Ravens Fast Five: Six Straight Wins, Going For Seven, Thanks to Eight
Lamar for “MVP” train picking up steam.
Ho Hum. Another 90+ QBR day for Lamar Jackson, clocking in at 91.2 to be exact in the Ravens 41-7 thumping of, IMO, a now former MVP candidate In Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans. Regarded by many as the must-see game of the week, and the Ravens made it a one-sided affair. Lamar Jackson is now the only quarterback with three games of QBR over 90.0 this season.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
Watson posted a 10.6 QBR on the day, easily his worst performance of the season. He also had a 22.3 mark in a loss to the Panthers this year. Jackson’s worst QBR game…30.6 against the Steelers. His second worst game was still a serviceable 52.5 at the Chiefs. Watson will still have time to make his case. He’s still a great player in this league and is young and exciting. But we have to split hairs when you’re talking MVP, and Watson did not deliver an MVP caliber performance while his counterpart, totally did.
The stakes in this game were very high considering playoff seeding and tie breakers, and Watson failed to meet expectations while Jackson threw four more touchdowns, and made plays with his legs against a tough run defense. They are second in playoff seeding, and closer to number one than number three.
It’s a three-horse race for MVP right now with Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson, and Christian McCaffery leading the way. Dak Prescott is a quiet candidate, and Patrick Mahomes is obviously capable of putting up big time numbers down the stretch to account for missed time and get back into the conversation. It’s his award to pass on anyway.
Jackson is on pace to throw for 3,612 yards, rush for 1,260, totaling 4,872. On pace to account for 40 total TDs. His 77.4 QBR is 4th, and the top-4 in that department are separated by exactly one point. (Wilson, Prescott, Mahomes, Jackson). Passer rating of 106.3 is also 4th in the league.
Great coverage leading to uptick in pass rush success.
I was lucky enough to be at the game yesterday, so I was able to see the whole field. Sometimes you don’t get to see everything on TV, in particular the secondary. The Ravens secondary flat out made it hard for Deshaun Watson to find open receivers. The Ravens ended up picking up seven sacks and 10 hits on the day, coming a long way from being absent in the early part of the season.
Looks like the addition of Marcus Peters and getting Jimmy Smith back healthy has indirectly improved that pass rush unit that’s best game was three sacks in week 1 at Miami. Jaylon Ferguson made his presence felt with his first career sack, and two other tackles for loss on the day. It’s not surprising given that he holds the NCAA sack record. But he’s a raw talent that needed development. Or he just needs an extra second to use his physicality to bully blockers. Precious seconds that the coverage teams provide, making opposing QBs have to get to their fourth and fifth looks in their progression. Apparently one of those looks by Watson was a dump off pass to Josh Bynes.
I thought this was the hard part of the schedule.
You know that exercise we do every year when the schedule comes out? “Win, win, loss, win, loss, win…”. We do it every year before the kickoff of week 1 too. I remember the first six games it was a must to go 4-2. That affords to you play .500 ball against Seattle, New England, Cincy, Houston, Rams, 49ers, and maybe pick up some easy wins at the end to get to 10 wins.
Remember when the Miami game shouldn’t even count? Should have played better against the Steelers backup QBs? Should have beaten the Bengals by more the first time around? Seems like ages ago, and the Ravens are making hay against the hard part of the schedule. 3-0 against the Seahawks, Patriots, and Texans. Outscoring them 108-43 on their way to an 8-2 record, rattling off six straight wins.
My outrageous 12-4 prediction might be wrong. Might be too low.
Best Ravens team ever?
That is still up for debate, but it is very much the most complete Ravens team ever. Pro-Football Reference uses something called “simple rating system” to measure a team’s strength. Includes margin of victory, strength of schedule, and the total rating is offense plus defense. This teams SRS is 13.4. The next highest, Joe Flacco’s rookie year of 2008 they were a 9.8. Then the 2006 team at 9.3. 2000 Ravens? 8.0, and all 8.0 came from the defense as the offense rated 0.0, which is exactly average. 2012 Super Bowl champs? 2.9. Talk about a team that got red hot at the perfect time.
Of that 13.4 for 2019, the offense accounts for 11.0 of that. Next best Ravens offense by SRS? 2008 Ravens start of the Flacco/Harbaugh era….at 4.2!
I feel like with plenty of games to go, we can revisit this later. But I have a feeling the record books are going to be rewritten often on the offensive side as the games go on. Ravens can set the franchise season win record by winning out, going 14-2.
Weary that the Rams righted the ship.
The Ravens head out west for Monday Night Football. The Rams game is one we’ve had circled as they are the defending NFC Champions. However, they seemed to be suffering their Super Bowl hangover, sitting at 3rd place in the NFC West. Ravens fans were certainly not happy to see the Rams let the Steelers hang around the AFC North race by laying a giant egg in Pittsburgh, losing 17-12. Not getting Todd Gurley involved enough, only 12 rushes and no catches. Not targeting Cooper Kupp who was a zero across the board. Jared Goff has had games where he’s attempted 50+ passes and that isn’t the Rams style. A big time matchup we had circled became a lot less imposing.
Well, Sean McVay and the Rams heard the noise and responded accordingly. They didn’t beat the Bears in a convincing fashion, 17-7, but they did get back to getting the ball into their best players hands. Gurley rushed 25 times for 97 yards and a score, adding three catches for 36 yards as well.
34 rushes by the Rams backfield against just 18 drop backs by Jared Goff. This is a game, given our immense talent in the secondary, I’d rather see Jared Goff force passes in Marcus Peters, Earl Thomas, Marlon Humphrey’s direction.
The big matchup, and I mean “big”, is Aaron Donald vs. the Ravens O-line. Last night Donald feasted on the Bears pretty poor offensive line. The Ravens O-line is one of the top units in the league, and they run a very complex running scheme. Donald is one of the very few players who is an elite run stopper, and elite pass rusher. He leads defensive lineman with eight sacks and is second with 34 QB hurries. He’s fourth among D-Lineman with 24 run stops. Often, we follow the ball when we watch games. This is one where we might want to watch the trenches. If you can help taking your eyes of Lamar Jackson. I don’t know that I can.
Despite all the negative surrounding L.A., they are still a formidable 6-4 and are playing to keep pace in the NFC playoff race. It’s almost must win time for them with the Seahawks and Vikings both sporting eight wins, and wild card spots since San Francisco and Green Bay respectively lead those divisions. The Ravens eight wins have them in a first-round bye, and a giant target on their back. The Ravens are now a team that other teams will circle, and they will get the very best from their opposition.
Here’s hoping the oppositions very best is up there with Houston’s very best yesterday.
Bonus Thought: How many times during L.A. week will people reference Hollywood Brown and Hollywood, California? He’s from Hollywood, Florida…before you make a fool of yourself on the internet, or on live television.
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]