The Philadelphia Eagles were big underdogs to their last two opponents — one of which they beat — and that’s no different heading into Week 6. The Baltimore Ravens are 7.5-point favorites ahead of this Sunday’s matchup at Lincoln Financial Field, according to DraftKings.
It comes as no surprise that the Eagles are being doubted. They’re 1-3-1, 27th in point differential, and 30th overall in DVOA. Contrast those figures with the Ravens, who are 4-1 (sole loss coming to the reigning Super Bowl champions), first in point differential, and first in DVOA. On paper, this is a big mismatch.
Then again, it’s not like the Ravens are firing on all cylinders right now. Check out this post from our colleagues over at Baltimore Beatdown titled: “Where is last year’s Lamar Jackson?”
Is it just me or does Lamar Jackson look like he’s struggling at times this year? Through five games, Jackson does not look like the MVP-caliber quarterback Ravens fans are used to seeing. Jackson has only thrown for 949 total yards whilst eclipsing the 200-yard mark only twice. His 949 yards rank 31st in the NFL. Notwithstanding the 50-yard touchdown run against the Washington, Jackson has proven to be ineffective in the running games at times.
The Eagles sure aren’t sleeping on Jackson. Much-maligned Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz sung his praises earlier on Tuesday:
Lamar Jackson is probably the most dangerous player in the league because there are times you can do everything right on defense and can’t catch him, or he can throw a ball side-arm underneath of a free rusher and complete a pass. I think that you’ve got to have a resilient attitude when you play him, and you know that a playmaker like him is going to make some plays. You just have to limit his big plays, and you have to stay resilient. You can’t hang your hat if he ends up making a play. They are a strong running team, not just with Lamar Jackson but with [Mark Ingram, with the rookie that’s back [J.K. Dobbins].
All their running backs are good, powerful running backs. They are a power running team. Strong offensive line, and it’s not just the tight ends. They have got wide receivers that make big plays for them. Again, it’s another offense, [if] you try too hard to take one thing away, you devote too many resources to stopping Lamar Jackson’s feet, there’s plenty of opportunities in the pass game, or there’s plenty of opportunities to hand the ball to someone else. You see teams over play option and get gashed up the middle, or you see teams play too tough up the middle and they are vulnerable to option.
A little bit like some of the things we just talked about with Pittsburgh with the jet motions and things like that, option football, stuff that they do with quarterback runs, just puts emphasis on all 11 guys. You have to play responsibility football. You have to make the plays that come to you and you have to get guys on the ground tackling. It puts emphasis on all of those things.
Call me crazy but I actually have some level of confidence in the Eagles’ defense going up against this Ravens offense. Baltimore ranks fifth in rushing percentage and Philly prides themselves on stopping the run; the Eagles rank tied for eight in opponent yards per rush attempt. The Eagles’ defensive line should be able to have some success against a Baltimore offensive line that ranks 21st in adjusted sack rate.
The bigger concern is what the Eagles are going to be able to do on offense. That might sound funny coming out of a game where Carson Wentz came alive against a tough Pittsburgh Steelers defense. But Baltimore is allowing the second fewest offensive points per game (15.6) in the league. Wink Martindale is going to be challenging the Eagles’ patchwork offensive line with blitzes and such.
I actually think the Eagles might be able to keep this game closer than expected. But I can’t say I feel great about them winning outright.
What say you?
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