The Baltimore Ravens have jumped from 31st in the NFL all the way up to 27th in the league in running the football after their stellar performance on the ground against the 31st-ranked Chicago Bears‘ run defense.
While the Ravens were able to shell out their best performance of the season on the ground last week, this Sunday against the New York Jets is a totally different beast. Sure, the Ravens are now averaging a whopping 83.2 yards per game rushing, but one game against a porous run defense isn’t going to change how good the Jets are against the run.
New York is first in the NFL in defending the running game as they allow opponents a staggeringly low average of 73.2 yards-per-game. Currently, they are also allowing just 2.9 yards per carry in 2013 and that is the best mark in the NFL since Baltimore held opponents to just 2.8 in 2007.
It is clear that Rex Ryan not only has better horses in the race in terms of his front seven in comparison to the Bears, but the Ravens won’t likely have similar success with this makeshift offensive line again.
One sign that has to be encouraging for Ravens fans is head coach John Harbaugh stayed true to his word and gave the ball to the hot hand. Ray Rice was the best running back on the field for the Ravens and they kept feeding him as much as possible. It worked and it’s not to shortchange anything Bernard Pierce has done in the past, but Harbaugh has shown that while he is loyal to Rice, he had good reason to be in Chicago.
The matchup nightmare for this Ravens team has to be Jets defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson. At 6-foot-4, 315 pounds, he is a freakish athlete who spills and wreaks havoc in the run game better than most defensive ends in the league and has the ability to get after the passer as well. It will be interesting to see where he lines up and how Marshal Yanda and Michael Oher will handle him on their side of the line. It will also be interesting to see how Eugene Monroe bounces back against Sheldon Richardson and whoever else is lined up on the outside as he had his worst game since coming to Baltimore Sunday.
Either way, there’s no chance I have enough faith in the Ravens ground game to remotely think they’ll duplicate what they did in Chicago against New York. If they get to 100 total rushing yards as a team Sunday, consider it a victory.