Ravens vs. Lions scouting report for Week 7: Who has the edge?

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Despite poor efficiency in the red zone, the Ravens beat the Tennessee Titans, 24-16, in London to regain first place in the AFC North. The Lions handled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 20-6, to move to 5-1. Who will have the advantage Sunday?

Ravens passing game vs. Lions pass defense

Lamar Jackson started hot against the Titans, and Pro Football Focus grades him the fourth best passer in the league despite his unremarkable raw totals. He’s a more pedestrian 13th in ESPN’s QBR, but he has thrown well, and his receivers did not repeat their drop woes from the previous week in Pittsburgh against Tennessee. Rookie Zay Flowers has been Jackson’s most frequent target with 35 catches for 367 yards, and he scored his first career touchdown against the Titans. Tight end Mark Andrews remains the first option in a tight spot, and his 38-yard catch in the second half was one of the most important plays Sunday. The Ravens’ offensive line, featuring all five starters for the first time since the season opener, gave Jackson a comfortable pocket. On the other hand, the Ravens have been far less efficient and productive in the second halves of recent games, and they’ve gone cold in the red zone, where they were so effective over the first four weeks. They’ve scored one touchdown over their past seven quarters.

They will try to finish better against a Detroit defense that has excelled almost everywhere but in the red zone. The Lions rank fifth in DVOA against the pass, having allowed opponents just 5.4 yards per attempt. Edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, the second pick in the 2022 draft, is the headliner with 4 1/2 sacks and eight quarterback hits, but the Lions have good players all over, from cornerbacks Cameron Sutton and Brian Branch to inside linebacker Alex Anzalone to defensive tackle Alim McNeill. They’re tied for fourth in pressure rate despite blitzing on just 20% of dropbacks, according to Pro-Football-Reference. Only Seattle quarterback Geno Smith really hurt them and that was, not coincidentally, the Lions’ only loss.

EDGE: Lions

Lions passing game vs. Ravens pass defense

Quarterback Jared Goff is off to a terrific start in coordinator Ben Johnson’s offense, completing 69.5% of his passes and averaging 8 yards per attempt with 11 touchdowns against just three interceptions. By the numbers if not by reputation, he’s one of the best in the league. Amon-Ra St. Brown is Goff’s top target (38 catches, 455 yards, three touchdowns) and one of the league’s most productive wide receivers, but rookie tight end Sam LaPorta, a second-round pick out of Iowa, has been the revelation with 29 catches for 325 yards and three touchdowns. Josh Reynolds averages 17.9 yards per catch, Kalif Raymond is one of the NFL’s most productive No. 3 wide receivers, and 2022 first-round pick Jameson Williams caught a 45-yard touchdown Sunday. The offensive line, led by right tackle Penei Sewell, right guard Graham Glasgow and center Frank Ragnow, does an excellent job protecting Goff.

This will be the most difficult test to date for a Ravens defense that has wildly exceeded expectations, ranking third in DVOA against the pass. The Ravens will probably be without safety Marcus Williams, who hurt his hamstring against the Titans, but they’ve covered for key absences all year, and Williams’ stand-in, Geno Stone, made a game-turning interception (his league-leading third of the year) against Tennessee. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey is still working his way back to peak form coming off foot surgery, but Ronald Darby and Rock Ya-Sin have covered well in spelling him. The Ravens lead the league with 24 sacks, a startling total given how little their young edge rushers, Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo, have played. Outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney is coming off his best game — two sacks and nine pressures — with the Ravens. Fellow late addition Kyle Van Noy has also juiced the pass rush. But opponents have to worry at least as much about the interior, where coordinator Mike Macdonald employs clever stunts and simulated pressures to unleash defensive tackle Justin Madubuike (4 1/2 sacks, eight quarterback hits) and linebacker Patrick Queen (3 1/2 sacks).

EDGE: Even

Ravens running game vs. Lions run defense

The Ravens rank fifth in rushing but 12th in yards per attempt, and they haven’t been able to rely on power runs to put away games in the second half. Running back Gus Edwards is averaging a career-low 3.9 yards per carry and isn’t gaining yards after the first hit like he did in previous seasons. He needs more help from guards Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson. Center Tyler Linderbaum and right tackle Morgan Moses also delivered subpar run blocking against Tennessee. The Ravens have broken bigger gains running outside with Justice Hill, and Jackson (5.5 yards per carry, four touchdowns) remains their best option in a pinch.

The Lions have eaten runners alive this year, allowing just 3.3 yards per carry thanks to excellent work from McNeill on the interior and linebackers Anzalone, Derrick Barnes and rookie Jack Campbell in the middle. They have held all six opponents below 100 rushing yards, three of them below 50. They have not faced a quarterback running threat on par with Jackson, so he will be a new test.

EDGE: Lions

Lions running game vs. Ravens run defense

Detroit is expected to be without its top running back, David Montgomery (385 yards, six touchdowns), who’s dealing with a rib injury. In his absence, dynamic rookie Jahmyr Gibbs, a first-round pick out of Alabama, could take center stage. Gibbs, who missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, averages 4.6 yards per carry and is a more prolific pass catcher than Montgomery, but perhaps the Lions, who rank eighth in rushing, will pound the ball less without their starter.

The Ravens remain solid against the run, ranking seventh in DVOA and allowing 4 yards per attempt. Tennessee superstar Derrick Henry did bust them for a 63-yard gain off a direct snap, highlighting their occasional weakness at setting the edges, but they held him to 34 yards on 11 other carries. Linebackers Queen and Roquan Smith have chased down ball carriers all over the field, both grading as top-15 run defenders at their position, according to Pro Football Focus. Nose tackle Michael Pierce has played well on the interior, while Clowney and Malik Harrison have stood out on the edges.

EDGE: Ravens

Ravens special teams vs. Lions special teams

The Ravens finally had a good week on special teams thanks to a 70-yard punt return by Devin Duvernay and six field goals by Justin Tucker. Their DVOA ranking jumped from 26th to 16th in one week, though their punt coverage has been a problem. Duvernay has looked tentative at times, but his big return bumped his average to 15.2 yards, which would be the highest of his career.

This is one area where the Lions haven’t been so hot, though they don’t have a glaring weakness. Riley Patterson has made 7 of 8 field goal attempts but missed his only try beyond 40 yards. Raymond has averaged 9.6 yards on punt returns, while the Lions have returned just four kickoffs all season.

EDGE: Ravens

Ravens intangibles vs. Lions intangibles

The Ravens avoided disaster in London after coach John Harbaugh revamped their approach to playing overseas. Now, they face the challenge of preparing for an excellent opponent coming off that long trip. Harbaugh acknowledged it will be difficult. The Ravens are the healthiest they have been since the season opener, but they’re still fighting a tendency to squander leads that appear comfortable.

The Lions are rampaging as they prepare for their toughest test since they traveled to Kansas City to defeat the Chiefs in their season opener. They’re 3-0 on the road, so don’t expect them to be daunted by the trip. Coach Dan Campbell lost 13 games in his first year with the Lions but has gone 14-9 since. Johnson is considered one of the brightest young coordinators in the league. With another impressive win, Detroit would cement itself as a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

EDGE: Lions


All logic points to the Lions. The Ravens haven’t played an offense nearly this potent, and it’s not like they can count on pounding Detroit’s defense. There’s also a possible London hangover to consider. That said, this feels like an occasion for Jackson to put it together after a week of analysts fawning over the Lions. Ravens 24, Lions 20


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