At one of the league’s most important positions, the Ravens have multiple players performing well. Of the 110 cornerbacks graded by Pro Football Focus in Week 4, the Ravens had three ranked among the top 45 in overall performance – Brandon Carr (ranked 19th, 72.9), Marlon Humphrey (24th, 70.7), and nickel corner Tavon Young (tied for 44th, 65.2).
Smith’s return will give Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale even more leeway to mix coverage. Humphrey often shadowed Brown all over the field Sunday night, and Smith is capable of shadowing top receivers as well. But regardless of what Martindale wants to call – zone, man-to-man, blitzes – there is no reason to hold back.
“Whenever we played ‘man,’ I think you had to give these three corners credit,” Harbaugh said. “They played tight man-to-man coverage. It’s a good problem to have, the fact that we’ll have another really good player playing corner, and we’ll have the chance to put another guy out there that can cover people.”
“I’m excited that he (Smith) is coming back,” Carr said. “I know he’s been training, grinding his butt off. He’s excited to get back with us. It will add one more dominant piece to our group. In the secondary, we take pride in locking people up. We’ve got big, strong physical corners, a scrappy nickel (Young), and (Anthony) Levine, a do-it-all-type of guy.”
With outstanding quality and depth at corner, Baltimore is well-positioned to meet the challenges that remain on their schedule. By most measurements, cornerback is one of the four most important positions on either side of the ball.
The Browns lead the NFL with 13 takeaways
Why it matters Sunday
Baltimore led the NFL in takeaways last season, and turnover margins have been more vital to its success than just about any team in the league. Since 2017, the Ravens are 11-1 when they win the turnover battle and 0-6 when they lose it. So quarterback Joe Flacco and his offense, including fumble-prone running back Alex Collins, will need to protect the ball Sunday to keep recent history on their side.
Joe Flacco has tossed just two picks compared to eight touchdowns this season, a noticeable improvement from his combined 52:40 touchdown-to-interception ratio over the last three seasons.
2018 PFF NFL Power Rankings – Week 5 - Eric Eager and Ben Brown
2018 Week 5 ELO Ranking: 6
Oh hi, Ravens. This is a team that was low-key close to having a rebuilding year with a rookie quarterback (their coach was one of the options for the “first to be fired” future in many sports books). They are allowing the fourth-fewest expected points added on early down pass plays, and Jimmy Smith returns this week. Will they win their first division title since 2012?
This game opened as a pick’em, but bettors have shown faith in the Ravens after their strong victory over the Steelers on Sunday night, pushing the line a full field goal. The model says Baker Mayfield throws for almost 200 yards, but has a better chance of throwing an interception than a touchdown as the Ravens cover 60 percent of the time, while the under (47.5) hits in almost 70 percent of simulations.
Following their statement win in primetime last Sunday, the national perception of the Ravens has skyrocketed.