Thursday Night Football Preview: Will the Jets Cover the Massive Spread?
This thing could be a bloodbath tonight.
If we look at this matchup on paper based on our power rankings, the home Baltimore Ravens (the best team per our ranks) face the road New York Jets, who clock in at 30th. Gang Green is going to need some big-time magic to keep this one close.
Will the Ravens roll, or will the Jets find a miracle in Baltimore tonight?
If this were a boxing matchup, the expectation of the battle between these two passers would be a first-round knock out. By nearly any form of comparison, this looks pretty lopsided.
Using Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, Lamar Jackson has been the league's best signal-caller with a mark of 0.34, whereas Sam Darnold ranks 24th with a rate of 0.04. In terms of Passing Success Rate -- the percentage of drop backs which result in a positive NEP -- the gap narrows a bit. Jackson comes back to earth with a mark 48.92% (14th), while Darnold sits 28th (43.20%). In looking at average intended air yards (the average air yards a passer throws on all attempts), both passers have been throwing it deep with a shared mark of 8.8.
Running Back Play
One team (the Ravens) has a big-time advantage at both the quarterback and the running back position.
Mark Ingram has been an outstanding runner so far in 2019 -- among the 38 running backs with 100 or more carries, Ingram checks in sixth amongst with a Rushing NEP per carry of 0.09. And lest we forget -- while he is not a running back, quarterback Lamar Jackson has been otherworldly running the football, already eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark (1,017) with 7 seven touchdowns.
On the other side, it looks like Le'Veon Bell will suit up for the Jets, but unfortunately for Bell, he ranks only 33rd in his first season with the Jets in Rushing NEP per rush (-0.11). He has been heavily involved in the passing game as his 67 targets are fifth among running backs.
The offensive advantage -- pretty much across the board -- goes to Baltimore tonight.
The gap is a little bit closer from a defensive perspective. Overall, the Ravens rank eighth in defense by our schedule-adjusted numbers, including third against the pass and sixth-worst against the run. They have not allowed a 300-yard passer since Week 4, but four of the last five teams they've faced have hit 100 rushing yards. It's a run-funnel defense, so if the Jets can keep it close, they'll likely try to lean on the run game.
The Jets' D is the inverse. They rank 24th against the pass, but they have been one of the league's elite units against the run, sitting third. The Jets have not allowed a passer to reach 250 yards in any of the last four contests, though they've faced a soft schedule in that time.
In reviewing Football Outsiders' adjusted sack rate, neither team has been great at sacking the quarterback. The Ravens rank 16th (7.3%), and the Jets are only 25th (6.2%).
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