Ravens

Ravens blow out Jaguars as offense shows signs of significant progress

Ravens

At points during Sunday’s game, the Ravens’ offense looked like it did a year ago. 

Yes, the Ravens played the Jaguars, a team that hasn’t won a game since Week 1, and yes, Baltimore dismantled Jacksonville handily in a 40-10 dominating victory. 

But the Ravens have now hung 40 points in back-to-back weeks. They’ve seemingly found their lead running back in J.K. Dobbins and quarterback Lamar Jackson has been efficient through the air in the last few weeks, more than he had been all season. 

Against a 1-13 team, every ounce of success the Ravens had is relative. But the Ravens looked sharp offensively, showed promise on defense without three key contributors and now, should they not suffer any slip ups, are likely to finish 11-5. If the Ravens make the playoffs, "dangerous" is going to be a buzzword for whoever they play.

Help elsewhere in the AFC, however, is now what separates them from a chance for a title and sitting at home in mid-January. 

“We’ve just got to keep focused on what we have in front of us,” Jackson said. “We’ve got the Giants in front of us, now. We’ve got to focus on those guys, get on the film, and watch those guys and pray next week, the ones we need to lose, lose, because we’ve still got to try to get to the playoffs – that’s our goal. But one game at a time. We can’t peak too soon.”

 

After Sunday’s games, the Ravens hold an 89 percent chance to make the playoffs according to FiveThirtyEight. If the Ravens win out, and the Dolphins, Colts or Browns lose once, the Ravens are in the playoffs. If the Ravens win out and the Titans lose twice, the Ravens are in the playoffs. Even if the Ravens lose once, they can still get in with some serious help. 

But that’s all there is to say about the playoff picture right now: The Ravens, benefitted with an easy end-of-season schedule, seem to be turning a corner. They’ve just got to hope it’s enough. 

“This offense is extremely dangerous,” wide receiver Dez Bryant said. “It’s up to us. It’s up to us what we want to do from here on out. What I think is I think we’re going to go out here, and we’re going to do the best (we can). We’re going to play to the best of our abilities and stay focused and make plays. We know we have an opportunity in front of us, and we’re not going to get too far ahead of ourselves.”

The Ravens turned Sunday’s game against the Jaguars into a snoozer by the second quarter, as they jumped out to a three-score lead midway through and essentially put the game away with Bryant’s touchdown grab near the half. 

Jackson threw for 243 yards on 17-of-22 passing with three touchdowns and an interception, as he backed up his strong performance against the Browns last week with another one against the Jaguars. 

And, for the first time in weeks, there wasn’t overarching concern about the game, or what was next. 

Before Sunday, five of the Ravens’ last seven games were decided by one score. Since the Titans’ overtime loss, their schedule has been turned upside down due to their massive COVID-19 outbreak. In fact, the upcoming week of preparation for the Giants is set to be their first normal week of practice since they prepared for the Titans on Nov. 22

The Ravens are still rounding into shape, and with just two games left, it could come at the right time. Because if they get in, they’ll be one of the league’s most dangerous teams.

“This defense can be really scary,” Yannick Ngakoue said. “We’ve got a lot of people that can play. As you can tell, we rotate, because we’ve got guys that can come fill in and not miss a beat. So, at the end of the day, I don’t even feel like we reached the peak yet – which is scary and exciting at the same time.”