Date & Time: October 18th – 1:00 P.M.
Location: Philadelphia, PA – Lincoln Financial Field
Baltimore: DE Derek Wolfe (DOUBTFUL), QUESTIONABLE: CB Marcus Peters (thigh), T Ronnie Stanley, WR Miles Boykin, LB Anthony Levine, WR Chris Moore, G Tyre Phillips, CB Jimmy Smith
Philadelphia: CB Darius Slay (QUESTIONABLE); T Lane Johnson (OUT), LB Duke Riley (OUT), CB Avonte Maddox (OUT), G Matt Pryor (OUT), WR DeSean Jackson (OUT), S Marcus Epps (OUT), WR Alshon Jeffery (OUT)
The 1-3-1 Philadelphia Eagles return to Philadelphia after a brief 2-game road trip. The 4-1 Ravens come into town, winners of 2 straight games. The Eagles are looking to rebound after a 9 point loss at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens are looking to keep the train rolling. The two franchises have squared off just 5 times in the past. The all time series is 2-2-1, but the Ravens have outscored the Eagles, 106-82 all time (History via Football Database). Here’s our preview for the Eagles:
If you thought last week was a tough matchup for the offensive line, this week may be even tougher. The Baltimore Ravens are the league’s number one defense. This defense gives up just 15.2 points per game, which is first in the league. The unit is 5th in sacks, 3rd in QB hits, 2nd in takeaways, 7th against the run, and Don Martindale’s unit has sent 98 (most in the NFL through 5 games) called blitzes (statistics via Pro Football Reference).
In terms of personnel, the Raven defense is headed up front by LDE Derek Wolfe, NT Brandon Williams, RDE Calais Campbell, WLB Matthew Judon, ILB L.J. Fort, ILB Patrick Queen, SLB Pernell McPhee. Not to mention the depth of the front with LB Tyus Bowser, LB Jaylon Ferguson, and NT Justin Ellis. This defensive front may be the toughest front to decipher in the NFL. They present a variety of multiple looks, packages, and disguises. They can use all-out blitzes where they crowd and completely overwhelm opposing offensive lines or they can send just 4 and still get pressure. As for the secondary, they are headed by cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey, who may rotate inside to play the slot at times (Jimmy Smith lines up outside, in that case) and Marcus Peters, along with safeties Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott. This secondary made history last week by getting sacks from 5 different defensive backs. All things considered, this may be an even tougher matchup for the Eagles than last week.
For the Eagles offense, they found life last week in the form of Travis Fulgham. This week Fulgham will be matched up with Marlon Humphrey (And/or Jimmy Smith). Last week the Eagles moved Fulgham around the formation (X, Z, the slot, and even the backfield) to attack mis-matches. This week that becomes challenging because of the fact that Marlon Humphrey, who is a very physical and handsy corner, can play the slot. This is a true test for Fulgham.
For Carson Wentz, he played fairly well last week (exclude the 2 interceptions). Wentz throws were on target and he displayed escapability against a suffocating Pittsburgh defensive front. This week, the pressure will be ratched up even more. Understanding this, the offensive game-plan should be to utilize the quick passing game to attempt to neutralize the Baltimore front. Along with this, a key to this game should be getting Miles Sanders involved in the passing game. Baltimore’s defense is giving up 8.6 yards per catch to running backs. 3 specific running backs have had success against the Baltimore linebackers in the passing game(stats via ESPN): Clyde Edwards-Helaire (5 rec. – 70 yards), Antonio Gibson (4 rec. – 82 yards), and Joe Mixon (6 rec. – 35 yards). In order for Sanders to have success, the Eagles offensive coaches will have to get Sanders in one on ones with linebackers, specifically Patrick Queen, who has allowed a 73.9 completion percentage and a 105.3 passer rating when in coverage (via Pro Football Reference). Queen has played well but if there’s an area where he’s susceptible, it’s the passing game.
The Eagles will have their 5th different starting offensive line combination on Sunday. Jamon Brown will get the start in Matt Pryor’s place. This will be Brown’s first start for the team. Brown graded out with a 53.2 last season, per PFF. This is yet another hurdle for Jeff Stoutland to jump over. He’s done an exceptional job with the young players such as Jack Driscoll, Nate Herbig, and Jordan Mialata. With a veteran like Brown, who’s started 47 career games and played over 2500 snaps in the NFL, that should continue. Stoutland’s unit will have to be prepared for exotic and confusing looks that the Baltimore front presents.
This game is one where the Eagles will really miss not having an athletic LB like Jordan Hicks or the guy the let walk out of the building to the team they’re playing, L.J. Fort. The Baltimore offense has somewhat struggled this season. Ranking 29th in passing offense and 7th in rushing offense (per Pro Football Reference). Lamar Jackson has been pressured 39 times and sacked 12 times. The Eagles have struggled religiously with mobile quarterbacks and the lack of athletic linebackers on the roster have contributed to this. Jackson has struggled running the football and has just 238 yards through 5 games. He isn’t the league’s leading rusher at QB anymore either. Defenses have begun crowding the box more and taking away Jackson’s threat to run and forcing him to beat them with his arm, which he’s struggled to do. His completion percentage has been under 70% in 3 games this season (under 55% in 2 games). The Baltimore passing attack is averaging just 178.8 yards per game. The key to this game for the Eagles defense is to make Jackson beat them through the air.
The Ravens have been one of the more dominant teams when running the football, however. As stated they have the 7th best rushing attack fueled by Mark Ingram, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. Not to mention the threat of Devin Duvernay and Hollywood Brown out of the backfield on end arounds, which the Eagles have struggled defending throughout this early season. What makes this matchup interesting is, as dominant as the Ravens have been on the ground, the Eagles have been pretty dominant in stopping the run, allowing just 3.9 yards per carry on defense. That is around the league average, but what separates the Eagles is the amount of talent they have in their defensive line room.
The secondary will once again be led by the cornerback duo of Jalen Mills and Darius Slay. Mills may struggle going up against the speedy Baltimore receiving core. There will likely need to be safety help over the top to protect against the deep ball.
The return of Will Parks, who was activated this week and cleared to play on Friday will help the defense tremendously. Parks can play linebacker in nickel and dime sets and will likely cover tight end, Mark Andrews when the defense shifts into these packages. Having Parks back will aid the Eagles in that area (TE coverage) where they have lacked tremendously this season.
Doug Pederson called a pretty good game last week. Outside of going away from Miles Sanders (after his 74 yard touchdown run), which is somewhat understandable considering Pittsburgh’s top ranked rushing defense. Against Baltimore, who ranks 7th against the run, the ability to run the ball should be a bit more attainable. Even if Sanders has trouble earlier, Pederson has to keep with his second year back and run the ball a bit vs. completely abandoning the run and making his offense one-dimensional and allowing the Baltimore front to pin their ears back and tee off on his QB.
If there was ever a time for Doug Pederson to channel his inner Andy Reid, who’s team defeated the Ravens in week 3, it is this game. All the things Reid is known for i.e. the screen game, offensive creativity, play design etc., Pederson needs to attempt to emulate his former boss. The key for Pederson in this game is to call a game in which Baltimore’s aggressiveness is used against them. Quick and decisive passing plays, getting Miles Sanders involved in the passing game (and the running game), and continuing to use the creativity and possible Rich Scangarello touch of pre-snap motion we’ve seen the last few weeks.
For Jim Schwartz, he’s called Lamar Jackson the most dangerous player in the National Football League. In this game, he cannot allow Jackson to display his dominance as a runner. Other teams have stacked the box and attempted to eliminate Jackson’s running threat. In terms of accuracy, Lamar Jackson has been one of the league worst QBs. Even if its not in Schwartz philosophy to blitz, this may be the week to turn up the pressure. Most importantly for Schwartz, however, will be his ability to put his players in position to succeed.
The Eagles do not matchup well with this Baltimore team. The Eagles are playing their 5th offensive line combo and the Ravens can absolutely wreck games with their exotic pass rush formations and multiple looks from their front. But the Eagles can stop or at least contain the Baltimore rushing attack. Lamar Jackson isn’t playing well at the Eagles can pressure opposing QBs. I think somehow the Eagles can pull this off at Lincoln Financial Field, which will have fans in the stands on Sunday
Bold prediction: Jalen Hurts scores a TD
Pick: Eagles 27, Ravens 24