The Ravens’ dominant win over Atlanta was probably Lamar Jackson’s most difficult game as a pro. The defense carried the team to the win and because of that, people will claim that there’s a quarterback controversy in Baltimore, or maybe even that Joe Flacco should be the starter without a second thought. But, as much as us Ravens fans love to quarrel about the QB position, there isn’t a controversy in Charm City – and that’s not because Flacco should be under center. No, Lamar Jackson gives this team the best chance to win, not only in Kansas City but for the rest of the season and in the postseason.
I mentioned this in my piece a few weeks ago, but something I find so very impressive about the Jackson-led offense is the lack of negative plays. Of course, you might point to the Falcons’ fumble recovery and score as a negative play (and it was very negative), but I’m more specifically talking about mundane plays in which the offense loses yards. I mean, how many times have the running backs – or Jackson – been stopped for negative yardage? I don’t have the number on hand, but I’m sure I could count it on one. Even as Jackson works his way into the NFL, missed throws and all, he keeps the unit moving forward, a huge factor in winning football games.
A similar realization I had this week was the lack of three-and-outs that the Ravens have had with Lamar Jackson quarterbacking. With Flacco at the helm, every other drive seemed to stall after a run, incompletion and check-down, but with Jackson, it’s almost a guarantee that some combination of Gus Edwards, Ty Montgomery, or the QB himself will pick up 10 yards in a given drive. If the Ravens are going to score, this is where it all starts – stringing drives together.
And, as the offense continues to move the chains, the most important advantage that Lamar Jackson brings to the Ravens unfolds: an unbelievable time of possession number. Last week, Matt Ryan and the Falcons were on the field for two minutes in the third quarter and five minutes in the entire second half! I mean, if you were wondering where this lockdown defense came from, that’s where!
Our defense is old, slow, and – despite their dominance in the Falcons’ Nest – not the best in the league, so the best way to make them look good is to keep them off the field. Simply put, Lamar Jackson does that and Joe Flacco does not.
Looking at the rest of the Ravens schedule, what do the opponents look like? A lot of offense, very little defense. This is certainly the case with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at least. For Baltimore to pull off an upset at Arrowhead, keeping Patrick Mahomes off the field will be imperative. Of course, Jackson will have to put up points and he can’t miss throws like the one he did to John Brown for a would-be touchdown, but if we’re being honest, neither quarterback was going to score 40. The best chance the Ravens have is to manage the clock and try to keep the Chiefs to somewhere around 28 points (what for them would be a dreadful performance). That way, if Baltimore can crack the 30 mark, they give themselves a legitimate shot.
You might be thinking that I sound overly optimistic considering the Ravens’ upcoming opponent. You’d be right. For some odd reason, I think our birds have a better chance at this win than many might believe. It won’t be easy, but because I love Lamar Jackson so gosh darn much, I’m going to have to give him the W. I think he puts together his first turnover-free game, throwing for 200+ yards and running for another 100, while the Gus Bus explodes for a 40-yard tudder and the defense extends its streak of turning a turnover into a score. Get excited!
Final Score: Ravens, 37 – Chiefs, 31