Sat, 24 Oct 2020

Eisenberg: 50 Words or Less

Baltimore Ravens
27 Sep 2020, 05:25 GMT+10

John Eisenberg

Various thoughts on various subjects, all in 50 words or less:

If there's one statistic the Ravens can use as a source of optimism heading into Monday night, it's that the Kansas City Chiefs are ranked No. 28 in the league in rushing defense through two games, yielding an average of 4.6 yards per carry and 150.5 yards per game.

The Ravens obviously will need a blend of running and passing to beat the reigning Super Bowl champions, but I'd list controlling the clock with the run as their top priority because the best (possibly only) way to limit Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is to keep him off the field.

Other priorities for the Ravens include limiting the number of chunk plays Mahomes generates (because he will generate some) and staying in touch on the scoreboard one way or another (because Baltimore has fallen too far behind in both losses to the Chiefs with Lamar Jackson at quarterback).

A final priority (there are others but I'll stop here) is to finish, which is a huge thing against the Chiefs, who trailed in all three of their 2019 playoff wins and picked right back up last week, rallying from 11 points down to win on the road in overtime.

An under-the-radar aspect of the Ravens' impressive start is they've forced a league-high five turnovers in their two wins. But they'll have their work cut out for them in that respect this week, as the Chiefs excel at holding onto the ball. They've yet to lose a turnover in 2020.

You know about the Ravens' "revolutionary" offense but they're also revolutionary on defense as they're built from the back end forward (unlike most teams who start up front). The Ravens started the project before Mahomes was a pro but opponents like the Chiefs were what they had in mind.

It'll be interesting to see how Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale uses Jimmy Smith Monday night. Options include shadowing Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who has burned the Ravens before, and helping fill in at outside cornerback with Marlon Humphrey shifting to the slot due to Tavon Young's injury. Maybe both?

Most analysts identify the Ravens' last home loss against Cleveland as a big reason why a rebuild of their rushing defense was deemed necessary. But the Chiefs totaled 140 rushing yards against the Ravens a week before that game last September. Denying a reprise would help Baltimore's cause Monday night.

Don't know about you but I find it incredible that 2,438 NFL players took 14,074 coronavirus tests from Sept. 13-19 and every single one came back negative. I fully expected the league to experience pandemic-related issues at some point, but things are going far better than I imagined.

Maybe it's true there were a ton of injuries across the league last week because of the lack of spring practices and preseason games. But I'm always dubious of sweeping explanations for injury trends. It's a highly physical sport. Sometimes there's no explanation for why guys get hurt.

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