The Ravens are quietly moving up the NFL power rankings. Not many people had Baltimore on their radar heading into the season but Lamar Jackson and company have made some noise through nine weeks.
Baltimore sits at 7-2 after its fourth-straight win on Sunday – a 37-3 blowout against Seattle. Kansas City is also at 7-2 but the Ravens have been a bit more impressive.
NFL Insider Mark Schlereth of the Audacy original podcast “Stinkin Truth” explained why he has the Ravens as his top team in the AFC.
“If you look at where Baltimore is right now; if you allow them to play their style of football and they can impose their will on you they will absolutely clownhammer your a–,” Schlereth said (5:50 in player above). “What they did to Seattle was Holy Moses! It was a physical beating.
“When you’re playing like that and you can beat somebody down physically like that then it allows Lamar Jackson to have all of those 1-on-1 matchups because you got to bring extra guys down to defend it. When you do that you got access to the outside and 1-on-1 coverage on a consistent basis. Lamar thrives, absolutely thrives, in that environment.”
Jackson may be in the middle of the pack with just shy of 2,000 passing yards through nine games, and he’s only thrown for nine touchdowns, but that’s because of the way the Ravens play. Most impressively, Lamar leads the league with a 71.5% completion percentage after going 21 for 26 against the Seahawks.
Baltimore can beat teams down and that allows the Ravens to control the clock – and the game. Schlereth pointed out how teams have to count how many possessions they have left and completely change their plans if the Ravens get off to a strong start.
“Now you play right into the Baltimore Ravens’ hands,” he said. “You play into their hands and let them wear you down physically… It takes you completely out of character and completely out of the game plan that you wanted to produce during the course of that game.”
There are still plenty of weeks left in the season for things to change, but Schlereth has been most impressed by the Ravens in the AFC.
“I would put them as the number one team in the AFC with Kansas City and, I think, Cincinnati,” he continued. “I would probably put Baltimore as my number one team.”
The Ravens host the Browns in a big divisional matchup on Sunday afternoon.