Tyler Conklin, Patrick Queen, NY Jets, Ravens
Tyler Conklin, Patrick Queen, Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, Getty Images

The New York Jets must maximize their few advantages over the Baltimore Ravens

As 6.5-point underdogs on their home field (per FanDuel Sportsbook), the New York Jets have their fair share of disadvantages against the Baltimore Ravens. We’ll cover plenty of those throughout the upcoming week.

But there are a few select areas where the Jets actually have an edge over Baltimore. And if the Jets have any plans of seizing an upset victory, they need to fully maximize these advantages.

Here are two crucial matchups that favor the Jets.

Jets’ TEs and RBs vs. Ravens’ TE/RB pass defense

The Jets figure to use their tight ends and running backs in the passing game quite frequently. They paid a combined $15 million per year to the free agent duo of C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin. In the backfield, Breece Hall and Michael Carter are each oozing with pass-catching upside.

Baltimore had enormous issues with covering TEs and RBs last year. In 2021, the Ravens ranked second-worst with 109.8 receiving yards allowed per game to TEs and RBs.

Yes, a lot of that had to do with injuries. The Ravens won’t be quite as bad in that area this year. However, they might still struggle with covering TEs and RBs to some extent, as two of their biggest culprits for that stat are actually going to start for them in 2022: linebacker Patrick Queen and strong safety Chuck Clark.

According to Pro Football Focus, Queen had the fourth-worst coverage grade among 60 qualified linebackers at 35.1. Clark ranked 42nd out of 64 qualified safeties with a 61.1 coverage grade.

Clark is a magnet for aerial production as he tied for eighth among safeties in yards allowed (448) and touchdowns allowed (4). Tyler Conklin should be able to beat Clark using his slick route-running ability. The Jets have to prioritize targeting Conklin if they catch Clark on him in man-to-man.

Queen can be exposed in the underneath game due to his tackling woes. He tied for fourth among linebackers with 20 missed tackles. The Jets should try to run some RB screens at Queen and make him finish. Or, they can try to maximize C.J. Uzomah’s YAC skills against Queen by running Uzomah on crossing routes or drag routes in Queen’s vicinity (horizontal routes that allow him to catch the ball with a head of steam).

The Ravens have a ton of talent at cornerback with Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, and Kyle Fuller. They also acquired a big-time addition at free safety in Marcus Williams. All of these players are dangerous. But the Ravens do have a couple of exploitable players in Queen and Clark. The Jets must go after them with their TEs and RBs.

Additionally, the Ravens have a rookie safety in Kyle Hamilton who should get some snaps. Singling out a young defensive back in his first career game is always a good idea. If you see him out there, put the pressure on him.

Going after Hamilton makes even more sense when considering his skill-set.

Hamilton is a talented jack-of-all-trades, but at a lumbering 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds with subpar speed (4.59), he could be exploited by speedy weapons. Hamilton also struggled mightily with missed tackles in the preseason (3 missed tackles / 50.0% missed tackle rate). Finding ways to make Hamilton chase-and-finish against the running backs is a good plan, particularly the explosive Hall.

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Jets’ CBs vs. Ravens’ WRs

After trading Marquise Brown to the Cardinals, the Ravens’ wide receiver unit does not look great on paper. Going into Week 1, they will trot out a group comprised of Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche, Tylan Wallace, and Demarcus Robinson.

Bateman is an exciting second-year player who looks poised for a breakout year, but other than that, this group is nothing to write home about. The NFL world is in agreement on that. PFF ranked Baltimore’s WR unit as the league’s 29th-best. Lineups.com ranked it 28th. Sharp Football Analysis ranked it 24th.

New York, meanwhile, has a cornerback group that looks ready to excel. D.J. Reed was one of the most efficient cover corners in the NFL last year. Michael Carter II made very few mistakes as a rookie and is poised for a second-year leap.

Sauce Gardner is the X-factor. Like Hamilton, Gardner is a rookie defensive back who will be making his NFL debut, so he is likely to be challenged and could be prone to mistakes. But Gardner is coming off a dominant preseason in which his lockdown coverage led to opponents throwing 0 targets his way over 24 coverage snaps.

In 2021, we saw rookie first-round picks like Patrick Surtain and Jaycee Horn translate their phenomenal preseasons into excellent regular-season success. If Gardner can do the same thing, he will be a rookie-year stud, giving the Jets a formidable cornerback trio.

When Baltimore’s offense is on the field, New York will have the on-paper advantage on the outside. The Jets’ corners absolutely must pull their weight and dominate this matchup.

Baltimore’s offense has a bevy of advantages outside of the WR-vs-CB matchup: their run-blocking vs. the Jets’ run defense, tight end Mark Andrews vs. the Jets’ linebackers and safeties, and Lamar Jackson vs. a Jets defensive front that can struggle with gap control and edge-setting.

If the Jets’ corners cannot level the playing field by completely shutting down the Ravens’ wideouts, Baltimore’s offense will have the edge in every area, leading to an afternoon of enormous offensive success.

But if the corners can remove the wide receivers from the game, the Ravens will become much more one-dimensional, making it easier for the Jets to slow them down.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at]jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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1 year ago

Jets can’t stop the run. The Ravens run better then almost anybody. Not a good sign if you are a Jet fan. Not at all.

1 year ago

My biggest concern is Jackson getting huge running lanes with our “penetrate the gap” style. They have to be aware. Make him throw. Also, put up some points!!! Get their offense behind a bit and see what happens.

1 year ago

Yes. And we HAVE to contain Jackson. Our d line has to pressure him and the linebackers n dBs have to tackle him when he takes off. Agreed we have to use our runners and TES. Flacco ( or Zach) have to avoid mistakes. We have a shot if we play solid fundamental football in all three phases.