(WJZ)- The Baltimore Ravens have checked off two preseason goals in the last two weeks. First, they clinched a playoff spot with a win over the Buffalo Bills. Then, last Thursday, they clinched the AFC North division title in a win over the New York Jets. Now, all that is left for the team is to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win Sunday over the Cleveland Browns.
In the midst of a 10-game winning streak, the question of how to stop the Ravens and by extension, quarterback Lamar Jackson, is on a lot of people’s minds right now. One team that could be in the conversation is the Kansas City Chiefs, whose quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, presents unique issues of his own to defenses trying to stop him.READ MORE: Catherine Pugh Filling-In As Host Of Baltimore Radio Show
So, in order to get some insight into this all-important question looming over the NFL season, we turned to a defensive expert: Inside the NFL analyst and Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis. What plans would Lewis have for these dynamic young QBs, other than wishing defenders the best of luck? Well, he says teams need to treat them the same way they treated offenses led by peak Peyton Manning. Limit the amount of times they get the football.
“(laughing) I was asked that before, so here’s what’s funny, the person that was asking me was the Ravens owner. He was saying, ‘they’re trying to hurt him’, I said, yeah, I would be too. (laughing) I’m telling you, seriously, you have to limit their possessions,” said Lewis. “They’re one of those greats that you don’t want with the ball last in their hands. It’s almost like the way we used to play against old-school quarterbacks who you know couldn’t get the ball last. We could never give Peyton Manning the ball last. We had to go out there and make sure that we ran the ball enough and used up enough time.”
“Honestly, that is how you have to beat these guys. Because if you leave them on the field, they’re so dynamic, they’re going to figure out a play,” continued Lewis.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Alert Day, Severe Afternoon Thunderstorms
Limiting the number of possessions is possible against the Chiefs, as Kansas City ranks as the league’s 26th unit against the run, allowing five yards per carry and over 130 yards per game. Doing the same against the Ravens defense could prove difficult, as the unit ranks fifth in the NFL at stopping the run, allowing less than 100 yards per game. But there is a glimmer of hope for opposing offenses, as the Ravens have allowed 4.5 yards per carry. The main reason the per-game average is so low is because the Ravens have been out in front of teams so often that they are forced to throw more to keep up. If — and it’s a big if — an opponent can start off the game with several long, clock-killing drives, then they may have a chance.
But, as Lewis said, if either QB has the ball last with a chance to win the game, a play is likely to be made. For the Hall of Famer, it’s hard to even choose which of the two is the better quarterback because they both have proven adept at a skill that he believes the game is moving towards: extending plays.
“I don’t know if there is a better because both of those guys they have what I think the game is transitioning to which is they are quarterbacks that are extending plays,” said Lewis. “Defenses come in and draw up the perfect defense and they’re extending plays because of their unique ability. But, I think it’s just the passion that they have for the game, so I don’t know that I would ever say either one of them is better. I would just say that they are dynamic in their own ways.”
Though Lewis is coy about which QB may be better, he did say later on that he thinks with how much Jackson, Mahomes and Watson have improved, there could be a new team wearing the crown in the AFC this year.MORE NEWS: First Alert Forecast: Severe Thunderstorms May Move Into The Area Monday
You can catch Ray Lewis along with Phil Simms, Brandon Marshall, Michael Irvin, and host James Brown on Inside The NFL every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.