The Jets open their season against the Baltimore Ravens, a team they’ve only beaten once since 1997. They played each other in the season opener once before, with Baltimore hanging on for a 10-9 win in 2010. The last time the teams met, in 2019, it was a 42-21 blowout win for the Ravens. DraftKings Sportsbook has the Jets at +6.5 heading into their opening game.
Lamar Jackson’s dual threat capabilities provide a unique threat for the Jets’ defense this week — one they’re valiantly attempting to recreate in practice by using scout team quarterback Chris Streveler in the Jackson role.
After a season which saw him back in the Pro Bowl despite throwing a career high 13 interceptions, Jackson has been mired in a contract dispute although it’s probably optimistic to hope this might have created a distraction.
In 2021, Jackson won seven of his 12 starts, although four of those came on fourth quarter comebacks. Tyler Huntley, who remains the number two, lost three of his four starts.
Left tackle Ronnie Stanley is the Ravens’ best offensive lineman, but only returned to practice on Wednesday having suffered a season-ending ankle injury last October and has been ruled out of Sunday’s game. The former sixth overall pick was an all-pro in 2019.
Ja’Wuan James was injured all last year but looks set to deputize for Stanley against the Jets. It would be his first start since December 2019 and he’s only played 18 snaps at left tackle in his entire career.
Two of the three Ravens’ offensive linemen to start all 17 games last year - Bradley Bozeman and Alejandro Villanueva - departed in free agency with former Jet Morgan Moses replacing Villanueva at right tackle and first round draft pick Tyler Linderbaum coming in as the new center. Veteran Kevin Zeitler returns at right guard after starting every game last season.
The starting left guard role was a competition between Ben Cleveland and Ben Powers, who started 16 games between them last year. Based on the latest depth chart issued by the team, Powers won this battle.
The Ravens drafted Daniel Faalele in the fourth round and Patrick Mekari, who started 12 games last season, will also provide depth. Center Trystan Colon, who has only started three games in his career, rounds out the bench.
Jackson led the Ravens in rushing with 767 yards in 2021 despite missing five games. Remarkably, none of the running backs currently on the roster had any carries with the team last season as JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill all suffered season ending injuries within two weeks of the season opener.
All three return are set to the lineup this year, although Edwards will begin the season on the PUP list. Edwards and Dobbins should ultimately play a major role, having combined to rush for over 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2020.
Veterans Mike Davis and Kenyan Drake have been added to the group this year and could see early action with Dobbins listed as questionable. In addition, three-time pro bowler Patrick Ricard is back at fullback.
The Ravens’ top pass-catching threat is tight end Mark Andrews who racked up over 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns on 107 catches last season.
However, they were weakened at the wide receiver position when Hollywood Brown was traded to Arizona. The hope is that last year’s first round pick Rashod Bateman will pick up the slack. He had 46 catches for 515 yards in his rookie season.
Devin Duvernay is listed as the other starting receiver but he’s had an underwhelming start to his career on offense with 53 catches in his first two seasons. Demarcus Robinson adds some experience to the group, although he’s never had a 500-yard season. Reserves James Proche and Tylan Wallace combined for 18 catches last season.
Although the Ravens utilize plenty of multiple tight end sets, Andrews is the only one who produced in the passing game last year with reserves Nick Boyle and Josh Oliver combining for just 10 catches. They’ll hope fourth round rookie Isaiah Likely will bring something to this group.
The Ravens play a 3-4 system with their defensive line spearheaded by veteran Calais Campbell, who is still a force against the run at 36 years old.
Justin Madubuike is back at the other end position after starting 11 games last season but the Ravens signed Michael Pierce to replace Brandon Williams at nose tackle. Third round rookie Travis Jones will back up Pierce this season, but he’s been ruled out of Sunday’s game.
Broderick Washington returns in a reserve role and the Ravens signed journeyman Brent Urban to add further depth.
The Ravens will start the year with some depth issues at outside linebacker. Tyus Bowser, who led the team with seven sacks last season, will begin the season on the PUP list and second round pick David Ojabo is on injured reserve.
Justin Houston and Odafe Oweh should start on Sunday with Malik Harrison potentially moving outside. They have also elevated Steven Means from the practice squad. Houston only had 4.5 sacks last season but led the team in quarterback hits. Oweh only started two games as a first round rookie, but had five sacks and a team-high three forced fumbles.
On the inside, Patrick Queen and Josh Bynes will start. Queen led the team with 98 tackles and 10 tackles for loss last year, while Bynes added 76 tackles. Other than Harrison, Kristian Welch, undrafted rookie Josh Ross and former Jet Del’Shawn Phillips will provide depth.
In 2021, the Ravens intercepted just nine passes with most of them coming from players who are no longer on the team. They are strong at cornerback though with Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey both having been first-team all pros in 2019. Kyle Fuller was added to the mix in the offseason and should provide stability in the slot. Humphrey led the team with 13 passes defensed last year, but only intercepted one pass.
The safety position was also strengthened when Marcus Williams was signed to a five-year $70 million deal in the offseason. He has 15 interceptions in five seasons at the NFL level so he’ll bring some much-needed playmaking abilities. Williams will join Chuck Clark in the starting line-up. The Ravens will also often run three-safety packages and could use the versatile Brandon Stephens in this role, although he’s actually been listed as a cornerback.
First round pick Kyle Hamilton might not play much initially at safety, but the Ravens will no doubt be looking for opportunities to work him in. Geno Stone will also provide depth at safety while two fourth round rookies, Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion “Pepe” Williams will back up at the corner positions. Williams reportedly had a strong camp.
The Ravens have had one of the most well-established kicking games in the NFL led by Justin Tucker, who was an all-pro again after missing just two kicks all season. However, their longtime punter Sam Koch retired in May after they drafted Jordan Stout in the fourth round to replace him - one of six fourth-rounders the team selected in April.
Duvernay is listed as the primary return man on punts and kickoffs after averaging 14 yards per punt return and 24 yards per kickoff return in 2021 to earn recognition as a pro bowler and all-pro. Hill and Proche are the main options to fill in for Duvernay if necessary.
Wallace is the team’s best gunner and one of their most productive players in kick coverage. Stone has also been a good contributor and Phillips was tied for the team lead in special teams tackles with the Jets last season.