimore Ravens will be looking to stay undefeated on the road dating back to Week Three of last season when they travel to Gillette Stadium in Week 10 to face off with a struggling 3-5 New England Patriots team in primetime on Sunday Night Football for a second year in row.

The Ravens are coming off their first come from behind victory when trailing at halftime since reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson became the starter at quarterback with a 24-10 win over Indianapolis in Week Nine.

The Patriots had to mount a second-half comeback of their own in a Week Nine thriller to beat the winless New York Jets 30-27 on Monday Night Football. Life in New England post-Tom Brady has been tough after two decades of dominance and the Patriots are fighting to stay alive in a jampacked AFC Wildcard race.

Here is a detailed breakdown of the matchup including potential X factors, who will likely be out with an injury for each team, and a final outcome prediction.

What’s at stake:

The Ravens will be looking to stay within striking distance of the still undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers in the running for the AFC North division title. Pittsburgh currently holds a two-game lead, the head-to-head tiebreaker, and a more favorable schedule down the stretch.

With a win, Baltimore would improve to 7-2 overall and 4-2 in AFC conference play which would keep them in the top wildcard spot for the time being in the event they can’t catch the Steelers.

If the Patriots were able to pull off the upset, they would improve to 4-5 overall and 4-3 in AFC conference play. They would still face an uphill battle to climb back in the race for the AFC East division title that they have won 17 times in the last 20 years and even securing one of the three AFC wildcard spots might still be out of their reach with the way they’ve been playing.

Who might not suit up:

The Ravens four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell will be missing his first game since 2014 after being declared out for this game with a calf strain he suffered on the first drive of last week’s win over Indianapolis. This will be the first in what will likely be multiple games the star defender might miss as he works his way back from the injury.

Baltimore might be without another key defensive player in veteran Jimmy Smith who is listed as doubtful with an ankle injury that kept him out of practice all week.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said that the versatile defensive back could be a game-time decision on Sunday so there is still a chance he might suit up.

“We’ll have to see how it feels,” Harbaugh said. “I would not be afraid to play Jimmy if he felt good enough. We’ll just have to see where it’s at.”

Thankfully the Ravens will be getting back First-Team All-Pro corner Marlon Humphrey this week after he missed Week Nine due to contracting COVID-19 following the team’s loss to the Steelers.

The team also brought in veteran reinforcements at cornerback with the signing of Tramon Williams this past Monday. The 14-year vet, Superbowl Champion, and former Pro Bowler has experience playing outside and nickel corner as well as safety so he could help fill the hybrid role of Smith if he can’t play and alleviate Humphrey from some of his slot duties.

On offense, the Raven might be getting three-time Pro Bowl running back Mark Ingram back this week after he missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain he suffered in the first half of their Week Six win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Ingram has practiced this week for the first time in nearly a month and is listed as questionable heading into Sunday. He was a limited participant on Wednesday, sat out on Thursday, and practiced fully on Friday.

If you ask third-year running back Gus Edwards, it is a forgone conclusion that Ingram will be making his triumphant return this week and will bringing his infectious confidence and energy with him.

“He brings the juice,” Edwards said. “He keeps everybody going. He’s been doing a great job, staying around the team as he worked himself back in. He’s been looking good at practice. He’s going to be out there on Sunday and I know he’s going to make some plays for us. “

The other two injuries for the Ravens of note are the status of outside linebacker Matthew Judon and inside linebacker L.J. Fort. Both players are listed as questionable for Sunday’s game but are expected to play.

Judon missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday with a calf injury but was a full participant on Friday. Fort was a limited participant all week with the same finger injury that made him miss last week’s game against Indianapolis after being activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 List.

The Patriots aren’t severely banged up, but they will be significantly hobbled in this matchup coming off a short week. While they don’t have anyone listed as doubtful or declared out for Sunday’s game, they do have 20 players on their injury report with 17 listed as questionable.

Thankfully, quarterback Cam Newton isn’t among the bevy of Patriots players dealing with an injury, but it doesn’t bode well for his chances of staying upright in this game that three of his five starting offensive linemen (RG Shaq Mason. LG Joe Thuney, and LT Isaiah Wynn) are and have been limited participants in practice all week.

One other key injury to monitor for New England is the availability of cornerback and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore who has missed their last two games with a knee injury. He too is listed as questionable for this game after missing Thursday’s practice and being limited on Wednesday and Friday.

Potential X factors:

RB Gus Edwards

Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards (35) dives in for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts in the second half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Fans and pundits are clamoring for rookie J.K. Dobbins to get more carries and become the featured back during the second half of the season and deservedly so considering how explosive and dynamic has looked all season and in recent weeks especially in extensive playing since Ingram has been out.

However, if last week’s game showed young anything, it is that the Ravens value and trust Edwards and want him involved in the offensive game plane no matter who is in or out of the lineup or even if he makes a mistake by turning the ball over.

Against Indianapolis, Edwards coughed the ball up on a fumble after the Ravens had driven all the way down to the opposing three-yard line on the first possession of the second half.

Instead of putting him in the doghouse for committing the costly turnover and leaning more heavily on Dobbins for the remainder of the game, Baltimore opted to keep feeding Gus ‘The Bus’ and punched the ball across the goal line for a go-ahead touchdown on their ensuing offensive possession.

“They definitely showed that they had trust in me,” Edwards said. “I couldn’t take the fumble back. I wanted to make up for it. I appreciate them for that, and I just have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Edwards has been the Ravens’ go-to option in short-yardage situations and near the goal line. His nose for the sticks coupled with the incredible power which he runs behind his pads will come in handing against a Bill Belichick-coached defense that will likely be trying to limit the explosive play opportunities for players like Jackson and Dobbins.

He specializes at gaining the hard yards and is just as productive running into stacked boxes as he is lighter ones. Look for wheels on the bus to be going around and around all through the game.

DT Justin Madubuike

Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike (92) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

With Campbell out this week, two Ravens that are expected to see an increased workload are veteran Derek Wolfe and the third-round rookie out of Texas A&M.

Madubuike has looked impressive since getting his first taste of NFL action in Week Five against the Cincinnati Bengals and is coming off his best game to date against Indianapolis.

In Week Nine, the rookie defensive tackle finished tied for fourth on the team and first among all defensive linemen in tackles with a career-high five total tackles, including a clutch stop on a running back screen that prevented a big play.

“He had a great game against Indy,” Defensive Coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale said. “He was hustling all over the field. He really jumped on the tape. He’s just getting better every time he puts on his helmet. He gets challenged by Calais and by the veterans every day and he’s been answering the challenge every week. I just see him getting better and better. He’s a big strong kid and he’s playing that way.”

Madubuike is built similar to Campbell at 6-foot-3 and 293 pounds just not quite as tall but he will likely get his first career start in place of his veteran leader and mentor versus the Patriots this Sunday.

He’ll be tasked with helping stop a New England offense that is ranked the ranked in the top five in rushing attempts, yards, touchdowns, yards per attempt, and yards per game from doing the one thing they’ve done effectively as well as pressure Newton when he drops back to pass and can hopefully record his first career sack.

Recent history of the matchup:

The Patriots own a large lead in the all-time series between these two teams with a 10-4 record, however, the Ravens have always played New England extremely tough and have handed Belichick a handful of frustrating losses in the Harbaugh era especially.

These two teams met in Week Nine last season in Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium and the Ravens came away with a commanding 37-20 on Sunday Night Football.

The Patriots came into that matchup as the only undefeated team in the league at 8-0 but they were handed their first loss of the year in one of the most impressive wins of Jackson’s MVP-winning campaign.

With Brady no longer in the picture and Belichick struggling to field a competitive team without his future Hall of Fame quarterback, the Ravens could make up some ground in the all-time series and perhaps overtake the Patriots for the lead by the time they get things figured out in New England

Final prediction:

Last year’s meeting between these two teams was a tightly contested affair according to the box score until the fourth quarter but anyone watching that game could see that the Ravens were in firm control from start to finish and put an exclamation point on it in the final period.

While this year’s Ravens team isn’t quite the same highly efficient offensive juggernaut, they were a season ago, I believe they will still be too much for the Patriots to handle.

I predict that Jackson and the offense will carry over their second-half momentum and rhythm from their win over Indianapolis and put the Patriots away early while their defense dominates like they have been for the majority of the season when their offensive counterparts don’t turn the ball over and play complementary football.

Final outcome: Ravens beat Patriots 34-12

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