Rams vs Ravens Game Preview
The Baltimore Ravens play the Rams for the first time since they returned to Los Angeles. The Rams made big moves in the offseason while the Ravens snatched their quarterback-of-the-future, Lamar Jackson, in the NFL Draft.
There’s a lot of hype around the Rams but this team has yet to win a playoff game. The Ravens will be under-the-radar thanks to missing the playoffs but they should always be considered a threat.
Los Angeles Rams
It’s Super Bowl or bust for the Rams. At least, based on their expectations. The Rams added household defenders like Ndamukong Suh (NT) and Aqib Talib (CB) and are now one of the favourites to win it all. But this is just on paper. Playing together is another story.
They have the best offensive player in the league in running back Todd Gurley but quarterback Jared Goff is the x-factor. He improved immensely in his sophomore year and needs to prove it wasn’t a fluke.
There might be a bit of a cold war brewing in the organization between incumbent quarterback Joe Flacco. The Ravens gave him a record-breaking contract in 2012 but he has been subpar in recent years recording a 6.1 yard per attempt, well below the average of 7.0.
It’s no wonder the Ravens are looking elsewhere for help. They reshuffled their receivers and used their first pick on a tight end but neglected their offensive line and running backs. Thank God they have a great defence though.
This will be the Ravens’ second game and that could be a boon for them. The extra game gives their backups and new players some invaluable reps provided no injuries happen. The Rams will be adjusting to a new offensive coordinator and aren’t as solid on defence.
Rams vs Ravens Head-to-Head Records
The Ravens hold a 4-2 lead over the Rams in their overall series. Their first game was in 1996, which the Ravens won 37-31. The Rams would then win the next two but the Ravens would win from then.
Baltimore blew out the Rams in 2007 and 2011 but their most recent meeting in 2015 was a close game. The Ravens won 16-13 after coming from behind to score 13 points in the fourth including Justin Tucker’s game-winning field goal as time expired.
Both the Rams are Ravens have potent defences. The Rams have failed to score more than 13 points on the Ravens since 2007 but their most recent incarnation could be the best team they’ve fielded since the “Greatest Shown on Turf” in 2000.
The Rams are built to win now so any meeting with the Ravens would favour Los Angeles but things could turn out differently down the road depending how the Ravens rebuild.
Los Angeles Rams Recent History
The then-St. Louis Rams were on top of the NFL world in the early-2000s. Led by legends like Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk, they made two Super Bowl appearances and won one. But right after, the Rams went into a long period of darkness.
Prior to last season, the Rams went through 13 straight seasons without a winning record and finished with four wins or less five times including a 1-15 season in 2009. They went through six head coaches before finally finding Sean McVay.
The franchise moved back to Los Angeles in 2016 and spent a fortune to draft quarterback prospect Jared Goff with the first overall pick. But it all paid dividends as the Rams now have a team that will woo the hard-to-please fans of LA.
Baltimore Ravens Recent History
The Ravens have been perennial playoff contenders since John Harbaugh took over in 2008. This culminated in a Super Bowl title in 2012 though giving Flacco that ginormous contract spelt the beginning of the team’s slow but gradual regress.
Baltimore has only made one playoff appearances since their Super Bowl victory. They finished with a 10-6 record in 2014 but haven’t had a record better than 9-7 since. This was last season where they narrowly missed the playoffs after losing the last game of the regular season to Cincinnati.
As long as their defence remains elite, Baltimore will at least contend for a playoff spot. But they are stagnating on offence and their days as a Super Bowl contender are likely over.
Los Angeles Rams Outlook
At first glance, it appears like the Rams are set to dominate the league. But just like the 2011 “Dream Team” Eagles, appearances are deceiving. The Rams did upgrade their defensive line and secondary in acquiring Ndamukong Suh (NT), Aqib Talib (CB), and Marcus Peters (CB) but they still have glaring holes elsewhere.
The Rams ignored their needs at linebacker and may have problems stopping the run. There’s also an issue of the character of guys like Suh and Peters. These guys haven’t exactly been model players and it remains to be seen if they’ll work out although the team has the depth to make up for their loss.
Goff still has plenty to prove especially after both their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach left. If he can maintain his 2017 form, the Rams are in good hands. If he crumbles, the Rams will be in a tough spot. This team can either be Super Bowl contenders or back to rebuilding in a few seasons.
Baltimore Ravens Outlook
So long as the Ravens are pinned down by Flacco’s massive contract, they won’t have plenty of room to maneuver. At 33, Flacco is already past his prime due to the many injuries he’s incurred and the spotty offensive line won’t help him or the running game.
If the Ravens can find a way to shed Flacco’s contract, they’ll be able to quickly rebuild their offence which is lacking in many positions from the offensive line to running back to a quality receiver. They need to do so quickly while their defence is still intact. Outside of getting older, they could lose key pieces through free agency.
A lot of it is also dependent on how fast Jackson progresses as a prospect. The Louisville product has divided scouts with many saying he should transition to being a wide receiver. But if Jackson can at least be a decent passer, he’s essentially the best running quarterback since Michael Vick. He’ll reinvent Baltimore’s offence single-handedly and possibly usher a new age of Ravens football.
The Rams have the edge on offence but the Ravens have the edge on defence. Los Angeles is deep with their defensive line but they are gravely lacking with their linebackers. This works out for Baltimore as they don’t have decent run blocking and have a motley crew of running backs.
Los Angeles will likely start Sean Mannion, who has thrown a grand total of 50 passes. Baltimore has the edge here again as either Jackson or Robert Griffin III has more potential to make plays even if their ability to read plays and show poise in the pocket leaves much to be desired.
This game should be a defensive struggle for the most part. The combination of poor depth on Baltimore’s offence plus a tough Los Angeles defence will prevent each other from scoring too much. The Rams offensive line is also paper thin leaving Mannion little room to operate.
Add the extra game Baltimore has played and they are probably less rusty than the Rams. The best part about this game will be seeing Jackson suit up even if it’s just for a moment. Ravens win this.