The Ravens (9-3) will face the Los Angeles Rams (6-6) at 1 p.m. Sunday in Baltimore. Here are predictions from The Baltimore Banner’s sports staff.

Kyle Goon, columnist

Football games are won on matchups, not vibes, but there is an eerily familiar feeling here. The Rams are an NFC riser, steadily gaining traction with wins against the Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns, two decent (if flawed) teams. It’s a similar profile to, say, the Detroit Lions when they visited Baltimore, or the Seahawks when they came weeks later. The Ravens utterly trounced both.

I think something similar will happen Sunday. While Matthew Stafford is a better quarterback than Jared Goff or Geno Smith, he’s had ups and downs this season, and the Ravens figure to bring as much pressure as the Rams have seen. Baltimore should also benefit from players getting healthy over the bye week, the favorable kickoff time that will challenge the Rams’ body clocks, and a running game that should find success against a middling Rams defense. By the way, the Ravens are 12-3 after regular-season bye weeks under John Harbaugh, as good a track record as any.

Ravens 31, Rams 10

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Jonas Shaffer, reporter

Marlon Humphrey told reporters Wednesday that John Harbaugh welcomed the Ravens back from their bye week with a “fiery” message, and for good reason. This Rams team is not to be trifled with. The offense, in particular, has been one of the NFL’s best in recent weeks. In a 36-19 win over the Browns that was closer than the score indicates, the Rams protected Matthew Stafford from an elite pass rush (no sacks, two quarterback hits) and averaged nearly 5 yards per carry against a stout run defense.

The Ravens should be better prepared. Mike Macdonald’s defense throws enough curveballs to keep Stafford skittish, and a skittish Stafford is rarely a successful one. On offense, the Ravens will have not only an advantage in rest but also talent — assuming, of course, that Lamar Jackson is healthy enough to suit up. If he is, Odell Beckham Jr. could be in line for a huge game against his old Rams teammates. Even if nasty weather turns this game into a slopfest, the Ravens’ run game is a difference-maker.

Ravens 28, Rams 17

Giana Han, reporter

The better the offense, the more this Ravens defense feasts. Yes, it has looked tired at moments in recent games, leading to explosive gains by opponents, but it has had a bye week to rest. The Ravens are getting back key players, and the ones who are banged up have healed up. Matthew Stafford’s a good quarterback, but he’s not the best they’ve faced. I expect the Ravens to bring the pressure, especially if Justin Madubuike’s good to go, and Marlon Humphrey’s return should help lock down Stafford’s options.

The same goes for Lamar Jackson’s matchup with the Rams’ defense. It is good enough, but the Ravens have faced better — way better — and come out on top. However, they’ve also faced worse and lost, so it will depend on how locked in this team is. From what they’ve said in meetings, it sounds like they’re taking their first post-vacation game seriously. It will be a test, but this game is the easiest remaining on the schedule, making it an important one to win.

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Ravens 30, Rams 17

Chris Korman, editor

We know the Ravens have been middling against middling teams and that the weather is going to be atrocious Sunday and that Lamar Jackson missed practice Thursday. All of which adds up to this game being messier than it needs to be. I expect the Ravens to attempt to bully the Rams on both sides of the ball and to largely succeed. They’re fresh off a bye week and have known all season that this December gauntlet would be their ultimate proving ground.

It’s not going to be pretty, and the score will be closer than it should be, but the Ravens should control this one.

Ravens 24, Rams 17

Brandon Weigel, editor

At 6-6, the Rams are as middle of the road as it gets. L.A.’s offense ranks 13th in yards per game (345.5) and points scored (22.3), and its defense is 16th in yards allowed per game (330.8) and 14th in points allowed (21.1). Ho hum.

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But they’ve been riding a hot hand since their Week 10 bye, going 3-0 against the Seahawks, Cardinals and Browns and putting themselves in the hunt for a playoff spot. In that span, Matthew Stafford has thrown eight of his 16 touchdown passes on the season against two interceptions.

Baltimore’s defense will present a formidable test, as will the dreaded West Coast-to-East Coast trip for a 1 p.m. kickoff. And then there’s this: The forecast is calling for rain throughout the day. As good as Rams running back Kyren Williams has looked, if we’re facing a water-soaked slog in which a good ground game is necessary, I’d rather lean on the quadruple threat of Keaton Mitchell, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill and Lamar Jackson (or Tyler Huntley if Jackson can’t play because of illness).

Ravens 20, Rams 13

Jonas Shaffer is a Ravens beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun. Shaffer graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Silver Spring. 

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