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What the Ravens' 2-0 start says about the team’s playoff chances

What the Ravens' 2-0 start says about the team’s playoff chances

After two games, the Ravens are in as good of a position as they could be in with a 2-0 record. 

But the team’s start, paired with the rest of the AFC North, has the Ravens sitting in an excellent spot after just two weeks. 

The Ravens 2-0 record doesn’t guarantee a playoff spot, far from it in fact. But a quick glance around the rest of the league shows the Ravens are in a better spot than might be imagined.

According to Oddsshark.com, 98 teams have started 2-0 since the 2007 season. Of those 98 teams, 54 teams have made the playoffs and 44 missed out. The Ravens, according to fivethirtyeight.com, have a 72 percent chance to make the playoffs (fifth-highest), a 63 percent chance to win the division (third-highest) and a six percent chance to win the Super Bowl (fifth-highest). 

So while the odds are in the Ravens favor, there’s still work to do.

Statistically, and without context, a 2-0 start only means the Ravens have a roughly better chance than 50-50 to make the postseason. 

The biggest start to the Ravens season, however, is how the rest of the AFC North fared in the season’s first two weeks. 

The Steelers and Bengals started 0-2 and the Browns, who play Monday against the Jets, are 0-1. While a 2-0 start doesn’t guarantee a playoff spot, an 0-2 start has nearly been a death-knell for NFL teams since 2007.

Of the 98 teams to start 0-2 since 2007, only 12 have made the postseason — a percentage of just 12.2 percent. 

Of the seven teams to start 0-2 last season, two of them (Houston and Seattle) made the playoffs. Those teams, statistically, are the anomaly. 

Context included, the Ravens have had a strong showing, albeit against two teams expected to be at the bottom of the NFL standings this year. 

Lamar Jackson is one of two quarterbacks in the NFL that has thrown for seven touchdowns and no interceptions. The other is Pat Mahomes, who will face the Ravens in week three. The defense, while it had its rough patches against the Cardinals Air Raid offense, held strong in the red zone. 

With Kansas City upcoming, the chance to not only increase the Ravens playoff chances exists, but also the opportunity to state their claim as one of the best teams in the NFL.

The Ravens aren’t guaranteed anything, especially with their upcoming stretch of games against the Chiefs, Browns, Steelers and Bengals, when their division lead can evaporate. 

But paired with their start, and the rest of the division’s start, the chance to offer a knockout blow to the rest of the division in the early weeks is there for the taking. 

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In a league of either ball control or quick scores, the Ravens’ offense can do both

In a league of either ball control or quick scores, the Ravens’ offense can do both

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Matt Skura had no idea the third quarter was over until he checked the clock for himself. 

Against the Patriots two weeks ago, the Ravens took over on offense up just a touchdown with eight minutes and three seconds left in the quarter. They ran out the entire quarter, including six seconds of the fourth quarter, and ended the drive with a touchdown. 

The next drive took nine minutes and 35 seconds off the clock, as the two Ravens drives of the half that didn’t end the game took 17 minutes and 44 seconds off the clock. 

In a league of big plays and passing, the Ravens are bucking the trend with long, sustained drives to take the life out of defenses.

“You can definitely tell in the second half when they start to get worn down, especially those extended drives that are like, seven or eight minutes long,” Skura said. “By the end of it, the pass rush slows down, the run stopping slows down as well. We know it’s giving our defense rest to come out and feel fresh.”

But the Ravens not only can score with long, soul-killing drives, they can score at will, too. 

Against the Bengals last Sunday, the Ravens had the ball for just 23 minutes and 49 seconds. They also scored more points (49) than they ran offensive plays (46). 

“At the end of the day, if they can’t have the ball and score, they can’t win,” Willie Snead said. “It’s all about ball control and how fast we can get in the end zone. Last week, the time of possession was flipped. But we were scoring, the defense was playing great and we were just moving the ball at will.”

Baltimore is currently second in the NFL in possession at 34:24, trailing only San Francisco by eight seconds on average. Before the Cincinnati game, Baltimore was first in the NFL in time of possession. Scoring quickly, and on defense, tends to skew those numbers. 

The most impressive drives, though, are the ones that control the clock and involve double-digit plays.

“It’s just incredible what we’re doing right now, with these 14, 15-play drives,” Hayden Hurst said. “Teams are having a tough time matching up against us. We’re just kind of grinding out drives and marching down the field on teams. It’s really fun right now, what G-Ro has schemed up.”

The opponent also plays a factor in how the Ravens game plan, as giving the ball back to a talented offense could end up biting them later in the game.

“Like a game in New England, we know who’s on the other side of it,” Snead continued. “We’ve got to take that into consideration. 12-play, 18-play drives, that just means less time for him. It’s all into the game plan. When we run the ball and get going it’s hard for anybody to stop.”

While there’s different ways score on offense, the Ravens have shown that they’ve got the speed and talent to score quickly over-the-top of defenses with Lamar Jackson and Hollywood Brown, amongst others. 

And even though those are the prettiest plays, the drives that truly take the life out of the defense are the ones that take significant time of the clock, slowly bleeding the game until the offense doesn’t even know they’ve ran down an entire quarter.

“You’ve got to get the first first down,” Bradley Bozeman said. “Once you get the first first down, you start marching, start pacing. It just depends how they’re playing us, determines what we do. It’s not rocket science.”

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Browns' Myles Garrett suspended indefinitely, will miss rest of the 2019 season at a minimum

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Browns' Myles Garrett suspended indefinitely, will miss rest of the 2019 season at a minimum

Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Myles Garrett has been suspended indefinitely at a minimum of the remainder of the 2019 season, including the Ravens-Browns Week 16 matchup, for his role in a nasty brawl with the Steelers on Thursday Night Football. 

Things got ugly after Garrett tackled Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with eight seconds remaining in the Browns 21-7 victory over Pittsburgh. Rudolph attempted to pull Garrett's helmet off his head, which led the defensive lineman to then remove Rudolph's helmet. Garrett then used Rudolph's helmet to swing at Rudolph, using the helmet as a weapon.

You can watch the whole brawl unfold below.

Garrett's suspension means he will miss Baltimore's clash with Cleveland in Week 16. From a football standpoint, Garrett is arguably the Browns best defensive player and a crucial loss for a team that is still fighting for a playoff berth.

According to the release, Garrett must meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell prior to a decision on his reinstatement.

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey has been suspended three games for his role in the incident as well. Following Garrett's helmet-punch, Pouncey, in defense of his quarterback, started kicking and punching Garrett. 

Browns linebacker Larry Ogunjobi has also been suspended for one game for his role in the incident, too.

Garrett is an enormous loss for the Browns on the football field, and this punishment from the NFL is the league's way of making sure an incident like the one that occurred Thursday night never happens again. 

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