With Sunday’s win over the Cleveland Browns, the Baltimore Ravens have clinched the AFC North and will make their first postseason appearance since the 2014-15 season where they were eliminated in the divisional round by the eventual Super Bowl Champions New England Patriots. Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers will also be their first home playoff game since the 2012 wild card round where they beat the Indianapolis Colts 24-9. This would spark a Super Bowl run beating the Peyton Manning led Denver Broncos in the divisional round and then beating the New England Patriots in the conference championship. They capped off the electric post-season and Ray Lewis’s career with a Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Six years later, They’re in a similar situation.
Entering the post season, the Ravens are on a hot streak playing some of their best football late in the season. Since starting QB Lamar Jackson in favor of Joe Flacco the Ravens are 6-1 with the lone loss being to the Kansas City Chiefs in a 27-24 overtime duel where they where one amazing catch away from possibly sealing victory. Their elite defense and energetic offense is what’s brought them to the top of the AFC North along with some help from the late season drama in the Pittsburgh Steelers locker-room between Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger.
They are sitting at the number four seed looking as fearsome as ever. This defense is ranked number one in total defense while forcing 20 turnovers and putting up a team total 43 sacks. They were also impressive on third down only allowing a 34.3% conversion percentage, the third best in the league. The are also very good at getting to the opposing sides QB with 105 total hits on the quarterback. They’ve been able to keep the likes of the New Orleans Saints, Steelers and Chargers under 25 points in their meetings. In their meeting against the Chargers specifically in Los Angeles, they were able to keep the Phillip Rivers offense to just 10 points in their victory. The defense has certainly proved themselves and will be feared by even the top teams in the AFC if they are to advance.
Offensively this unit has performed progressively better as time went on, especially when Lamar Jackson was named the starting QB. They averaged around 22 points per game all season. Though when Lamar Jackson came in that average changed to 25. They had plenty of rotation as far as running backs go as Alex Collins was hurt late in the season and was placed on injured reserve December 1st. They put Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon on display for their late season playoff push who both preformed fairly well in their opportunities. Edwards finished the year with 718 yards on 137 carries with two scores meanwhile Dixon played his role at a serviceable level with 333 yards on 60 carries. Meanwhile for the receivers John Brown and Willie Snead have really given Lamar Jackson some reliable targets and TE Mark Andrews has come alive the last two games posting six catches for 137 yards and one touchdown.
What makes this team so much of a threat is their energy. The Ravens play hard-nosed, gritty football on the defensive side and have such an explosive offense that this team could go as far as Jackson will let them. Should he win, he will be the youngest QB in NFL history to win a playoff game. He’s the only first round rookie QB to make the playoffs, and all the pressure rides on him. With a supporting cast like this though, the Ravens make even the best teams concerned. If any of the teams playing wild card weekend are going to make the Super Bowl, it’s this Ravens team.
Photo Source : AP Photo/Nick Wass
Looking for more sports coverage? Watch “Live From The Hammock” with Miles Hill on Facebook!
For Advertising and Sponsorship opportunities with The Game Changer Sports Network, please contact Jake.Jollymore@gmail.com