By Chris Schisler
The Baltimore Ravens are 5-2 as they enter their bye week. When you think about all the injuries and problems the team has faced, this is impressive. Despite the leftover gloom from their loss to divisional rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals, there are a lot of positives. Let’s look at them today. Even after the Ravens lose, we have to see the positives.
10. Rashod Bateman looks the part
Rashod Bateman looks like the first-round pick he’s supposed to be. Bateman has only gotten to play in two games due to a groin injury in training camp. Bateman is coming on strong and the pros outweigh the cons. When the Ravens drafted Bateman they took a stab at finding an explosive playmaker at the position with size.
The rookie wide receiver is playing silky smooth. He’s winning the battle and getting great separation. In two games he’s tallied a total of seven receptions and 109 yards. His biggest gain was a 35-yard strike. It’s not just that he’s contributing to the box score, but the fact that he looks ahead of his years that has the Ravens so excited.
9. The Hollywood Brown ascension:
Keeping with the wide receiver position, let’s talk about Marquise Brown. The Ravens got one bad game out of Brown – it was against the Detroit Lions. The rest of the season has been impeccable for Brown.
He has caught at least three passes in every game. He’s had a couple of monster Fantasy Football days. Against the Colts, he aided a historic comeback with nine receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns. He had six receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown against Kansas City. His touchdown grab against the Broncos may have been the top highlight of the season.
Brown has become a legitimate deep threat to say the very least. He’s had a play over 40 yards in three of the seven games this season. With 10 games left, if Brown only doubles his receptions and receiving yards, he’s going to blow past his career highs. Brown is simply a different player this year. Now we’re seeing why he was a first-round pick.
8. Bradley Bozeman is a bright spot on a struggling offensive line
The offensive line has a lot of problems. Ronnie Stanley is out for the year after rushing back too soon for the season opener. The Ravens are looking for their third option at right tackle with Alejandro Villanueva being on the left side and Pat Mekari hurt against the Cincinnati Bengals. Kevin Zeitler has been good as a pass blocker but the right guard hasn’t performed quite as well for the run game. Left guard has been a bit of everything with a surprising number of names getting involved: Tyre Phillips, Ben Powers, and Ben Cleveland. Do you know what hasn’t been a problem? Bradley Bozeman at the center position.
Bozeman may be pricing himself out of a second contract with the Baltimore Ravens, yet the move to center has been a positive one for him. He’s back in the position he played for the Alabama Crimson Tide and without him, the offensive line wouldn’t function at all. With Stanley out of the picture, Bozeman may be the best offensive lineman on the Baltimore Ravens.
This is a huge win for Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh because Bozeman moving to center was a transparent part of the plan for the entire offseason. The Ravens would have paid a cost if it was a bad idea.
7. Odafe Oweh has been an impact player
Odafe Oweh is going to be a dangerous pass rusher for a long time. The outside linebacker from Penn State is having a very noticeable and memorable start to his rookie season. Against the Chiefs, he was directly involved in the two defensive plays that let the Ravens win 36-35. He’s been a solid defender on the edge and it’s allowed him to play a lot of snaps. He has three sacks and two forced fumbles. When he wins off the edge he shows signs of being a special player.
6. Calais Campbell is a consistent rock
The Baltimore Ravens don’t beat the Indianapolis Colts if Calais Campbell doesn’t block a field goal in the middle of the comeback attempt. Think about that for a second. One of the oldest players on the roster, who supposedly is hanging up the cleats after this season, made a special teams play for the ages with a pure effort play.
Campbell is playing consistently well on the defensive line. He is Pro Football Focus’s third highest-rated player this season. He may not be as flashy as he once was, yet Campbell is showing why he has future Hall of Fame inductee written all over him. He’s the hardest working player on a defense that needs more hard workers.
5. Special Teams has been a strength
Special teams have been huge this season. The kickoff coverage has been surprisingly potent, while Devin Duvernay has become a very efficient return specialist. The Ravens’ special teams have been an underrated part of their 5-2 mark. Having the best kicker in NFL history doesn’t hurt either.
4. Found a way in some close games
The number one thing you can say about a team is that they find a way to win. The Ravens have found a way to win in close games. They had an emotionally charged comeback against the Indianapolis Colts. They had a 66-yard field goal against the Detroit Lions and they got past the Chiefs in one of the best games M&T Bank Stadium will ever see. The Ravens could be 2-5 right now. They’re 5-2 because they have dug down deep and stepped up in the crucial moments much more often than not.
3. The team has shown flashes of something greater
The talk about the Baltimore Ravens has shifted because of the humble pie they took before the bye week. Fine. Let’s not forget that the Ravens were getting glowing praise all over the place and from just about every outlet. The Ravens were a Super Bowl contender with an MVP quarterback and just because the hype got quiet doesn’t mean the Ravens can’t wake it back up.
When the Ravens won comfortably against the Los Angeles Chargers they showed a sign that something more was possible. They put everything together and it looked amazing. The offense rolled, the defense dominated and Baltimore was higher than cloud nine. We’ve seen some incredible moments out of this team. The negatives have the spotlight, yet the Ravens have every chance to have a great season.
2. Lamar Jackson… Wow!
Lamar Jackson at his best is the most entertaining thing to watch in professional sports. Jackson has been incredible this season and is on pace to have the best year of his career to this point. The numbers that Jackson set in the 2019 season (Where he was the unanimous MVP) should be smashed. Jackson has led comebacks wins. He set the single-game passing yards record for the Baltimore Ravens franchise. He’s played MVP caliber football and his dual-threat ability is as jaw-dropping as it ever was. Has it been perfect? No. Has it been a once-in-a-lifetime viewing experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life? Absolutely.
1. Playoff chances are still good:
With 10 games left on the schedule, the Ravens have five wins. If the Ravens win six out of those 10 games they will probably end up in the playoffs. The Ravens continue their homestand after the bye week with a game against the Minnesota Vikings. They then take on the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears. If the Ravens win those three games everything is back on track and the Ravens are halfway to where they want to be after this 10 game stretch. At that point, if they managed to only split with each of their division rivals they’d have 11 wins right there.
The Ravens’ two stumbles in the first seven games were about the best realistic outcome Baltimore could have expected. What the Ravene must do, is to take care of business and they should be heading to the playoffs for the fourth straight season. The Baltimore Ravens need to step up and realize their full potential. These positives set up a good foundation to make that positive. We will have more content for the bye week as well as some early coverage for the battle against the Vikings. When you need your Raven fix, we have you covered.