The Baltimore Ravens are a team we see on television all the time, but maybe not one new York Giants fans spend time really studying. so, let learn some things about the Ravens from Kyle Barber of Baltimore Beatdown in this week’s ‘5 questions.’
Ed: It’s been an up and down season for Baltimore, probably not at all what Ravens fans anticipated. Can you assess the season to date for Baltimore?
Kyle: The Ravens’ season has been one of sky-high expectations and peculiar waves of success and failure. Week 1 of the season only boosted those expectations with a 38-6 victory over the Cleveland Browns. The Ravens were every bit as dominant as to be expected. Even their newly-acquired free agents and draft picks contributed in the victory.
Throughout the season, as mentioned previously, we’ve seen sparks of 2019’s dominance coupled with failures on offense and defense, leading to their current 9-5 record. Throw in a COVID-19 outbreak to boot.
Now, at this juncture, the Ravens appear more poised than before. Certainly after their second victory over the Cleveland Browns this season on Monday night. Lamar Jackson demonstrated his primetime playmaking ability and what truly made him special in 2019.
Something the Ravens never faced after Week 4 of 2019 was adversity. They were in close games, but they always seemed to find a way out. But in 2020, they suffered some defeat. They lost players to injury. As such, they give off an aura of fortitude not seen in 2019. The losses hurt, and they may hurt enough to keep them from a playoff bid, but this was a year that kind of feels necessary in the long run.
That all being said, they look sharp and the team is back to its scoring ways. Over the last three weeks, they’ve scored a combined 121 points.
Ed: The Ravens are Super Bowl contenders. Yes or no? Why or why not?
Kyle: That’s the question we all want to know. Coming into the season after a 14-2 record and being bounced in the first round left everybody with a sour taste in their mouth. But a highly lauded draft class with a couple big free agent signings only heightened Super Bowl aspirations for the team and expectations for the media.
As of right now, they’re not a playoff team and they don’t control their playoff destiny. They’re in a highly-contested race with many other AFC teams for the last playoff bid. Though this team is currently on the outside looking in, I think they are a worthy opponent to any AFC playoff team, barring the Chiefs. It’s aggravating to talk about them so much, but they’ve “big brothered” the Ravens for three consecutive years and it’s hard to see anybody taking them down.
Ed; If you could take one player off the Giants roster and add him to the Ravens’ lineup, who would it be? Why?
Kyle: First off, this is a great question. It forced me to do some homework on who I’d really consider. I haven’t caught any Giants games this year and have been sorely behind.
If I get to take a single Giants player and add them to the Ravens’ lineup, I’m taking Leonard Williams. The Ravens have struggled with finishing plays and hitting the quarterback. It appears Williams does not struggle in this department, as according to pro football reference, he’s tallied 8.5 sacks this season. If added to the Ravens’ roster, he’d be leading the team in sacks, with the second closest being OLB Matt Judon (5.0)
I heavily considered taking Will Hernandez or Kevin Zietler here, but yet another pass rusher on this defense to pair with Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Campbell, Matt Judon, Derek Wolfe and Tyus Bowser is too enticing to turn away.
Ed: Has Dez Bryant actually got anything left in the tank, or is he just sort of out there playing and not accomplishing a whole lot?
Kyle: I’d argue Dez still has something in the tank. Along with the cliché’s of bringing “veteran leadership” and all that, he really worked his way back to making an NFL roster. The Ravens turned him away after a tryout this offseason. Then, they signed him to a practice squad spot. Finally, he made the roster and on Sunday against the Jaguars, scored his first touchdown in three years. While he is no longer the Dez Bryant many know—and others loathe—I believe he’s about 80% of his younger self, which is still significant enough to play for a Baltimore Ravens roster lacking wide receiver talent.
Ed: If there is one thing about the Giants that scares you, what is it?
Kyle: Defense. The Giants have a top-rated rush defense and wouldn’t you know it, the Ravens are a run-centric team. If Baltimore can’t get the run game to move the chains, they’ll be forced into a one-dimensional attack, which is something any defensive coordinator can take advantage of.
Also, they are a top-rated defense in points allowed. According to footballdb, they’re ninth in points allowed. The Giants can really screw up the Ravens’ playoff aspirations with a strong defense and a few short fields for their offense to work with.