The Philadelphia Eagles have to force the Baltimore Ravens to air it out

The Philadelphia Eagles can’t let the Ravens win on the ground.

The Baltimore Ravens are a team built to win games one way and one way only: By running the ball.

Through the first five games of the 2020 NFL season, the Ravens have attempted the eighth-most rushes of any team in the league (144) for the second-most yards (804) in the league, while garnering the highest rushing yards-per-carry of any team (5.6).

That’s… not great news for the Philadelphia Eagles.

With four different runners already having 100 or more yards on the ground – two more than Philly has through the same period of time – it’s pretty easy to assume the Eagles’ defense is going to get run to the ground by a clearly superior team.

That honestly could still happen, as the Eagles really don’t have a good answer for Lamar Jackson if he starts to run for positive yards, but funny enough, that may not be the case.

You see, through the first five weeks of the season, the Eagles’ defense has allowed the ninth-fewest yards-per-carry of any team in the league at 3.9. While one could understandably assume that this is because of their porous secondary – and believe me, that is an issue – in actuality, the Eagles have been run on an average of 29 times a game, which is the 10th most of any team in the league.

As crazy as it sounds, the Eagles haven’t allowed a single 100-yard rusher through the first five games of the season, with only two runners surpassing 50 yards.

Okay, technically three players have rushed for over 50 yards on the Eagles this fall, but one, Ray-Ray McCloud, is technically listed as a wide receiver, and really only hit the mark because of a perfectly executed reverse sweep in Week 5.

Factor in the, well, fact that both starting tackle Ronnie Stanley and guard Tyre Phillips are listed as questionable for the contest, and the Ravens may have some troubles moving the ball between the tackles with the power one-two punch of Mark Ingram II and Gus Edwards and their dynamic change of pace second-round pick J.K. Dobbins.

Assuming Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Javon Hargrave, Brandon Graham, and company can put together another impressive performance limiting the Ravens’ rushing attack, the team’s chances of pulling off a surprise victory (finally) in front of their hometown crowd becomes much more imaginable.

Why? Because the Ravens’ passing offense is average at best.

Sure, they have a trio of pretty good receivers in Hollywood Brown, Miles Boykin, and Willie Snead who can get things done through the air, but the Ravens are one of only three NFL teams who haven’t recorded 1,000 total passing yards through the air through the first five weeks of the season, a matter made even more glaring when you consider their peers, the Broncos and the Patriots, have played one fewer game than Baltimore.

As crazy as it sounds, the Eagles are only allowing 241 yards through the air over the first five weeks of the season, which is the 16th best mark of any team in the league. Even though Jackson currently has the 12th highest average QBR in the league at 75.7 – 22.5 points higher than Carson Wentz – he’s not the type of quarterback who can confidently drop back 40 times a game and still pull out a win.

In actuality, the Ravens have lost every game where Jackson has attempted 40 or more passes – a fact Jim Schwartz may be able to exploit with a solid game plan.

Next: Cutting Nate Gerry doesn’t solve all of the Philadelphia Eagles problems

Attempting to identify an area of weakness on the 2020 Baltimore Ravens is hard. They are easily one of the best teams in the league and should be featured prominently in the playoffs some three-ish months from now thanks to their quirky approach to running an NFL offense. With that being said, if the Philadelphia Eagles can shut down the run and force John Harbaugh’s squad to air it out 40-plus times a game, then maybe, just maybe they have a chance to steal a win in front of their hometown team. It probably won’t happen, but hey, why not try to be optimistic?