Bleeding Green Nation’s 2020 Philadelphia Eagles opponent preview series continues today with their Week 6 enemy: the Baltimore Ravens. (Previously: Week 5 preview.)
The 2019 Ravens were an absolute juggernaut.
They finished with the NFL’s best point differential by far at +249, meaning their average performance was a 15.6 point win. The next closest team was at +195.
They also finished first in overall DVOA thanks to the No. 1 ranked offense, the No. 4 ranked defense, and the No. 9 ranked special teams unit. They had no real weaknesses.
Or, at least, it appeared that way. The Ravens’ run defense proved to be a fatal flaw as they were unable to stop Derrick Henry in the AFC Divisional round. Henry went off for 195 yards on 30 carries as the Tennessee Titans dropped Lamar Jackson to 0-2 in the playoffs.
The Ravens took that loss to heart and worked on improving their run defense this offseason. They added Calais Campbell via trade and drafted LSU linebacker Patrick Queen in the first round. Baltimore still has a lot of talent elsewhere on their defense that has it looking like a pretty formidable unit on paper. Not to mention plus coaching from Wink Martindale.
Offensively, it’ll be pretty interesting to see how Jackson follows up last year’s NFL MVP campaign. He was great as a passer with 36 touchdowns to six interceptions for a 113.3 passer rating. Oh, and he also broke the NFL record for single-season quarterback rushing yards (previously held by Michael Vick) with 1,206 and seven more touchdowns. Jackson is bound to regress to some extent given just how good he was last year but he’s still very much a threat.
One could theorize that the Eagles are better equipped to stop the Ravens than other teams. Jim Schwartz’s penchant for stopping the run could actually come in handy against the NFL’s only offense that passed the ball on fewer than 50% of their snaps last year (just 44%). If the Eagles are able to take away the Ravens’ run identity and force them to be a more one-dimensional passing attack, they should have a shot to win. They’ll just have to find a way to score enough on Baltimore’s tough defense.
This tilt doesn’t matter much for the standings since the Ravens are an AFC team but it could be a good measuring stick game for the Eagles. For as scary as the Ravens might be, I actually like Eagles’ chances in this one.
Will the Eagles beat the Ravens?
This poll is closed
Read on for more Ravens insight from our SB Nation colleagues over at Baltimore Beatdown.
Notable free agency additions: DE Calais Campbell (via trade), DE Derek Wolfe, CB Jimmy Smith re-sign), OLB Matt Judon (franchise tag), OLB Pernell McPhee
Over/under 10 wins? Over. The Ravens were the best regular season team in 2019 and look to run it back after a disappointing playoff defeat. They are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball and look to find themselves back in the postseason in 2020.
Rookie I’m most excited about: Sometimes the boring answer is the right answer. I’m most excited about ILB Patrick Queen. This was a key position for the Ravens to target in the draft and the Ravens have quite a history when it comes to first-round linebackers (Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley).
Best position battle heading into training camp: The interior offensive line battle is where we’ll see the most action. Marshal Yanda’s retirement is a massive loss and the ripple effect may shuffle left guard, center and right guard.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp: Baltimore is on a mission to win in the playoffs. They’re hype isn’t about posting another 14-2 season or becoming the best rushing offense of all time. It’s not about Lamar Jackson’s throwing ability, or his unanimously voted 2019 League MVP award. It’s only about the Lombardi Trophy and whether Jackson and the Ravens can “win in the playoffs.”
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: Not many outlets are focusing on the overwhelming defensive talent the Ravens’ roster boasts. That’s mostly due to the spotlight beating down on Jackson, but it’s a bit surprising to not see more of it discussed elsewhere. The secondary features two All-Pro cornerbacks and Earl Thomas III. They have a first-round pick at middle linebacker and the defensive front boasts Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe, Brandon Williams and Matt Judon. Expect their sack numbers to rise in 2020.
Notable injuries heading into training camp: N/A