Best Ravens team ever?
The Ravens are streaking; winners of seven games in a row including impressive victories over the Seahawks, Patriots, Texans and Rams, you have to go back to week 4 of the season when the Ravens lost unceremoniously at home to the Cleveland Browns.
Since that loss the Ravens have outscored their opponents by 149 points, an average margin of victory of 21.3 points. The Ravens 9-2 record is tied with the 2006 team for the Franchise’s best mark through 11 games and the seven game winning streak is only matched by the 2000 Ravens that won seven games to close out the season before winning four more en route to a Super Bowl victory.
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Just how good is this Ravens team? Well, if we take a look at football outsiders’ DVOA we can get a glimpse into the historical context of what the Ravens are doing. With the most recent win over the Rams, Baltimore ranks 1st overall in offense, 2nd in special teams and 4th in defense in 2019. Using the same metric, the 2019 Ravens compare historically to other teams at the same point of the season quite favorably ranking as the 12th best team ever through week twelve dating back to 1985.
Of note, this is the only Ravens team to appear on the list of the top dozen teams through the first twelve weeks of the season, ranking higher than the 2006 Ravens that finished the season 13-3 and the 2000, 2010 and 2011 teams that all finished 12-4.
The Ravens also rank exceptionally well using traditional metrics. On offense, Baltimore leads the NFL in scoring by a wide margin, averaging 35.1 points per game with the next closest team, San Francisco, is averaging almost five points less at 30.3 points per game. The Ravens are tied with Dallas for best in the league in total offense, averaging 433 yards per game. The 35.1 points per game is almost 10 points better than any previous Ravens team as the next best mark was set by the 2014 team that scored 25.6 points per game, and the 2018 team set the previous best mark for yards per game at 384.3, almost 50 yards less per contest.
While the Ravens have been dominating all season on the offensive side of the ball, perhaps what is most impressive is the defensive turnaround the team has made since week 4. After the loss to the Browns, the Ravens ranked 29th in defensive DVOA and have improved to 4th over the seven-game win streak. The 18.4 points per game the team is giving up is 5th best in the NFL and while the 322.7 yards per game is just outside of the top 10, it’s hard to imagine this same team gave up back to back 500-yard games in weeks 3 and 4.
The Ravens have always been known as a defensive team, and while no one will confuse this team for the 2000 or 2006 teams, the level that the defense has played at since acquiring Marcus Peters is extremely impressive. The Ravens are giving up only 12.4 points per game over this stretch while limiting opposing offenses to a meager 289.8 yards per game, which would be good enough for 2nd and 4th in the league if extrapolated over the entire season, respectively.
The one area in which the Ravens defense could still improve would be the pass-rush as they still are not accumulating sacks as Ravens teams of the past have been able to do. However, they are generating pressure at a high rate and those pressures are forcing opponents into turnovers; since the Peters acquisition the Ravens have forced at least two turnovers each game and over the course of the season are tied for 5th in the NFL with 11 interceptions. Overall, the Ravens +8 turnover differential is tied for 4th best in the league.
Overall, I believe that this 2019 Ravens team is shaping up to be the best team in Franchise history. It may not be as dominant on defense as some previous teams, but the level of offensive performance combined with a very good if not elite defense is special. Of course the season is not yet over, and even if the 2019 Ravens finish the regular season 14-2, they will have to make it count in the postseason if they are to be considered the best Ravens team ever. However, all signs are suggesting that this is a truly special team and I for one am incredibly excited to see how the rest of the season plays out.
Gabe is an avid fan of the NFL and Ravens football. He grew up in Westminster, MD, and attended college at Johns Hopkins University majoring in Biology. He earned his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and now works as a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where he studies cartilage development and cancer. Gabe has appeared as a guest on 105.7 The Fan.