The full Battle Plans breakdown for this week can be found here. Here’s you’re at-a-glance Keys to Victory:
Flip the script on 1st Down
The Lions will sell out to stop the run with the same system their new DC, Aaron Glenn, was a part of with the Saints – going big on early downs with a five-man front.
The Ravens could flip the script somewhat from their normal MO, and come out throwing on first down. Run play-action and get Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown going early against this defense and scheme up short throws in space to take advantage of the Lions poor tackling.
This Lions defense is hurting and their Linebackers are not built to stand out in pass coverage.
RPO and True Triple Option
The Lions will be well set up to counter the Ravens’ version of the Veer option with their five-man defensive front.
What could work instead is the true triple option. This means the option for Lamar to keep the ball, to give the ball to the RB at the mesh point, and the option to pitch the ball.
The RPO also could be a staple of this game for the offense. On the few occasions, Trey Lance saw the field against them in week one, the RPO showed the potential to be dangerous for the Lions.
A virtually entirely new Defensive backfield and Linebacking corps will find communication difficult and their commitment to stopping the run has left them vulnerable to play-action and RPOs.
The numbers game
Against the 5-2 front already mentioned, it’s a numbers game, so it’s likely we are going to see heavy use of pre-snap motion involving potential blockers.
The other way in which you can attack this front is with a heavy dose of pulling linemen in the power run game. In this one I’d expect to see two pullers, more often than the Ravens normally do.
The QB run game also helps with numbers, as there is an extra blocker to account for that you ordinarily wouldn’t have to, good when facing off against a five-man front.
You would also expect to see the Duo run play. Duo gets two double teams inside on bigger bodies before one player on each double team overtakes this block and the others move to the 2nd level.
Let Wink off the leash
As a reward for his restraint against the Chiefs, Wink and the defense get the Lions on Sunday, he should be able to send blitz after blitz until his heart’s content.
When the Ravens faced the Rams in 2019, Jared Goff proved that he finds our particular blend of defensive football, very hot to handle.
Goff now has few viable weapons, a solid OL but with Matt Nelson on the right side, who has struggled and could well be the weak link that the Ravens scheme up creative ways to attack.
Given the lack of downfield threats, I’d expect to see the Ravens attack the line of scrimmage hard with their Safeties, but the Ravens do need to watch out for the threat of RBs Swift and Williams.
Occupy the Double Team
The Lions Offensive Coordinator is Anthony Lynn, who developed one of the best and heaviest run schemes in recent years in his one-year stint as Offensive Coordinator in Buffalo, in 2016.
You would expect to see him lean heavily on Swift and Williams. In the first two games, the Lions have worked a LOT of Inside Zone.
Inside Zone is predicated on getting two double teams inside and vertical movement to the Linebackers from the Offensive Linemen.
The Ravens 2-gap 3-4 defense is predicated on stopping vertical movement from the OL where possible.
Justin Ellis will be an important contributor on Sunday, Jelly is an efficient run defender and a big body who can occupy double teams all day.
Put a Lock on Hock
The Ravens have a distinct advantage on Sunday that they didn’t have when trying to stop Waller and Kelce in recent weeks; the Lions have few weapons outside of Hockenson to be worried about.
Slightly different to Waller’s sheer athleticism, Hockenson’s specialty is out-breaking routes and especially when he can be physical at the break-point to create separation.
It’s important to get hands on Hockenson early and re-route him, some of the layered rush that the Ravens employed against the Chiefs would be something we might see again
I would also expect to see plenty of bracket or zone coverage on Hockenson, just with less of an emphasis on defending the middle of the field against him, with a robber or rat.
Matchup to watch
Marquise Brown vs Amani Oruwariye
Oruwariye has now had to step up as the Lions number one CB, with the season-ending injury to Jeff Okudah. The second-year player has shown flashes of potential but the secondary for the Lions is generally talent-poor.
Marquise Brown has now strung together many good performances stretching back deep into the previous season, he should have too much for the Lions secondary.