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Ravens vs. Bears scouting report for Week 11: Who has the edge?

"We have the guys coming back who are coming back," said Harbaugh. "They have a good chance to be back. We'll see how they practice."

The Ravens are coming off one of their worst performances in the Lamar Jackson era, a 22-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Now they head into Chicago to face a Bears team that has lost four straight but has an improving rookie quarterback in Justin Fields. Here’s who has the edge in each phase:

Ravens passing game vs. Bears pass defense

The Ravens knew the Miami Dolphins would attack them with a “Cover 0″ defense but never adjusted sufficiently. They tried to beat Miami’s pressure with screens and short crosses, but quarterback Lamar Jackson (26-for-43, 238 yards, one touchdown, one interception) never settled into a comfortable rhythm as blitzing defensive backs continued to take free runs at him. Other teams will surely try similar approaches, though it’s not clear the Bears, who rank 31st in the league in blitz percentage, will be one of them. Coach John Harbaugh expressed confidence in the Ravens’ ability to counter. With Jackson under so much pressure, he could not find his usual deep connections with Marquise Brown (six catches on 13 targets, 37 yards). Wide receiver Sammy Watkins looked rusty in his return from a three-game absence because of a hamstring injury. He pulled up too soon on a throw to the end zone and fumbled the lone ball he caught against the Dolphins. On the plus side, first-round pick Rashod Bateman (six catches on eight targets, 80 yards) continued his hot start, flashing his rare gift for snatching passes out of the air in traffic. After their down week, the Ravens rank 10th in the league in passing and yards per attempt.

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The Bears have allowed opposing quarterbacks to average 6.7 yards per attempt, so they can be attacked downfield. They have struggled covering No. 1 wide receivers, according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA, so Brown could get back on track quickly. The Bears will be without their top pass rusher, Khalil Mack, who’s headed for injured reserve because of a foot injury. Veteran Robert Quinn (6 ½ sacks, eight quarterback hits) is still a significant threat off the edge.

EDGE: Ravens

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Bears passing game vs. Ravens pass defense

The Bears have the least productive passing offense in the league, but that’s slightly misleading, because rookie quarterback Justin Fields (59.4% completions, four touchdowns, eight interceptions) has improved in recent weeks. He threw for 291 yards in a two-point loss at the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9. Like Jackson, Fields uses his legs to buy time and look downfield; he ranks second to the Ravens quarterback in air yards per attempt, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats. Wide receiver Darnell Mooney (36 catches on 59 targets, 450 yards) has been Fields’ most productive target, a mild surprise given that the Bears spent $17.8 million to extend Allen Robinson (30 catches on 50 targets, 339 yards) for this season.

The Ravens are still trying to sort through communications and tackling lapses in their secondary after they allowed passes of 64, 52 and 35 yards against the Dolphins. These explosive plays have undermined their good work in other areas; for example, they’re second in the league in third-down defense. But they have allowed opposing quarterbacks to average 7.3 yards per attempt, 29th in the league. Though the Ravens have blitzed less this year, they still rank third in the league in blitz percentage, according to Pro Football Reference. Do not be surprised if defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale calls a particularly aggressive game against a rookie quarterback who has turned the ball over frequently. Veteran Justin Houston (three sacks, 13 quarterback hits) has been the Ravens’ most consistent pass rusher, while Odafe Oweh leads all rookies in pressures.

EDGE: Ravens

Ravens running game vs. Bears run defense

The Ravens’ ground attack went dormant again after their first drive against the Dolphins as veteran running backs Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell combined for just 36 yards on 13 carries. They generated few yards on first-down handoffs, leading to the third-and-long situations that haunted the offense for much of the game. Jackson (nine carries for 39 yards) did not punish Miami’s blitzes with his scrambling ability. The Ravens still lead the league in rushing and rank in fifth in yards per carry. They released Bell on Tuesday and could get Latavius Murray (ankle) back against the Bears. Blocker extraordinaire Nick Boyle (knee) could also return after a yearlong recovery.

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The Bears have allowed more than 100 rushing yards in each of their past four games and have allowed opponents to average a solid 4.4 yards per carry on the season. Linebacker Roquan Smith easily leads them in tackles but grades poorly as a run defender, according to Pro Football Focus. Chicago does not have a dominant interior run stuffer.

EDGE: Ravens

Bears running game vs. Ravens run defense

The Bears rank fifth in rushing and seventh in yards per carry thanks to good work from their young running backs, David Montgomery (372 yards, 4.5 yards per carry in five games) and Khalil Herbert. Fields (288 yards, 5.5 yards per carry) is a significant running threat, though almost all of his yards have come from scrambles rather than designed plays. Chicago has rushed for more than 100 yards in eight of nine games.

The Ravens, led by defensive end Calais Campbell on the interior and linebacker Josh Bynes in the middle of the field, rank fourth in run defense. Opponents have generally attacked them through the air rather than on the ground, but the Bears seem likely to change that trend. This matchup could turn into a slugfest when Chicago has the ball.

EDGE: Even

Ravens special teams vs. Bears special teams

The Ravens have committed unusual errors on special teams over the last two weeks. Justin Tucker missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt against the Dolphins, and they gave up a 98-yard kickoff return and a fourth-down conversion off a fake punt the previous week against the Minnesota Vikings. Tucker has made 17 of 19 field-goal attempts on the season. Devin Duvernay has averaged 16.3 yards on 18 punt returns, and he could be a major factor against the Bears, who struggle in punt coverage. They have covered kickoffs better and have a dangerous returner in Jakeem Grant. Chicago kicker Cairo Santos has made 13 of 14 field-goal attempts, though he missed his only try from beyond 50 yards.

EDGE: Ravens

Ravens intangibles vs. Bears intangibles

The Ravens are coming off their worst performance of the season in Miami and have not delivered a complete performance since they beat the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6. They are still in good position in the topsy-turvy AFC but know they cannot squander another game against a losing team. So far, they have not been able to erase their communications lapses on defense or their struggles with the blitz on offense. But Harbaugh and his staff have a long track record of improving their teams over the course of the season. The Bears have lost four games in a row, and Matt Nagy is often listed as a coach on the hot seat. But Fields has given teammates and fans reason to be optimistic.

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EDGE: Ravens

Prediction

The Ravens came out flat in Miami and never solved the problems thrown at them by an attacking defense. They’ll have another chance to bank a victory in Chicago, where the Bears have been mediocre on defense and erratic on offense with Fields at quarterback. This time, the Ravens will get it done, led by a rebound performance from Jackson against a less blitz-happy defense. Ravens 31, Bears 20

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