Preview: Ravens Square Off with Falcons on Christmas Eve
The Baltimore Ravens are back home at M&T Bank stadium set to battle the Atlanta Falcons on Christmas eve. The Ravens enter Saturday at 9-5 looking to keep pace with the Cincinnati Bengals who took control of the AFC north after the Ravens disappointing loss agains the Cleveland Browns one week ago. The Falcons head into Baltimore with a record of 5-9 looking to keep their playoff hopes still alive in the NFC south with a win.
The Ravens will once again be without quarterback Lamar Jackson has he will be sidelined for the third straight week. Quarterback Tyler Huntley is expected to get the start, although he was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday as he dealt with right shoulder soreness. Huntley is listed as questionable for Saturday on the Ravens injury report.
Defensive end Calais Campbell (knee) and Marcus Peters (calf) have both been ruled out. Both left last Saturday’s contest early and did not practice this week. The severity of Campbell’s injury is unknown and a timetable for his return is uncertain. While Peters is reportedly expected back in time for the Ravens week 18 matchup against the Bengals.
The Falcons only have one player listed on their injury report, offensive tackle Chuma Edoga (knee). Edoga has only played in two games this season with his lone start coming in week 11.
James Proche II
James Proche II had high hopes coming into the 2022 season. After a lackluster first two seasons many expected this to be the year that Proche II could have a breakout season. But, unfortunately that has not been the case. In 12 games played Proche II has eight catches for just 62 yards. While Proche II opportunities have been limited thus far this season. The Ravens now may not have a choice but to get Proche II regularly involved in the offense, and on special teams.
Top receiver and Pro Bowl kick and punt returner Devin Duvernay was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday after breaking his foot in practice, ending his 2022 season. Proche II was the main punt returner in 2020 before Duvernay cut into his reps before eventually becoming the full time starter midway through the 2021 season, but Proche II could now return to punting return duties along with getting more chances on offensive side of the ball. The Ravens also claimed receiver Sammy Watkins off waivers on Tuesday and is expected to play on Saturday. Both Watkins and Proche II along with the rest of the Ravens wide receiving core will look to find the end zone on Saturday for the first time since week three.
2022 Third-round pick Desmond Ridder will be making just his second career start on Saturday. Ridder took over for starter Marcus Mariota after Mariota went on injured reserve with a knee injury. Ridder struggled against a good Saints defense in his first start completing just 50% of his passes and throwing for just 97 yards and no touchdowns. Ridder also added 38 yards on the ground on six carries including a long of 18 yards. That will be something the Ravens defense will need to keep an eye on, while Ridder is not a run first quarterback his ability to run should be noted for defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald.
The Falcons have the fifth worst offense in the NFL, and currently have one of the worst passing offenses in the NFL only ahead of the Chicago Bears. The Falcons are similar to the Ravens offensively as they currently lack a true number one receiver and that could be cause for a long day for Ridder against a top 10 defense.
Tyler Huntley will start his seventh career game on Sunday, and while Huntley has been a serviceable replacement to Lamar Jackson. Huntley has struggled in his last two starts. Over the last two weeks Huntley has thrown for 226 yards while completing just under 62% of his passes. But the biggest concern has been the inability to Huntley to find the end zone through the air, as well as the inability to push the ball down field. Huntley has yet to throw a touchdown since taking over for Jackson against the Broncos and averages just under five yards per completion. In comparison Jackson was averaging nearly seven yards per completion. With another receiver in Devin Duvernay being placed on IR, and Huntley’s confidence wavering, the Ravens need to get back to what they do best running the ball, and running it a lot.
J.K. Dobbins has had a strong return especially over the last two weeks. Dobbins has been the leagues leading rusher the last two weeks rushing for 245 yards, one touchdown, and averaging an incredible 8.8 yards per carry. In addition to Gus Edwards who has 121 yards rushing of his own over the last two weeks with an average of 6.5 yards per carry.
The Falcons defense gives up nearly 130 rushing yards per game, 21st in the NFL. The the weather expected to be in the teens on Saturday, and winds expected to be near 20 MPH. The Ravens will need to run the ball and control the time of possession. The Falcons have little fire power on offense and with a rookie quarterback making just his second career start, the Ravens have a history of winning against rookie quarterback especially at home. The defense of the Ravens should be able to hold its own, it will just be up to Huntley and this Ravens offense to do enough to come away with the win. A win is a win, but don’t expect it to look pretty, Ravens win 16-6.
Line: Baltimore -6.5
All-Time Record: Baltimore leads series 4-2
Last Meeting: 12/2/2018 Baltimore 26-16