The Baltimore Ravens host the Los Angeles Rams Sunday afternoon with their season on the line. After starting the season 8-3, Baltimore now sits at 8-7 and will need to knock off Los Angeles if they want a chance at making the playoffs. With a loss, the Ravens can just about start making their off-season plans as their chance of making the playoffs falls to 8%, according to ESPN’s Power Football Index.
THE GOOD NEWS
Baltimore has been crushed with injuries this season, but they have also had to deal with players landing on the COVID-19 list, just like every other NFL team. Over the last few weeks the Ravens have been without many players due to COVID-19 and this week it looks like they will get mostly all of them back. They will welcome back players Tyler Huntley, Justin Madubuike, Pernell McPhee, Chris Westry, Jimmy Smith, Justin Houston, Tyus Bowser, Chris Board, Kristian Welch, and Geno Stone. The only player that remains on the COVID-19 list is tight end Josh Oliver.
THE BAD NEWS
Whenever there is good news, bad news has to be attached to it in some way. In this case, the bad news is in regard to the Ravens MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson. Number 8 returned to practice on Wednesday, but showed a very obvious limp on his bad ankle. Jackson did not practice on Thursday or Friday, which has his status for Sunday trending in the wrong direction. As of now it looks like Tyler Huntley will be under center against the Rams on Sunday.
TRAP GAME FOR RAMS?
The Rams come into this game riding a four game win streak which has them sitting at 11-4 and in first place in the NFC West. They now have to travel across the country to play a 1:00 PM game, which is never easy for west coast teams. LA will be playing, most likely, a back up quarterback for a team that has dropped four straight. It should be an easy win for the Rams on paper, but they must come ready to play.
COOPER KUPP TRYING TO MAKE HISTORY
Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp leads the NFL with 131 receptions, 1,734 yards receiving, and 14 touchdowns. The number everyone is watching for the final two weeks of the season is the receiving yards. He is currently 231 yards away from breaking Calvin Johnson’s all-time record for receiving yards in a season. While we don’t expect him to break the record in Baltimore, anything is possible with the Ravens depleted secondary.
HOW CAN THE RAVENS PULL OFF THE UPSET?
- Win time of possession – The Rams offense averages 28 points per game, so the Ravens must be able to control the clock with their running game and dominate the time of possession. Long drives that lead to points will be the key on Sunday.
- Keep Odell Beckham Jr and Van Jefferson under control – Cooper Kupp will get his yards regardless, so Baltimore must keep the Rams other receivers in check to have a chance. If they all find success against this secondary, the Ravens are in big trouble.
- Continue to shut down the run game – The Ravens bright spot of their defense all season is up front. The Ravens have allowed the fewest rushing yards in the NFL and are fifth in the league in yards per attempt. This must continue against Sony Michel.
If you believe in history repeating itself, then you should take the Ravens to win this game on Sunday. Baltimore has never lost 5 straight games under head coach John Harbaugh. This is only the second time they have lost 4 straight. With many pieces coming back on defense, plus quarterback Tyler Huntley the Ravens should have opportunities to steal this game at home. Whether it is Lamar Jackson or Tyler Huntley under center, the Ravens are in a must win situation at home. If they want their Week 18 showdown with Pittsburgh to mean anything, they must find a way to beat the Rams. We should see Baltimore’s best effort of the season on Sunday, but will it be enough?
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