The Baltimore Ravens (3-3) desperately need momentum going into their bye week, and it starts with a win over the New York Jets (1-5). Realistically, Baltimore will most likely miss the playoffs this year if they drop this game.
Just like 2015, the Ravens have been bit by the injury bug. Terrell Suggs (bicep), Elvis Dumervil (foot), C.J. Mosley (hamstring), Steve Smith, Sr. (ankle), Marshal Yanda (shoulder), and Joe Flacco (shoulder) are among the players who have been injured so far. Dumervil and Mosley have no chance of seeing the field this Sunday.
While Flacco has said his shoulder is a non-issue, it may become an issue with one hard hit or an awkward landing. If this happens to be the case, backup quarterback Ryan Mallett will have his name called, which shouldn’t worry Baltimore fans.
Last season, Mallett was able to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers by completing 28 passes for 274 yards and one touchdown. This loss was ended up being a heavy blow to the Steelers’ playoff hopes. Mallett also had an impressive preseason this year, helping lead Baltimore to a 4-0 record. Like Flacco, Mallett also possesses elite arm strength and can make every throw.
Even if Mallett ends up taking snaps for the Ravens, he should have a solid outing against a weak Jets’ secondary, which gives up an average of 290 passing yards per game, ranked 28th in the NFL.
Running back Terrance West had a memorable performance last week as he was able to rush for two scores against the Giants. Baltimore should rely on their ground game more this Sunday in order to protect Flacco from injury.
While the Ravens started off the season with one of the NFL’s best defenses, a lot of their key starters are injured. Linebacker Zachary Orr, who recovered a fumble last week, will need to have a solid performance against the Jets as he may be the best healthy linebacker Baltimore has.
The Ravens can be thankful the Jets’ quarterback situation is a mess, as their injury-riddled secondary is reeling from last week’s meltdown against Odell Beckham.
While Ryan Fitzpatrick has been an interception machine this season — throwing 11 interceptions in six games — his replacement, Geno Smith, is no better, and the Jets have far more issues than just who will be under center.
Jets running back Matt Forte has been struggling for the past four weeks.
If there is a bright spot on New York’s roster, it’s wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who has singlehandedly made the Jets’ offense somewhat functional this season with 27 catches for 433 yards and two scores. Marshall will be the Jets’ only chance at winning this Sunday.
The Jets are a shell of last season’s 10-6 unit and if the Ravens lose, it will be because Baltimore played to New York’s level. Even with injuries, the Ravens are a better football team than the Jets.
The Ravens desperately need to win this game against the Jets and they know it, which should ultimately make the difference.
Prediction: Ravens over Jets 20-17