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Ravens News 10/6: Heavy Favorites and more

Baltimore Ravens v Washington Football Team Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

NFL fact or fiction: Browns poised to end playoff drought? Josh Allen for MVP? - Adam Schein

The Ravens are no longer the AFC’s second-best team

Naw, that’s fiction. Yes, the idle Steelers and Titans are 3-0. Yes, I lead the league in Bills love and they’ve earned their 4-0 mark. Heck, with Indy’s defense, don’t rule out the 3-1 Colts.

But it’s still Baltimore. Shame on you if you downgraded the Ravens after the loss to Kansas City. The Chiefs are the defending champs and clear favorites to win the Super Bowl again. Baltimore lost in prime time to Patrick Mahomes and Co. No shame in that. And no surprise, Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews bounced back with an easy win over Washington.

Baltimore and Kansas City remain on an AFC Championship Game collision course.

Unrealistic sequel? Lamar Jackson not satisfied with Ravens’ offense yet - Jamison Hensley

It felt as though the Ravens scored at will in 2019, when Jackson led the NFL in touchdown passes and set a single-season rushing record for quarterbacks. Baltimore was the one who kept defenses on their heels, pushing them around up front while eating up yards and chunks of clock.

This season, it seems drives are choppy with failed third downs and inopportune penalties. The rushing attack isn’t fully in sync and the deep passing game isn’t clicking. The Ravens are now the ones being attacked as defenses have increased their blitzes and aggression against them.

“Everyone kind of has a bull’s-eye on us, so teams are coming out and playing a bunch of different defenses,” tight end Mark Andrews said. “It’s a unique task, just because you never know what they’re going to be playing in. Everyone thinks that they have the formula to stop us, so we see different things every week, and that’s only going to make us battle-hardened. To continue to play through that, and learn and grow as a unit, we’re going to be good.”

Take away Jackson’s career-long run and Baltimore averaged 3.0 yards per carry (94 yards on 31 attempts) against Washington. The Ravens also lost the time-of-possession battle, something that occurred just three times last season.

Marlon Humphrey Has Mastered the ‘Fruit Punch’ - Ryan Mink

“We were not playing great at the beginning,” Humphrey said. “I was able to get a turnover early on there and was able to catch us a little momentum. So, it was really good to get a big play in that first quarter.”

Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale said last week that there’s some “natural ability” that makes a player good at forcing fumbles, but most of the knack comes from want-to.

“Not necessarily ability – desire just to get the ball off of a guy,” Martindale said. “He has perfect timing when he usually does it.”

“Anytime I’m around the ball, I just try something, whether it’s a tackle – whatever it is – an interception. However way we can get a turnover, it’s big for the team,” Humphrey said. “The biggest thing that you can have on defense is a defense that creates turnovers, whether it’s an interception or a forced fumble or sack.”

In Patrick Queen, Baltimore Ravens see a playmaker with a specific bit of room to grow - Aaron Kasinitz

After a rocky showing in a loss to the Chiefs in Week 3, Queen emerged as a star of a 31-17 Week 4 win over Washington. He chipped in on a team-high 12 tackles, including three for a loss, and helped the defense hold Washington to conversions on 4 of 13 third downs.

“He made a lot of good plays,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He was sorting the schemes, he read the schemes well. And he made a bunch of tackles for us.”

So far, Harbaugh said, Queen has thrived in man coverage in the passing game because his athletic trains shine through.

Zone coverages are a little different. Those call for a player like Queen to drop back, read how an offense moves and make a slew of rapid fire decisions about who to cover and where to go.

“There’s a lot of matches that go on, a lot of pattern reads, different things you have to understand,” Harbaugh said. “He’s doing a good job with that, but he knows that’s probably the one area where he can continue to improve, because he’s young and it’s really just an experience issue with the zone drops.”

Bengals Open As Biggest Week 5 Underdog Ahead of Matchup Against Ravens - James Rapien

“We feel a lot of momentum right now about where we are,” rookie quarterback Joe Burrow said. ”Obviously there are some things to fix, but we had a great week of practice this week, and I think that’s why we won the game. We have to continue it on to next week. This is the NFL — there are no weeks off. We’ve got Baltimore coming up, and it’s going to be a tough game. We’re excited to play.”

The Ravens are going to be a tough opponent. The game is in Baltimore, which makes it an even bigger challenge.

Just one week after being a home favorite, the Bengals are the biggest underdog on the Week 5 schedule.

Baltimore is a 14-point favorite according to BetOnline.ag. That’s by far the biggest point spread of Week 5.

The over/under for the Bengals-Ravens game is 52, which means the oddsmakers respect Burrow and the rest of Cincinnati’s offense.