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Ravens News 1/2: Postseason preview and more

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New York Jets v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

NFL All-Decade Team: Tom Brady, Antonio Brown, Richard Sherman, Von Miller headline CBS Sports’ list - Sean Wagner-McGough

Fullback: Kyle Juszczyk

Right guard: Marshal Yanda

Eight Pro Bowls. Two first team All-Pro selections. Only Jahri Evans had more approximate value among all guards during the decade. Even so, it’s difficult to argue against Yanda getting the nod here -- especially after factoring in how well he’s played this year, at age 35, paving the way for a historically great rushing attack.

Free safety: Earl Thomas

K: Justin Tucker

The most accurate kicker in NFL history with a cannon for a leg. He already has a signature playoff moment -- his game-winning 47-yard field goal in double overtime to send the Ravens past the Broncos in the playoffs during what would become a Super Bowl run -- and he has a chance to get another one this postseason.

NFL team of the decade? Ranking top 10 organizations of 2010s - Marc Sessler

4) Baltimore Ravens

Regular-season record: 98-62-0 (.613)

Postseason record: 7-4 (.636)

Division titles: 4

Super Bowl losses: 0

Super Bowl wins: 1

SesslerPowerScore: 164

Let’s start right here: The Ravens shoot up this list if coach John Harbaugh raises another Lombardi come February. Few teams are run with more confidence and consistency, with Baltimore seamlessly shifting from Ozzie Newsome to Eric DeCosta in the front office and boldly transitioning from an aging Joe Flacco to a league-altering supernova in Lamar Jackson -- a shooting star the rest of the NFL completely whiffed on. Baltimore’s top-to-bottom belief in the Lamar experience flipped the switch on the league’s most exciting offense, giving fans an entirely different type of Ravens squad from the defensive-oriented, Flacco-led outfit that bumped off the Niners in Super Bowl XLVII. A few shaky seasons under Harbaugh factor in, but he’s silenced the doubters and currently rolls into January as clear-cut Coach of the Year material.

2020 NFL Playoff Preview: Each team’s chances and the reasons they could win it all - PFF


Chance to win: 26.1% (first)

The reason they win: Their lack of weaknesses

Where do we start? Lamar Jackson is the league MVP. Greg Roman has been the second-best offensive play-caller in the league. The defense has done nothing but improve since the acquisitions of Marcus Peters and L.J. Fort mid-season. The Ravens’ offensive line has the most wins above replacement (WAR) of any group in the NFL, with Ronnie Stanley allowing the fewest pressures in the PFF era for a tackle. To put a cherry on top, kicker Justin Tucker is literally the only player at his position who is statistically significantly better than a replacement player, meaning when the offense (rarely) gets bogged down in opponents’ territory, there will still likely be points. If the Ravens can get out ahead of their opponents using Jackson and their unique scheme, making their opponents play on their heels for all four quarters, they will be almost impossible to beat, and that’s why we have them as the favorite moving forward.

What holds them back: Meager wide receiver corps

There are not a ton of holes on this team, but if the Ravens get in a position where they have to throw the ball on almost every down, their wide receiver corps after Hollywood Brown and his 0.2 WAR is a bit scarce. Thus, if a team such as Kansas City repeats its Week 3 feat of getting ahead early, it might be tougher for the Ravens’ offense than it usually is.

Non-QB X-factor: Marlon Humphrey

Humphrey is the second most valuable player on the Baltimore Ravens, and he allows the defense to do what it does best — which is blitz a ton and cover on the back end. Humphrey has allowed less than a yard per coverage snap into his coverage and has intercepted as many passes as he’s allowed touchdowns while breaking up 10 passes. The Peters trade certainly helped take the defense to the next level, forcing quarterbacks to hold the ball longer, but Humphrey laid the foundation for this group, which is again among the league’s best.

NFL playoffs: One strength, area of concern for each AFC team - Cynthia Frelund

1) Baltimore Ravens

Win AFC: 40.8 percent

Win Super Bowl: 20.1 percent

Strength: Efficient defensive pressure.

I’m not ignoring Lamar Jackson, but this highly efficient offense is complemented by a pass defense that makes it nearly impossible for opponents to earn the points necessary to catch up to Jackson and Co. When the Ravens have pressured opposing quarterbacks this season, they’ve allowed a league-low 36.7 passer rating (per Next Gen Stats) and a league-low completion percentage of 33, with three touchdowns and five interceptions. Between the pressure up front and the back limiting space for pass-catchers to work with, Baltimore held opposing offenses to a 28.4 percent third-down conversion rate in Weeks 11-16, which was the second best in the NFL over that time period.

Area of concern: Can they adjust if they have to play from behind?

Given the generally high caliber of competition in the playoffs, it’s reasonable to expect the Ravens will have to catch up to an opponent at some point. The wrinkle is, that’s not something they had to do much of -- so we don’t really know how they’ll respond. During the regular season, the Ravens averaged 8 points per game in the first quarter on offense and allowed an average of just 1.9 on defense. Baltimore is 14-0 when tied or ahead at the half, meaning both of the Ravens’ losses came when they were trailing early in games. In wins, they’ve rushed an average of 38.2 times per game (on 58.2 percent of snaps), while in losses, they only rushed 30.5 times per game (on 42.1 percent of snaps). If they fall behind early, the advantage they get from being multiple on offense lessens, and they become more predictable (that is, forced to lean on the pass) for opposing defenses.