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Expect the Unexpected 

Devin Duvernay TD vs Vikings
Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens
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Hold onto your seats, Ravens fans.

It’s going to be a wild ride over the second half of the NFL season.

In a league that prides itself on parity, this has already been one unpredictable year.

The Ravens are 6-3 and are in first place in the AFC North.

They had a disappointing loss to Miami Dolphins on Thursday night where it appeared they would lose ground in the division.
However, the Steelers tied the winless Lions and the Browns were blown out by the Patriots.

The Bengals were the winners because they gained ground on a bye week.

In consecutive weeks, four teams that entered the weekend with .500-or-below records defeated opponents that began the week with at least a share of first place in their divisions, including the Ravens. The eight such wins – .500-or-below teams defeating first-place clubs – are the most in Weeks 9-10 of a single season since 1970.

Prepare for a wild finish.

“It’s going to be that way all season,” Harbaugh said. “It’s going to be a dog fight throughout the course of the season, I think, in every division to win the division. That’s your first goal, to win the division. To do that, we have to find a way to win the next game. We have to stack as many wins as we can.

“[We’re] disappointed on Thursday – that would’ve been a great opportunity for us if we would have been able to find a way to win that game. We played poorly and lost the game, but we’re in the fight. We’re in first place; we have to find a way to win the next game.”

The AFC North might not be decided until the final week of the season.

The Ravens still have to play five division games — two with Pittsburgh, two with Cleveland and one with Cincinnati.

The Bengals looked like the favorite to win the division when they blew out the Ravens 41-17 in Week 7. However, Cincinnati lost its next two games to the struggling Jets and division rival Cleveland.

Entering Week 11, here the odds to win the AFC North, according to  ESPN’s Football Power Index:

— Ravens, 59%

— Browns, 19.6%

— Steelers, 12.9%

— Bengals, 8.4%

The Ravens appeared to be the best team in the AFC in wins against the Chiefs, Chargers and Colts. However, they also played inconsistently in losses to the Raiders, Bengals and Dolphins.

There is room for improvement.

The Ravens need to cut down on allowing big plays and tackle better on defense. They also need more production from the running backs. Baltimore leads the NFL in rushing but that’s mainly due to quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is ranked sixth among all players with 639 yards rushing.

The Ravens jettisoned running back Le’Veon Bell earlier this week, which means Latavius Murray could be back in the lineup after missing three games with an ankle injury.

Perhaps, little-used Ty’Son Williams could finally get an opportunity.

Harbaugh shed some light on the running back situation this week.

“Every player just has to contribute and perform and produce when they’re out there, and that goes for any player,” Harbaugh said. “So, if you’re a running back, you need to run hard, you need to break tackles, you need to get yards, you need to pass protect, you need to run the right route out of the backfield, catch the ball and get up [the] field.”

Baltimore has Nate McCrary on the practice squad. McCrary flashed during the preseason and was a dark horse to make the team.

Harbaugh has learned to expect the unexpected.

“It’s week-to-week,” Harbaugh said after his team lost to the Bengals 41-17. “You’re being crowned the best ever, and we’re sitting there going, ‘Woah, woah, it’s one week.’ Now, you want to say, ‘What’s wrong with the run game? What’s wrong with the pass game? You guys are terrible.’

“And we’re like, ‘Woah, woah, it’s one week.’ It’s the same message from us. So, that’s how it works. That’s how the National Football League works.”

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