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Strength vs. Strength: Jets run defense vs. Ravens rushing attack

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Ravens vs. Jets is a mismatch. In one corner, we have the most dominant team in the NFL. In the other, we have a team whose banged-up roster more closely resembles one you would expect to see in a Week 4 preseason game than in a Week 15 regular season game.

However, in one particular facet of tonight’s game, we will be looking at two of the best teams to ever do it.

Baltimore’s rushing attack is shattering all the records, doing it in an era where the run game has taken a back seat in most organizations.

The Jets, despite their shortcomings in nearly every other area, have been historically dominant against the run, shutting down opposing backfields week after week.

Let’s take a look at a few of the wild numbers behind these two elite units.

Ravens rushing attack

  • Lamar Jackson has 1,017 rushing yards, more than twice the total of any other quarterback in 2019 (Kyler Murray ranks second with 448) and ninth among all players. Jackson needs only 23 yards against the Jets to beat Michael Vick’s single-season rush yardage record for a quarterback, 1,039 yards, which he set as a member of the Falcons back in 2006.
  • You can bet the house on Jackson breaking that record tonight. He has rushed for at least 40 yards in 12 consecutive games, tied for the longest streak ever by a quarterback. The player he shares the record with? That would also be Vick, who did it in 2006.
  • Baltimore leads the NFL in rushing yards per game (200.9), rushing touchdowns (18), yards per rush attempt (5.5), rush offense EPA (estimated points added), and rush offense DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average).
  • The effectiveness of Baltimore’s run game is simply in a different stratosphere than the rest of the NFL. The difference in rush offense EPA between Baltimore (78.5) and second-ranked Dallas (19.7) is about equal to the difference between Dallas and 27th-ranked New England (-39.6).
  • The Ravens’ total of 2,612 rushing yards is the ninth-best total through 13 games in the Super Bowl era (since 1966), and the best since the 1978 Patriots. Their average of 5.46 yards per rush attempt is third-best through 13 games, trailing the 2007 Vikings (5.49) and 2006 Falcons (5.62).
  • The single-season record for rushing yards is 3,165, held by the 1978 Patriots. Baltimore is on pace for 3,215, which of course would break that record. The record for yards per game is 220.6, held by the 1973 Bills. Baltimore’s average of 200.9 yards per game is on track to rank seventh in the Super Bowl era, trailing six teams from the 70’s.
  • The Ravens’ 5.46 yards per attempt would also rank third-best over a full season, just as it does through 13 games, but they are within striking distance of the all-time record. They are trailing only the 2006 Falcons (5.47) and the 1997 Lions (5.51).

Jets run defense

  • The Jets lead the NFL in fewest yards allowed per rush attempt (3.0) and rush defense EPA, while ranking second in rush yards per game (78.8) and rush defense DVOA, trailing only the Buccaneers (hi, Todd Bowles!) in each.
  • The Jets have allowed a first down on 17.2 percent of opponent rush attempts, the lowest rate in the league. They have stuffed 32 percent of opponent runs for no gain or a loss, best in the league. In power situations (third/fourth down with two yards or less to go, or first/second and goal from two yards out or closer), the Jets have allowed a conversion just 50 percent of the time, second-best.
  • A league-low 7.7 percent of rushes against the Jets have gone for 10-plus yards. In total, the Jets have given up 26 rushes for 10-plus yards, tied with Minnesota and New England for the fewest.
  • 32 running backs have carried the ball at least once against the Jets, and only one has run for 5.0-plus yards per attempt — Devin Singletary, who picked up 70 yards on four carries in Week 1.
  • The Jets have not allowed the opponent’s lead back to rush for over 4.0 yards per attempt since Jordan Howard averaged 4.8 against them in Week 5. Howard (13/62/4.8) and Rex Burkhead (11/47/4.3) are the only lead backs to eclipse 4.0 yards per attempt against the Jets. In total, the Jets have allowed lead backs to average just 3.0 yards per attempt.
  • Saquon Barkley (13/1/0.1) and Josh Jacobs (10/34/3.4) both posted career-lows in total rushing yards and yards per rush attempt against the Jets. Barkley’s one yard was the worst total posted in Giants history by a player with at least 13 carries, and the fewest yards ever posted by a Jets opponent with at least 13 carries.
  • Since Week 8, the Jets have allowed running backs to pick up a first down on just 14 of 132 rush attempts (10.6%).
  • The Jets’ 3.03 yards allowed per rush attempt is the 11th-best mark through 13 games in the Super Bowl era, and the best since the 2007 Vikings and Ravens. That mark would rank seventh-best over a full season.
  • In 2019, the league average for yards per rush attempt is 4.29, second-highest in league history behind 2018 (4.42). The Jets have allowed 3.03 yards per attempt, a differential of -1.26 versus league average. Over a full season, that would be the third-best margin versus league average in the Super Bowl era, trailing the 2006 Vikings (-1.33) and 2000 Ravens (-1.39).