The 9-2 Ravens host the 10-1 49ers on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. RSR staff predict what we’ll see here…
It’s an eye-opener when a (10-1) team, coming off a dominant performance against the Green Bay Packers, is a 6-point underdog. It goes against logic but that said, in the modern NFL, the Ravens defy logic. Last week in LA they took on what was a stout Rams defense led by Aaron Donald, that was the 5th-ranked against the run. By the time the game was over, the Rams were the 16th-ranked rush defense.
On Sunday, the 49ers come into The Bank sporting the league’s 19th-ranked rush defense giving up 111.1 YPG. Over the past 4 games when facing mobile quarterbacks like Kyler Murray (twice), Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers, they are giving up 138 YPG by ground. That sets up well for the Ravens.
Flipping the script, Jimmy Garoppolo has played well recently when taking on suspect pass defenses. Twice he’s faced the 32nd-ranked Cardinals and on Sunday Night he carved up the Packers 23rd-ranked pass defense. The Ravens pass defense ranks 16 but since the acquisition of Marcus Peters they’ve given up just 193.6 YPG through the air which aligns with the 3rd-best pass defense. And let’s not forget that the Ravens have faced Russell Wilson, Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson during that stretch. Also, since Peters’ arrival, opposing QBs are averaging just a 67.0 passer rating.
Garoppolo rattles under pressure and it’s noteworthy that the last time he traveled to the east coast in inclement weather for a 1 o’clock kickoff, his offense could muster only 9 points against the Redskins’ 23rd-ranked defense. Look for Wink Martindale to confuse the Niners signal caller by bringing heat in many directions.
— Lamar Jackson’s passer rating has averaged 136.2 over the past 4 games. This time around he will fall short of 100. His rushing total will surpass his passer rating.
— The Heisman Package will be unveiled once again but it will be for show only. The distraction leads to a big passing play downfield to Hayden Hurst.
— The Ravens will produce more sacks than San Francisco, 4 to 3.
— Turnovers will be a big determining factor in the game’s outcome. The Ravens again win this margin 4 to 2.
— Both fullbacks score on short passes. Kyle Juszczyk’s TD will be the only one on the day for the visitors.
Prediction: Ravens 24, 49ers 10
— The Ravens will indeed face their toughest test to date this week against the San Francisco 49ers, who have the league’s No. 1 overall defense, allowing 248 yards per game, and also lead the NFL with 44 sacks. San Francisco will keep Lamar Jackson under pressure for much of the game.
— The Ravens lead the NFL with 210.5 yards rushing per game and will be able to move the ball against an Francisco, which ranks 19th against the run. Baltimore will look to set the tone on the ground.
— 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has thrown for 2,731 yards with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His favorite targets are George Kittle and Deebo Samuel. They won’t have a huge day against the Ravens’ secondary.
— The Ravens have demolished their last five opponents. Baltimore leads the NFL with 210.5 yards per game. This game will be tighter.
Ravens 27, 49ers 20
— The Niners might just pose the toughest test that the Ravens have faced this season (though we’ve said that going into the last four or five contests). Still, at home, I don’t see the Ravens losing.
— While the San Francisco defense could be the best-equipped to contain Jackson and Baltimore’s flying offense, the bigger advantage in this game, for me at least, is the Ravens defense against the 49ers offense. I really just have a hard time finding a way for Garoppolo to get the ball into the end zone consistently enough to win.
— Baltimore won’t get a ton of sacks, but the coverage will be phenomenal with Chuck Clark and Jimmy Smith locking up George Kittle, helping Judon and company get to Jimmy G before he can find his other reads. And, with DeCosta’s unit of men-off-the-street (Fort, Bynes, Ellis & Peko) likely rejoined by Michael Pierce, the Ravens completely bottle the 49ers vaunted rushing attack.
— Lamar Jackson won’t be quite as perfect as he’s been in recent weeks, and maybe this week he finally turns it over, but he will convert red zone drives into TDs where Garoppolo cannot. Ultimately, that makes the difference.
— It’s hard to predict another blowout, guys. Eventually, we’d be wrong.
Ravens 24 49ers 16
The 49ers seem to bring the rain with them when they come east. Remember the 9-0 slop-fest last month down in Landover? While it won’t be that messy on Sunday, it will be wet. I think that lessens the chances of this being a high-scoring affair. We’ll see some runners falling down, some passes dropped, and some off-target passes from this usually sharp offense, thanks to the elements.
Still, the Ravens are able to convert their red zone opportunities, while San Francisco is barely able to get there – and when they do, they just manage field goals. After weeks of the offense taking center stage while the defense quietly dominated, this week looks a little more like old Ravens football, as the defense – sick of hearing about how great their opponents are on that side of the ball – carries the day.
Ravens 21 49ers 9
The Ravens will come out running, running hard, running often, and running the 49ers offense into the ground on the other side of the ball.
With an expected rainfall starting Saturday night and running through Sunday evening, I expect a wet game to feature plenty of rushes and less passing, which falls right into the Ravens favor.
Baltimore will look to do what they’ve found success in doing recently- score early and often, force teams to play from behind and capitalize on turnovers, while taking the second half to extend drives via ground game and eat clock at will.
Pretty simple, right?
Of course the 49ers aren’t 10-1 without reason, and having a full array of healthy receivers could be enough to keep San Fran close in this one… but only until halftime.
Ravens take an early 13-0 lead on a Patrick Ricard touchdown (yea, I said it), and a pair of short range Justin Tucker field goals. The 49ers get into the red zone once before halftime, but turn it over on a fumble by Garoppolo to keep the Niners off the scoreboard.
The Ravens come out in the second half on an opening touchdown drive to extend the lead to 20-0, and never look back.
A late 49ers touchdown makes the score appear closer than the game ever was, and once again we ask… Who’s got it better than us?
Ravens 30 49ers 17
It’s strength vs. strength in the 49ers defense against the Ravens offense. What the Ravens have proven so far this season is that you can throw opposing team stats and rankings out the window because none of us have ever seen an offensive machine like the Ravens have produced this season.
Can the 49ers stop the Ravens? Sure. They have the best defense in the NFL and if Lamar Jackson is going to get slowed down, it’s going to be this week.
Should we expect that to happen? I don’t think so. With more than a season’s worth of tape on Jackson, it’s proven to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to stop him. So as I said last week, until someone stops the Ravens offense, how can you bet against them?
From a spread perspective, this one is very interesting. On the surface, it looks high to me and it’s been driven up by early sharp money. It opened at -4.5 and has already gone up to -6 due to money flowing in on Baltimore after their impressive win against the Rams.
I’m going to stay away from this one when throwing my money around. If Baltimore is the hottest team in the NFL, San Francisco is a close second. The reason I lean Ravens though, is not because of Lamar, but because of their defense. The 49ers’ defense will keep Lamar and the offense under their 29.8 average points at home, but I have the Ravens’ defense keeping the 49ers to 13 or less points.
Ravens 24 49ers 13