It’s pretty rare to declare a week four match-up as a “must-win”, but both the Washington Football Team and the Baltimore Ravens have a lot to prove this week.
Both teams suffered disappointing losses in week three, and the quarterbacks on each team had their worst performances of the season. Quarterback Lamar Jackson fell flat on the national stage, passing for only 97 yards in a gut-punching loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
In Washington, Dwayne Haskins didn’t fare much better. The QB had three interceptions and a lost fumble against the Cleveland Browns. What’s worse is that his team was leading in the second half, and likely should have won the game. Now his standing as a franchise building-block is coming into question.
Hence, the stage is set for this week’s matchup, where Washington will host its beltway rivals in Landover, Maryland. Here is this week’s Enemy Intel in which we cover Washington’s weekly matchup, focusing on key players, quotes and predictions.
Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Vegas Projected Wins: 11.5 Wins
2019 Record: 14-2, 1st in the AFC North
Offensive Ranks, 2020: 32nd Passing, 5th Rushing, 23rd Overall
Defensive Ranks, 2020: 27th Passing, 9th Rushing, 20th Overall
LB Patrick Queen (Round 1, Pick 28), RB J.K. Robbins (Round 2, Pick 55), DE Calais Campbell, DE Derek Wolfe, G D.J. Fluker
G Marshal Yanda (retirement), S Tony Jefferson, CB Brandon Carr, DT Domata Peko, DT Michael Pierce, WR Seth Roberts, LB Patrick Onwuasor, LB Josh Bynes, OT James Hurst
What they are saying:
Coach John Harbaugh, on whether or not he abandoned the run too early in last week’s 34-20 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs:
Players to Watch:
Marlon Humphrey became the second highest-paid cornerback in the NFL this week, signing a five-year, 98.75 million dollar extension. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he has allowed the third-lowest completion percentage in the league at 49.8%. Better than reigning NFL Defensive Player of the year, Stephon Gilmore. Over his career, Humphrey has 40 passes defensed, eight interceptions and four forced fumbles. Last year he was a Pro Bowler and became an All-Pro for the first time. Lamar Jackson is one of the most electric players in the league. The reigning NFL MVP spearheaded the best scoring offense in the NFL last season. However, he is starting to develop a stigma of struggling in big moments. The QB is 0-5 in games in which he has trailed by 10 or more points, and critics have questioned his ability to make clutch throws when behind. It’ll be interesting to see if he is put in such a situation on Sunday. Tight End Mark Andrews is one of Jackson’s primary targets, especially in the red zone. He is second on the team in targets (17) and has two touchdowns already this season. He should have had a third last week, but the pass catcher had an uncharacteristic drop last week in the end zone. Coach John Harbaugh cut his teeth in the league as a Special Teams Coordinator, so when WR Devin Duvernay returned a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Chiefs, it had to make him smile. The special teams star averages 34 yards per return, which ranks second in the league. He’s also a burner. According to Next Gen Stats, last week’s touchdown return was clocked at 21.48 mph, the second fastest recording of the season. With the addition of Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe, defensive linemen Brandon Williams has now returned to his natural nose tackle position. The 2018 Pro Bowler has made an impact this season including seven solo tackles last week against KC.
When healthy, Washington could have posed an intriguing match-up against the Ravens. Their stout defensive line could have contained running back Mark Ingram, and the team’s pass rush could have flustered Jackson into poor decisions. However, Washington isn’t healthy.
The team lost its best defensive lineman for the season when Matt Ioannidis tore his bicep last week, and Chase Young will also sit out to rest a moderate soft-tissue injury. Meaning, their top two pass-rushers will be out this week, providing more time for Jackson to create in the pocket.
If Baltimore can get ahead early, it would be devastating for Washington. The Ravens are arguably the league’s best “closers” with an elite running game to dominate the clock. In fact, with Jackson at QB, the Ravens are 18-0 when establishing a double-digit lead at any point of the game. They simply know how to play keep away, and are savvy enough to convert tough third downs. Washington’s best hope is to make the game ugly.
On offense, Washington will also be depleted of talent. Starting slot wide receiver Steve Sims has already been declared out, and the team’s number one target, Terry Mclaurin’s status is in question. This will pose a big problem for Haskins, who is trying to right his wrongs from last week. He will also be facing one of the league’s most dynamic cornerback duos in Humphrey and Marcus Peters.
Ultimately, the Ravens will be too much for Washington on both sides of the ball. I expect Jackson to have a statement game against an embattled Washington defense. I also expect Haskins to struggle against a very good Ravens defensive front. So I got the Ravens winning pretty handily, 27 -10.
Westgate Sportsbook: Over/Under 45.5, Ravens -13.5
George Carmi joined “Washington Football” on SI.com in April. He is also an editor/contributing writer to FullPressCoverage.com or @FPC_Redskins. He is a native of the DC metropolitan area and is an avid fan of DC Sports. A former journalism major at the University of Maryland, his focus is now in public education. His earliest memories consist of Darrell Green, “The Posse” and Super Bowl XXVI. Follow him on twitter @Gcarmi21