Kevin Eck Majority of Pundits Expect Ravens to Prevail on the Road
If the Ravens are going to get back on the winning track this Sunday after last week's gut-wrenching loss to the Miami Dolphins, they're going to have to do something the franchise has never done: win a regular-season game in New England.
The Ravens are 0-6 against the Patriots in Foxborough during the regular season (they have won two playoff games there).
In the last meeting between the two teams at Gillette Stadium two years ago, the 3-5 Patriots upset the 6-2 Ravens, 23-17, in a windy downpour. The worst of inclement weather came late in the fourth quarter when Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense took the field for a potential game-tying drive.
"I'll say the weather played a big part last time we played," Jackson said this week. "Every time we got up and lined up on offense, it was heavy rains; you can't even throw the ball through this rain, you can't run the ball, you probably can't even see your opponent if you're trying to make him miss. But hopefully, it's perfect weather."
It might not be perfect, but it's likely to be better. The weather forecast for Sunday afternoon in Foxborough calls for cloudy skies with a slight chance of a rain shower.
As for the game, an overwhelming majority of pundits are forecasting a victory for the Ravens, who are favored by three points. Of the 50 pundits we looked at, 46 picked Baltimore (1-1) to spoil the home opener for New England (1-1).
Here's a sample of what the pundits are saying about the game:
The Ravens will win because they are the better team overall.
Fansided's Matt Verderame: "The Ravens have to rebound after that miserable disaster of a fourth quarter on Sunday, and they should, because they're more talented than New England in all three phases."
Jackson will lead the Ravens to victory.
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal: "The Patriots' defense has given up just two touchdowns in as many weeks, making few mental mistakes. But ... Lamar Jackson is that dude who makes sound New England defenses look silly, even in the best of times."
Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith: "Lamar Jackson is playing some of his best football right now, and he'll cruise to a big game in New England."
The Baltimore Sun's C.J. Doon: "If quarterback Lamar Jackson keeps playing at an MVP-level, it's going to take another fourth-quarter collapse - or maybe another New England monsoon - for the Ravens to lose."
The Ravens' defense will bounce back against a Patriots offense that has scored just 24 points, which ranks 29th.
ESPN's Jamison Hensley: "Bold prediction: The Ravens will rebound and hold the Patriots under 10 points after last week's fourth-quarter collapse. Under coach John Harbaugh, Baltimore has shown perseverance, giving up an average of 19.5 points the week after allowing 40 or more points. New England quarterback Mac Jones has eclipsed 20 points in three of his past eight starts (including playoffs), and the Patriots' 24 points are their fewest through two games since 2001 (20)."
Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer: "The Patriots don't have the receivers to keep the Ravens' secondary slumping and Mac Jones isn't getting what he needs from the rushing attack."
The Ringer's Sheil Kapadia: "[Wide receiver] Nelson Agholor delivered a nice 44-yard TD grab last week in their win against the Steelers. But their offense just doesn't have a lot of juice. I hate going against [Patriots Head Coach] Bill Belichick as a home underdog, and Jackson is playing through an elbow injury, but I think the Patriots are going to have a tough time here."
Bleacher Report's NFL staff: "Fortunately for Baltimore, New England has stretched defenses on plays few and far between. Quarterback Mac Jones only has two touchdown passes with a couple of interceptions."
Ravens RT Morgan Moses vs. Patriots OLB Matthew Judon is a key matchup.
Russell Street Report's Dev Panchwagh: "Since leaving Baltimore in the 2021 offseason, Judon has really kicked his game to another level, recording 12.5 sacks [last year] - the first time he recorded double-digit sacks. Judon has always been close as a pass rusher but couldn't seem to finish plays. That hasn't been a problem in New England and he remains a versatile defender for Belichick, with the ability to drop and set the edge against the run. Judon's got some power moves in his repertoire and he's at his best when he can gain leverage at the snap. In Moses, Judon will face a worthy opponent. Moses joined Baltimore in the offseason and he's brought stability to the right tackle spot. Moses is technically sound and he plays a physical style to counter Judon's game."
The Patriots have the edge in intangibles.
The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker: "The Patriots aren't the automatic playoff team they were for so many years with Tom Brady at quarterback. But Belichick has never been easy to outmaneuver, especially at home, where the Patriots have had their way with the Ravens in the regular season. They shut down Jackson in a 23-17 upset the last time the teams met in 2020, a game marred by heavy rain and wind. [Ravens Head Coach John] Harbaugh, meanwhile, has to rally his team from one of its most embarrassing home defeats and hope his secondary is healthy enough to hold a mediocre offense in check. The Ravens will feel urgency not to fall to 1-2 with the red-hot Buffalo Bills on their way to Baltimore in Week 4."
Rashod Bateman Ranked Among Top 5 Big-Play Wide Receivers
The Ravens expected Rashod Bateman to make a big leap in Year 2, and through the first two weeks of the season, he has absolutely looked the part of a No. 1 wide receiver.
Just how explosive has Bateman been? The Next Gen Stats analytics team ranked the top 10 big-play wide receivers entering Week 3, and Bateman came in at No. 5.
The rankings were based on components such as each receiver's speed, pass-catching ability, yards after catch and success on deep passes. The metric and overall scores are based on each player's performance in Weeks 1 and 2.
"The Ravens traded away Marquise Brown this offseason with the expectation that Bateman would lead the aerial attack as the top receiver on the outside, and he has not disappointed so far," Next Gen Stats wrote via NFL.com. "Serving as the perfect complement to TE Mark Andrews, Bateman has gained 163 receiving yards when aligned wide this season, good for fifth-most in the NFL. The second-year receiver has shown savvy route-running ability, averaging the sixth-most separation at the time of throw on his routes this season while still getting downfield (13.9 yards average route depth, ninth among 77 WRs with 40-plus routes run).
"Bateman showed off his blazing speed on his 75-yard catch-and-run TD against the Dolphins in Week 2, reaching a top speed of 21.48 mph, the fastest speed by any ball-carrier on a play from scrimmage this season. It's plays like these that have helped Bateman earn the second-highest speed score this season (90), trailing only Tyreek Hill."
Bateman ranked ahead of receivers such as Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase and A.J. Brown. The only receivers ranked ahead of Bateman are Hill, Stefon Diggs, Jaylen Waddle and Cooper Kupp.
Reaction to Ravens Reportedly Agreeing to Terms With Jason Pierre-Paul
The Ravens reportedly are signing three-time Pro Bowler Jason Pierre-Paul to bolster their pass rush.
Here's a sample of what the pundits are saying about the move:
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec: "The Ravens really had no other choice but to add an edge rusher. They had only two natural outside linebackers, Justin Houston and Odafe Oweh, on their roster and both have needed to log far too many snaps through the first two games. Veteran outside linebacker Steven Means, who was promoted from the practice squad last week, tore his Achilles in the Week 2 loss to the Miami Dolphins, leaving them more vulnerable. The question now becomes how quickly will it take Pierre-Paul to contribute. The Ravens don't need for him to be an every-down guy, but he had surgery in mid-February to repair a torn rotator cuff and he didn't have a training camp or a preseason. He's also 33 and coming off an injured-marred and difficult season, where he had just 2 1/2 sacks, his lowest total since 2015."
Baltimore Beatdown's Spencer Schultz: "The Ravens worked out the veteran in June, but risked him continuing to test the market until today. The veteran presence and depth is much needed considering the Ravens current lack of depth and experience beyond Houston and Oweh. The Ravens will hope he can contribute in a rotational role as he gets acclimated until Tyus Bowser can hopefully return."
Baltimore Positive's Luke Jones: "According to Pro Football Focus, Pierre-Paul finished tied for 73rd in pressures, tied for 118th in pass-rush win rate, and 111th in pass-rush grade among 120 qualifying edge defenders last season, which helps explain the tepid interest in a player with his pedigree."
Trade Proposal Has Ravens Acquiring Seahawks CB
With the Ravens dealing with some injury issues in the secondary, Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox believes Baltimore should pursue a trade for Seahawks cornerback Sidney Jones IV.
Knox's proposal has the Ravens acquiring Jones in exchange for a 2023 fifth-round pick.
"It would behoove the Ravens to trade for a starting-caliber corner, and Sidney Jones IV seems like a prime candidate," Knox wrote. "The Seattle Seahawks may be 1-1, but they didn't look like a contender in Sunday's blowout loss to the rival San Francisco 49ers.
"Jones hasn't seen extensive playing time this season - he played 12 defensive snaps in Week 1-but he made 11 starts for Seattle in 2021. He allowed an opposing passer rating of only 84.3 in coverage last season. Jones is playing on a one-year, $3.6 million deal, and if the Seahawks aren't going to contend, moving that salary would be logical."