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The good ‘ole Ravens defense is back

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NFL: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

As a franchise, the Ravens have come to be known for stout defense. However, since the departures of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, it just hasn’t been the same. Following an injury riddled 2015 season, the Ravens defense, mainly its secondary, was not regarded as one to be intimidated by. Now, it’s all changed, and the stats prove it.

You don’t have to know much about football to know that these stats are incredible. The Ravens are first in the NFL in six key categories, including the ever important “total defense” stat. Total defense measures how many total yards a defense allows in a game. The Ravens allow 13.6 fewer yards per game than the next closest team (Arizona Cardinals), and 36.4 fewer yards per game than the much more heralded Denver Broncos defense.

If total defense is broken down to rushing yards per game, and passing yards per game, the Ravens are still right at the top in each. The Ravens run defense is currently allowing 71.3 yards per game, the fewest in the NFL. Isaiah Crowell’s 85 yard TD run in Week 2 is more yards on one play than most teams have rushed for over the course of an entire game against the Ravens.

How about the much maligned Ravens secondary? It too find itself ranked in the top five of the NFL, allowing just 210.2 yards per game through the air. The secondary has been led by top corner Jimmy Smith, who has aced most of the tests presented to him, shutting down Antonio Brown, Terrelle Pryor Sr. and Amari Cooper. In addition, the secondary is in the top three in the NFL in terms of big plays allowed, which is impressive considering the way Odell Beckham Jr. shredded the Ravens secondary. This just proves how absolutely dominant they have been otherwise.

How about the Ravens inability to create turnovers? The Ravens totaled just six interceptions all of last season. With seven games remaining this season, the Ravens already have 11 interceptions, C.J. Mosley leads the way with three. Those 11 interceptions make up the majority of the team’s 17 total turnovers, and its +3 turnover ratio.

The Ravens are also first in the NFL in third down percentage, getting off the field on 68.5% of third down plays. In the thick of the playoff hunt, getting opposing offenses off the field could prove huge for the Ravens.

Not only is the defense getting opposing offenses off the field consistently, but they are doing it quickly. The Ravens are tied for first in the NFL with 31 three-and-outs forced. NFL teams typically average anywhere from 10-15 possessions per game. Say every team the Ravens played this year had 12 possessions in the game, then the Ravens would average about three three-and-outs forced every game. That’s pretty impressive.

While the Broncos and Minnesota Vikings have garnered all the headlines for being elite defenses, it turns out that the best defense in the NFL resides in Baltimore. The biggest difference for this year’s Ravens defense is its health (knock on wood). With stars like Terrell Suggs on the field, and the addition of veteran star Eric Weddle, this year’s Ravens defense brings back memories of the dominant defense’s of the Lewis and Reed era. Plus, the Ravens don’t even have Elvis Dumervil healthy. The rise of Timmy Jernigan has done wonders for the Ravens front, his five sacks leading the team. Undrafted rookie Michael Pierce has been a fantastic find for the Ravens, and C.J. Mosley continues to improve with each and every game.

Defense is back in Baltimore, and oh does it feel good!