The 11-4 L.A. Rams visit the 8-7 Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in an interconference battle with major implications. This game is as close to a must-win as it gets for the hosts, losers of four straight. How will it play out? The RSR Staff weighs in with their weekly Shots in the Dark!
On paper this game looks and feels like a blowout. After all, Joe Burrow & Co. with HC Zac Taylor at the controls, absolutely shredded the Ravens secondary last week. Taylor’s mentor, Sean McVay arrives on Sunday looking for more of the same with his lethal pitch and catch tandem of Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp. What’s to stop them?
Answer: A great game plan from Wink!
• Offensively the Ravens will feature a nice blend of ground and pound with empty backfield formations and 5-wide sets. The Rams 16th-ranked defense gives up 21.7 points per game on average. The Ravens will put up a thirty-burger and 420 yards.
• The game’s offensive star will be Marquise Brown who scores twice, once from 40+ yards out.
• Defensively the Ravens will be tested but they’ll have a few decent chess pieces to play against Kupp. So much so that the offensive star for the Rams will be Odell Beckham, Jr. who out-gains Cooper 110 yards to 70.
• The return of Pernell McPhee helps, not so much on the stat board but in what he’s able to do with stunts to free up his D-line mates. Consequently the Ravens pressure Stafford, dropping him four times. Stafford will have two turnovers on the day – a strip sack from Justin Houston and a pick courtesy of Tavon Young.
This game opened with the Rams listed as 2 ½ point favorites. In some sports books the line has moved to 6 ½. That’s a lot of Benjamins going on LA. At the end of the day, Vegas makes out in a big way on this game.
Ravens 31 Rams 27
Call me naive or a homer or whatever but I feel good about this week whether it’s Lamar or Huntley starting.
First of all, I think it goes without saying that Lamar needs to look a lot better than he did in that video for him to play this week. Whether or not that was some gamesmanship, who knows but whatever it is, he can’t look like that against Donald, Floyd and Miller. If he can’t go, I feel good about Huntley.
The concern I have is Averett. He has been picked on a lot by Ravens fans this year but his coverage has been good and QBs passer rating throwing out him isn’t that good. He has been one of the better CB in the league in that stat this year. Not having him out there against Cooper Kupp and the rest of that passing offense could be an issue.
You also have to figure out a way to block Aaron Donald and stay away from Jalen Ramsey. The Rams have some elite talent at the top, arguably the best in the league. But they aren’t a deep team and they can be had.
Sony Michel has been running the ball well for them but without Henderson back there, we should be able to control their run game.
I think the Ravens, who have everything to play for, pull the “upset” off. They will be, speaking in relative 2021 Ravens terms, a pretty healthy team provided there are no more COVID issues or injuries in practice. All of the COVID guys are back. They have had a lot of guys miss time recently, so they could actually be kind of a fresh team.
Ravens 27 Rams 24
Maybe I’ve had a bit too much New Year’s Eve champagne already, but I think these Ravens have one more rabbit left to pull out of their hats in 2021. On top of that, the Week 18 game against Pittsburgh can’t just be for pride and draft position, can it? Nah…
Ravens 26 Rams 23
— Lamar Jackson returned to practice on Wednesday, but his limp he sported was not encouraging. After not practicing Thursday, I think it’s a safe bet to expect Tyler Huntley to start again this week, and he goes for 250 yards through the air with three total touchdowns, a similar line to the Packers game and one that will result in the national media clamoring for him to become a starter somewhere else.
— Mark Andrews and Hollywood Brown are both close to setting records. Andrews can become the Ravens all time single season leading receiver and Brown can cross the 1,000 yard mark to become the first pass catching duo in Ravens history to top 1k since 1996. That happens on Sunday with Andrews continuing his streak of games with at least 100 yards and a TD and Brown racking up 75 yards and a score himself.
— Another wide receiver is close to a record as well, but he plays for the Rams. Cooper Kupp is 231 yards away from becoming the all time single season receiving yards record holder. While I don’t think he’ll top that on Sunday, a big day is definitely in store. Bengals WRs shredded a depleted Ravens secondary last week. If Kupp goes for anything less than 100 yards and a score, I’ll be surprised.
It’s not often the Ravens are home underdogs, but against one of the NFL’s top teams 3.5 points seems about right.
Rams 31 Ravens 27
Ok, y’all… think happy thoughts. Do something good for self-care this weekend, because I have a feeling this one ain’t gonna be pretty.
— The good news is that the Ravens limit Sony Michel to under 50 yards rushing and keep him out of the end zone.
— The bad news is that this comes as a result of getting shelled through the air. Matt Stafford follows his rough week against Minnesota by committing a sloppy turnover, but still exceeds 400 yards and three touchdowns through the air. In fact, he plays so well that he either bests Joe Burrow’s 525 yards or 4 passing TDs, but I haven’t decided which one yet.
— Tyler Huntley comes back off of COVID protocol with a vengeance. Snoop does his best to keep the Ravens in it, passing for just under 300 yards. Mark Andrews accounts for over 100 of these and makes another trip to the end zone.
— Patrick Mekari flexes the muscles and reminds us why he just got paid. He records not one, BUT TWO, pancake blocks on members of the Rams D-line.
This one is going to be about enjoying the little things, because I don’t think the big picture is a pretty one. For me, the little things are A) Watching Mark Andrews chase history, and B) The small consolation that I have Stafford as my QB in my fantasy championship this weekend. Yay, I guess?
Rams 42 Ravens 20
This may look a lot like the 2019 Monday Night Football game with the opposite results. The only similarity might be that it’s the visiting team that pounces the home team. I really want to have faith but it’s less stressful when you don’t expect much.
I’ll keep this short and not so sweet.
— Tyler Huntley will have another solid performance keeping the offense in the game for the first half.
— Mark Andrews will break the franchise single season yards record.
— Hollywood Brown will break 1,000 yards.
— Matt Stafford and Cooper Kupp will prove to be too much for the Ravens decimated secondary.
Rams 31 Ravens 17
Yeah I got nothing.
Matt Stafford against a practice squad secondary and probably no Lamar? Nah. This ain’t gonna be pretty
All we can hope for is for Aaron Donald to not murder Tyler Huntley.
Rams 30 Ravens 13
I’m going to assume Lamar Jackson will be out again this week based on that short video that was posted on social media, but the Ravens have proven to be in good hands with Tyler Huntley.
I have this weird, good, feeling about this game for the Ravens. Maybe it’s the move to 1pm, or maybe it’s the list of guys coming off the COVID list. Either way, sprinkle in some desperation and something screams Ravens win to me.
It really shouldn’t though. The Rams have the horses on the outside to really exploit this Ravens secondary and on the other side of the ball, they have All-Pro Aaron Donald going up against an offensive line that has struggled.
I’ll be honest, I’m not betting a dime on this game. My head tells me the Rams cover, but my heart has seen this same scenario play out time and time again over the years with this Ravens team. They have no quit in them and at the Bank with their season on the line, I just feel they’ll find a way to pull it out this week.
Ravens 24 Rams 23