Your week must be going well! On Sunday afternoon, the Baltimore Ravens absolutely curb-stomped the previously 4-1 Los Angeles Chargers at M&T Bank Stadium. The Chargers were coming into Baltimore as an early favorite in the AFC and looking for another opportunity to prove themselves worthy of a look as a Super Bowl contender. For the time being, that bid has been put to sleep, as the Ravens came away with a 34-6 victory in which the game appeared over before it started.
As the NFL Twitter account highlights, it’s possible that Baltimore’s team had something a little extra on Sunday, as veteran DL Pernell McPhee riled them up pre-game.
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) October 20, 2021
McPhee may not be a massive part of Baltimore’s defense anymore, but he’s still a critical member of the team. He’s been around the block, and is in his second stint in Charm City, which makes him an integral part of the locker room. He’s a leader – regardless of how much he sees of the field.
While I’m not a huge fan of the pre-game antics that McPhee had on display, it seems like they may be working for Baltimore each week. Sitting atop the AFC at 5-1, the Ravens are starting to climb power rankings across numerous publications. As Sports Illustrated’s Todd Karpovich notes in his weekly Power Rankings Round-Up, Baltimore sits as high as 4th for some experts.
There’s nothing wrong with fourth, but I personally feel they should be higher. The Ravens are one quarter away from being 6-0, with wins over KC, LAC, and an Indianapolis team that looks resurgent. We’ll see if a victory over Cincinnati helps their cause in that unimportant area.
Something that absolutely will help Baltimore’s cause in a more impactful space – the football game – is the upcoming return of TE Nick Boyle. As Harbaugh explained in Wednesday’s press conference, Boyle was on the practice field for the first time since injuring his knee in New England last year.
Coach Harbaugh on Nick Boyle: pic.twitter.com/bAAMkCsw2c
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) October 20, 2021
It may take a few weeks, but Boyle is a natural fit in the Ravens’ suddenly versatile offense, but he may help the running game get back in stride.
The #Ravens designated TE Nick Boyle to return from Injured Reserve, meaning he can practice and the team has 21 days to activate him. Boyle, who is widely viewed as the best blocking TE in the NFL, suffered a season-ending knee injury last November. A key player for Baltimore.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 20, 2021
The Ravens sincerely missed Boyle last year, so whenever he returns this season, he’ll be a major piece in any run they make. His run blocking is something they’ll be able to lean on, but his development as a receiver in past campaigns is something to watch, as well.
While Ravens fans wait for Boyle to find his feet on the field, Baltimore’s more high-profile tight end looks to have another big week against the Bengals.
Mark Andrews among TEs this season (min. 150 snaps):
? 91.8 overall grade
? 90.6 receiving grade
? 81.3 run-blocking grade
— PFF BAL Ravens (@PFF_Ravens) October 20, 2021
Andrews has started to take off in recent weeks, which is a great sign for the offense. Against a surprising Bengals defense, however, that may be tougher. He continues to be one of Jackson’s favorite targets and there should be plenty of opportunity, but we’ll have to see what Andrews makes of it.
Turning the page to Cincinnati’s news, the Cincy Jungle highlights the injury reports for both the Ravens and Bengals.
Hendrickson and Carman appear to be the new names here, and neither of which are massive, but one player to look out for is QB Joe Burrow. Burrow suffered a scary injury in the form of a throat contusion in his game against the Packers two weeks prior.
While it didn’t prevent the former LSU Tiger from playing against Detroit last week, it is something to follow. Burrow will surely play in Baltimore this weekend, but the fact that Cincy may be refraining from practicing voice cadences may actually play an impact.
The Bank will be loud on Sunday, so you never know when a beleaguered throat could come into play.
Finally, looking at a long-term issue for the Ravens, QB Lamar Jackson stated that there have not been any updates on his contract status.
Jackson said there are no updates with his contract situation.
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) October 20, 2021
Re-signing the franchise quarterback is and should be a priority for GM Eric DeCosta and company. Jackson is a superstar, he’s box office, and he’s getting better. The longer Baltimore waits, the more expensive his price tag will be. That’s not to say he won’t deserve it, just something to note.