Saturday slate Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Christian Darrisaw is expected to return for the Vikings after an extended absence meaning Kirk Cousins should have his blindside protection back.
- Nickel corner Kenny Moore missed practice on Wednesday for the Colts with an ankle injury; Moore had played all but three offensive snaps until Week 12 when he injured the ankle.
- The Colts rank dead last in turnover margin at a ghastly -1.1 per game, which jumps to -1.6 per game on the road.
- While the Colts offense has struggled to score for most of the season, they have continued operating with an elevated pace of play with Jeff Saturday as head coach, running more than the league average offensive plays from scrimmage in each of the four games under Saturday.
- Lamar Jackson did not practice Tuesday or Wednesday with his knee injury, while Tyler Huntley returned to a full participant on Wednesday following a concussion early in Week 14, although it remains unclear whether or not Huntley has cleared the league’s five-step concussion protocol (likely not, at this point).
- Cleveland wide receiver David Bell has yet to practice this week with multiple injuries. I tentatively expect him to sit on the short week.
- Amari Cooper has also yet to practice, but is listed as “not injury related-rest-hip.” I tentatively expect him to play.
- The Ravens and Browns are likeliest to play to an ugly slugfest; that said, each team possesses the individual talent to break the game open.
- Miami at Buffalo is a matchup between two of the top six teams in pass rate over expectation (PROE); each defense is also top five in most metrics against the run.
- OT Terron Armstead, WR River Cracraft, S Eric Rowe, S Elijah Campbell, and RB Jeff Wilson missed practice Tuesday and Wednesday this week for the Dolphins.
- Cleveland is expecting a couple of inches of snow and 20ish mph sustained winds on game day (will update this on Saturday).
- Buffalo is expecting another lake effect snow, with 15ish mph sustained winds and a few inches of snow (will update this on Saturday).
How baltimore Will Try To Win ::
The Ravens have returned to a run-heavy team now that their backfield has returned to relative health, calling a pass play on only 46.97% of their offensive snaps over the previous three weeks – a timeframe that coincides with the return of Gus Edwards (and then J.K. Dobbins). Furthermore, Baltimore has been at or below league average in PROE in all but two games since Week 4. They have paired the increased rush rates with a slow pace of play (28th-ranked first half pace of play, 28th with the score within six points, and 29th overall) and a defense allowing just 19.2 points per game (eighth in the league) to dictate the environment of the games they play, which has resulted in just 62.7 offensive plays run from scrimmage per game (for comparison, that is seven snaps less per game than their 2021 season). For further context on their run-heavy ways, the Ravens have one game all season with more than 33 pass attempts. Another factor in their ability to stick to the run this season has been their defense, which currently ranks 13th in yards allowed per drive and 10th in both points allowed per drive and defensive drive success rate allowed.
The Ravens carried five backs on their game-day roster in Week 14, with all five seeing an offensive snap (to be fair, Kenyan Drake played primarily special teams and saw just two offensive snaps but the point remains). Furthermore, the Ravens remain the team with the highest rate of heavy personnel usage, through both the utilization of fullback Patrick Ricard and of blocking tight end Josh Oliver. Ricard’s snaps typically depend on the game environment, which means he is able to play heavy snaps in environments the Ravens are able to control. And although the Ravens employ a deep stable of backs, last week’s game saw Dobbins and Edwards split early down work with Kenyan Drake being reserved almost exclusively for long down and distance-to-go situations. That workload split translated to 15 carries and zero targets for Dobbins, 13 carries and zero targets for Edwards, and one carry and two targets for Drake. It’s fair to expect a similar workload split against a Cleveland defense allowing a robust 28.3 DK points per game to opposing backfields. The rushing matchup yields an above average 4.58 net-adjusted line yards metric and should be considered a strength-on-weakness matchup for the Ravens.
Huntley is tentatively expected to clear the concussion protocol in time to start against the Browns on Saturday, which is interesting considering the extended timeframe most concussions have been operating under since the Tua incident (as in, the protocol is under increased scrutiny, so we’ve seen the league and independent neurologists error on the side of caution). That said, offensive coordinator Greg Roman mentioned to the media on Wednesday that it “will be all systems go (for Huntley).” The only pass-catcher on this offense to see a steady snap rate this season is tight end Mark Andrews, as each of Devin Duvernay and Demarcus Robinson has seen their respective snap rates fluctuate wildly depending on the game plan, game flow, and matchup. Considering the opponent and likeliest scenario this week, I would tentatively expect both wide receivers to end in the 60-70% snap rate range, with only the Browns and their level of success likely to increase those rates. Either way, expect low volume through the air unless otherwise forced.