Preview: Ravens Look to Get Back on Track as They Head to Chicago
Coming off an upset loss to the Miami Dolphins last Thursday night, the Ravens travel to Chicago to take on the Bears and rookie quarterback Justin Fields. Even with the loss the Ravens currently remain in first place in the AFC North and will look to extend their division lead over second place Pittsburgh.
The Bears currently sit in third in the NFC North as they sit at 3-6. While the Bears have lost their last four games, they have room for optimism as quarterback Justin Fields looks to be improving each week. The Bears did however have an extra week to prepare for the Ravens as they were on their bye in week 10.
As has been a common theme for the Ravens in 2021 is health and availability, especially at key positions. Sunday will once again be a test of depth and coaching for the Ravens as they will be without top receiver Marquise Brown who is dealing with a thigh injury, as well as receiver and special teamer Miles Boykin who will miss because of a finger injury. On the defensive side of the ball the Ravens will again be without defensive tackle Brandon Williams who remains sidelined with a shoulder injury.
The most concerning name on the injury report this week has been quarterback Lamar Jackson who missed two practices with an illness. Jackson returned to practice as a full participant on Friday, but remains listed as questionable. If Jackson is unable to go, backup Tyler Huntley will make his first NFL start.
All though the Ravens will be without several key players, they will be looking to get back running back Latavious Murray as well as tight end Nick Boyle who will make his 2021 season debut if activated on Sunday.
Ravens Defense Vs Justin Fields
The Ravens defense has historically been known to dominate rookie quarterbacks, as Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s complex defensive schemes confuses rookie quarterbacks. The Ravens ability to create constant quarterback pressure and the disguising of blitzes and coverages causes confusion for rookie quarterbacks that often lead to mistakes and turnovers.
Justin Fields, since taking over for week one starter Andy Dalton, has completed 59% of his passes while throwing for 1,282 yards and four touchdowns. While Fields has been efficient in his first season, he has thrown a total of eight interceptions, and is prone to make poor decisions when pressured. Fields has thrown six interceptions in the Bears last four games, with three of the six coming in one game against the Buccaneers in week seven. Fields will be without one of his best receivers Allen Robinson, who will miss Sunday due to a hamstring injury. The Ravens who have five interceptions this season and will look to add to their total against Fields.
Last Thursday nights loss exposed some major flaws in the Ravens offense, as they struggled against the Dolphins cover zero scheme. While the Bears rank in the top ten in total defense, they have struggled with injuries on that side of the ball as the recently places defensive end Khalil Mack on season ending injured reserve. Bears free safety Eddie Jackson who missed last week is listed as questionable for Sunday’s contest. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense will need to make adjustments, something they didn’t do against the Dolphins. The Bears will likely look to have a similar defensive game plan and take advantage of an average Ravens offensive line.
With Marquise Brown out, rookie receiver Rashad Bateman will look to have a larger role, while Latavious Murray looks to get back into form and help a run game that has been poor in his absence. The Ravens and Bears have a short history against each other with three of the last four meetings being decided by four points or less. Sunday will be another close game, but the Ravens get back in the win column and escape Chicago with a 27-20 win.
Line: Baltimore -6.5
All-Time Record: Chicago leads series 4-2
Last Meeting: 10/15/17 Chicago 27-24 (OT)