In Week Three, the Jacksonville Jaguars will play the Baltimore Ravens in London in the first game of this year’s International Series. Here we take a look at the performance of both teams in Week One, and what we might expect to see in Week Two before we get to watch Jaguars-Ravens next week.
International Series Special – Baltimore vs Jacksonville
Wasn’t this meant to be the team that just couldn’t get it together? Each of the last two off-seasons have seen the Jags be the hyped team of the AFC South. In 2017, analysts seemed to finally give up on them. Blake Bortles was broken beyond repair. Their defense would never show up.
Not so on either count, so it transpires. Bortles looked just fine as a game manager. That’s no bad thing if it helps rebuild much needed confidence. The defense looked legit however, with Calais Campbell setting the team’s record for sacks in a game in his first appearance. It finally looks like they could be onto something.
That said, it was against one of the worst offensive lines in living memory. On top of that, the Texans lack big play ability outside of DeAndre Hopkins. Oh, and head coach Bill O’Brien just benched his starting quarterback inside the first game of the season for the second time in three years.
What to Expect From Week Two
The Jaguars are hosting the Titans, who lost at home to the Raiders in the season opener. They’ll be keen to bounce back from that, and to prove their preseason status as division favorites wasn’t just hype. The winner here would hold an advantage in the race for the AFC South crown. This should be a must-watch game.
Whoa! Who saw that coming? Not only did the Ravens win in Cinncinati, they didn’t let the Bengals score a point. Forget Joe Flacco’s back problems, the Ravens would’ve won this game with Ryan Mallett at quarterback. Maybe that’s why they didn’t rush to replace their back up. They knew exactly how good their defense was going to be.
The second game in a row that saw awful o-line play (spot a theme here?), the Bengals simply couldn’t handle the Ravens up front. Any quarterback that throws four picks can’t escape criticism – Andy Dalton was as bad as advertised. He simply doesn’t have the talent to play in a collapsing pocket. This could be a long year for the Bengals.
The Ravens on the other hand couldn’t be happier. That probably qualifies as the defensive performance of the week, coupled with a two-headed hydra of a run game. Terrance West and Javorius Allen both looked good, particularly West, who averaged over four yards a carry. This meant there was little pressure on Flacco and his healing back to carry the team to victory.
What to Expect From Week Two
The Ravens host the Browns, which – with all due respect to the city of Cleveland – they must feel comfortable about. The Browns offensive line is better than the Bengals, but the ageless Terrell Suggs and company must be looking forward to going up against DeShone Kizer. The Ravens should be looking at 2-0 by the end of the weekend.
What Does It Mean for Their Week Three Matchup?
When these games were first announced last year, there was a tendency to overlook this first one. The Jags – visiting the UK again – were perennial disappointments, and the Ravens always felt like the third fiddle to the Steelers and the Bengals in the AFC North.
Not any more – this could be an absolute barn-burner. There’s a chance both teams are 2-0 and fighting to be top of their respective divisions. It could also be a heavyweight defensive clash – the youthful exuberance of Myles Jack and Dante Fowler versus the savvy know how of Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley. And that’s without even talking about Leonard Fournette, Eric Weddle and the greatest beard in professional football.
If you’re a fan in the UK, there is a lot to look forward to in this match up. So, mark these games in your calendar, and keep a close eye on both teams going into week two.