The Ravens take top seed in AFC

Josh Purnell, Courier Staff

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It’s Week 13 and there are currently five teams with only two losses: the Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.

Let’s be honest, the Baltimore Ravens are the best team in the NFL. After a Sunday victory over San Francisco, it marks the Ravens’ fifth victory against a playoff team this season. The Ravens are the clear-cut favorite to go to the Super Bowl and win. This team is like no other, they have an explosive quarterback in Lamar Jackson. After being the last pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, he told Deion Sanders he’s going to deliver the Ravens a Super Bowl. This year, Jackson is determined to do so. So far Jackson has thrown 2,532 yards for 25 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He ran for 977 yards and seven touchdowns. Jackson is currently ranked ninth in rushing yards and eighth in rushing touchdowns. That is insane for a quarterback to do. What’s even more impressive is that Jackson is on pace to break Michael Vick’s single season rushing yard record. With four games left this season, it’s highly possible that Jackson could break the record. Jackson is the first player in NFL history with at least 25 passing touchdowns and at least 950 rushing yards in a single season. The Ravens fans love him now, but just a minute ago, they did not have an ounce of respect for him. Last year’s playoff game against the Los Angeles Chargers at home, the Ravens lost to the Chargers 23-17. Ravens fans were booing Jackson and chanting Joe Flacco’s name. Ravens players expressed after the game that they were upset at the fans. So, when you see a player like Mark Ingram during press conferences talking about Jackson as if he’s the best player in the league, which he currently is, it’s because he loves and respects Jackson just like all the other players in the locker room, including head coach John Harbaugh. After the playoff loss to the Chargers, Harbaugh told the press, “One of the best competitors I’ve ever been around. I’m not afraid to stand up and say, and all the haters can say what they want, and they can smirk, they can be snarky, and they can say whatever they want, but they’re all going to be proven wrong. They’re going to have to eat their words soon enough.” Harbaugh is absolutely right about that. He knew the moment the Ravens drafted Jackson that he needed to make some changes within his offensive scheme. He saw the potential in Jackson and knew the talent Jackson has cannot be taught. So, what did he do? He assigned Greg Roman as the offensive coordinator. No one specializes in an offense with a mobile quarterback like Roman. Roman was the offensive coordinator for the 49ers from 2011-2014, coaching a player named Colin Kaepernick who took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012. So, as you can see, Roman knows what he’s doing and he’s a big reason Jackson has been unbelievable so far this season. But let’s not give all the credit to Jackson. Jackson has some great pieces on offense, players like Mark Ingram, Mark Andrews, Willie Snead and Marquise Brown. The offensive line is ranked ninth in the least amount of sacks allowed. Defensively, the Ravens are ranked ninth in the league as well. They are ranked fifth in points allowed, seventh in interceptions and second in defensive touchdowns. It’s fair to say that the Ravens’ defense is not as elite as the 49ers this year, but they are still legit. They have two Pro Bowl defensive players in Marcus Peters and Earl Thomas which they both received this year. Tons of props to defensive coordinator Don Martindale. Everyone thought that when the Ravens lost CJ Mosley, they weren’t going to be the same. Well the Ravens defense still plays like a top tier defense. They play as a team and you can see the chemistry on the field. I know things are different once the playoffs start but this Ravens team is on a roll and they have not fallen yet. If they keep rolling, you’ll see the Purple and Black in Miami on Feb. 2, 2020.

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