The MVP leaders square off in Week 4 of the Ravens

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson

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Ravens QB Lamar Jackson and Bills QB Josh Allen hug after a regular season game December 8, 2019.

The Baltimore Ravens will wrap up the AFC East Gauntlet with their biggest game of the season yet in Week 4 on Sunday, October 2nd. They will host Superbowl favorites Buffalo Bills at M&T Stadium and the game will be televised on CBS at 1:00 am East.

As they search for their first home win of the year and second straight against an elite opponent, the Bills are looking to bounce back from a Week 3 loss to the same team that shocked the Ravens in Week 2. This game offers several interesting storylines, important encounters and potential playoff implications as both are AFC teams.


top storylines

Lamar Jackson vs. Josh Allen Part III

This game will be headlined by the two quarterbacks seeded in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, who will face off as starters for the third time in their careers and are currently among the leaders in the league’s MVP race. They each have a win over the other and the winner of that game will not only break the head-to-head tie, but will likely be the clear frontrunner to be named MVP going into the second quarter of the season.

The weather could play a factor

The forecast for Sunday in Baltimore is expected to be a rainy day, so ball safety will be of paramount importance. The Ravens were one of the best teams in the league at avoiding turnovers with the second best differential in the league (eight takeaways for just three giveaways). In preparation for that likely eventuality, they practiced with a wet ball throughout the week.

“I think we’re definitely taking that into account, you saw us outside today with the balls wet, how we prepared for that eventuality,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said in a press conference September 29, 2022. “It will probably change the course of the game. We have to do a great job challenging the weather and the elements.”

It could also mean the Ravens could lean a little more on their running game, which showed some promising signs of improvement in the team’s rebound win over the New England Patriots last week. JK Dobbins will be in his second game of the season and playing in front of a full home crowd for the first time, and Justice Hill will look to build on a strong performance last week when he showed the most juice of any running back on the team this season.

Limiting QB runs

The Ravens defense likes to do a lot of man coverage in the backend and mid-level, which can create opportunities for opposing quarterbacks to take off and run for first downs and even touchdowns if they find an open target and a lane opens up. Against the Patriots last week, their lack of rush lane integrity allowed Mac Jones, who is almost a pure pocket passer, to run for 31 yards on five attempts and score his first career rushing touchdown. A dynamic and dangerous true dual threat like Allen, given the same opportunities, will make the Ravens pay dearly and rack up lots of yards and first downs with his legs.

“First of all, the quarterback got some kind of dumping ground – I would call it – that shouldn’t have happened,” head coach John Harbaugh said in a press conference September 26, 2022. “These are the ones that our guys are going to be most upset about. These are yards that are really just… They’re not even rushing yards, really; They are pass-rushing yards. And we have to do better in our rush lanes.”


history of the matchup

The Ravens lead the all-time streak between the two teams 6-4 and have won three of their last four meetings from 2016. Their final matchup also came in inclement weather in the form of swirling winds that forced passes to sail and kicks go off course and resulted in a 17-3 loss for the Ravens in the 2020 Divisional Round of the Playoffs on January 16, 2021. Their last win of the streak came 24-17 in Week 14 of Jackson’s unanimous MVP season in 2019. That game was played in Buffalo and the last time the Bills came to Baltimore was in Jackson and Allen’s rookie year in 2018 and led to a comfortable 47-3 win for the Ravens in the season opener.


Final Injury Report

The Ravens only had three players on their roster last injury report and the two listed as doubtful are veteran outside linebacker Justin Houston and offensive lineman Patrick Mekari. While both players will miss this week’s game with minor injuries sustained against the Patriots that left them sidelined for the entire week of practice, All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley could make his long-awaited return against the Bills.

He was a full training participant on Wednesday and Thursday before getting an injury-free rest day on Friday. He’s officially classified as questionable, which usually means he’s more likely to play than not. If they don’t, the Ravens could be forced to turn to fourth-round rookie Daniel Faalele, who finished last week’s game in place of Mekari after going down in the first quarter.

For the first time in what feels like forever, the Ravens aren’t the most injured team going into a game, as the Bills’ final injury report included many more names and uncertainties. They have several starters and key players listed as questionable who were limited or outside of practice this week and have already ruled out three players including staring rookie cornerback Christian Benford.


encounters to watch

QB Lamar Jackson vs LB Matt Milano

The last time these two teams met in the regular season, Jackson made Milano go viral by smacking him out so hard he cried the “Teach me how to Dougie” in the open field behind the line of scrimmage. – performed a dance.

The sixth-year pro is now one of the Bills’ best players on defense and will do his best to limit Jackson when holding the ball on scrambles and designed runs. However, his toughest task will be clearing fast lanes in the middle of the pack, where the MVP leader is downright surgical.

Raven’s wide receiver vs. Bill’s secondary

Buffalo will be undermanned in their defensive backfield and rely on inexperienced players for the second straight week, which bodes well for the Ravens’ strong passing attack chances of having a good day through the air if the weather isn’t so bad is. After being limited to just two catches for 59 yards last week, which included an impressive 35-yard gain against the Patriots, expect sophomore breakout star Rashod Bateman to get involved early and often, as well as that further emergence of Pro Devin in third-year Duvernay, which is becoming one of the most dangerous all-purpose weapons in the league. With so many youngsters at cornerback for the Bills, don’t be surprised if veteran wideout Demarcus Robinson gets one of them to overextend on a double move and scores a big win or even a touchdown behind them.

Raven’s third corner against Bill’s wide receiver

The loss of two-time Pro Bowl veteran cornerback Kyle Fuller to a cruciate ligament rupture in the season opener was felt a lot harder than the Ravens probably anticipated. For the past two weeks, opposing quarterbacks have targeted their third cornerback in key situations, particularly on high-leverage downs when using sets of three or more receivers. They tend to stay away from Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters for the most part, unless coverage is blown, opting instead to follow the likes of sophomore Brandon Stephens as well as fourth-round rookie corners Jalyn Armour- Davis and Damarion to look for. Pepe Williams.

This has resulted in more than 150 yard reception trips for a trio of current and former Dolphins receivers at Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and DeVante Parker in consecutive weeks. The Ravens can’t afford to consistently give up big wins to Stefon Diggs, the Bills’ top wide receiver, this week. The Maryland native has an extremely strong bond with Allen and the two are able to take over a game if allowed to. Expect Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald to double-cover Diggs on almost every game, especially when he’s set up in one of the three young corners.

Raven’s pass rush against the right side of Bill’s O-Line

While the left side of Buffalo’s starting offensive line features the strong pairing of 2021 Pro Bowlers Rodger Saffold and Dion Dawkins, the right side features second-year pro Spencer Brown and fourth-year pro Ryan Bates, the both are no household names and should be targets for the Ravens Edge and Interior Pass Rushers. With Houston likely out this week and Michael Pierce on season-ending injured reserve with a torn bicep, veteran newcomer Jason Pierre-Paul and youngsters Odafe Oweh, Travis Jones and Justin Madubuike could be poised for standouts.

By Miller vs. Ravens LT

Stanley’s health for this week will be key to keeping eight-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Von Miller and the rest of the Bills’ tenacious and deep-edge rushers at bay Sunday. Patriots rimback Deatrich Wise was able to beat Faalele for a pair of first-half sacks last week before the rookie settled down in the second half of the game. Going up against the future Hall of Famer with plenty left in the tank like Miller in his first career start at a new position after playing right tackle exclusively since high school would be a daunting task for a seasoned veteran, let alone one because for an out-of-position beginner.


predictions

Unless the Ravens can control the Allen-Diggs connection, or at least curb it, I expect this game will be some kind of gunfight. If their running game can build on the success they had last week and the defense is able to give Jackson and company an extra possession or two through turnovers or clutch stops, they could end up winning with more than one possession . In the end, the battered Bills will leave Baltimore with their second loss of the season and Jackson will lead his team to victory with another masterful four-plus touchdown performance, doing more air damage with his arm against a young runner-up than he did with the arm on the ground.

Final score: Raven’s 44 Bill’s 38

https://heavy.com/sports/baltimore-ravens/lamar-jackson-josh-allen-ravens/ The MVP leaders square off in Week 4 of the Ravens

Ari Notis

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