Preview: Ravens Take on Panthers After Bye Week
The Baltimore Ravens come off their week ten bye set to take on the Carolina Panthers. The Ravens are 6-3, 1.5 games ahead of the second place Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North. The Panthers sit at 3-7 after coming off a 25-15 win over the Falcons last Sunday. The Ravens are eyeing their fourth straight win, their longest win streak since last season when they won five straight.
The Ravens continue to get healthier and coming off a bye look to get some key players back for Sunday. Tight end Mark Andrews (knee/shoulder) and Gus Edwards (hamstring/knee) are both listed as questionable. Both missed the Ravens week nine Monday night win over the Saints. Jalyn Armour-Davis (hip) is the only Ravens listed as doubtful and is unlikely to play. Quarterback Lamar Jackson did not practice Friday due to an illness and is listed as questionable, but head coach John Harbaugh was confident that Jackson would start Sunday.
The Panthers have already ruled out four players for Sunday including starting quarterback PJ Walker (ankle). Defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis (calf), safety Juston Burris (concussion), and Defensive back Myles Hartsfield (ankle) have also been listed as out. Tight end Giovanni Ricci and top cornerback Jaycee Horn (foot) are both listed as questionable.
Rookie tight end Isaiah Likely has stepped up since taking over for Mark Andrews three weeks ago. While the Ravens are much better when Andrews is the starting tight end, Likely has taken advantage of his increased role. In the Ravens last two games Likely has seven receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Even though Likely has only caught a pass in five games, he is currently second amongst all rookie tight ends in receptions and yards, and tied for first in touchdowns.
With Andrews status for Sunday still in the air Likely’s number may be called on again to be the main tight end. The Panthers defense has been one of the best this season against tight ends, giving up an average of 45 yards per game to tight ends, the 12th least in the NFL. If Andrews is inactive for the second straight game, other then Likely tight end Nick Boyle and rookie tight end Charlie Kolar would be the other active tight ends for Sunday.
The Ravens will face a familiar foe at quarterback this Sunday as Baker Mayfield will be under center for the Panthers. Mayfield will replace an injured PJ Walker and will play in just his seventh game this season. Mayfield was dubbed the starter to begin the season. In Mayfield first five starts the Panthers went 1-5 with Mayfield throwing just four touchdowns to go along with four interceptions. Mayfield would be sidelined in week six with a high ankle sprain, but would ultimately lose is starting job to Walker, failing to play in weeks seven and eight. Mayfield would replace Walker in their week nine loss to the Bengals after Walker’s poor play, but Mayfield would once again be the back up to Walker last week against the Falcons.
While Mayfield has struggled thus far as a Panther, the Ravens know not to take him lightly. Mayfield is 3-5 all-time against the Ravens. As a member of the Browns Mayfield has thrown for 2,221 yards, 13 touchdowns, nine interceptions, and has a completion percentage of 58.4 versus the Ravens. The Ravens last matchup against Mayfield ended in a Ravens defeat, as Mayfield led the Browns to a 24-22 week 14 win in 2021. Mayfield threw for 190 yards on 22 of 32 passing, two touchdowns, and one interception.
The Ravens offense looks much improved over the last several weeks especially in the run game. Kenyan Drake has become the lead back for the Ravens with the absences of J.K Dobbins and Gus Edwards. Drake is the Ravens leading rusher at running back and expect Drake to get the bulk of the carries even with Edwards expected to return Sunday. The Panthers are 26th in rush defense giving up an average of 139.2 yards per game. Coming off a bye the quickest way for a team to get back in an offensive rhythm is to rush the ball so expect a run heavy attack from the Ravens offense against the Panthers.
The Panthers have struggled offensively this season ranking 31st in the NFL in total offense. The Ravens will have a big task in trying to stop receiver DJ Moore, but expect the Ravens not to give Mayfield much time to get the ball to Moore. Panthers quarterbacks have been sacked 22 times this season and with the Ravens now fully healthy across the defensive front seven the Ravens should make Sunday a long day for Mayfield and this Panthers offense.
John Harbaugh led teams traditionally play well after the bye, as the Ravens are 9-6 all-time after the bye under Harbaugh. The Ravens overpower the Panthers and win their fourth straight 30-13.
Line: Baltimore -13
All-Time Record: Carolina leads series 4-2
Last Meeting: 10/28/2018 Carolina 36-21