49ers vs. Ravens weather: Rain, wind could play significant factor in matchup between two of NFL's best teams
Rain and wind is expected throughout Sunday's game from Baltimore
The NFL's two best rushing attacks may be especially pivotal during Sunday's game between the 49ers and Ravens. A torrential downpour has already hit Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium and is expected to continue throughout the game. Both teams will also have to deal with significant wind.
Both teams are certainly built for this type of weather. Baltimore, led by quarterback Lamar Jackson and running back Mark Ingram, are first in the NFL in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and yards per carry average. The 49ers, led by running backs Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, and Raheem Mostert, are second in the league in each of the above categories. Both teams success running the football are major reasons why Baltimore and San Francisco have a combined 19-3 record entering Sunday's game.
The rain, wind and possibly compromised field position should favor Baltimore's more versatile rushing attack. While the 49ers' ground attack is mostly based on getting to the outside (which should be significantly harder in adverse weather conditions), Ingram is a straight-ahead running team who makes the majority of his yards between the tackles. The big question is whether or not the rain will impact Jackson's running ability, as the majority of Jackson's runs are outside the pocket.
On Sunday morning, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Jackson, during Baltimore's Thanksgiving Day practice, decided to practice with a wet football in preparation for Sunday's game. Jackson, the current league MVP front-runner, dunked his practice footballs into a water bucket in case he faced adversed weather conditions against the 49ers. Jackson, a year after throwing just six touchdowns in seven starts, is tied with the Seahawks' Russell Wilson for the NFL lead with 24 touchdown passes this season that includes 12 touchdown passes in Baltimore's last three games. He threw a career high five touchdowns in Baltimore's Week 12 win in Los Angeles.
Given the way both teams like to throw the ball, the weather may not hinder Jackson and 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo as much as expected. The 49ers and Ravens like throwing short passes to their backs and tight ends; 49ers tight end George Kittle leads the Ravens with 52 catches for 670 yards, while tight end Mark Andrews leads the Ravens with 50 catches for 643 yards and six touchdowns.
Defensively, the 49ers have had issues stopping mobile quarterbacks this season. Arizona's Kyler Murray had two good games against San Francisco's defense, while Seattle's Russell Wilson used his legs to help hand the 49ers their first (and only) loss of the season. San Francisco's defense, while second in the league in pass defense, is just 19th in rushing yards allowed and 25 in average yards per carry allowed. Conversely, the Ravens' defense is third in the NFL in average yards per cary allowed.
Sunday's game is pivotal for both teams. At 10-1, the 49ers are trying to stay ahead of the Saints (10-2) and Seahawks (9-2) for the NFC's top seed. The Ravens, 9-2 entering Sunday's game, are looking to keep pace with the 10-1 Patriots for the AFC's top seed.
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