Somehow, the Steelers still have a chance to take hold of first place in the AFC North as they host the Ravens in Week 6. In preparation for Sunday’s contest, we spoke with Kyle Barber of Baltimore Beatdown to ask five questions on what to expect from Baltimore in Week 5.
1. How different does the Ravens’ offense look under Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken compared to Greg Roman?
I would say there is a blend of change under Monken. Monken has woven short, high-percentage throws into an offense that still runs the ball effectively. Monken has also incorporated screen pases to the running backs and wide receivers as quick passes to eliminate pass rushers effectiveness, which helped to limit the Cleveland Browns last week.
It’s certainly different from what we saw under Roman. Far too often, Roman would abandon the run, even when it was producing high yardage. He’d go away from his most productive players.
I’ve buried the lede a bit here, as the red zone is where we’ve seen the most significant change. The Ravens are scoring touchdowns at what I’d imagine is an unsustainable rate in the red zone. This season, they’ve scored touchdowns on 80-percent of their red zone appearances, No. 1 in the NFL. Last year, they were ranked No. 30, scoring touchdowns on 44-percent of their red zone appearances. That is where Monken has helped this offense most.
2. The biggest worry about Baltimore entering this season was health. Baltimore has already suffered some injuries to key contributors on both sides of the ball. How much does that concern you long term?
It’s a concern until proven otherwise. By Week 4, the Ravens are without outside linebackers Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo until later on down the road. They lost running back J.K. Dobbins to an Achilles tear and they’re banged up in their receiving room and in the secondary. Most of them aren’t long-term injuries, which is what really strains rosters and cap space, but it’s hard to see a team never be at full strength, let alone have everybody on the field together to gel for multiple weeks or months.
Nonetheless, they’ve found ways to win and overcome. Their depth is among the NFL’s best. Their record proves it. But, it’s not sustainable to desperately cling to backups to salvage seasons because your stars aren’t on the gridiron.
3. Is wide receiver Zay Flowers already the most dangerous weapon on the Ravens’ offense?
I’d say Flowers is the second-best weapon in the receiving game and third most dangerous weapon on the Ravens’ offense. The No. 1 guy is Lamar Jackson. His ability as a dual-threat quarterback is the best in the NFL.
The second best weapon for the Ravens is tight end Mark Andrews. He’s back to being 100-percent and we saw it on Sunday against the Browns as he leapt up and Moss’d a few defenders for the red zone touchdown. He’s not being targeted as much as Flowers, but he’s being more efficient in his touches and moving the chains and finding the end zone.
4. Outside of linebacker Roquan Smith, who is the player in the front seven the Steelers should worry about?
There are many players on the Ravens’ defense to worry about, but if you’re limiting it to the front seven I’ll start with outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney. He’s been one of the NFL’s most productive pass rushers this season; if only he could get his hands on quarterbacks he’d be contending for most sacks this season. We’ve seen him miss or fail to corral a quarterback four times this season when he has them in the open field. Clowney, entering Week 5, has 19 pressures, ranking him No. 10 in the NFL.
Linebacker Patrick Queen is another. With Smith as his running mate, Queen’s production as amplified. He’s buzzing around the ball consistently and making plays. Smith is ranked the No. 1 linebacker according to PFF and Queen isn’t all that far away, ranking No. 20, ahead of the likes of 49ers’ Fred Warner and Packers’ Quay Walker. This is arguably the best inside linebacker duo in the NFL, and they’ve said so many times.
5. The over/under is set at 38 on DraftKings. These games tend to be low scoring. Are you taking the under?
I think that sounds about right. A 20-17 game wouldn’t surprise me at all. The past five games between these two, only once has a team scored 20 points. The final scores of the past five have been:
16-13 = 29
16-14 = 30
16-13 = 29
19-20 = 39
14-19 = 33
It’s hard to envision that changing.