Often football commentators like to describe a matchup of a high-powered offense (Green Bay, New England) against an elite defense (Baltimore, New York Jets) as “the unstoppable force meets the immovable object“. When the Jaguars’ offense takes the field against the Ravens defense on Monday night it WILL NOT be one of those matchups. Instead, the Football Outsiders (FO) #32 ranked offense (the imminently stoppable force) will face off against FOs #1 ranked defense (the immovable object) and I’d expect total domination to ensue.
In order to appreciate this perspective its beneficial to put these rankings in context, we’ll begin with the Ravens defense. The Baltimore defense has allowed almost 30% less offense against a hypothetical average opponent than an average NFL defense. The second ranked defense (New York Jets) has only allowed ~15% less offense given the same circumstances. This difference of ~15% between #1 and #2 is equal to the difference between the #2 and #12 ranked defenses.
Meanwhile the Jaguars offense has particularly poor. The Gabbert led Jags have gained almost 30% less yards against a hypothetical league average defense than an average offense. Combining these statistics we should expect the Ravens defense to be truly dominant on Monday night limiting the Jags to 60% less yards than an average NFL offense would accumulate against an average NFL defense. With potential domination appropriately captured lets move to the bullets:
- According to FO Gabbert was the 26th worst QB in Week 6. His average completion netted just 1.7 yards after the catch, worst of any starter in Week 6.
- The Jaguars offensive line has been among the worst in the NFL in sacks + intentional grounding penalties since 2007.
- Despite the Ravens massive defensive advantage the Jags will have a slight edge once the Ravens offense takes the ball. FO sees the Ravens as a league average offense and the Jags as a slightly above average defense. Flacco and company’s opportunities will come throwing the ball. The Jags defense is built around stopping the run and their secondary is weak. In 2010 the Jaguars relied heavily on Courtney Greene and Don Carey, two players with no experience and a tendency to be wildly out of position. The Jaguars addressed this issue by bringing in Dawan Landry. As Ravens fans know Landry had an nice season in 2010, but he’s better against the run than the pass.
- According to NFL Advanced Stats the Ravens have a 59% chance of winning. While this may seem low, it is the same as Green Bay’s chances on the road against Minnesota and the second highest winning percentage of any road team except Dallas who plays the woeful Rams. Remember the NFL is not far from a Coin Flip League.