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Ravens News 12/12: AFCN division favorite, OL rankings and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Are Ravens suddenly the favorites to capture the AFC North? - Jamison Hensley

The Ravens (7-6) are a half-game back of the Steelers (7-5-1) and could be seen as a favorite for the AFC North title considering their remaining schedules.

Pittsburgh has the ninth-most difficult final three games left in the league, which includes first-place teams over the next two weeks. The Steelers are home against the New England Patriots (9-4), at the New Orleans Saints (11-2) and home against the Cincinnati Bengals (5-8).

Baltimore’s remaining schedule ranks No. 19, and it features only one team with a winning record. The Ravens are home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8), at the Los Angeles Chargers (10-3) and home against the Cleveland Browns(5-7-1).

”We’re in a fight for the division against a team we have great respect for,” Harbaugh said. “They’re on their path, and we’re on our path. We need to take care of our business. You want to advance in the National Football League? You got to win games, and that’s what we’re focused on doing.”

ELO projections view the AFC North as a near tossup. Their model gives the Steelers a 56-percent chance of winning the division and the Ravens a 43-percent shot.

John Harbaugh acknowledges plan, isn’t going to share it - Darin Gantt

“I’ll just have to let you know if we want,” Harbaugh said. “It could entail anything right now. I know what we want to do. I have a plan. We have a plan. We talked about it. We have to talk to the guys about it, and whether we share that publicly, we’ll decide as the week goes on.”

Flacco’s been out the last month with a right hip problem, but he’s been cleared to return. He didn’t play last week, since he didn’t have time to fully prepare. That led Robert Griffin III to finish up when Jackson missed the last two plays with an ankle injury, though Harbaugh said Jackson was fine. He also said Flacco would be part of the plan moving forward: “He’s too good a player not to be.”

“It’s a football decision,” Harbaugh said.

Implementing a timeshare between two vastly different quarterbacks at this stage of the season would be unwise. Still, don’t expect Harbaugh to divulge any secrets until he is forced to.

Why Being the ‘Same’ Ravens Isn’t Necessarily Bad - John Eisenberg

Sunday’s frustrating defeat illuminated various shortcomings, starting with the need for more game-changing playmakers on both sides of the ball. The inability to finish games is a haunting problem that simply won’t go away. Jackson played well in difficult conditions Sunday, but it was just his fourth pro start and his inexperience showed at times.

So there’s work to be done. But big picture, the Ravens are on to something. I certainly think they are. Jackson is one of those dynamic playmakers they’ve lacked. He exhibits great potential. The defense seemingly has found its mojo with its complex attacking style.

Once he assumes the general manager title after the season, Eric DeCosta will inherit some young foundational players to build around - a dynamic quarterback, bookend offensive tackles and several impact pass defenders. His task will be to supplement these pieces with offensive weapons that can make plays after the catch and upgrade speed in the middle of the defense .

Top 25 offensive linemen of the 2018 NFL season - Michael Renner


2018 Overall Grade: 76.7

It’s not quite the Yanda we saw before missing the 2017 season, but it’s pretty darn close. Yanda has never finished a season with a grade below 80.0 in his entire career.

Ronnie Stanley nearly made PFF’s top-25 list with a 75.9 overall grade. Unsurprisingly, Alex Lewis is the Ravens lowest graded lineman at 48.8.