Ravens Notebook: Time to run the ball; Vital game against Rams - BaltimoreSports.com
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Ravens Notebook: Time to run the ball; Vital game against Rams

BALTIMORE — The Ravens have always prided themselves on being a physical football team.

That part of their game becomes more vital as the weather turns colder in December and January. Or rainy and windy, as it is today.

The Ravens try to set the tone with their running attack, which ranks No. 1 in the NFL with 158.6 yards per game.

The ability to run the ball will be especially vital for the Week 14 game against the Los Angeles Rams because it’s supposed to rain throughout the game with wind reaching 18 miles per hour.

Coach John Harbaugh rarely tips his hand about the Ravens’ game-day strategy.

But even he acknowledged that the team will focus on running the football against Los Angeles and the four remaining games on the schedule.

[It’s] December football [and] January football, the run game is important. Stopping the run is massive. Stopping the run against this team is critically important. Running the ball against this defense is very important. It’s going to be that way. We’re going to be saying that every week all the way in December here, so [it’s] a big part.” 

The Ravens have four players capable of effectively running the football — quarterback Lamar Jackson (574 rushing yards), and running backs Gus Edwards (590 yards), Justice Hill (290 yards) and rookie Keaton Mitchell (269 yards). 

The Rams are in the middle of the NFL with their run defense, allowing 111.1 yards per game, However, defensive tackles Aaron Donald (43 tackles and six tacks) and Kobie Turner (47 tackles and 5.5 sacks) can wreak havoc against offensive linemen.

“You have to know where’s he’s at, at all times, and try to get as many people blocking him as you can for as long as you can, which is a tall order,” Harbaugh said about Donald. “He’s probably the greatest to ever play at that position. So, he’s definitely that, but it’s not just him, they have just quite a few really good players on defense. They play really hard; they’re flying around [and have] a very disruptive front. So, we have our work cut out for us.” 

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) runs after a catch during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. By Tommy Gilligan-USA Today Sports

Impact

The Ravens sit atop the AFC North, two games ahead of the Cleveland Browns and three games above the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens have the opportunity to clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs by winning their final five games against the Rams, Jaguars, 49ers Dolphins, and Steelers. However, those teams have a combined record of 39-22, which gives the Ravens one of the hardest remaining schedules in the NFL.

Inactives

The Ravens players that were ruled inactive for the Week 14 game against the Rams are: cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, linebacker Malik Harrison, center Sam Mustipher, guard Sala Aumavae-Laulu, and third-string quarterback Josh Johnson. The return of Marlon Humphrey forced Ya-Sin to become a healthy scratch.

“There’s going to be healthy scratches,” Harbaugh said this week. “We haven’t had too many healthy scratches this year, so there will be some healthy scratches. [It’s] not an indication of how well guys can contribute for us because they’ve contributed already so well. So, it’s just going to be kind of strategic based on what we’re faced with and what gives us the best chance to deal with whatever we have to deal with during the game personnel-wise.” 

The Rams’ inactive players are: kicker Mason Crosby, linebacker Ochaun Mathis, defensive back Quentin Lake, and offensive lineman Warren McClendon Jr., tight end Tyler Higbee, and defensive end Earnest Brown IV,

 Noteworthy numbers

  • 4.18 – Yards per passing play allowed by the Ravens’ defense, marking the NFL’s best figure. Baltimore has allowed just 10 passing TDs, also the league’s fewest.
  • 4.22 – An NFL-best yards-per-play average allowed by the Ravens’ defense this season.
  • 7.5 – Sacks by DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney, 2 shy of tying his career high (9.5) from 2017. Clowney has tallied 56 QB pressures (12th most in the NFL) and 17 QB hits (tied for 11th). 1
  • 10 – A team-best sacks by DT Justin Madubuike, who ranks first among all NFL DTs and 10th overall in QB drops this year.
  • 10 – Rushing TDs by RB Gus Edwards, tying (David Montgomery) for the NFL’s fourth most.
  • 12 – Combined points by which the Ravens have lost their three games (two 3-point losses & one 2-point loss).

How to watch/listen to the game

Television: FOX / WBFF Ch. 45 (Baltimore)

National radio: ESPN Radio

Stream: Fubo TV

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