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Post-Bye Has Been Bad News for Bears

Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens
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Well, it’s the one-week anniversary of what may have been the Ravens’ worst performance of Lamar Jackson’s young NFL career. I wouldn’t go far as to say Lamar himself had his worst performance, but nothing was working last Thursday night in Miami. I felt pretty silly having made my first Out to Lunch prediction ever by saying Baltimore would cover the 6.5-point spread, but it is what it is.

For over three quarters in Miami, the Ravens were completely stifled on offense. They remained stifled for the entire game, really, but until late it truly felt that Jackson’s streak of 44 straight games with a TD would be broken. While that streak has now reached 45 games, I’m sure Jackson would have traded it for the win in the blink of an eye.

Despite the poor performance last week, it really is difficult to see how this streak comes to an end. I highly doubt this is possible, but let’s hope the Dolphins didn’t make a blueprint for stopping the explosive Ravens attack.

Although it wouldn’t put an end to Jackson’s streak, something that would significantly hurt Baltimore’s chance to win against Chicago would be an absence of their quarterback. Unfortunately, that is within the realm of possibility:

Luckily, this is not Lamar’s third bout with COVID-19, but any sort of illness is a scare nowadays. Assuming he is free from the virus, it still is possible that sickness could prevent him from playing, especially if he was dismissed from practice Wednesday. Not a huge scare yet, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

A silver lining for Baltimore is that while the quarterback left practice, three former starters returned to it, starting with offensive lineman Patrick Mekari and running back Latavius Murray.

These two are massive members of the team to have back, as the running game has struggled and the O-Line needs stability. I’m unsure of Mekari’s likelihood of playing against the Bears, but I do expect Murray to be back on Sunday, especially with the release of Le’Veon Bell. Even if Mekari is out in the Windy City, I know one former member of the RSR team is ecstatic that he’s close to playing again:

Cole’s sentiment is certainly shared across the Ravens Flock.

Along with those two, TE Nick Boyle was a full participant in practice on Wednesday, which is more massive news for Baltimore.

I’ve harped on this, but Boyle is one of the best run blockers in the NFL, and that could really open up a part of the offense that has been slower of late.

As a last note on Wednesday’s practice, the Baltimore defense continued to work on tackling. Check out this video that surfaced of the drills:

I thought tackling looked better coming out of the BYE week, but it does remain a concern for a defense that has simply given up too many big plays. If the Ravens can shore this up, the defense could be vastly improved down the stretch.

And while Baltimore may have improved in areas during their break, they’ll be playing a team that will likely have done the same. The Bears have had two weeks to prepare for the Ravens, as well as more time to continue integrating rookie QB Justin Fields into their offense. Historically, weeks following BYEs have been nice in Chicago – if you’re a fan of their opponent.

Coming off a loss and playing another team with a losing record, it’s imperative that Baltimore gets a W in Chicago. Heading into their break, however, the Bears were energized by Fields’ late TD drive against the Steelers.

Though the score came in a loss, it also came late and against a good defense. For a team looking for a spark, that could certainly be used as evidence that they can hang. Baltimore must be wary of the energy level the Bears will be playing with.

Surely Harbaugh and company have done their homework on Chicago, but the Ravens did take a break of their own this week, dropping a new team photo for 2021.

It’s always fun seeing the squad together, but what I enjoy even more is the college graduates photo below.

The mix of schools is fascinating, and just goes to show how diverse a team can be in terms of where the players are ffrom Here’s to hoping the team has fully gelled and plays as a cohesive unit on Sunday.

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