This is without a doubt the game of the week in the NFL. 10-1 San Francisco comes east where 9-2 Baltimore, winners of seven straight, will play host. Let’s dive in.
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SF Offense – 382.3 YPG (6th) 236.6 passing YPG (14th) 145.6 rushing YPG (2nd) 30.2 Points/game (2nd)
BAL Defense – 322.7 YPG (11th) 235.0 passing YPG (17th) 87.7 rushing YPG (3rd) 18.4 Points/game (5th)
BAL Offense – 433.3 YPG (2nd) 222.7 passing YPG (19th) 210.5 rushing YPG (1st) 35.1 Points/game (1st)
SF Defense – 248.0 YPG (1st) 136 passing YPG (1st) 111.1 rushing YPG (19th) 14.8 Points/game (2nd)
On the surface it is a matchup of unstoppable force versus immovable object as the top offense in the league goes against the toughest defense to move the ball against. However, the 49ers weakness looks like its running defense and that plays right into what the Ravens like to do. Run the ball. Run the ball some more. After that, run the ball even more.
Weather could play a factor in the game with a 90% chance of rain in the forecast. I have to think that helps the team that excels at running the ball. Furthermore, in slippery conditions the defense has to react to any quick cuts, putting them on ice skates when the offensive player can control their balance.
The 49ers excel at running the ball too, but this is the part of the Ravens defense that excels as well. Since the addition of Marcus Peters and the return of Jimmy Smith, no one wants to throw against this secondary either.
Traditional passing stats:
SF – Jimmy Garoppolo: 68.8% (6th) 8.1 Y/A (8th) 248.3 YPG (16th) 20 TDs (6th) 10 INTs (5th) QBR 56.2 (14th)
BAL – Lamar Jackson: 66.9% (11th) 8.1 Y/A (7th) 220.6 YPG (24th) 24 TDs (1st) 5 INTs (20th) QBR 82.0 (1st)
If you are looking at QBR, the most all-encompassing quarterback stat, the edge clearly goes to Lamar Jackson. The front-runner for MVP leads the league in QBR thanks to his elite playmaking ability and living up to the challenge of the tough part of the Ravens schedule against the Patriots, Seahawks, Texans, and Rams.
For the Ravens, make Garoppolo beat you rather than their excellent rushing attack. He’s efficient, but susceptible to giving it away. Again, with the rain, put the 49ers in position to have to throw the ball some and the secondary should have their second feast this Thanksgiving weekend.
Advanced passing (Pro Football Focus):
Garoppolo – 73.6 passing grade (15th) 79.7% adj.% (3rd) 7.1% on 24 deep passes (38th)
Jackson – 85.7 passing grade (4th) 77.0% adj.% (8th) 14.0% on 42 deep passes (9th)
Garoppolo plays things pretty safe, whereas Jackson isn’t afraid to put it up deep. Adjusted % is an improvement on completion % which takes into account dropped passes that should be caught and doesn’t count spikes and throw aways. Garoppolo has a completion % 1.9% higher than Jackson, and an adjusted % 2.7% higher. The difference in Garoppolo’s comp% and adj% is 10.9%. For Jackson, 10.1%
Advanced Rushing (PFF):
SF – Tevin Coleman: 34.8 Elusive rating (23rd) 35.7% Breakaway % (4th)
BAL – Mark Ingram: 65.7 Elusive rating (6th) 28.4% Breakaway % (13th)
In layman’s terms, Coleman isn’t as good at making plays for himself, He’s dependent on his O-line which we will look at next. However, a large chunk of his yards has come on plays that go for 15 or more yards. Ravens defense has to limit that. Mark Ingram on the other hand is quite an elusive runner, which will come in handy with center Matt Skura injured and undrafted rookie Patrick Mekari handling the middle of the line.
Grading the lines (PFF):
SF Run blockers vs. BAL run defense: 67.4 (6th) vs. 70.6 (16th)
SF Pass blockers vs. BAL pass rushers: 67.6 (18th) vs. 62.3 (31st)
BAL Run blockers vs. SF run defense: 71.9 (4th) vs. 70.2 (17th)
BAL Pass blockers vs. SF pass rushers: 84.1 (1st) vs. 85.1 (3rd)
Handful of similarities here. But here’s the thing. The Ravens O-line just made Aaron Donald a complete non-factor, before and after Skura went down. One tackle, zero hits on the QB. If they can figure out how to do that, I’m not worried about the O-line against anybody.
The season grade on the Ravens pass rushers is fair given that they were not a factor early in the year. But they racked up seven sacks on Deshaun Watson, and seven QB hits leading to two sacks of Jared Goff. The additions in the secondary have led to a number of coverage sacks, and the turnover of defensive personnel from week 1 to now has made the Ravens dominant on that side of the ball again too.
Another advantage to the Ravens is the 49ers will be without situational pass rusher Dee Ford for this game, out with a hamstring injury. He’s posted a 10.1 in pass rush productivity which is near the top of the league. In limited snaps, hes logged 25 pressures, and seven sacks on the year.
Defensive Weighted DVOA (Football Outsiders):
SF – -29.2% (2nd) BAL – -11.7% (4th)
Straight from the horse’s mouth: “DVOA measures a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent.”
Weighted DVOA gradually makes early season games less relevant and weights recency more. How much more, I’m curious about. I know it takes into account plays, and not score, but if you give up scoring plays…I know they dominated the Packers, but their three games before that were two nail biters with the Cardinals, 28-25 and 36-26, plus a loss to the Seahawks, 27-24.
Offensive Weighted DVOA (FO):
SF – 3.2% (12th) BAL – 29.8% (1st)
Recency Bias or not, what the Ravens offense doing is ridiculous. Last year’s explosive Kansas City Chiefs offense led by MVP Patrick Mahomes was a 30.6% in this stat.
You know what number matters the most, depending on who you ask? Vegas. Vegas gets these things right more often than not. Ravens are a five-point favorite. First time in over a decade that a team 10-1 or better is an underdog. During their seven-game win streak, the Ravens have won by: 3, when -3 @ PIT. 6, when -10.5 vs. CIN. 14, when +4 @ SEA. 17, when +3 vs. NE. 36, when -10.5 @ CIN. 34, when -4 vs. HOU. 39, when -3 @ LAR.
The Ravens have been easy money of late, and Vegas is representing that. If they keep this up, by the Jets game in two weeks they could be over 20-point favorites.
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]