6 takeaways from Ravens’ 40-14 win over Jaguars

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Kevin Oestreicher
·8 min read
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The Baltimore Ravens did what they were supposed to do in Week 15, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars, 40-14, in a game that could be classified as pure domination by the Ravens. Baltimore never trailed in the game, and despite a slow start on offense, the defense was able to swing the momentum back in the Ravens’ favor on their opening drive to set a tone for the rest of the game.

It took a full team effort for Baltimore to dominate Jacksonville the way they did, but a few individuals stood out above the rest, including Lamar Jackson, Yannick Ngakoue, Patrick Queen, and more. The Ravens led 26-0 at halftime and made sure to never let the Jaguars even come close to sniffing a lead.

While the biggest and most obvious takeaway is how winning keeps them in the playoff hunt, there’s a lot more we learned about Baltimore this week that could pay dividends come the postseason. Let’s dive into six takeaways from this game and what they mean for the Ravens going forward.

Lamar Jackson can still win games with his arm

Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

People have been doubting Jackson and his ability to throw the football for a long time. In Week 15 against the Jaguars, he proved to everyone, once again, that he can win football games not just with his legs but with his arm as well. Jackson finished the game completing 17-of-22 passes for 243 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception through the air. He also had 10 carries for 35 yards and a touchdown on the ground, but the Ravens really needed Jackson to be a better passer this week with the rushing attack already doing its job. While Jackson wasn't perfect through the air, he did more than enough to put Baltimore in a good enough position to win the game from the start. Jackson is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses thanks to his rushing ability and athleticism, but if he can consistently hit on his throws, he'll improve his case for being the NFL's best overall quarterback.

Baltimore's offense flows through their running game

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Despite Jackson putting on a show through the air, Baltimore was able to beat the Jaguars so handily in Week 15 because of their running game. As a team, the Ravens averaged 4.3 yards-per-carry and gashed Jacksonville on the ground for the entire game, finishing with two touchdowns and several 10-plus-yard runs. J.K. Dobbins led Baltimore with 14 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while Gus Edwards added nine carries for 42 yards himself. A somewhat surprising decision was the Ravens making running back Mark Ingram a healthy scratch, but due to the amount of injuries Baltimore has in at cornerback, it was the right decision, especially with how Ingram has performed in 2020. Moving forward, the Ravens will have to win football games by running the football. Their running game opens up their passing game and makes Jackson an even bigger threat. If they can get their rushing and passing offenses going hand-in-hand, Baltimore's offense will be very hard to stop.

The Ravens have play-making pass catchers

AP Photo/Nick Wass

Baltimore has been widely criticized for not surrounding Jackson with enough weapons to be successful. While some of that criticism is certainly justified, that doesn't mean that the Ravens don't have playmakers on their current roster. Wide receiver Marquise Brown led the Ravens with six receptions for 98 yards. Despite not having a touchdown reception, it was arguably his best game of the season and came after he was unable to practice all week on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Brown has struggled with drops and people have questioned his toughness this season, but it's also fair to say he isn't always being utilized in the right way by offensive coordinator Greg Roman either. While he has had a relatively poor year, hopefully his Week 15 performance can be a sign of better things to come. Tight end Mark Andrews has developed into one of the best tight ends in the NFL and plays at a high level on a weekly basis. Wide receiver Miles Boykin has flashed a bit recently, and fellow wideout Willie Snead is a reliable veteran. Even Dez Bryant got into the mix this week, catching his first touchdown in over three years. While it's safe to say the Ravens need to add more talent around Jackson in the offseason, his weapons right now are performing at a much higher level in comparison to earlier in the 2020 season.

Baltimore's offensive line has found an identity

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since guard Marshal Yanda retired and tackle Ronnie Stanley went down with a season-ending injury, the Ravens have been looking to find an offensive line combination that works for their offense. After plenty of shuffling, it seems Baltimore has found their best starting lineup. From left to right, Baltimore boasts Orlando Brown Jr, Bradley Bozeman, Patrick Mekari, Ben Powers, and a rotation of D.J. Fluker and Tyre Phillips. Each member of the current offensive line is playing at a high-enough level where the team can dominate on the ground and also keep Lamar Jackson upright for enough time to either throw from the pocket or escape and make a play happen with his legs. Replacing Yanda and Stanley was never going to be an easy task. In fact, it's arguable that you can't replace them. However, the Ravens have done a nice job of finding a group of offensive linemen who play well together. Guards Bradley Bozeman and Ben Powers are among the best at their position right now, according to ESPN's Run Block Win Rate. Orlando Brown Jr. might actually be playing at a higher level on the left side than at right tackle. The change to Patrick Mekari at center has clearly paid off, allowing Matt Skura to fill in as needed and be an extra lineman in certain packages. It isn't perfect by any means and it's definitely not how anyone envisioned it would go, but the Ravens finding their best offensive line might have saved their season.

The Ravens' defense can be a scary unit when healthy

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Baltimore's defense pitched a first-half shutout and only allowed Jacksonville to score 14 total points. Standout performances by former Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, rookie linebacker Patrick Queen and others lead the way, but it was truly a group effort by the whole defense to stifle Gardner Minshew and company. The Ravens held standout rookie running back James Robinson to just 35 yards on 16 carries (2.2 yards-per-carry, his worst average in any game this season) while also sacking Minshew five times and holding him to a 40.4 passer rating. Despite losing a bit of steam in the second half, this defense showed that they can still be an extremely dominant group, in spite of their injuries. The most impressive part of Baltimore's defensive performance against Jacksonville is they did it without a fair amount of their stars. Calais Campbell, Marcus Peters, and Jimmy Smith all missed the game, and while they would have been welcome additions, the Ravens handled things just fine. When those guys come back, this is a defense that should scare teams.

A 10-6 record most likely will not be enough to make the playoffs in the AFC

Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens knew coming into Week 15 that they had to win every game remaining on their schedule to get into the playoffs. They've been operating with that mindset since Week 13, and so far they've been up to the test, racking up three straight wins en route to a 9-5 record. With two games left to go in the 2020 regular season, Baltimore will need to continue controlling what they can control. However, even if the Ravens manage to rattle off five straight wins and finish the year at 11-5, they'd still need a bit of help to make it to the playoffs. So, if Baltimore loses either of the two remaining games, it'll all but kill their playoff chances. Luckily, if the Ravens take care of their own business, there are pretty clear paths toward a playoff berth. Baltimore needs just the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, or Miami Dolphins to lose just one game and Baltimore will lock up a playoff spot with an 11-5 record. At the end of the day, all Baltimore can do is win. They've put themselves in this situation with a couple of bad losses and winning is the only way to get out of it. If they do end the year on a five-game winning streak and still don't make the playoffs, they did all they could to try to dig themselves out of the hole that they dug in the first place.

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