Coming out of their bye week, the Ravens find themselves sitting nicely atop the AFC North at 6-3, and with an extremely favorable schedule over the season’s second half.
Four other AFC teams have three losses, and only one (Kansas City) has two losses.
The Ravens would lose the tiebreakers to Buffalo and Miami due to their head-to-head losses, but with so much football to play, a top-2 seed is certainly within their sights.
RSR staff give some second half bold predictions here.
Final Record: 12-5 & retaking the AFC North throne from the Bengals.
Playoff seed: 3rd seed in the AFC behind the Bills & Chiefs but still primed to host a home playoff game and let’s throw an opponent out there… let’s go with hosting the Bolts (getting beyond KC-BUF-BAL-TEN-MIA it’s a crapshoot between NYJ-CIN-NE-LAC).
While I don’t expect any Ravens to win national awards, let’s do a quick in-team award session.
Offensive Player of the Year: Mark Andrews (because I don’t double dip the MVP)
Defensive Player of the Year: Justin Houston
MVP: Lamar Jackson
Comeback Player of the Year: Ronnie Stanley
Rookie of the Year: Tyler Linderbaum
Final stats: Lamar Jackson finishes with 3000 pass yards with 28:12 TD:INT, along with 1,050 rush yards & 5 TDs. Nothing notable in the receiver department to talk about with stats but I’ll say Isaiah Likely will finish with more receiving yards than all but one wideout (Demarcus Robinson).
Defensively, Houston finishes with 14 sacks, the most he’s had since 2014(!) and the defense as a whole finishes with a whopping 55 sacks, which is the most a Ravens defense has had in the Harbs era (49 is the current max). Go big or go home!!
Last quick stat thought: Marcus Williams returns to grab three more picks and despite the long absence, still ends up finishing the season leading the Ravens in interceptions.
The second half of the year is upon us. The Ravens return to the field on Nov 20 and face a very bad Carolina team at home. The schedule after that isn’t very daunting either although I do think we have to be wary about the Jacksonville game on the 27th. That has trap game written all over it for me, especially since the Ravens have historically struggled against them.
But overall, the Ravens don’t play another winning team until Week 18 and that game may not mean anything.
I think the second half of this season will both give us hope and pause for what they can do in the playoffs. I think the defense is set to dominate teams and really, with the schedule and the QBs they play, they should.
Offensively, I expect the run game to dominate and the pass game to continue to frustrate. I expect that Lamar will continue to look like Superman on some plays and Kyle Boller on others.
The lack of a consistent passing game will make us all wonder if they can win in January.
I’ll predict a 13-4 record and the #2 seed, though the top seed is definitely in play.
The Ravens will get over 3000 yards rushing as a team again and could threaten their record 2019 season. I ultimately think they will fall just short (in one more game mind you) but they will get close.
Potential thing to watch? Can they get in on the OBJ sweepstakes? That could change things for them.
Things appear to be shaping up well for the Ravens going into these final eight games, as the team holds on to a one-game lead over the Bengals, and currently enjoys tiebreakers over the defending AFC North champions. An on-paper easy schedule, and the return to health of some important players, adds to the general optimism surrounding the team. Here’s what I think will happen before all is said and done:
The Ravens finish 12-5, and on top of the division, and that will earn them the third seed in the AFC.
Team awards will be:
Lamar Jackson, MVP
Mark Andrews, Offensive Player of the Year
Marlon Humphrey, Defensive Player of the Year
Tyler Linderbaum, Rookie of the Year
Ronnie Stanley, Comeback Player of the Year
Joe D’Alessandris, Coach of the Year.
Stats of Note:
Lamar Jackson, 3,500 yards passing, with 30 TD and 11 interceptions, along with 1,050 rushing yards and five TDs
Gus Edwards: 640 yards, five TDs
Mark Andrews: 1,000 receiving yards, nine TDs
Patrick Queen: 91 tackles
Roquan Smith: 45 tackles (with Ravens)
Justin Houston: 10.5 sacks
Marcus Williams: four interceptions
Justin Madubuike: 5.5 sacks
Marlon Humphrey: four picks.
Pro Bowlers: Jackson, Stanley, Andrews, Smith, Humphrey, Justin Tucker
With eight extremely winnable games remaining, I see the Ravens going 6-2 to finish with a 12-5 record. They’ll lose the finale in Cincy (which won’t matter, with KC having locked up the #1 seed and only BYE, and the Ravens having already clinched the AFC North and the third seed. Additionally, they’ll have one other unexpected hiccup, either against Denver or in…ugh, Pittsburgh.
DPOY: Marcus Williams (who returns and picks off four more passes)
Rookie of the Year: Linderbaum
NFL Comeback Player of the Year: Ronnie Stanley (Geno fades a bit down the stretch)
The Ravens defense is the NFL’s best statistically over the season’s final eight weeks, finishing in the Top 5 in yards allowed, points allowed, turnovers, and sacks. They’ll help make at least four of those final six wins I predicted total laughers (Carolina, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, & Atlanta). Can a great defense carry a squad through the AFC playoff bracket though? I’m not as optimistic about that, but am still excited to watch a Ravens defense again, and that’s something.
Final Record: 13-4
Playoff seed: 2nd seed AFC North Champions
Awards: Ronnie Stanley wins comeback player of the year
I think the Baltimore Ravens are going to be fine moving forward. They are not a perfect enough operation for me to think that they will run the table. That being said I see a team that has no excuse and an easy schedule. The Ravens will fall into the loss column one more time, and it will happen when it isn’t expected. Maybe it will be a loss to the Denver Broncos or the Pittsburgh Steelers will remind us that the rivalry is still on. It will come when this team is riding too high. If the Ravens take care of business they should beat just about everyone on the slate. That’s the standard that you have set. The Ravens beat the Buccaneers and the Saints. They have the lowly half of the NFC South left. The Ravens toughest test remaining task is winning their games against AFC North competition. If you have been paying attention, the AFC North isn’t all that tough. The Ravens could have this thing wrapped up by the time they play the Bengals in the Week 18 finale.
Lamar Jackson’s stat line won’t get him where he wants to be in his contract talks. He currently has 1,768 passing yards, averaging about 200 yards in the air. Let’s be a little generous and give him 3,400 yards passing for 32 touchdown passes. The Ravens are leaning in on his running ability and the run game in general. Jackson has 635 yards on the ground. Let’s say that jumps to 1,115 yards. That would fall in the middle of his 2019 and 2020 numbers for rushing yards. It will be a solid season for Jackson. In the playoffs, he will have a chance to earn what he wants. That being said, the numbers won’t get him the leverage he wants in contract negotiations.
Justin Houston has 8.5 sacks already this season. I’m going to put the veteran pass rusher down for 14 sacks. Odafe Oweh only has one sack this season. With Tyus Bowser back that number is going to shoot up. Give Oweh six sacks on the season. The Ravens’ pass rush is going to be the surprising strength of the team. Houston is outperforming expectations by a mile. It sets the groundwork for a monster second half of the season for the pass rush.
Marlon Humphrey, Justin Tucker, and Devin Duvernay will be voted first-team All-Pro. Duvernay will once again earn the honor as a kick return specialist. Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, Justin Houston, and, Justin Tucker will be voted into the Pro Bowl. Ronnie Stanley will win Comeback Player of the Year. John Harbaugh will have some buzz for the Coach of the Year Award though he won’t win it. The Ravens will be looked at as Super Bowl contenders. Then it’s put up or shut up time in the playoffs.
At the beginning of the season, I’d predicted an overall record of 12-5, then downgraded when I saw some of the lingering injuries coming out of Training Camp. I figured they’d end up closer to around 11-6 or 10-7, but honestly, I don’t feel terrible about that original 12-5 prediction. They’ve done pretty well through their first nine games, and now they’re going up against opponents that should (theoretically) be a little more manageable. I’ll stick by my guns and say they finish 12-5, capturing the AFC North as the #3 seed. They finish behind Buffalo and Kansas City.
A lot of other factors are up in the air, but a couple of predictions:
— Justin Houston finishes top 5 in the league in sacks.
— Kenyan Drake maintains a big role in the offense even when Gus and JK Dobbins return, and ends up leading the running back group in yardage at year’s end.
— Tyler Linderbaum receives All-Rookie honors and earns a Pro Bowl nomination. Ronnie Stanley also gets a Pro Bowl nod as his comeback tour proves to be a success.
I’d love to give you a little bit more, but we all know that it basically becomes a whole new season once the playoffs begin. I know one thing, though: if Lamar can even out the consistency of his play a little bit, the sky’s the limit for this squad.
The Ravens right now are in great shape going into the second half. They are currently 6-3 and have the easiest remaining schedule for any playoff team. They don’t face a winning team until Week 18 against the Bengals. Along with this, the team will be getting some reinforcements soon. David Ojabo and Marcus Williams will be back, and the offense will get Andrews, Dobbins, and Gus back soon. This is why the Ravens will kill it in the second half, but they will have to settle for a third seed. I don’t see how the Ravens catch the Bills (yes, even after yesterday’s loss) or the Chiefs. With that said, I predict the Ravens will go 7-1 over their last eight. Do a little math, and I have the Ravens going 13-4 and getting the third seed in the AFC Playoffs.
So here is how the AFC Playoffs look:
- Bills (14-3)
- Chiefs (14-3)
- Ravens (13-4)
- Titans (12-5)
- Dolphins (11-6)
- Chargers (11-6)
- Jets (10-7)
This means the Ravens will get a home Playoff game against the Chargers. They’ll win this game and move on to the next round, where a trip to Arrowhead awaits. The ride ends at Arrowhead as Patrick Mahomes goes off, and the Ravens’ lack of receivers will hurt them. The best thing for the Ravens is to hope someone upsets the Chiefs or Bills because they do not have the firepower to deal with them. As much as I want to lie and be optimistic, this is the reality I believe in, and I don’t think the Ravens have enough right now to hang with those teams in January.
For the rest of the Playoffs, I have the Bills beating the Chiefs and winning the Super Bowl over the Eagles, and they exorcise some demons from the 90s.
Moving onto the awards, here is how I would hand them out:
MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Offensive Player of the Year: Tyreek Hill
Defensive Player of the Year: Micah Parsons
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kenneth Walker II
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Sauce Gardner
Comeback Player of the Year: Geno Smith
Coach of the Year: Nick Siriani
The MVP is really up for grabs between Jalen Hurts and Mahomes. I gave the edge to Mahomes because he is doing more with less, although it is very tight. OPOY is easy: it has to be Hill. Derrick Henry will get some love, but Hill is outpacing everyone. DPOY will be tight between Parsons and Judon, but Parsons is also good in coverage, so he gets the edge. OROY will tragically not go to Breece Hall but to Kenneth Walker, who has been so good lately. DROY is so easy it isn’t funny. If Sauce is already statistically a top 2 Corner, not your DROY, what are we doing? Comeback POY will be Geno Smith but a shoutout to Saquon Barkley and Ronnie Stanley. Finally, COTY is Siriani, but Mike Vrabel also deserves his flowers with Pete Caroll.
To end this prediction, let’s get some quick hitters for my final stat predictions.
— Lamar finishes with over 30 Touchdowns facing some soft Defenses.
— Ronnie Stanley restakes his claim as a top-three tackle
— Devin Duvernay becomes the number-one receiver option down the line and catches four more touchdowns to end the year.
— Mark Andrews comes back and catches five touchdowns down the stretch
— Justin Houston continues his hot stretch and finishes with over twelve sacks
– David Ojabo becomes a pass-rushing specialist and finishes the year with more than three sacks
— Odafe Oweh finishes strong with over five sacks
— Roquan Smith leads the league in tackles and gets an extension with the team.
— Kyle Hamilton plays more and becomes the long-term Strong Safety going into next year with at least two picks.
— Despite having great years from Marcus Williams and Marlon Humphrey, no player in the secondary gets All-Pro votes.
— Roquan Smith and Ronnie Stanley will be the Ravens’ All – Pros.