After a topsy-turvy Sunday, one in which backup quarterback Mike White was good enough to lead the New York Jets to victory over the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns were disappointing enough to lose to a Pittsburgh Steelers team without a healthy kicker, the 5-2 Ravens are back in first in the AFC North.
As they return from their bye week and prepare for a Week 9 test against the Minnesota Vikings, that’s the number that matters most. The Ravens’ preferred postseason ticket is a division crown. It doesn’t matter how many wins it might take to stay on top, so long as they get there.
A lot goes into those plans, of course. With so many season-ending injuries behind the Ravens and so many tough foes ahead, there’s only so much margin for error. Here’s an analytical look at where the Ravens stand on offense, defense and special teams, with 22 stats that have defined their season. (All numbers reflect totals through Week 7 unless otherwise noted.)
31: The Ravens rank No. 31 in offensive efficiency on third and fourth down, according to Football Outsiders, ahead of only the Chicago Bears. They’re ninth best when running the ball in late downs but second worst when passing. Overall, Jackson has a 51.7 passer rating on third and fourth down, according to Sports Info Solutions — 51.7% accuracy, 6.5 yards per attempt, three touchdowns, four interceptions and 10 sacks on 66 drop-backs. On early downs, his passer rating is 108.3 — 68.5% accuracy, 9.2 yards per attempt, seven touchdowns, one interception and 11 sacks on 210 drop-backs.
3.1: Jackson’s average time to throw — the period between when the ball is snapped and when it leaves his hand — is an NFL-high 3.1 seconds through Week 8, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats. That mark equals his career high, set during his rookie year, but Jackson’s using his time much differently nowadays. In 2018, he averaged 8.3 air yards per attempt, which ranked 16th among qualifying quarterbacks. (Air yards measure the downfield yardage of a pass at the moment the target catches or does not catch the ball.) This year, Jackson is the NFL’s most aggressive downfield passer, averaging 10.8 air yards per attempt. The Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson is second, at 9.1 air yards per attempt.
21: Jackson has taken 21 sacks through Week 8, tied for sixth most in the NFL. The Ravens’ adjusted sack rate through Week 7, which accounts for down, distance and opponent, is sixth worst, according to Football Outsiders. Jackson took just 29 sacks in 15 games last season and 23 in 2019.
2.05: Running back Le’Veon Bell is averaging 2.05 rushing yards under expected per carry this season, the lowest in the NFL among players with at least 10 carries. Running back Devonta Freeman (0.34 yards per attempt) and quarterback Lamar Jackson (0.32 yards per attempt) lead the Ravens in rushing yards over expected, which is calculated using machine-learning techniques to estimate how many yards a rusher will gain on a specific play. Bell is averaging 4.26 expected yards per carry; his actual output is 2.21 yards per carry.
3: Only three guards rank among the top 10 in both pass-block win rate and run-block win rate, according to ESPN: the Ravens’ Kevin Zeitler, Washington Football Team’s Ereck Flowers and Dallas Cowboys’ Zack Martin. Zeitler is ninth in pass-block win rate (95%), which measures how often linemen can sustain their blocks for 2.5 seconds or longer. He’s also ninth in run-block win rate (75%), which measures how often they “win” their run-blocking assignment.
15: Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva has blown 15 blocks in pass protection this season, according to SIS, 11 more than Ravens’ runner-up Ronnie Stanley. Villanueva’s number of blown blocks, which are deemed to have given the defender an opportunity to negatively affect the play, has stabilized since Week 1. He had seven in 39 pass-blocking snaps at right tackle against the Las Vegas Raiders and has eight in his 227 pass-blocking snaps since. Former Ravens left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., by contrast, has 16 blown blocks in 332 pass-blocking snaps for the Kansas City Chiefs this season.
1,253: Tight end Mark Andrews is on pace to finish the season with 1,253 receiving yards, which would shatter Todd Heap’s single-season mark (855) for a Ravens tight end. Even in a 16-game season, Andrews would be on pace for 1,179 yards. Andrews is second in the NFL in receiving yards per game by a tight end (73.7), trailing only the Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce (76.1).
100%: Rookie wide receiver Rashod Bateman has seven catches over his first two games — and seven first downs. That rate will drop over time, of course; no qualifying NFL receiver ranks higher than the Las Vegas Raiders’ Bryan Edwards (88.9%). But Bateman’s chain-moving ability reflects Jackson’s trust in the first-round pick (12 targets through two games) and Bateman’s after-the-catch skills (6.3 yards per reception, highest among Ravens wide receivers).
130.3: Wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown has been targeted for an average of 130.3 air yards per game this season, behind only the Denver Broncos’ Courtland Sutton (135.1). Brown’s average depth of target in the Ravens’ loss to the Bengals was 22.9 air yards, easily the highest in Week 7. Among receivers with at least 10 catches this season, he ranks fourth in the NFL in average depth of target (16 yards). In other words, when Jackson drops back, Brown’s probably going deep.
2: The Ravens rank second in defensive efficiency on third and fourth down, according to Football Outsiders, behind only the Arizona Cardinals. It’s on early downs where they’ve most struggled. They’re 30th in defensive efficiency on first down and 26th on second down, after ranking eighth and 22nd there last season, respectively.
58: The Ravens have 58 missed tackles, according to Pro Football Reference, the most in the NFL. They’re slightly behind the pace of last season’s defense, which finished second in the league with 134 missed tackles in 16 games. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey (seven) and inside linebacker Patrick Queen have the most misses, while cornerback Tavon Young (23.5%) has the highest rate.
1,167: The Ravens have allowed 1,167 yards after the catch this season, according to PFR, the most in the NFL. That works out to 6.9 yards after the catch per reception. Last season, they gave up 1,943 yards after the catch, or 5.1 yards per reception. The Ravens’ defensive front, however, hasn’t had the same troubles with limiting damage. Opposing runners are averaging 1.9 yards after contact per carry this season, down from 2.2 yards last year.
30: The Ravens’ pass defense ranks 30th in the NFL against running backs, according to Football Outsiders’ efficiency rankings. They’re giving up 58.7 receiving yards per game to running backs, fourth most in the NFL. Opposing offenses are also finding tight ends for 79.3 receiving yards per game, second most in the NFL.
30.8: Defensive tackle Brandon Williams’ run-defense grade on Pro Football Focus is 30.8, the third worst among NFL interior defensive linemen through Week 8. He’s never graded out worse than 66.0. According to ESPN, however, Williams’ run-stop win rate ranks fourth in the NFL (44%) among interior linemen. (A defender earns a win by beating his blocker so that he’s in better position to stop the runner, disrupting the pocket or running lane by pushing his blocker backward, containing the runner such that he must adjust his running lane, or recording a tackle within 3 yards of the line of scrimmage.)
7: Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell has seven tackles for loss or for no gain this season, the most among interior linemen, according to PFF. Campbell also ranks ninth in run-stop win rate among interior linemen, according to ESPN. While the 35-year-old is on pace for his lowest sack total since his rookie year, he’s among the NFL’s most double-teamed linemen.
24: Ravens outside linebacker Odafe Oweh has 24 pressures — defined as quarterback sacks, hits or hurries — the most among rookies this season, according to PFF. He had 20 pressures in seven games last year at Penn State, when he finished with no sacks, and 31 pressures in a 13-game 2019 season.
23: Ravens outside linebacker Justin Houston has a pass-rush win rate of 23%, according to ESPN, which measures how often a pass-rusher is able to beat his block within 2.5 seconds. Houston ranks 10th in the NFL among edge rushers but just sixth in the AFC North, behind two Pittsburgh Steelers (T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith) and three Cleveland Browns (Takkarist McKinley, Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney). Houston, who has two sacks this season, is a half-sack away from the 100th of his career.
113.1: Humphrey has allowed a passer rating of 113.1 when targeted in coverage as an outside cornerback this season, according to SIS. The unfavorable rating reflects Humphrey’s boom-bust year thus far; he’s given up just seven completions on 19 targets, but for 206 yards and two touchdowns. When lining up as a slot cornerback, where he played most of the previous two seasons because of injuries, Humphrey has allowed a passer rating of 83.9 (11-for-17 for 134 yards, a touchdown and an interception).
59: Cornerback Anthony Averett has been targeted in coverage 59 times this season, according to SIS, by far the most in the NFL. New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (Maryland) is second with 48 targets. Averett has allowed 32 completions for 452 yards and a touchdown and has two interceptions. The passer rating he’s given up when targeted is 77.8, equal to that of New Orleans Saints star cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
22.7: Safety DeShon Elliott has a missed-tackle rate of 22.7%, according to PFR, trailing only Young among regular contributors. Elliott is one of the team’s hardest hitters, but he’s missed on five tackle attempts in five games this season. His miss rate last season was just 12.1%.
Baltimore Ravens Insider
1: The Ravens rank first in special teams efficiency, according to Football Outsiders, and it’s not close. The gap in the site’s Defense-adjusted Value Over Average between the Ravens (8.3%) and the second-place Washington Football Team (4.8%) is almost as big as the gap between Washington and the ninth-place New Orleans Saints (1.4%). Coordinator Chris Horton’s unit ranks first in efficiency in field goals and extra points, 11th in kickoffs, seventh in kickoff returns, 14th in punts and first in punt returns.
16.9: Ravens wide receiver Devin Duvernay is averaging an NFL-best 16.9 yards per punt return, which would rank fifth in NFL history among qualifying players. The New England Patriots’ Gunner Olszewski averaged 17.3 yards per punt return last year, the third best among players with 20 or more returns in a season. The Green Bay Packers’ Billy Grimes averaged a record-setting 19.1 yards per return in 1950.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
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Line: Ravens by 5 ½