Both teams are looking to bounce back after disappointing losses. Washington is coming off a disappointing loss to the Cleveland Browns, 34-20; while their neighbors from the north are coming off a short week in which they were embarrassed by the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs, in a heavily-hyped Monday night affair, 34-20.
Clip Their Wings
The Ravens’ success runs through their prolific offense, with reigning MVP Lamar Jackson leading the helm. Washington must do everything in their power to keep him watching from the sidelines.
However, it’s a lot easier said than done, as Washington has yet to win the time of possession battle this year. The closest they have come was in their Week 1 victory against the Eagles, where they finished with a -1:18 difference. On the flip side, the Ravens are coming off a 2019 season in which they dominated time of possession, finishing first in the league. However, three games into the 2020 season, Baltimore has dropped to the middle of the pack, sporting a + 0:17 advantage, mainly due to Monday’s loss against the Chiefs, where Patrick Mahomes was able to move the ball up-and-down the field at will.
Jackson is now 0-4 in his career when his team trails by 10 or more. In those games, the Ravens have shown a tendency to give up on the run, thus also abandoning the play-action and tricky pre-snap motions they utilize. Turning the Ravens offense vanilla would make it much easier for Washington’s men up front to key in on Jackson.
Normally, teams use the run game to open up the passing game; however, I see this as a game where the opposite is true. Dwayne Haskins‘ touchdown-to-turnover ratio on the year is 4:5. As long as he continues to turn the ball over and struggles to move the ball downfield, Washington should expect opposing defenses to continue to stack the box and attack. The passing game needs to be established early. Haskins should look to hit Logan Thomas as he settles into open spaces in the middle of the field. Although it will be difficult, if Haskins can garner even the slightest bit of respect from the Ravens defense, that will open up some holes in the run game for rookie RB Antonio Gibson.
Baltimore Ravens All-Pro CB Marcus Peters is known for his playmaking abilities. Since entering the league in 2015, Peters has a league-leading 28 interceptions in that span. However, the way he plays the game is resemblant of a double-edged sword; with the good, comes the bad. Peters is notorious for abandoning his assignment in hopes of trying to jump another route. When he guesses wrong, it tends to lead to a big play for the opposing team, evident in the 49-yard touchdown he surrendered to Mecole Hardman last Monday.
Washington may be without their lone offensive star, WR Terry McLaurin, as he didn’t participate on Friday. If he’s unable to suit up, Haskins will look to heavily rely on Dontrelle Inman on the outside. In Week 3, the duo showed some budding chemistry, as they connected for two scores. However, if McLaurin is able to play, he’ll have the chance to break off some big plays against the gambling corner. If he can get Peters to bite on a double-move, he will be able to continue his YAC terror. Executing assignments is just half the battle. The players need to be put in a position to succeed, scheme-wise.
Scott Turner should already be on the phone picking his dad’s brain. He will need to devise some creative looks in hopes of confusing Peters and tempting him into dropping off of deep coverage. However, it will all be a moot point if Haskins is unable to execute. He has continued to stare down his receivers, so much that teammate Thomas Davis, Sr. warned him about it during practice. Defenders are able to watch Haskins’ eyes and key in on where the ball is going, ultimately leading to more turnovers. He will have to quickly shake that bad habit if he wants any form of progression in his play. With the right combination of creative play calling, Haskins’ ability to keep his head on a swivel, and the use of well-timed pump fakes, Washington can use Peters’ strength against him.
Make Them Sweat and Bring the ‘Payne’
Washington’s ferocious five took a major hit in Week 3, losing Chase Young and Matt Loannidis to injuries. Loannidis is out for the remainder of the season with a torn biceps, while Young should only miss Week 4 as he recovers from a groin injury. The loss of Young and Loannidis sting as they account for four of Washington’s 13 sacks.
To make matters worse, they’re squaring off against an upgraded Michael Vick in the reigning MVP, Lamar Jackson. Let’s make one thing clear: Jackson is impossible to stop. No team has been able to shut him down, but a few have been able to limit him. Enter Montez Sweat and Daron Payne. Daron Payne will be need to make his presence known and clog the middle of the defensive line. If he can occupy the middle gaps, it will make it easier for Sweat to rush the edge. Sweat is coming off a great game in which he was constantly swarming into the backfield and finished with two tackles for a loss. In short, Washington needs Sweat to add onto his early-season success and have his biggest game to date.
Head coach Ron Rivera came to the defense of Dwayne Haskins after last week’s poor performance in which he committed four turnovers. However, it was not too long after that there were reports that Haskins’ job is on thin ice. There is no way in Hell that anybody within Washington’s organization should expect this to be the game where Haskins gets it together. If anything, I expect another ugly game similar to Sunday’s loss to the Cleveland Browns.
The Baltimore Ravens are one of the NFL’s elite squads, with Pro-Bowlers and All-Pros littered throughout. Lamar Jackson has only lost four regular season games since he took over for Joe Flacco halfway though the 2018 season; three of those four losses came against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Washington is currently 1-2 and coming off a three-win season. We’ve borne witness to some crazy outcomes in the NFL, and as the old adage goes, “Any given Sunday…”
Well, not this Sunday.
As of now, the Washington Football Team is simply outmatched across the board. Baltimore was embarrassed on Monday Night Football and will now look to unleash their frustrations on Washington. Pair that with all of the key injuries that Washington just suffered, and this has the possibility to get ugly, fast. There’s blood in the water and the Ravens are the sharks.
Prediction: 42-10, Ravens.
(Featured Image Credit: Washington Football Team)