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5Qs, 5As: Previewing Cardinals-Ravens with Baltimore Beatdown

Talking all things Ravens with Baltimore Beatdown’s Kyle Barber.

Detroit Lions v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Happy Saturday morning one and all.

The Baltimore Ravens are bringing their dominant looking football team to the desert, and things could potentially get ugly on Sunday.

We talked with Kyle Barber of Baltimore Beatdown about what the Arizona Cardinals can expect on Sunday.


1. Last week was a dominant performance from the Ravens, but what are the early returns on Todd Monken as the new OC?

The early returns are still a bit of a work in progress. Not in a negative way, either. The Ravens have found success and in ways that former Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman failed for years. Lamar Jackson has weapons. Jackson has an accurate arm with the ability to read defenses. He, paired with Monken, have shown synergy to create explosive plays, win on third downs and find the end zone in the red zone. The Lions game was a culmination and benchmark for their success after flirting with it all season long. Now, it’s about sustaining such success, which there is confidence in his coaching and scheming to do so.

2. Mike MacDonald is one of the hottest names on the coaching circuit, what has he done and do the Ravens have someone in the pipeline when he takes a job as a HC?

Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald is worthy of all the praise. He’s found ways to get everybody involved on defense and put quarterbacks in a blender mentally. Just last week we saw 350-pound defensive tackle Michael Pierce and fellowe defensive lineman Travis Jones drop back into coverage after initially engaging the offensive line. Meanwhile, the cornerbacks are flushing in from the edges to get home. With this simulated pressure combined with traditional looks of sending four players, namely outside linebackers Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy and interior defensive lineman Justin Madubuike, they’re giving defenses fits. And they’ve all given credit to Macdonald for his scheming and coaching, along with a culture of sacrificing for one another. Clowney spoke on how he was sacrificing himself to take on the double-teams to free up safety Kyle Hamilton to land three sacks in one game. Another game it was how the defensive linemen were sacrificing and commanding more assignments to free up the edges. He’ll be leading a team in no time.

As for the next Ravens defensive coordinator, they have options in house, namely Assistant Head Coach Anthony Weaver and pass game coordinator/secondary coach Chris Hewitt. We’ll see if the Ravens remain in-house though with such a decision.

3. Lamar Jackson has been good, the running game has been good, the passing game looks like it is rounding into form, give me one offensive player we need to be aware of that we may not be familiar with.

Wide receiver Nelson Agholor earns this mention. He’s third for receiving yards (222) and second in receiving touchdowns (2). His target share is low (21) but he’s caught 17 of those passes for such production. When things go ary, ‘Nelly’ has been the player for Jackson to find, as witnessed last Sunday.

4. On the other side of the ball, who has been playing well for the Ravens top ranked defense that we may not be aware of?

Geno Stone. He’s so hot right now.

Currently, the Ravens backup safety is leading the NFL in interceptions (4). Anytime a player on the back end suffers an injury, Stone takes over and shows why he’s worthy of a starting spot. And when all members of the safety unit are healthy he plays in a third safety role which allows the Ravens to bully players at the line of scrimmage with Hamilton while Stone and Marcus Williams dominate from the backfield. But with Williams dealing with a torn pec and hamstring injury, Stone will hold down the fort and show Dobbs why not to throw deep, or do so at his own discretion because he’s made teams pay all season doing so.

5. DraftKings Sportsbook has the Ravens as 9.5-point favorites, and the over/under at 44.5. It feels like you have to take the Ravens and the points, but do they score enough or allow the Cardinals to score enough to get the over?

I hate taking teams with an spread of over 8 points but this feels like an instance where it’s right. The Ravens defense is violent and structured and cohesive. The offense is working and going against a poorly graded Cardinals squad. I’m taking the Ravens.

I’m awful at going over/under. I struggle with this. I have a feeling the Ravens are going to score 30 points on Sunday. I don’t think they allow 14, personally, so maybe take the under?