The Baltimore Ravens dominated the Cleveland Browns next week and now they turn their attention to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a game in London.
The Baltimore Ravens dominated last week versus the perennially lackluster Cleveland Browns, whose rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer struggled to find a rhythm against the stout Ravens defense. The Ravens’ next challenge takes them across the Atlantic to Wembley Stadium in London, where the Jacksonville Jaguars will meet them for a Sunday morning showdown.
The Past, Present, and Future
After beginning the season with a decisive 29-7 victory over the division rival Texans, the Jaguars floundered in their home opener against the Titans to the tune of a 37-16 defeat.Jacksonville now faces an arduous nine-thousand mile, three
Jacksonville now faces a difficult nine-thousand mile, three-week-long road trip. Following their matchup with the Ravens, the Jaguars will travel to East Rutherford, New Jersey to face the currently winless New York Jets. Beyond that, the Jaguars will remain on the road for a battle with the Steelers before finally returning home to face the Rams. One positive the Jaguars can focus on is that they’re very used to playing in London, while this will be the first time the Ravens have made the transatlantic voyage to Wembley Stadium.
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Biggest Weakness: Quarterback
Perhaps the most noteworthy storyline for the Jaguars over the past few seasons has been the development (or lack thereof) of their quarterback Blake Bortles. The Jaguars didn’t turn the ball over a single time against the Texans but failed to protect the ball when the Titans came to town last week. All three turnovers in that game were committed by Bortles, who threw two interceptions and lost a fumble over the course of the loss.
But while this may suggest that the sole key to beating the Jaguars is pressuring Bortles, that isn’t necessarily the case. Bortles’ outing against the Texans two weeks ago, while devoid of turnovers, was anything but impressive. The Jaguars quarterback threw for mere 125 yards on 11 passing completions. So while making Bortles’ day challenging and forcing turnovers is certainly important, he isn’t the dominating factor that Jacksonville has counted on to win games (or, more specifically, one game) so far this season.
Biggest Strength: Pass Rush
Much like the Ravens, the Jaguars have an intimidating defensive front led by a mixture of notable veterans and capable youngsters. Nine-year veteran Calais Campbell spearheads the pass rush alongside emerging stars such as Dante Fowler and former Maryland Terrapin Yannick Ngakoue. This threesome alone posted a combined seven sacks against the Texans, while the Jaguars as a whole swarmed the Houston backfield for ten total team sacks. While the Texans couldn’t find a way to contain the Jaguars’ pass rush, the Titans limited the Jaguars to a single sack the following week in Jacksonville.
Statistically, the most glaring difference between the Jaguars’ only win and single loss is their ability to rush the passer. When they harassed the Texans’ quarterbacks during the season opener, they emerged victoriously. When the Titans’ stellar offensive line outperformed the Jaguars in the trenches, they lost in a big way. This is a team that relies heavily on its defense to make up for shortcomings on offense, and Ravens fans should know more than any other fanbase that just because a team lacks in offensive ability doesn’t mean the defense can’t adequately make up for that. For those of you that need a reminder of just how true that is, think back to the Ravens’ first Super Bowl run.
WR Allen Robinson (Torn ACL) – Injured Reserve
- Robinson has been a key figure in the Jaguars’ passing game since he was drafted out of Penn State. He tallied 1,400 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns during the 2015 season.
S Calvin Pryor III (Ankle) – Injured Reserve, Eligible to Return
- Pryor, a former first-round draft pick, started fifteen games for the Jets last season without recording a single interception.
The Bottom Line
The Ravens need to try and contain the Jaguars’ pass rush as much as possible if they have any hopes of winning this game. Losing Marshal Yanda to a season-ending injury certainly doesn’t help in that effort, but the adage ‘next man up’ needs to be at the forefront of every Ravens’ mind as Sunday approaches. Letting the formidable Jacksonville pass rushers repeatedly get to Joe Flacco could spell disaster for the Ravens during their first trip to London. Extra blocking from tight ends, fullbacks, and halfbacks will be more necessary than usual throughout the game to ensure Flacco is adequately protected.
Likewise, the incredibly impressive Baltimore defense needs to continue to force turnovers. This shouldn’t be too difficult considering Blake Bortles and his history of inconsistency, but by no means is that an excuse to slack off defensively. If the Ravens’ defense plays at the level they’re capable of this season, the men in purple and black should have no problem containing the Jaguars’ offense.