One of the leading football analytics websites, Football Outsiders, tracks DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). DVOA is tracked for offense, defense and special teams, and the Ravens are ranked first for two out of the three.
In the most recent DVOA rankings update on 11/28, the Ravens are ranked first in defense and first in special teams.
The Ravens defense received a -24.4% DVOA (the more negative the better as positive numbers mean more points allowed). That is slightly less than three points better than the second ranked defense, the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Ravens are ranked as the second best unit against the pass (the Jaguars are first). The much maligned Ravens defense is the 10th best in the NFL according to the DVOA ratings. The only negative stat the Ravens have is variance (the consistency of the defense) where the team is ranked last.
The Ravens run defense has been much better with Brandon Williams’ return, but its struggled without Williams caused the defense to fall in terms of total yards allowed per game. With Williams back, the rush defense has risen up the yards per game standings, and the top 10 ranking by Football Outsiders shows the improvement.
With a 10.4% DVOA, the Ravens special teams unit tops the list. The Ravens special teams have been fantastic this season, and the top ranking is well earned. Sam Koch won the game on Monday night against Houston for the Ravens, and Justin Tucker has been as reliable as ever. Unlike last year, the Ravens have gotten production from the return game as well, including a punt return touchdown and a kick return touchdown against the Bears.
The offense is ranked higher than would have been expected, the overall unit is 26th, and Alex Collins is ranked as the sixth best running back.
However, the Ravens top ranked receiver is 50th ranked Mike Wallace. Even worse is the ranking for Joe Flacco, who comes in at 34th. Keep in mind, there are 32 NFL teams.
While the offense isn’t as bad in the DVOA rating as it is in terms of yards per game, the DVOA rating shows how reliant the Ravens have been on its defense and special teams. Now, it’s a game plan that has worked of late, and the Ravens defense and special teams are among the NFL’s elite. Again, both are ranked first by Football Outsiders.
The Ravens top ranked defense and special teams will have to play well yet again this week if the Ravens hope to defeat Matthew Stafford and the Lions.