Ravens head coach John Harbaugh talks about whether defensive tackle Michael Pierce will be ready to play in the next game.
Here’s who has the edge on offense, defense and special teams in Monday night’s Week 12 game between the Ravens and Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum:
RAVENS PASSING GAME: Quarterback Lamar Jackson overcame a slow start in Sunday’s 41-7 win over the Houston Texans to finish 17-for-24 for 222 yards and four touchdowns. Jackson shared the ball generously, finding nine different receivers, including wideout Seth Roberts, who caught his first touchdown pass as a Raven. Running back Mark Ingram II had two touchdown receptions, part of his growing involvement in the passing game. Jackson still relies heavily on tight end Mark Andrews and rookie wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who are first and second on the team, respectively, in receptions and yards. The Ravens’ offensive line, the team’s most consistent unit this season, has allowed 20 sacks, 10th best in the league. Jackson hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 5 and holds the league’s fourth-highest passer rating.
RAMS PASSING GAME: Quarterback Jared Goff has struggled in his first season since signing a four-year, $134 million extension, with a record $110 million guaranteed, in September. Goff’s inconsistencies are largely because of an offensive line that’s been riddled with injuries. The Rams have lost their starting left guard and center to season-ending injuries. Right tackle and Mount Airy native Rob Havenstein, who suffered a meniscus injury two weeks ago, likely won’t play. Goff ranks fifth in passing yards but has also thrown 10 interceptions compared with just 11 touchdowns. Wideout Cooper Kupp remains Goff’s top target, with a team-high 61 receptions for 845 yards and five touchdowns. Wide receiver Robert Woods did not play in the team’s 17-7 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, dealing with what the team called a “personal matter,” and his availability for Monday is uncertain. Coach Sean McVay said he expects wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who missed the team’s past two games with a concussion, to play against the Ravens.
RAVENS RUNNING GAME: The Ravens rushed for 263 yards against the Texans, their third-highest total of the season. Running back Gus Edwards led the team in rushing with a season-high 112 yards, breaking off a 63-yard touchdown run late in Sunday’s win. The Ravens continue to lead the league in yards per carry and yards per game. Jackson has a team-high 788 rushing yards, and his per-carry average is the highest in the league among qualified players. Jackson, Edwards and Ingram all rank in top 10 in per-carry average.
RAMS RUNNING GAME: The Rams have used star running back Todd Gurley judiciously after a knee injury hurt his productivity in last season’s playoffs. Gurley is averaging just 14.3 carries per game but had a season-high 25 rushes for 97 yards against the Bears. The Rams average 3.8 yards per attempt and 97.6 rushing yards per game, both of which rank in the bottom half of the league.
RAVENS RUSH DEFENSE: Defensive tackle Michael Pierce did not play against the Texans because of an ankle injury, his first absence this season. Coach John Harbaugh said Pierce has a better chance to play Monday but his status is still in question. The Ravens filled Pierce’s void with newly signed veterans Domata Peko Sr. and Justin Ellis, who played over 20 snaps apiece. The Ravens held Houston to 122 yards on 20 carries, a total buoyed by running back Carlos Hyde’s 41-yard touchdown run late in the game. The Ravens have allowed 4.4 yards per carry this season, 13th best in the league, but are holding rushing offenses to 94.3 yards per game, seventh best overall.
RAMS RUSH DEFENSE: The Rams have one of the best defensive fronts in the league, anchored by two-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, who’s Pro Football Focus’ top-rated interior run defender and pass rusher. Linebacker Corey Middleton leads the team with 82 combined tackles, and former Ravens safety Eric Weddle is second with 72. The Rams are eighth in yards per carry allowed, and their mark of 97.6 yards per game allowed ranks 13th in the league.
RAVENS PASS DEFENSE: The Ravens recorded a season-high seven sacks against the Texans, led by outside linebacker Matthew Judon (two sacks), who Harbaugh said might have played his best game of the season. The pass rush also got key contributions from outside linebackers Tyus Bowser and Jaylon Ferguson and defensive tackle Brandon Williams. The secondary struggled to contain star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins early, but cornerback Marcus Peters shadowed Hopkins as the game went on and helped hold him to seven receptions on 12 targets for 80 yards. The Ravens rank 18th overall in pass defense. Peters will be playing against his former team for the first time since the October trade that sent him to Baltimore.
RAMS PASS DEFENSE: Donald’s eight sacks are the most in the league among interior linemen, and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips often moves Donald along the line to take advantage of matchups. Edge rushers Dante Fowler Jr. and Clay Matthews also have combined for 13½ sacks. In October, the Rams acquired All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, one of the best cover corners in the league. Weddle, who will be playing against his former team for the first time since being released in the offseason, adds veteran savvy to the secondary. Cornerback Troy Hill and safety Taylor Rapp have also received quality grades from Pro Football Focus.
RAVENS SPECIAL TEAMS: Kicker Justin Tucker had his first field-goal miss of the season against the Texans, continuing a recent stretch of imperfect performances. He’s still missed just two kicks all year. Sam Koch did not punt against the Texans and, thanks to the Ravens’ high-flying offense, is on pace for a career-low 34. Returner De’Anthony Thomas didn’t make an impact in his second game with the Ravens and was fortunate to recover a muffed punt. Harbaugh said the team is still working on getting Thomas acclimated.
RAMS SPECIAL TEAMS: Kicker Greg Zuerlein has missed five of his 23 field-goal attempts this season, but all five misses have come from 40 yards or beyond. Johnny Hekker averages 47.8 yards per punt, tied for fourth best in the league. The Rams rank 13th in kickoff return average (7.9 yards) and punt return average (23.1 yards).
Baltimore Ravens Insider Newsletter
Want the inside scoop on the Ravens? Become a Ravens Insider and you'll have access to news, notes and analysis from The Sun.
RAVENS INTANGIBLES: The Ravens are considered by many to be the best team in the AFC, and possibly the NFL. During their league-high six-game winning streak, they’ve outscored opponents 209-96. However, they will have to make a coast-to-coast trip for “Monday Night Football,” which can be a taxing experience for players.
RAMS INTANGIBLES: The Rams are third in the stacked NFC West, and their best chance of returning to the playoffs is securing one of the NFC’s two wild-card spots. McVay is 10-1 record against nonconference teams, including 5-0 at home.
PREDICTION: Traveling from one coast to the other is always difficult for an NFL team, and it will be interesting to see how much energy the Ravens have, given their extra day of preparation and rest. The Rams have won three of their past four games but still don’t resemble the team that reached the Super Bowl last season. The Ravens are playing as well as any team in the NFL and should pull away for their seventh consecutive victory. Ravens 27, Rams 21.