The Ravens welcome the Dallas Cowboys to The Bank for Tuesday Night Football in this wild 2020 season. Can they get back on the winning track, with several teams ahead of them in the race for the final spot in the AFC playoffs?
RSR staff give our predictions here…
Many media members and informed fans continue to remind us of all that the Ravens got little help this past weekend from teams that failed to defeat Ravens’ competitors for the seven playoff spots. Hopefully the team isn’t caught in that mind trap. They just need to take care of their own business and the rest will fall into place. It isn’t often that a team with an (11-5) record fails to punch a ticket to the postseason dance and that was BEFORE the playoff expansion to 7 participants in each conference.
Just win baby…one game at a time.
The Ravens opened as 10-point favorites but now the Vegas lines hovers in the 7-8 point range. Confidence in the Ravens has dropped and deservedly so. The team lacks rhythm with such a severely disrupted schedule. They also lack a few key players and a few other important contributors are unlikely to be sharp — specifically Lamar Jackson.
The last time Lamar played in a game with only one day of practice, the results weren’t exactly pretty against a Cincinnati defense that ranked 24th heading into the game, yielding 24.8 points per game. Lamar finished that game 19 of 37 for 180 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT and AT LEAST two other potential picks that were dropped. His passer rating was the second worst of the season for Lamar, 71.9. The Ravens won 27-3 thanks to turnovers and an opportunistic defense that scored a touchdown and sacked Joe Burrow seven times. Hopefully Lamar won’t need the running game and the defense to bail him out again. But it has been a strange 2020 for the reigning MVP.
Speaking of strange, the Cowboys are an odd team. They can play with passion when their head coach unleashes his inner Gallagher by smashing watermelons, but then Dallas lays an egg at home on Thanksgiving against the Washington Football Team.
So, what can we expect?
- The Cowboys have the 32nd-ranked rushing defense in the league. So, Greg Roman will come out throwing, right? He can’t be THAT much of a contrarian, can he? The Ravens will run 70 offensive plays tonight and 48 will be runs distributed as follows: Dobbins (18), Edwards (12), Jackson (10), Ingram (7) and Devin Duvernay (1). The Ravens will average 4.8 YPC.
- Of the 22 throws by Lamar, 14 will find their intended targets for 190 yards and a touchdown — that going to Dez Bryant. It just has to, right? Going against the Cowboys before a national audience on Fox? It has to be Dez! The Ravens will also draw their first DPI of the season on a 9-route intended for Marquise Brown. Hollywood will haul in 5 passes for 80 yards.
- Defensively the Ravens may be tested at times by an impressive posse of receivers that includes Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup. These receiving talents, coupled with the nicked up secondary of the Ravens that will be without Jimmy Smith and possibly Tramon Williams and Davontae Harris as well, will pressure Wink Martindale’s squad. Keep in mind that neither Chuck Clark nor DeShon Elliott are at full strength. That said, given the beaten up Cowboys offensive line, look for Dalton to dink and dunk often. Wink is likely to use a similar approach with the Cowboys that he employed in Pittsburgh.
- Ravens register three sacks: Ngakoue, Campbell and Queen are the authors of the throw downs. Malik Harrison gets his first NFL interception on a throw tipped by Campbell.
Ravens stay in the hunt.
Ravens 27 Cowboys 17
— The Ravens have some good news on the COVID-19 front with several key players expected back, including quarterback Lamar Jackson, who shouldn’t be too rusty after a short layoff.
— Defensive end Calais Campbell is back at practice after suffering a calf injury in Week 9 against the Indianapolis Colts and later being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Baltimore has lost its past three games without Campbell in the lineup. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams, who injured his ankle in Week 10 against the Patriots, also practiced on a limited basis. The return of Campbell and Williams will play a critical part in this game against Ezekiel Elliott, who has run for 707 yards.
— The Ravens should be able to find some room to run against the Cowboys, who are ranked 32nd in the NFL, allowing 156.4 yards per game. Baltimore will get a boost this week with the potential return of running backs Mark Ingram and rookie J.K. Dobbins, both of whom missed the previous game against Pittsburgh. The Ravens should have success pounding the football.
— The Cowboys are 3-8 and struggling across the board. However, the Ravens cannot take this game for granted. They cannot afford to slip heading into a huge showdown with the Browns next week. Look for Baltimore to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Ravens 30 Cowboys 21
You guys & gals remember “Fun Football?” It was basically 2019 football – the Ravens would get a lead and pretty much do what they wanted for 60 minutes, and we fans would be relaxing and planning our victory celebrations by midway through the third quarter. It was a far cry from the heart-attack-inducing Ravens of the Joe Flacco era (which, don’t get me wrong, ended on a good note more often than not!) This welcome change ended as soon as the calendar switched over to 2020, and hasn’t really returned, other than the Week 1 win over Cleveland and the Week 5 win over Cincinnati.
I think we get our third taste of Fun Football tonight. Watching Pittsburgh lose to Washington last night rejuvenated my optimism for this stretch run. Things are about to start coming up purple.
- Lamar is solid, not spectacular, in his return, with one TD running (from 15 yards) and one passing (to Dez Bryant)
- Dez has a day against his old squad, with five catches for 60 yards and the TD on a fade from inside the 10.
- JK runs for 120 and a score. Ingram & Gus chip in with a total of 75 yards on 15 carries.
- Yannick forces an Andy Dalton fumble, recovered by Calais Campbell.
- Peters picks off the Ginger Cannon for six.
Ravens 34 Cowboys 13
Many might expect the Ravens players to break out in their return to the field on Tuesday. I, for one, believe it’ll be a slower game against Dallas.
— Lamar Jackson is efficient, but nothing special, throwing for 175 yards and 1 TD.
— Dobbins will carry the load for the offense, rushing for over 100 yards and a score.
— The defense will step up big again, not allowing a TD and forcing two fumbles and an interception.
Ravens 23 Cowboys 9
I have to say I was more encouraged by last week’s loss than I have been by some of this season’s wins. Dare I say it could be the turning point of the season. Not to say this season the Ravens have been bad but the the bar was set high last year. With some key players coming back and facing a bad Cowboys team the Ravens should have their way on Tuesday.
— Devontae Harris will show again why he belongs on the Ravens with solid coverage and 1 pass defense.
— Marlon Humphrey will have a sack and forced fumble (not necessarily on the same play.)
– Derek Wolfe will be disruptive again at the line of scrimmage with some big tackles but will fall short of a sack.
– Hollywood Brown builds on last week’s performance with four catches for 75 yards and a touchdown.
– J.K. Dobbins will also continue to improve with 100 plus scrimmage yards and a touchdown. He will average over 5 yards per carry.
— Luke Willson finds his hands this week with a touchdown reception.
Ravens 31 Cowboys 10