Running The Numbers: Let's "Figure" Out Ravens Defense

Only six teams in the NFL have allowed fewer points than the Baltimore Ravens. The Cowboys certainly have their work cut out for them on Sunday, but I still think their underachieving offense could potentially break out in Baltimore. While it's imperative that the 'Boys get their rushing game going, they might find the most success by attacking the Ravens through the air – as long as they target the right defenders.

6.9: Net yards-per-attempt (YPA) allowed by the Ravens through the air.

In terms of efficiency, the Ravens rank just 22nd in the NFL in pass defense. That's the good news. The bad news is that they're one of two teams to surrender only two passing touchdowns all season.

3.5: Yards-per-carry allowed by the Ravens.

Baltimore boasts the seventh-most efficient run defense in the NFL. Nonetheless, opposing teams have tested the Ravens on the ground, rushing the ball 170 times (fifth-most against any defense).

4.8: Percentage of plays the Ravens have recorded a sack.

That mark ranks them 23rd in the NFL. In comparison, the Cowboys have a sack on 8.0 percent of their defensive snaps.   

4.04: YPA allowed by starting cornerback Lardarius Webb.

Webb is truly one of the premiere cornerbacks in the NFL. He has been targeted 23 times on the year, allowing only 10 receptions and a passer rating of 37.0 on throws his way.

10.46: YPA allowed by starting cornerback Cary Williams.

If there's an opportunity to attack someone on the Ravens' defense, it may be Williams. Williams has been targeted 37 times in 2012, allowing a 70.3 percent completion rate and 14.9 yards-per-catch. Dez Bryant and Miles Austin will need to fight off Williams' length to take advantage of the mismatch.

56.0: Percentage of snaps played by nickel cornerback Jimmy Smith.

The Ravens love to utilize their nickel personnel to allow their talented second-year cornerback to get on the field. As a comparison, Cowboys nickel cornerback Orlando Scandrick has played on 43.4 percent of the defensive snaps. The Ravens usually play Smith outside and move Webb into the slot in their nickel package.

3.7: Passer rating allowed by Lardarius Webb in the slot.

We're back to Webb because, quite frankly, he's that impressive. When the Cowboys line up with three or more receivers, Webb will most likely cover Austin in the slot. On his 91 snaps in the slot this season, Webb has 3.22 YPA and a 33.0 percent completion rate. In three-receiver sets, Tony Romo may need to look primarily to Bryant and Jason Witten.

8.3: Percentage of plays on which outside linebacker Paul Kruger has pressured the quarterback.

With Terrell Suggs still injured, the Ravens haven't been able to pressure the quarterback as much as you might expect. They have only nine sacks on the year, and Kruger has actually been their most efficient rusher off of the edge. Both DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer have higher pressure rates than Kruger.

101: Tackles made by the Ravens' starting secondary.

Baltimore's secondary is loaded with big, physical players who are willing tacklers. The Cowboys' starting secondary has only 40 tackles on the season, and that's if you include Danny McCray's special teams tackles.  

3: Sacks by defensive end Haloti Ngata.

J.J. Watt of the Texans is the only five-technique player with more sacks than Ngata. Ngata moves all along Baltimore's defensive line, but he's a disruptive force from whichever position he plays.

191: Yards allowed by Ray Lewis in coverage.

We all know how dominant Ray Lewis can be, and he's at it again with 43 tackles this season. I think Lewis may have lost a little something versus the pass, however (don't tell him I said that). The inside linebacker has allowed 9.55 YPA. In comparison, Sean Lee and Bruce Carter have combined to yield only 5.41 YPA.

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