By Trevor Woods
The Ravens can clinch the AFC North with a victory over the New York Jets in their Week 15 Thursday night matchup. Baltimore is favored by two touchdowns.
Here are the key matchups:
Jets WR Robby Anderson vs. Ravens CB Marcus Peters
The Jets offense isn't elite by any means, but they have one of the fastest wideouts in the league that can do a lot of damage on any given play, Robby Anderson.
Anderson has hauled in 18 receptions for 303 yards and two touchdowns the last three games, far and away New York's most productive receiver during that stretch.
“I just feel like I’m really getting into a zone right now,” Anderson said this week. “Me and Sam [Darnold] are really connecting right now. We’re just taking practice to the game and it feels good out there.”
Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters will likely be tasked with covering Anderson in what should be a fun matchup. Anderson excels at beating man-coverage, Peters excels in man-coverage.
Ravens rushing offense vs. Jets run defense
For a team with a 5-8 record, the Jets have a surprising excellent rushing defense. New York is giving up just 78.8 yards on the ground per game, which ranks 2nd in the NFL. However, the Jets haven't faced a rushing attack like Baltimore's. The Ravens are leading the NFL by a wide margin with 200.9 yards per game.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson is dealing with a quad injury and that could mean the Ravens decide to give him a few less rushing opportunities and rely on running back Mark Ingram to carry the load. Ingram has 887 yards rushing this season. Jackson says he's good to go, but will the Ravens ask him to be a pocket passer in this one and use his legs on a limited basis, especially on a short week?
That remains to be seen, but combine the injury concerns with the fact the Jets are stout against the run, it could mean the Ravens decide to pass the ball more this week or give Ingram 20-plus carries.
Offensive adjustments vs. Gregg Williams' aggressiveness
Greg Roman has had his fair share of success against Gregg Williams in his career, and this week should be no different. Williams has one of the most aggressive defenses in the NFL, but it's a unit that doesn't play fundamentally sound in pass coverage. Williams' defense plays a steady amount of cover-zero with no safety help for cornerbacks and linebackers in coverage. While that type of recipe can help stop the run and get to the quarterback, it also leaves the unit vulnerable of getting burned on play action fakes or by a receiver gaining separation.
Jackson will have to be a field general in this one and get his time in the right protections. He will have the go-ahead to audible to a more opportune play if the coverage is indicating a play-call change is necessary. Williams' defense is the type that can perform well for 55 minutes of a 60 minute game, but they are susceptible to getting exposed on a small handful of chunk plays that lead to a loss.
Lamar Jackson vs. History
Jackson comes into the Thursday night game with 1,017 rushing yards this season, a mere 23 yards shy of the most rushing yards in a season by a quarterback set by Michael Vick. Jackson's quad issue aside, it would be a surprise if he did not set the record against the Jets.
The rushing record isn't the only record Jackson will break this season — he's just five touchdowns away from tying Vinny Testaverde's franchise record for most in a season (33).
Jackson has thrown for five touchdowns in a game twice this season, can he make it thrice against the Jets?