The Baltimore Ravens open the 2019 regular season heavily favored over the host Miami Dolphins.
Here are five burning questions heading into the matchup.
1. How much will Lamar Jackson run the ball?
The Ravens want their second-year quarterback to cut down on the number of times he runs the ball. However, he is most dangerous scrambling out of the pocket. Ideally, Jackson will not have more than 10 carries to avoid any potential big hits. But the game could dictate how many times he runs. Last season, Jackson played in 16 games (seven starts) and led all NFL quarterbacks with 695 yards rushing. He also completed 99 of 170 (58.1%) passing attempts for 1,201 yards, which ranked 37th in the league.
He also threw for six touchdowns and three interceptions.
2. Will the Ravens answer questions about the pass rush?
The Ravens lost their two top pass rushers -- Za’Darius Smith (8.5 sacks) and Terrell Suggs (7 sacks) -- this offseason. Fellow linebacker C.J. Mosley, who was the leader of the defense and relayed the plays from the sideline, also left to sign with the Jets with a massive five-year, $85 million deal.The pass rush has been one of the biggest question marks heading into this season. The Ravens will rely heavily on Matthew Judon to pick up the slack. Linebacker Pernell McPhee could also be a boost. A pair of third-year players, Tyus Bowser, a second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and Tim Williams (third round), have played well throughout training camp after enduring a couple of disappointing seasons. They need to flash against Miami.
3. How much will RB Mark Ingram spark the offense?
It's not secret the Ravens plan to run the ball ... a lot. They signed Mark Ingram in the offseason to provide a veteran presence for Jackson. Ingram’s physical running style is a good fit for the Ravens offense. He is also adept at catching the ball out of the backfield. He ran for more than 1,000 yards in two of the last three years. He ran for 12 touchdowns in 2017. Ingram has 125 receptions for 905 yards over the last three seasons and will add another weapon to the Ravens’ offense. He will get plenty of opportunities in Miami.
4. Can the secondary create turnovers?
The Ravens wants to wreak havoc with their talented secondary. The team signed veteran safety Earl Thomas to fill the void of the loss of Eric Weddle, who was released after the 2018 season. Baltimore should have one of the deepest secondaries in the NFL. That group is focused on creating turnovers and giving the offense a short field. The Ravens were ranked No. 1 in the NFL last season for overall defense, and they want to retain that ranking.
5 Who will start at left guard?
John Harbaugh has been mum about who will start at left guard even though the team has made the decision. "Yes, we’ve decided," he said. "We have our starting lineup all set up, but we’re not going to share that information. Why would we? What would be the advantage for us to do that?” Rookie Ben Powers started the team’s final preseason game against the Washington Redskins and could get the nod. Both Bradley Bozeman or Patrick Mekari are also in the mix to start, according to the depth chart.