Eagles look to bounce back from tough loss at home when they face the Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles will meet in Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday as the two teams try to help their standing in their respective divisions. The Ravens (4-1) trail undefeated Pittsburgh for first in the AFC North while the Eagles (1-3-1) are just a half-game behind the Cowboys in the NFC East despite their tough start. These two birds of prey have only met five times, with the series tied at 2-2-1. Back in 2016, the Ravens edged the Eagles 27-26 as a late comeback fell short for Philly.
On the schedule, it says Baltimore beat Cincinnati 27-3 last week, but offensively, it wasn't the cleanest victory. Lamar Jackson only accounted for 183 total yards with just three of those coming on the ground (on two carries). The Ravens were able to put up 161 rushing yards, which took some pressure off of Jackson, and the defense did the rest. Baltimore sacked Joe Burrow seven times, picked him off once, held the Bengals to 205 total yards, and forced three turnovers, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Outside of the Week 3 loss to Kansas City, the Ravens' defense has been stout, and the unit (as well as the team) is pretty healthy overall.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia fell 38-29 in Pittsburgh after Steelers rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool torched them for four touchdowns. The defense was without cornerback Darius Slay towards the end after he suffered a concussion, while the defensive line wasn't able to get much pressure on Ben Roethlisberger. On offense, the rise of Travis Fulgham continued, as the unheralded wide receiver out of Old Dominion continued to be Carson Wentz's favorite target. Philly couldn't get the ground game going outside of one long touchdown run by Miles Sanders.
Baltimore at Philadelphia
Kickoff: Sunday, Oct. 18 at 1 p.m. ET
Spread: Ravens -7.5
Three Things to Watch
The Ravens should be in a clear-focused situation with their bye week coming up. They've won both of their road games by double digits so far, beating Houston and Washington. This is the start of three straight at home for the Eagles, who host the Giants for "Thursday Night Football" next week. Philly has not won a home contest yet, but they will have fans in the stands at Lincoln Financial Field for the first time this season. It may not be enough to make a difference, but we'll see if there is some sort of home atmosphere. The Eagles also could be getting some reinforcements back on offense (see below).
2. Finding targets
One of the criticisms of Jackson and Baltimore's offense following last week's 27-3 win over Cincinnati is how little everyone else got involved outside Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews. One Bengal defender said, "We know where Lamar wants to go: either '15' [Marquise Brown] or '89' [Mark Andrews]. It showed up today as well. That's all he was really throwing to, was '15' or '89.'"
The numbers bring that to light, as the pair had 19 targets while seven others combined for 17. Brown and Andrews have seen nearly half of the targets thus far this season. Brown may find it hard to get open on Sunday if Philadelphia's Darius Slay follows him around. One of the reasons the Eagles traded for Slay was his ability to shut down other teams' No. 1 receivers, which is something he has already shown this season. Andrews may find things a little easier considering linebacker play has been an issue for Philadelphia. But even if that's the case, other receivers like Miles Boykin, Willie Snead IV, and Devin Duvernay need to get open or offensive coordinator Greg Roman needs to find ways to involve rookie running back J.K. Dobbins in the passing game more.
3. Finding targets II
With so many Philadelphia wide receivers injured, Wentz has developed solid chemistry with Fulgham. The 2019 sixth-round pick out of Old Dominion leads the Eagles with 209 receiving yards (on 12 catches) even though he's sixth on the team in targets (16) and has played in just two games. It's been a bit of a struggle for Wentz without Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, first-round pick Jalen Reagor, and tight end Dallas Goedert, so he's needed someone else to step up and Fulgham has done that. He caught the go-ahead touchdown in Philadelphia's Week 4 win on the road against San Francisco and followed that up with a 10-catch, 152-yard (with a touchdown) performance against the Steelers.
Jeffery and Jackson have both taken part in practice this week, so there's a chance one or both will be able to suit up on Sunday, which should give Wentz and this offense a boost. But he really needs Zach Ertz to get out of his funk. The three-time Pro Bowl tight end has just five catches for 15 yards combined in the last two games. There aren't a ton of holes in the Baltimore defense to begin with, and the secondary is solid, so Ertz needs to get open to try and loosen up the Ravens' coverage.
Baltimore is the better team, but the Eagles' offense has put up two solid weeks in a row. The Ravens will constantly harass Carson Wentz on Sunday into several turnovers and plenty of sacks. Lamar Jackson will find his dangerous side once again and this will be another win for the road team.
Prediction: Ravens 31, Eagles 14
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.