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Ravens News 12/31: December Domination and more

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Peter Schmucks 2020 vision: Five things that would make the New Year bright Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Kings of chill: Ravens rank as NFL’s most dominant team in December - Jamison Hensley

When it comes to finishing out the regular season, no NFL team has been more successful in doing so than the Ravens. Baltimore is an NFL-best 13-2 in December over the past three years, outscoring teams by an average of 11.6 points.

Jackson, in particular, has heated up when the cold weather arrives. He has won his last 11 starts in December, producing a league-high Total QBR (78.5) and scoring the most total touchdowns (31).

The Ravens are built for it

“When you have a running quarterback and they are committing 11 guys to running the ball and the fullback is 300 pounds [Pro Bowl player Patrick Ricard], they are going to move the ball a bit,” New York Giants safety Logan Ryan said Sunday.

In 2019, the Ravens primarily pushed teams around with their three-tight-end formations. In 2020, Baltimore has been more versatile, spreading out teams (using J.K. Dobbins’ speed on the edge), lining up two running backs in the backfield and using a sixth offensive lineman at times.

“You can’t stay the same in this league,” Harbaugh said. “As soon as you start staying the same, people start stopping you. So, we always have to keep building on it and kind of moving the shells around as best as we can.”

Lamar Jackson Named Ravens 2020 MVP by PFWA, Local Media - Todd Karpovich

Jackson, the reigning NFL MVP, has been voted team MVP for the second straight year and is the first Ravens player to win in back-to-back seasons since Ray Rice (2011 and 2012).

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey finished second in the voting while offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and kicker Justin Tucker finished tied for third.

Below is the list of past Ravens MVP winners dating back to the award’s introduction in 2003:

2003: Jamal Lewis

2004: Ed Reed

2005: Adalius Thomas

2006: Steve McNair

2007: Willis McGahee

2008: Ed Reed

2009: Ray Rice

2010: Haloti Ngata

2011: Ray Rice

2012: Ray Rice

2013: Justin Tucker

2014: Justin Forsett

2015: Marshal Yanda

2016: Justin Tucker

2017: Terrell Suggs

2018: Marlon Humphrey

2019: Lamar Jackson

Ravens’ Defensive Depth Is Making Them Even Stronger Down the Stretch - Ryan Mink

In Sunday’s win over the New York Giants, the Ravens got major contributions from several defensive backups, including cornerback Anthony Averett, linebacker Chris Board and rookie defensive tackle Justin Madubuike.

Averett’s contribution was needed the most considering the Ravens were again without starting cornerbacks Marcus Peters (calf) and Jimmy Smith (ribs/shoulder). Averett played 100 percent of the snaps against the Giants and finished with five tackles and two pass breakups.

“Being out for almost two months, it was definitely tough – just mentally,” Averett said. “But I keep my head in the books. And the team, they needed me to step up and start and play this game. You never know how the chips fall, so I was ready, and I feel like I showed I improved these past two games.”

“We trust him, and we put him out there on an island sometimes, and he comes up big for us,” outside linebacker Matthew Judon said. “That’s what every level has to do on our defense for us to be a great defense; our D-line has to play well, our linebackers have to communicate, and our defensive backs, they’ve got to cover. And when he’s out there, he’s covering people.”

RB Index, Week 17: Six running backs who’ve earned new contracts - Maurice Jones-Drew

Gus Edwards

Baltimore Ravens · 25 years old

Edwards has been in a backup role since joining the Ravens three years ago and continues to prove his worth. The 6-foot-1, 238-pounder has routinely been a guy who punishes defenses with his downhill style. This season, he leads all Ravens running backs in carries (132) and rush yards (663) while hitting paydirt six times. Baltimore has some decisions to make at the position with Edwards slated to become a restricted free agent this offseason. I’d love to see him back in Baltimore’s backfield — Edwards deserves an extension from the team, and I ultimately think he’ll get one — but there’s always the chance another organization gives him an offer that the Ravens don’t match.

NFL Week 17 Preview: DFS advice, betting tips and matchups to watch - PFF

BALTIMORE RAVENS @ CINCINNATI BENGALS

Headline of the game: Bengals can play spoiler against another AFC North team

The Ravens can clinch a playoff spot with a win and have the potential to make some noise in the postseason, given the way their offense has started to click in recent weeks. The Bengals have some motivation to lose and secure a better pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but there is also motivation here to play spoiler for a divisional rival after doing so two weeks ago against the Steelers.

Granted, he was throwing on air against a floundering Houston defense, but Brandon Allen posted a 91.4 PFF passing grade last week while averaging 10 yards per pass attempt and recording a passer rating of 126.5.

The likely outcome here is that the Ravens roll, given what’s at stake for both teams and the fact that Baltimore ranks second in the NFL in EPA per play over the last four weeks. The NFL has provided stranger results over the last several weeks than a Cincinnati win here, though.