Baltimore (8-2; 5-5 ATS) at L.A. Rams (6-4; 7-3 ATS) (Monday night)
Early line: Ravens (minus-3 points). Total: (46.5)
BAL 2ND OFF; LAR 10TH DEF
BAL 1ST RUN; LAR 5TH vs. RUN
BAL 20TH PASS; LAR 15TH vs. PASS
BAL 1ST PTS; LAR 10TH PTS ALLOWED
LAR 13TH OFF; BAL 14TH DEF
LAR 20TH RUN; BAL 7TH vs. RUN
LAR T7TH PASS; BAL 18TH vs. PASS
LAR 12TH PTS; BAL 6TH PTS ALLOWED
BAL T5TH TO/TA; LAR T23RD TO-TA
Ravens lead all-time series 4-2-0 and have won last three games in series, most recently beating Rams 16-13 at Baltimore Nov. 22, 2015, when Baltimore won on a FG by Justin Tucker as time expired.
Combining a defense that Texans QB Deshaun Watson surely never wants to see again, top MVP candidate Lamar Jackson’s 4 TD passes and a running game that rambled for 263 yards, red-hot RAVENS extended their winning streak to six with 41-7 Week 11 home rout of the Texans — the team’s longest run since their first Super Bowl season in 2000.
RAVENS sacked Watson six times and had seven sacks in all, adding yet another component to an already effective defense. Through the first nine games of the season, they garnered just 16 sacks, a few hurried throws and a whole lot of frustration.
OLB Matthew Judon had 2 sacks to raise his team-leading total to 6, and fellow LB Tyus Bowser doubled his total to four. “It feels like RAVENS football,” said DT Brandon Williams, who registered his first sack of the year. “This is the way we’ve wanted to play since the beginning.”
RAVENS defense limited Texans to 232 total yards and only 2-of-10 3rd-down conversions and registered 2 turnovers in Week 11 win.
Jackson, meanwhile, who has been a revelation for the RAVENS all season, clearly outplayed fellow MVP candidate Watson, completing 17-24-222-4 TDs-0 INTs (139.2 QB rating) and rushing for 86 yards on 9 carries with a long of 39.
RAVENS’ top-ranked rushing game (203.8 ypg) was in high gear against Houston, which came in ranked No. 3 vs. the run. In addition to Jackson’s continually big rushing numbers, RB Gus Edwards gained 112 yards — including a 63-yard TD run — and RB Mark Ingram ran for 48 yards to go with his 2 TD catches (85 total yards).
“Obviously, with Lamar, we create mismatches. It puts a lot of stress on their defense,” RAVENS OG Marshal Yanda said. “I felt like as the game went on, we kind of wore them down a little bit.”
WR Seth Roberts caught his first touchdown pass with Baltimore, a 15-yarder in the first quarter that put the RAVENS ahead for good, and TE Mark Andrews led Baltimore’s receivers with 4-75-1 receiving on 4 targets.
Roberts said he was “happy to contribute” and paid homage to Jackson, who found nine different receivers in Week 11 win, as RAVENS’ 2nd-ranked total offense (428.6 ypg) gained 491 total yards. “He can do anything on the field,” Roberts said. “He’s a freak.”
RAVENS hope to have DT Michael Pierce (ankle) back for Monday night’s game against the Rams. Pierce was inactive in Week 11, along with WR Chris Moore, who missed a second straight game with a broken thumb (check statuses).
Even head coach Sean McVay had to recognize that the RAMS didn’t really look like a McVay-coached team during their 17-7 home victory over the slumping Bears in Week 11 Sunday-nighter that fortified LA’s playoff hopes.
It was the first time in his three seasons in charge that the RAMS won a game without scoring at least 20 points, as McVay traded in his usual wide-open approach for 31 designed runs on 50 plays.
RAMS ran for 110 yards, with RB Todd Gurley tying his season-high with 97 yards rushing. But it looked nothing like how McVay had established his ground game in previous seasons.
Missing two of their starting wide receivers in Robert Woods (personal reasons) and Brandin Cooks (concussion), the RAMS moved away from the three-receiver sets that have been their base personnel. Instead, they frequently put two or three tight ends on the field, even lining them up as fullbacks for certain plays.
RAMS’ McVay said Monday he wanted to employ those groupings to run the ball, but the tight ends’ role increased after he found out before the game that Woods would not be available.
It worked, helping keep at bay a Bears pass rush that sacked RAMS QB Jared Goff three times and forced him into throwing four INTs in a 15-6 loss in Chicago last season.
But it was another erratic outing for Goff, who was not helped by RAMS’ makeshift receiving corps. Goff was 11-of-18 passing for 173 yards and an INT (69.9 QB rating). He could have thrown a second pick after failing to see Bears CB Kyle Fuller in coverage, but Fuller could not make the sideline grab.
RAMS WR Cooper Kupp had a 50-yard reception to set up the RAMS’ first TD, and he was just as impactful in getting the run game going with several hard-nosed blocks early to spring Gurley. Kupp is ranked 7th in the league with 845 yards receiving, but his ability to impact the game without the ball is just as valuable to the Rams.
RAMS’ defense found ways to get off the field in Week 11 win, limiting the Bears to 267 total yards and 35% on third down (6 of 17) and 0-of-2 on fourth down.
RAMS CB Jalen Ramsey had a superb pass breakup on 4th down following a lost fumble by Gurley, LB Samson Ekubam blew up an option pitch on 3rd down for a loss of 3 yards, and DT Aaron Donald was his usual self with key pressures to disrupt the Bears’ timing.
Ebukam and RAMS ILB Cory Littleton weren’t sharp in pass coverage at times, and they will have to be much better Monday night against Baltimore, which puts all sorts of pressure on the defense with the mobile Jackson and a versatile rushing offense that creates chances for big plays off play-action.
Check status of RAMS’ Cooks, who could return this week after missing the past two games; Woods; OT Rob Havenstein (knee; DNP in Week 11); and CB Darious Williams (ankle; DNP in Week 11).
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