Throughout the season, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Olivia Landis and Randy Lange will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: What will it take for the Jets to upset the Ravens?
EA: This is a daunting task, having basically two days to prepare for arguably the most complete team in the NFL. On top of that, the Jets will encounter a raucous environment at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens lead the NFL in scoring at 33.1 Pts/G and they've yet to be held to fewer than 20 points. Even in their two losses, they totaled 28 (Chiefs) and 25 points (Browns). While QB Lamar Jackson is an MVP candidate, the Ravens defense is Top 10 across the board in points, yards, rushing and passing. Baltimore paces the NFL in net points (194), so it is outscoring teams by 14.9 points each contest. Gregg Williams will have a good plan for Jackson & Co., but the Ravens will get yards. The Jets need to continue their strong red-zone play that carried them against the Dolphins, and a turnover or two would help the cause. The Bills held the Ravens to 257 total yards last week and they got off the field on third down (3 of 11), but Jackson converted on 2-of-3 chances inside the red zone. Sam Darnold and the offense have to get into the mid-20s, at minimum, to give themselves a chance at a road upset and they'll have to find a way to beat the blitz. You can expect to see a lot of cover 0 and exotic pressure packages from a Ravens defense that features a talented and deep cornerback group of Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith, Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr.
EG: Offensively, eat up the clock and be efficient. The Jets did a good job rushing against the Dolphins. Without Le'Veon Bell, who was dealing with the flu, the Jets ran for 112 yards, which is their second-most this season, on 32 carries. Bell's return is likely against the Ravens, but it seems Bilal Powell (ankle/illness) will not play. The Jets need to limit the amount of time Jackson is on the field. The Ravens average 408.2 yards per game (No. 2) and score an NFL-best 33.1 points per game. The Ravens defense doesn't receive enough credit. It ranks No. 6 in the NFL and has scored more points off turnovers than any other team in the league. Darnold, who has thrown 11 interceptions in 2019, has to play a clean game to give the Jets a chance to win. Defensively, bend but don't break. The Ravens have the NFL's No. 2 third-down and No. 4 red-zone offense. The Jets kept the Dolphins out of the end zone six trips and 4 of 13 (31%) on third down. It'll be a tough test for the Jets, but to give themselves a chance to win, they need to play clean and capitalize on opportunities.
RL: It's hard to know how to answer that question since Baltimore is doing so many things, offensively, defensively and Justin Tucker-ly, at or near the top of the NFL. But how about an approach similar to Sunday's 1-point win over Miami? Trying to slow Jackson won't be the same as trying to slow Ryan Fitzpatrick — as DC Williams said he's reminded the Jets D this week "with maybe some colorful adjectives" thrown in — but slowing the Ravens' red-zone offense could be similar to the stone wall they erected vs. the 'Fins. (The Jets have the NFL's second-best RZ defense over the past five weeks, allowing TDs on 36% of opponents' chances.) Then Tucker will hit all or most of his FG tries.
That means Darnold and the offense must play their best game. That means committing no turnovers (the Jets have only three offensive giveaways in their last six games, while the Ravens for some reason have a zero TO margin in six home games), Bell running the ball like he hasn't run it yet in 2019 (Ravens' defensive "weak" spot is allowing 4.5 yards/carry, 23rd in the league), and last, Darnold extending possessions to score at least two touchdowns (as only Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo have done vs. the Birds in the last nine weeks) and keep Jackson — the NFL's top drives QB, averaging 6.5 plays and 40 yards/drive — on the sideline as much as possible.
Is all that and good health for Jamal Adams' ankle too much to ask for in a short week?