The Baltimore Ravens will look to bounce back from their epic late collapse in Week 2 that cost them a chance to start the season 2-0 with a matchup with their third straight AFC East opponent in Week 3 on Sunday, September 25. They will face the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium and the game will be broadcasted on FOX at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.
While the Ravens will be looking to rebound from a gut-wrenching loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots are coming off their first win of the season that they eked out over the Pittsburgh Steelers. This game features several interesting storylines, key matchups, and could playoff implications down the road since they’re both AFC teams.
Will the running game finally get on track?
The Ravens are averaging just 109 rushing yards through the first two weeks of the season which is far below their usual dominant standard and they had just 63 yards in Week 1. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said their lack of success on the ground is due to a lack of execution and not a talent deficiency on the offensive line or in the backfield even though they haven’t had key players at both positions to start the year. The potential debut of veteran blocking tight end Nick Boyle who head coach John Harbaugh said is “close to 100 percent” and running back J.K. Dobbins who has been a full participant in practices for the past two weeks could be just the boost they need to get their ground game in gear.
Will the defense bounce back?
The Ravens’ offense did their part last week by scoring nearly 40 points but their defense squandered a three-touchdown lead and an MVP performance from their star quarterback Lamar Jackson. They will be going against a Patriots team that is nowhere near as loaded as the one they just faced and has only scored 24 points through their first two games. They’ll be facing another predominantly pocket passer from the University of Alabama in Mack Jones who is even less mobile than Tua Tagovailoa. This matchup favors their odds of having a strong bounceback performance but they will still have to go out and execute to prove they got their communication issues in the secondary fixed.
Facing Matt Judon for the first time
The Ravens will be taking the field with the three-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker for the first time since he departed in free agency for greener pastures last offseason. Judon spent the first five years of his career in Baltimore where he developed into the player he is today and made his first two Pro Bowl bids. He reached the double-digit sack threshold for the first time in 2021 when recorded a career-high 12.5 last year. He already has two sacks through the first two weeks of the season with one in each game and will be looking to take down his former teammate for more even though he said there’s “no bad blood” between him and the organization after their split.
History of Matchup
The Patriots lead the all-time series between the two teams 11-4 and have won four of the last five meetings. Their last matchup resulted in a 23-17 Ravens defeat on November 15, 2020, in a game that was played in a torrential downpour. This will be the first time the two teams will face each other without Tom Brady under center for the Patriots since the 1999 season. The last Ravens win in the series came in 2019 in Week 9 of Jackson’s unanimous MVP season.
Final Injury Report
The Ravens have several players listed on their injury report but the only one that is listed as doubtful to play is left tackle Ronnie Stanley. They have several key players that could make their 2022 regular season debuts in Dobbins, Boyle who wasn’t even listed on the injury report, and rookie defensive tackle Travis Jones who stood out in the preseason and was a full participant in practice for the second straight week.
The Patriots don’t have any players listed as doubtful to play but could have a pair of key starters limited in the week’s game due to knee lingering injuries. Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers and safety Kyler Dugger only practiced once this week and were limited participants on Friday.
Matchups to Watch
QB Lamar Jackson v Bill Belichick
The six-time Superbowl-winning head coach was very complimentary of the former unanimous league MVP with some comments and praise about the Ravens’ star quarterback and his expected lucrative contract extension.
This will be his third time facing Jackson who has continued to evolve each year he has been in the league and is playing at his best to date, especially against the blitz. He will try his best to deploy a game plan to limit his impact but is far easier said than done given the mastery Jackson has shown as a pocket passer as his run game has struggled through the first two weeks. The 25-year-old is also always a threat to make plays, extend plays, and buy more time for his targets with his legs as a runner and scrambler.
Ravens WRs Not Named Rashod Bateman v Patriots Secondary
The breakout season for the Ravens’ 2021 first-round pick is well underway as Bateman leads the league in yards per catch with 27.8 and has scored a touchdown of over 50 yards in each of the first two games. Belichick will undoubtedly devise a plan to try to contain Bateman or at least limit his big play potential down the field and after the catch by devoting multiple defenders to him in bracket coverage. That means there will be more opportunities for the Ravens’ other receivers to step up and make plays in one-on-one opportunities.
Third-year pro Devin Duvernay did just that in the season opener by catching a pair of touchdowns and veteran Demarcus Robinson caught a touchdown last week so expect to see both of them as well as James Proche and the tight ends to see more targets come their way this week. With Dugger not at full strength, this could be a big week for Mark Andrews working the seams of the defense down the field and at the intermediate level.
Ravens Pass Rush v Patriots O-line
Despite going up against a banged-up Dolphins offensive line, the Ravens only managed to sack Tagovailoa once. They will be looking to turn up the heat, generate the pressure at a much higher rate, and finish more often this week against a quarterback that is even more stationary than the two they got to start the year. Since Jones is an almost strictly pocket passer, interior pressure and collapsing the pocket from up the middle will be the best way to affect him and disrupt the Patriots’ entire offense. New England’s first-round rookie guard Cole Strange has looked solid through the first two weeks but will have his hands full this week with the likes of Michael Pierce, Justin Madubuike, Calais Campbell, and potentially Travis Jones coming to town.
Ravens O-Line v Patriots Front Seven
While their pass blocking has been superb to start the season as Jackson has been able to navigate and step up into relatively clean pockets on a consistent basis, the Ravens’ ground game has not been productive outside of their quarterback’s record-breaking contributions. The unit will face another stiff test this week when they travel up to Foxborough, Massachusetts to take one another tough defensive front that in addition to Judon and Dugger who spends a lot of time in the box, features fifth-year inside linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley and Ja’Whaun Bentley ascending second-year defensive tackle Christian Barmore.
Morgan Moses v Matt Judon
The nine-year veteran offensive tackle will be the one primarily tasked with keeping Judon at bay since predominantly lines up on the right side of the offense. The Ravens signed Moses to a three-year deal in free agency to bring stability, durability, and experience to the right tackle spot and he has been doing the job well. According to Pro Football Focus, his pass blocking grade of 76.4 is the highest among Ravens offensive linemen and he has only yielded one pressure and one sack. Judon only recorded one sack and a pair of quarterback hits in the combined two meetings against Moses when he was with the New York Jets last season.
Even though history suggests that this game will be tightly contested, the Ravens won’t be playing in a monsoon this time around and are highly motivated to get last week’s bad taste out of their mouths. They will get back on track this week with a comfortable win over their third AFC opponent in as many weeks. Jackson will continue to bolster his candidacy to be the front runner for league MVP with another performance in which he has a hand in scoring at least three touchdowns, the running game will finally find its footing, and the secondary will bounce back in a major way which will include Kyle Hamilton recording his first career sack and interception.
Final score: Ravens 34 Dolphins 16