The Baltimore Ravens would like to pick up where they left off before the bye week.
The Carolina Panthers would just like to pick it up.
The Panthers will hold some momentum going into Sunday afternoon’s game in Baltimore.
The Ravens (6-3), who are fresh off an open week, have a three-game winning streak.
“We just have to go play our best game on Sunday and that’s what we’re going to try to do,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said.
The Panthers (3-7) have had more time to prepare than they typically do following a Nov. 10 victory against the Atlanta Falcons.
Still, there’s a change in the works at quarterback because of yet another ankle injury. Baker Mayfield will return to the starting role despite the team winning its last game. That’s because PJ Walker is out with an ankle sprain. Mayfield has been out recovering from a high ankle sprain.
As Cleveland’s starting quarterback playing in the same division as the Ravens, Mayfield posted a 3-5 record against Baltimore. He threw 13 touchdowns against nine interceptions in those games.
“We’ve had some incredible battles with him when he was with the Browns,” Harbaugh said. “We know what he’s capable of doing. We understand his strengths as a quarterback.”
Mayfield said the Ravens always seem to have a full roster of defensive playmakers.
“It comes down to players, it always has,” Mayfield said. “They have great players on defense.”
The Ravens will try to take advantage of the change, though, as they hope to expand their plus-7 turnover ratio against a Carolina team that has had revolving starting quarterbacks. Sam Darnold will be Mayfield’s backup.
“Baker has been in that (division) and familiarity with the Ravens and that defense,” Carolina interim coach Steve Wilks said. “We’re going to create a good game plan and try to put our guys in position to be successful.”
In starting the first five games this year, Mayfield threw for four touchdowns and four interceptions. Wilks said the Panthers have kept the basic scheme on offense. In beating the Falcons, that consisted of plenty of handoffs to D’Onta Foreman 31 times. Foreman produced 130 yards and a touchdown and boosted his yards-per-carry average this season to 4.7.
He had 79 carries and four scores in four games since the Panthers traded running back Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers.
Even with a ground game chugging along, it could be hard to combat the well-rested Ravens, who are 16-6 since 2003 when following a week off. They beat NFC South teams Tampa Bay and New Orleans in their last two outings.
“With each game you build confidence, but it’s a new week every week,” Baltimore rookie center Tyler Linderbaum said. “You’re only as good as your last snap.’
Linderbaum has been a steady influence on the offensive line. That has enabled quarterback Lamar Jackson to roll up a career-best 7.4 yards per rushing attempt. The Ravens have the second-best rushing offense in the league with 168.1 yards per game on the ground.
Harbaugh said tight end Mark Andrews is among the players who missed Baltimore’s most-recent game who could be ready to be back in action. He has a team-best 42 receptions and five touchdowns.
“Mark is Mark, nothing changed,” Jackson said of Andrews back in the main practice mix.
The Ravens might be able to expose Carolina’s secondary, which will be without cornerback Donte Jackson, who suffered a torn Achilles in last week’s triumph against Atlanta. That could push C.J. Henderson into a starting role. The problems are compounded with Myles Hartsfield, who has started seven games in the secondary, missing Wednesday’s practice with an ankle injury.
“We definitely are going to have our hands full,” Wilks said.
–Field Level Media