Sitting Pretty … For Now Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens

Street Talk Sitting Pretty … For Now

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The Ravens emerged from the softest portion of their schedule in an enviable position.

They are 4-2 and sit atop the AFC North, two games ahead of both Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

And, the Ravens added more depth to their banged-up secondary. 

Two other division leaders — the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans — are also 4-2, but only have a one-game lead. New England (6-0) is one again the class of the NFL, but the upstart Buffalo Bills (4-1) won’t let them run away with the division.

The Ravens face a tough test Week 7 against the Seahawks and that’s why the current two-game buffer in the division is so important. Still, the Ravens are staring down the barrel of upcoming games against the  Patriots (Nov. 3), Texans (Nov. 17), Rams (Nov. 25), 49ers (Dec. 1) and Bills (Dec. 8). 

“I’m going to give you the cliché, but it’s the truth: We just have to focus on Seattle. So, how the schedule fell or how we fit … It’s better to be 4-2 than 3-3 or 2-4, but not as good as 6-0 or 5-1,” Harbaugh said. “That’s my thought on it. And 5-2 would be a lot better than 4-3. 

“And if you want to go past that, you can just extrapolate. So yes, it’s really important. But I think the next game is critical. It won’t make or break us, but it will go a long way in setting us up for where we’re headed down the road and what kind of season we’re going to have.”

The Ravens could help themselves by stealing a road game against the Seahawks, who are 3.5-point favorites. However, that could be daunting, especially with the current state of the secondary.

Three safeties — Tony Jefferson (knee), DeShon Elliott (knee) and Brynden Trawick (elbow) — have been lost for the season. Cornerback Tavon Young (neck) was also placed on the IR prior to the regular-season opener. 

To offset some of the losses, GM Eric DeCosta traded linebacker Kenny Young and an undisclosed 2020 draft pick to the Los Angeles Rams for cornerback Marcus Peters

Peters, 26, could be in the lineup this week against the Seattle Seahawks.. He is durable and has started every game since arriving in Los Angeles. 

[Related: Our Knee-Jerk Reactions to the Peters/Young Trade]

This season, Peters has played in six games, producing 14 tackles, two interceptions — one returned for a touchdown– and four passes defended.

There is some more good news.

Rookie cornerback Iman Marshall (toe) was also placed on Injured Reserve, but he was designated to return after Week 8 this season. Cornerback Jimmy Smith has not played since the regular-season opener in Miami because of a knee sprain, but he is expected to be back in the lineup in the coming weeks.

However, another potential issue is with the offense and whether the team is relying too heavily on Lamar Jackson. The second-year quarterback had 388 of the Ravens’ 497 yards of total offense Week 6 against the Bengals. 

Jackson became the first player in the Super Bowl era to amass more than 200 yards passing and at least 150 yards rushing in a regular season game. 

The question is whether the Ravens are putting him in harm’s way. Jackson has mostly done a solid job avoiding hits, but they’re beginning to stack up. 

Can his 6-foot-2, 212-pound frame absorb that type of abuse over the 16-game schedule?

Ravens coach John Harbaugh is confident Jackson has done a solid job taking care of himself. 

Jackson carried the ball 19 times for a career-high 152 yards with a touchdown against the Bengals. 

“I just think it’s part of the game right now with the way we play and the way Lamar [Jackson] plays,” Harbaugh said. “I am impressed with his toughness; there’s no question about that. The goal is not for him to take certain hits. There were probably two of them there that I would have rather seen him not get hit on, but we also have to acknowledge that those are going to happen during the course of the year — hopefully less rather than more. 

“I wouldn’t expect him to be running that many times very many times this year. That’s just the way it went. It was part of the plan, because of the way they played, and it turned out to hold up during the game, and it actually, probably, was a big factor in winning the game. That’s what we’re here for, so we’re certainly not going to apologize for that. Going forward, we’ll try to manage it the best we can.” 

The Ravens might only need to go 5-5 the rest of the way to make the playoffs for a second straight year. They control their own destiny and couldn’t ask for much more heading into Week 7. 

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich
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