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Ravens have shown as much in close wins as in their blowouts

Ravens have shown as much in close wins as in their blowouts

Good teams win. 

Great teams cover. 

Elite teams win (and cover) even when they play poorly.

Any NFL team can win when they bring their “A” game, but nobody can be at their best every single week. The NFL is a league defined by its inconsistency and parity. The schedule is too grinding, and the sport is too hard to master week in and week out.

Unless you’re the Ravens, that is.

Their franchise-best 11-2 start, built around their current nine-game winning streak, has mostly seen the Ravens play near their peak level against all opponents. Lamar Jackson has looked like the MVP almost every week, and even when facing quality competition the Ravens are making winning look easy.

That hasn’t been the case the last two weeks, though. The Ravens hosted the San Francisco 49ers in Week 13 and traveled to Buffalo in Week 14. Both teams were quality opponents -- combining for a 19-4 record -- with strong defenses ranked in the top six in the NFL.

The Ravens struggled in both games, to varying degrees. They fought the rain Baltimore and the wind in Buffalo, and Lamar Jackson suffered with two of his worst passing days of the season.

The running game wasn’t utterly dominant in either game, and the defense gave up multiple chunk plays. Punter Sam Koch was on the field Sunday seven times, more than the previous five weeks combined. 

And yet, the Ravens won both games. The 49ers game came down to a last-second field goal, while the Bills game felt more in control throughout. Tight end Hayden Hurst considers these types of games hugely important.

"Coming into an environment like this, you know we have a young team," Hurst said after the game. "I think right now we're getting battle-tested. I think it's good for us."

The Ravens’ ceiling is high enough that almost no other contender can match them when they play their best. What should scare the rest of the NFL is seeing them beat two quality opponents, in tough conditions, while playing poorly.

The Ravens defense allowed the Bills to march down the field late in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie the game. Helping Josh Allen and his offense was sloppy play from the Ravens; a whopping 56 yards of the Bills’ drive came on three penalties against the Ravens. 

Lamar Jackson completed 30-of-48 passes for just 250 yards in the last two weeks combined, and Mark Ingram has 30 rushes for 109 yards in the same span. 

The defense was able to get a stop when it mattered, something they haven't had to do much of in the last nine weeks.

"We want to be the heroes sometimes," linebacker Matthew Judon told reporters postgame. "It's usually Lamar and the offensive line, the heroes of the game...but today we were called upon."

It’s easy to throw out terms like “winning ugly” and "bend but don't break," but they apply to the Ravens of the last two weeks. Just like the prototypical defense-first Ravens teams of yesteryear, but unlike the high-octane Ravens of the last several weeks, the Ravens we saw today are a team that doesn’t mind winning ugly or playing in close games.

It says a lot about the strength of this roster that they can blow out teams like the Rams and Texans in dominating fashion. It may say even more that they can play poorly and still beat teams like the 49ers and Bills.

If the Ravens are going to make the Super Bowl this year, they’ll likely have to do it by playing closer to their A game in the postseason. But it’s comforting to see them figure out how to win in other ways too. 

They could afford to lose Sunday, but eventually they will once again play in a game they can’t afford to drop. When the time comes, they’ll enter with confidence that their Plan B can be just as effective as Plan A. 

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Former Raven Terrell Suggs and the Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl-bound

Former Raven Terrell Suggs and the Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl-bound

Terrell Suggs and the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Tennessee Titans 35-24 Sunday to advance to Super Bowl LIV in Miami. 

Suggs, who spent 16 seasons with the Ravens, will look to cement his Hall of Fame candidacy with a victory in his second Super Bowl appearance (Won SB XLVII) this time as a member of the AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs.

Suggs departed from Baltimore before the 2019 season, signing a one-year deal with his hometown Arizona Cardinals before being waived mid-season. 

The Ravens were rumored to be interested in a reunion with their all-time leader in sacks but did not put in a claim, being last in waiver priority, and Suggs was claimed by the Kansas City Chiefs.



While the Ravens' 2019 season ended prematurely at the hands of the Titans, fans in Baltimore can take solace knowing that Suggs and the Chiefs helped bring the Titans' magical season to an end.

Suggs' accolades (2011 AP Def. Player of the Year, 2003 AP Def. Rookie of the Year, 7x Pro-Bowl, 1x All-Pro) will stand the test of time, but adding a second Super Bowl ring to his resume would make his Hall of Fame candidacy that much greater. 

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The Ravens appear to have their entire coaching staff returning for the 2020 season

The Ravens appear to have their entire coaching staff returning for the 2020 season

While the Ravens roster will likely remain mostly together for the 2020 regular season, it appears the coaching staff will stay entirely intact, too. 

After both coordinators, Greg Roman and Don “Wink” Martindale, had interviews with the Browns and Giants, respectively, those jobs were filled by Kevin Stefanski and Joe Judge. 

And more recently, quarterbacks coach James Urban and tight ends coach Bobby Engram were requested for interviews by the Eagles. Harbaugh said both Engram and Urban pulled out of the running and weren’t interested.

“It looks like our staff is going to stay together,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I can tell you that. I’m not saying anything couldn’t happen; there are always things brewing for a certain period of time.”

The Ravens have every offensive starter from the divisional playoff game under contract for next season, and now appear to have the offensive coordinator and all of the position coaches back on-board for another run too. The Ravens set a franchise record with 531 points, led by Lamar Jackson.

Things are still fluid, as a job opportunity for anyone on the staff can pop up out of the blue. But for now, the Ravens look like they’ll run the entire operation back for another go at a Super Bowl.

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