Subscribe to our newsletter

What’s the Ceiling for the 2022 Ravens?

Ravens mesh point
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports
Share
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Is there a ceiling?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Ravens will never win a championship with their style of offense.

The general theory behind this is that to win in today’s NFL, with all of the modern rules that skew things towards aerial offensive fireworks, a team must win by throwing the ball. And they can’t just be effective moving the chains with passes, either — they must have targets who are speedy outside receivers who can take a slant and go 80 yards at a moment’s notice, or big-bodied possession receivers who can win on contested balls downfield or in the red zone.

Or, to put a ribbon around this package, the team must have one of each, with a suitable backup at each spot in case of injury.

Oh, and a crafty slot receiver who can spring open immediately upon the snap of the ball to pick up a third-and-2.

There’s also a theory that the Ravens will not be able to have a deep run in the playoffs because their style of play will never allow them to come back from two or three touchdowns against a skilled opponent in the postseason.

Let’s dive in and look at this year’s Ravens team, and how realistic a deep playoff run is when considering these popular notions about the modern NFL.

No comebacks possible on the ground?

We’ll start with that second concept — that an offense built around a running game will not be able to come back from being down multiple scores in the playoffs against an elite opponent.

I’d start with this: Good luck coming back from multiple scores in the playoffs against the Bills or Chiefs with any style of offense. They’re good.

I’m going to be talking about the importance of offensive efficiency a ton in the second half of this story, so let’s focus on what else is needed in order to stage a huge comeback in the playoffs against a talented team.

How about this? You need to stop the other team from scoring.

Closing to seven points with a five-play, 75-yard drive is great, unless the other team answers right away and pushes the lead back to 14, right? Particularly if that team can do so in a clock-draining seven-minute drive that not only extends that lead back to a “safe place,” but also limits the time your team has to pull off a comeback.

If we’re talking strictly about a situation right now where the Ravens are down multiple scores, you can’t only score points, but you also need to get the ball back in the offense’s hands to score said points. Yes, though universally downplayed anymore, run defense is an important part of that formula as teams try to keep that clock running by not throwing incomplete passes and keeping the action to the middle of the field when turning to their rush offense.

Currently, the Ravens rank 19th in run-defense DVOA, but third in yards per game. Since you can’t turn on anything football-related without hearing about how the Ravens have built double-digit leads in every game they’ve played this year, we can assume that a lot of their opponents have turned to the air to try to make up points against the defense — hence a good ranking in rush defense yardage, but rather middling in DVOA. There’s also the concept that since the Ravens have had those leads, they have played a lot of second halves this season in sub packages, which makes running the ball easier for their opponents.

So, what happens if they’re behind in a playoff game and need to get the ball back into Lamar Jackson’s hands in a hurry? They’ll probably defend in a base formation — assuming the offense doesn’t spread them all the way out — and try to get ahead of down and distance in run defense, and, you know… someone go make a play on third down to force a punt.

And if the opposing offense does spread things out and turns to passing to move the ball downfield, well, a defense either has to be great in coverage, generate sacks or force turnovers.

I kind of feel like the Ravens can do a lot of these things now, or will be able to by the playoffs.

Marlon Humphrey has been tremendous in coverage this season, and looks again to be a legitimate elite corner. Marcus Peters, though a bit up and down at different parts of this comeback season for him, can still pull a big play out of his pocket and is no “easy mark” for opponents to attack. Bringing back Marcus Williams before the playoffs, to mesh with an improving Kyle Hamilton and steady Chuck Clark, gives the Ravens what should be a very strong back end.

The only question at this point is that third corner position, as Brandon Stephens probably hasn’t taken the leap many thought he would this year, and rookie corners Jalyn Armor-Davis and Damarion Williams have not yet stepped up to take that role. The optimist in me would suggest that the Ravens can provide bracket coverage help for those corners with linebacker Roquan Smith, Hamilton or Williams.

The pessimist in me believes that could be the hole that ends up biting the Ravens at the end.

We will see how that plays out, obviously.

As far as creating turnovers, the Ravens have been good. They’ve forced 16 in nine games so far, with nine picks and seven fumbles. With Tyus Bowser back, and rookie David Ojabo hopefully joining the fray soon, a deep pass rush could help generate more of each. That’s a way to get the ball back in your quarterback’s hands quickly.

As far as pass rush, it has been better than I expected this season. The Ravens have 27 sacks in nine games this season, paced by Justin Houston’s 8.5 in six games. But they have also seen good production from Patrick Queen, Calais Campbell and Justin Madubuike. The addition of Roquan Smith should also be a lift, as both he and Queen can each create havoc up the middle or off the edges, giving opposing offenses something to worry about all week.

It also wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see rookie Travis Jones pick up a few sacks in this second half of the season. A good rotation up front could help him knock down the infamous “rookie wall,” as he showed explosion and penetration skills in the summer.

If a big part of staging a comeback or winning a playoff game is still on the defensive side of the ball, and I’d argue that it is, the Ravens could be rounding into shape at the perfect time of the year to make some serious noise – when it matters the most.

And if the Ravens can get that ball back to the offense… well, let’s talk about this offense for a minute.

Can the Ravens’ offense win in the playoffs?

Yeah.

You probably want more than that in order to be convinced, right? I mean, I’d want more than that. So, let’s talk about offensive efficiency.

Do you know that old thought in the NFL that to beat an explosive offense, the best thing you can do is keep that offense on the sidelines and hang on to the ball? Yeah, I never quite bought that. I think it’s a good way to keep the score close, and maybe that’s what you’re hoping to do if you feel like you are hopelessly overmatched talent-wise. But at the end of the day, if each team has five possessions a game, or eight, or 12 — the team that is most efficient with those possessions will win the game. Hanging on to the ball for a 10-minute drive might keep Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen off the field for 10 minutes, but they’ll get it back, right?

Opponents don’t just lose possessions because you had a long drive.

BetMGM Maryland

MARYLAND

GET THE APP
NEW USER OFFERFIRST BET INSURANCE
$1,000
GET OFFER

Now if the Ravens are able to build leads in the playoffs, that run-centric offense figures to be a real benefit for them, right? Granted, it didn’t do much for them at the start of the year when they were blowing leads like a… well, they were blowing a lot of leads.

But the Ravens’ defense is noticeably getting better. The Ravens’ run game is noticeably getting better. Their quarterback is being more protective of the ball. It’s feeling like this is a team again that can get on top of opponents and stay on top of them going down the stretch.

Bengals
Photo Credit: Shawn Hubbard, Baltimore Ravens

Can Lamar & Co. get on top in the playoffs, against quality opponents and coaching staffs who are able to throw everything they have at them in a loser-go-home scenario?

I think so. As long as they are — wait for it — efficient with their possessions.

I’m not getting into the Ravens’ points per game (fourth in the NFL), as that can be dependent on opponent, field position, defensive scores, etc. But let’s talk DVOA. The Ravens are listed as having the third best offense by Football Outsiders’ popular DVOA metric, which takes into account an absurd amount of variables, including schedule. They are considered the third-most efficient passing offense, and top-ranked rush offense. They are moving the ball well, largely behind Jackson and a blossoming run game right now, but Mark Andrews, Devin Duvernay, Isaiah Likely and company are making plays when called upon — and pretty consistently, if you don’t just look at the basic volume stats.

Want to talk about an efficient offense?

The Ravens are fourth in points per possession at 2.56, behind only Kansas City (2.87), Buffalo (2.65) and Philadelphia (2.57). Given the amounts of possessions each team receives in a game, the Ravens have an upper-tier, possibly elite, offense. Yes, they can get a lead and lean on that run game to take down even the best of teams.

Would it be ideal if the Ravens had two Pro Bowl receivers to pair with Andrews and the run game? Yeah. It totally would. And it would be ideal if I could still drink whiskey until 2 a.m. without feeling sick until April. But it’s where they are.

I’d guess that the Chiefs and Bills would love to be going into the playoffs with a run game that could grind teams into submission in the fourth quarter of a big game. But that’s where THEY are.

This Ravens team absolutely can succeed in the playoffs this year, with their style of play. But so can the Chiefs, Bills, Dolphins, Eagles and any other formidable outfit.

It’s going to come down to who is the most efficient with the possessions they have.

And, who can force the other team to be less efficient.

CAESARS SPORTSBOOK

States: MARYLAND

GET THE APP
PROMO CODE:
RUSSELLPICS
NEW USER OFFER$1,500 FIRST BET ON CAESARS
OR $100 FREE BET
BET NOW

One Response

Comments are closed.

Tyler Huntley at practice
Injury Report

Injury Report: Ravens @ Steelers (Wednesday)

Ravens Did Not Participate: WR Devin Duvernay (NIR-rest); QB Lamar Jackson (knee); CB Marcus Peters (NIR-rest); DE Calais Campbell (NIR-rest); OL Morgan Moses (NIR-rest); G …

Read More →
Ravens Steelers OTL
Out To Lunch

OTL: Steelers Hate Week Finally Upon Us

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, happy Wednesday! It’s not just any Wednesday, however, because the Baltimore Ravens play the Pittsburgh Steelers this week! That’s …

Read More →
Street Talk

Here Come the Bengals

The Ravens are going to have to hold off the Bengals over the final five weeks of the season.  The teams are tied for first …

Read More →
Harbaugh WTF OTL
Out To Lunch

OTL: Ravens Too Complacent with Ugly Wins?

Growing up playing a lot of sports, I got used to the concept of carrying bumps and bruises. After particularly rough outings, I might feel …

Read More →
Greg Roman entering M&T Bank Stadium
Street Talk

We All Need to Step it The Flock Up

I’m not here to defend the job performance of Greg Roman. The lightning-rod offensive coordinator has authored some tremendous offensive performances during his tenure in …

Read More →
Street Talk

These Are The 3 Basic Bet Types In NFL

There’s no denying the fact that the NFL is among the most popular sports on the planet. The viewership statistics are there to prove that, …

Read More →
Injury Report

Injury Report: Ravens @ Steelers (Wednesday)

Ravens Did Not Participate: WR Devin Duvernay (NIR-rest); QB Lamar Jackson (knee); CB Marcus Peters (NIR-rest); DE Calais Campbell (NIR-rest); OL Morgan Moses (NIR-rest); G …

Read More →
Out To Lunch

OTL: Steelers Hate Week Finally Upon Us

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, happy Wednesday! It’s not just any Wednesday, however, because the Baltimore Ravens play the Pittsburgh Steelers this week! That’s …

Read More →
Street Talk

Here Come the Bengals

The Ravens are going to have to hold off the Bengals over the final five weeks of the season.  The teams are tied for first …

Read More →
Out To Lunch

OTL: Ravens Too Complacent with Ugly Wins?

Growing up playing a lot of sports, I got used to the concept of carrying bumps and bruises. After particularly rough outings, I might feel …

Read More →
Street Talk

We All Need to Step it The Flock Up

I’m not here to defend the job performance of Greg Roman. The lightning-rod offensive coordinator has authored some tremendous offensive performances during his tenure in …

Read More →
Street Talk

These Are The 3 Basic Bet Types In NFL

There’s no denying the fact that the NFL is among the most popular sports on the planet. The viewership statistics are there to prove that, …

Read More →
Don’t Miss Anything at RSR. Subscribe Here!
Latest posts
Join our newsletter and get 20% discount
Promotion nulla vitae elit libero a pharetra augue