JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2020 season, Jaguars experts will break down the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They get an early lead and force Baltimore to pass. The Ravens are 32nd in the NFL is passing offense and are dealing with COVID-19-related issues and injuries. They are also coming off an emotional Monday night overtime victory and could be overlooking the Jaguars.
The Ravens will win if: They run effectively with their dominant rushing attack, averaging 174 yards a game. The Jaguars have struggled against the run, so this is a major advantage for Baltimore. Even though Ngakoue has struggled with only one sack in seven games since the trade to Baltimore, I get the feeling he'll have at least two today.
As Ballou sees it: The Ravens have eight victories on the season and need to win at home today to keep their wild-card chances alive. Minshew will have some success and throw for a couple of touchdowns, but it won't be enough to upset Baltimore.
Tony Boselli, Pride of the Jaguars left tackle and radio analyst
The Jaguars will win if:They steal multiple possessions and score in a non-traditional way. The Ravens have a very good defense that creates turnovers, and an offense with a physical rushing attack. For the Jaguars to pull off the upset, they will need to be at least plus-two in the turnover battle and get a score on defense or special teams.
The Ravens will win if:They aren't forced to get away from their style of football. The Ravens have struggled with Jackson when opposing teams jump on them early, get a couple-possession lead and force the Ravens' offense to play catch up with the passing game. When they are able to stick to the run, they are really tough to beat.
As Boselli sees it: This is a tough matchup for the Jaguars, facing one of the most dynamic offense players in the game and a defense that is great a creating turnovers. The big question is can the Jags contain Jackson and the Ravens' rushing attack. I think they do a good job early, but just won't have enough to sustain it for all four quarters: Ravens 30, Jaguars 13.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: They can get a short passing game going with Minshew back under center. Minshew's strengths are mid-range throws, check downs, plays off schedule. If they add enough of that to the running of Robinson, it could enable them to hold the ball and win time of possession. They also need to contain Jackson as a runner and somehow make him beat them through the air.
The Ravens will win if: They stop Robinson, deny the underneath routes and force Jacksonville to take shots down the field. They also must establish the run, a staple of this Baltimore team. That allows Jackson to make plays ahead of the sticks.
As Frangie sees it: This is a motivated Ravens team. They have manageable late-season schedule, which could allow them to get to 11-5 and be well-positioned for a wild-card spot. The Jags also are playing against a few old friends in Campbell and Ngakoue, who will want to play well in this one. This is a tough road challenge.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They get an early lead off turnovers. The Ravens' dominant running game, led by Jackson, is built to play with a lead; the only way to get them out of their comfort zone is to score early and often.
The Ravens will win if: They keep the Jaguars' offense off balance with their multiple packages. The Ravens will look to load the box with pressure to stop Robinson on the way to forcing Minshew to make quick decisions.
As Lageman sees it: This will be a difficult matchup with a Ravens team looking to find a way to claw their way into the playoffs. Jackson and the Ravens' running backs are the most challenging run game to face in the NFL. Jaguars linebackers Myles Jack and Joe Schobert will be stressed to cover the run and all the read-option possibilities.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: The Ravens come out flat and the Jaguars play like it's the Super Bowl. The Jaguars must find the energy and physical play they brought to Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers in mid-November. We didn't give them much a chance that day and we won't give them much a chance against Baltimore. The Green Bay game showed us an upset against even the league's elite is possible.
The Ravens will win if: They stop Jaguars rookie running back James Robinson. The Tennessee Titans held Robinson in check this past Sunday and the Jaguars' offense struggled. I expect the Ravens to load the box and do something similar early in the game. This needs to be a game that Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II and the receivers connect to open up the run game. That's a tall task.
As Martineau sees it: The Ravens should have no problem with this game. They are in must-win territory and can't afford to slip. I don't think they will; instead, they might just be finding their second wind. Baltimore will win handily, 38-13.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They play their best game of the season and get an early break or two. The Ravens' powerful running game is a tough matchup for a depleted Jaguars defense that has struggled to hold up for an entire game against the run in recent weeks. The Jaguars' best chance is to force a couple of early turnovers – and get a lead off those turnovers. That could force the Ravens into a passing approach that isn't their strength.
The Ravens will win if: They play mistake-free and run as they typically do. This was the formula Tennessee used against the Jaguars, and the result was a one-sided Tennessee victory. There is little reason to think the Ravens won't take the same approach.
As Oehser sees it: This matchup favors the Ravens for multiple reasons, particularly their powerful running game against the Jaguars' defensive interior. The Ravens need this game for their playoff hopes. That's a huge factor in the Ravens' favor in this one – probably an insurmountable one.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: They can make Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson a pocket passer. If he escapes the pocket, there isn't a defense in football that matches up with his speed and elusiveness. His passer rating is 95.1, so it isn't like keeping him contained makes winning a layup, but you give yourself a chance at a turnover or sack to break serve. That remains the way this Jaguars team can win a game: turnovers, extra possessions and great field position.
The Ravens will win if: They've got their momentum back. The pandemic hit them hard, as did a few key injuries, but their victory on Monday in Cleveland was a big-time performance by a team that most had as a contender when this season began. If they are back to playing as they did earlier in 2020, they have the momentum and motivation to beat a Jaguars team that has lost 12 consecutive games.
As Sexton sees it: The Ravens will win this one in much the same fashion as the Titans did last Sunday. The combination of Jackson and running back J.K. Dobbins will be too much for a patchwork Jaguars defense that didn't fare well against the running game last week.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if: They protect the football, stay on the field on offense and finish with touchdowns. This feels like possessions will be at a premium with the Ravens running attack churning up yardage and clock.
The Ravens will win if: They get a couple takeaways on defense and continue to run the football effectively. This Jaguars defense played decent two weeks ago against Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, but Titans running back Derrick Henry went over 200 yards rushing last week and made it look easy. This could be even tougher to defend with so many options in the Ravens running game: Jackson, running back Gus Edwards and Dobbins out of the read option. When Jackson gets loose, forget it.
As Shadrick sees it: The finish line is near. The Jaguars have the highest player count in the NFL with 79 different players having been on the field this year. That kind of roster turnover makes work difficult week-to-week. The Ravens are hovering at the cut line for the AFC playoffs, and they're coming off a huge Monday Night Football victory. Oh, and you better block former Jaguars defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
The Jaguars will win if: They force Jackson to throw when he doesn't want to throw. The Ravens have one of the best rushing attacks in the league and normally hang their hat on beating you that way. If the Jaguars' run defense can contain the run and pressure Jackson to make some throws he is not comfortable with, there could be an opportunity for a turnover.
The Ravens will win if: They stop the Jaguars' offense early. Minshew plays best with momentum on his side; the Jaguars must score on one of their two first offensive drives to stay competitive. You do not want to be playing catchup with the Ravens. If Baltimore shuts this offense down in the first quarter, the Jaguars will not be able to make changes to be effective.
As Sullivan sees it: The Ravens are playing for everything – a playoff spot. The Jaguars are playing for pride. Normally, the playoff-hungry team comes out on top and that is how I see this game going. The interior of the defensive line is not built to stopping a rushing attack like the Ravens for four quarters. They might start off hot, but similar to last week with Henry, the grind-and-pound running game will be too much to handle for an entire game.