Week 7 Preview: Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets
After a quick start, the Ravens are now 3-3 and the 2016 season is beginning to feel a lot like the 2015 season. Every single game has been close, and the injuries are beginning to mount with defensive leader Terrell Suggs tearing his biceps on his left arm and Joe Flacco having an injury to his right shoulder. At this point we do not know the extent of Flacco’s injury, although John Harbaugh stated he thinks Flacco can play on Sunday. Suggs has also stated he will try to play through his injury, but there is no certainty when he will be back this season. These recent injuries just add to a litany of injuries already plaguing the team with many high profile players on the injury report including RG Marshal Yanda, RT Ricky Wagner, LT Ronnie Stanley, WR Steve Smith, ILB C.J. Mosley, and OLB Elvis Dumervil. The good news for the Ravens is that both OTs were back at practice, along with CB Jimmy Smith who was knocked out of Sunday’s game with a concussion. How many of these players will actually be able to suit up against the New York Jets next Sunday remains in question.
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With the amount of injuries the Ravens have sustained it is difficult to gain a strong feeling for where the team stands now and where it may end up. The team has issues on both sides of the ball, mostly stemming from pass protection on offense and rushing the passer on defense. The Ravens will need to figure out a way to scheme around the personnel deficiencies in order to notch an important road win versus the Jets this coming Sunday. Fortunately for the Ravens, the Jets are also a team that is struggling on both sides of the ball.
4th year QB Geno Smith was named the starter for Sunday’s match-up with the Ravens Wednesday morning. The former 2nd round pick has been a major disappointment for the Jets holding a career passer rating of 71.9, while tossing more INTs (36) than TDs (27). While there doesn’t seem to be much upside with Smith, it can’t get much worse compared to the performance of Ryan Fitzpatrick so far this season.
The Jets offense ranks last in the NFL in scoring offense coming into week 7, and 21st in the league in rushing, passing and total offense while only Carolina has more turnovers through 6 games. With WR Eric Decker on IR, Brandon Marshall stands out as the one offensive threat the Jets possess. If Jimmy Smith passes the concussion protocol, look for him to spend much of the day following Marshall around the field. The Jets rushing attack is led by former Bears RB Matt Forte, and has not gotten off to a great start. It is unlikely that the Ravens stout run defense will be tested in this match-up, and the lack of a threat at QB will make it hard for the Jets to move the ball even against a depleted Ravens defense.
On offense the Ravens need to find an identity. They appeared to makes some strides last week against the Giants, connecting on 2 long pass plays and implementing a successful rushing attack. However, poor efficiency on 3rd down and a staggering number of penalties significantly hampered the offense. Many of these issues could potentially be alleviated if the OL can get healthy as the inability to protect Joe Flacco is a major problem. While the Jets do not have elite edge-rush talent, they do possess a defensive line stacked with high draft picks including Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson and Muhammed Wilkerson who received a massive new contract before the start of the season.
While the Jets secondary has been a sieve through the first 6 games, they still have All-Pro Darrelle Revis. The standout CB may not have the quickness he once possessed, but he is more than capable of turning a mistake into a turnover. If Flacco does play, he will have to be wary when targeting Revis in pass coverage. He may have more success targeting Buster Skrine who has been abused by WRs all season. The Jets may not have the speed in the secondary to keep up with the Ravens WRs, so if the OL can keep Flacco clean he should have some opportunities to connect on some big plays to Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman in the passing game. The Ravens rushing attack has been revitalized with the emergence of RB Terrance West, but this coming week may prove to be tough sledding. The Jets are rated 6th overall in rush defense, and hold opposing teams to an impressive 3.4 YPC. While almost all Ravens fans have clamored to the run the ball, this week may be an instance where the game will be won through the air. It will be interesting to see how OC Marty Mornhinweg approaches this match-up.
If the Ravens have any playoff aspirations, this is a must win game against a conference foe. The Ravens have been struggling in recent weeks and I do not expect this week 7 match-up to be pretty, but in the end, I think the Jets are a very beatable team even at home.
Ravens 17 – Jets 9
Gabe is an avid fan of the NFL and Ravens football. He grew up in Westminster, MD, and attended college at Johns Hopkins University majoring in Biology. He earned his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and now works as a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where he studies cartilage development and cancer. Gabe has appeared as a guest on 105.7 The Fan.