2020 NFL playoff predictions: Change at top of AFC East
AFC NORTH CHAMPS
(28 votes: Baldinger, Bergman, Bhanpuri, Burleson, Carr, Cersosimo, Chadiha, Filice, Frelund, Goodbread, Grant, Hall, Jones, Jones-Drew, Lewis, Mariucci, O’Hara, Parr, Pioli, Rosenthal, Ross, Schein, Schrager, Sessler, Shook, Thomas, Warner, Zierlein)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (6 votes: Battista, Brandt, Hanzus, Patra, Rank, Trotter)
3. Cleveland Browns (1 vote: Blair)
Why Marc Sessler chose the Ravens: The Ravens don’t panic or flinch. They reload. They swing hammers. They topple the enemy with an offense that meshes old-school might and a player in Lamar Jackson who came to us from another star system. Barring an angry asteroid crashing into Baltimore, say hello to your AFC North champs.
PFF Rankings: Ranking all 32 offenses ahead of the 2020 NFL season - Anthony Treash
Orchestrated by offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who popularized the pistol formation in the NFL after learning it from Chris Ault at Nevada more than a decade ago, Baltimore’s 2019 offense was one of the best we have ever seen in our time grading NFL games.
There have been 448 team seasons since 2006, and the Ravens’ 2019 offense ranked 14th in EPA per pass play and fifth in EPA per run play. Led by quarterback Lamar Jackson, the Ravens were actually more efficient running the ball than 26 teams were passing it.
While we knew just how dangerous Jackson could be as a runner, it was his improvement as a passer that propelled him toward MVP honors. Jackson’s downfield accuracy was still slightly below average, but he took exceptional care of the football, recording the 10th-best negatively graded throw rate in the NFL. The Louisville product ended the season with the fifth-highest passing grade among quarterbacks, with top-10 marks in deep passer rating (111.9, 6th), passer rating under pressure (97.7, 3rd) and passer rating from a clean pocket (118.5, 4th).
Tight end Mark Andrews proved to be Jackson’s favorite target last year, and the second-year tight end repaid the confidence by generating the second-best PFF grade (90.8) at the position. However, the player I am excited to see more of in 2020 is wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Brown battled injuries throughout his rookie campaign, but he had numerous big-time performances, including two games that earned PFF grades above 90.0. Brown was a separation-getter at Oklahoma and looks to be the same way in the NFL.
With the dual-threat Jackson, two great pass-catching weapons in Andrews and Brown, a loaded backfield with Mark Ingram II and J.K. Dobbins and a top-five offensive line, the Ravens’ offense is once again set to be among the league’s best.
New Ravens’ man in middle, Patrick Queen flying around hallowed ground - Jamison Hensley
Queen is being asked to start right away in the NFL when he didn’t even start last year’s opener for LSU. He didn’t get into the starting lineup last season until Week 4 when an injury forced some shuffling.
Queen also doesn’t have the benefit of playing in any preseason games or joint practices. With the pandemic forcing teams to remain isolated during training camp, he won’t get his first hit against another team until he collides with Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb.
Over the course of two weeks, the Ravens have learned that Queen is fast and confident — and especially confident about being fast. Asked about how his speed would match up against Lamar Jackson, Queen believes he could hold his own.
“That’s the ‘PQ’ special speed,” Queen said. “I’ve got to come out guns blazing and show that off the first game.”
“With Patrick Queen, he’s what you want in a first-round pick,” said Fort, who has played alongside Queen for most of camp. “He has the talent, he understands defensive concepts, he has some ‘dog’ in him, so he’s going to be as good as he wants to be.”
News & Notes: Ravens Getting Close on Offensive Line Decisions - Clifton Brown
Phillips, a third-round pick from Mississippi State, is a player who has already shown versatility. A tackle in college, Phillips he has seen reps at guard and tackle and Harbaugh is pleased with his progress.
“He’s a good football player, I think that’s the main thing,” Harbaugh said. “We saw the ability to play guard or tackle. I think he can play on the right side or the left side. He’s just a really versatile kind of player. He’s a good athlete, bends well, very smart, comes from a great family. Got a really good demeanor about him, doesn’t get down on himself at all, just pushes through it and learns from his mistakes.”
The Ravens don’t have to decide on a starting lineup quite yet, giving Skura a little more time. Harbaugh said Skura came out of Saturday’s scrimmage with no setbacks.
“He did well, no hiccups, no issues,” Harbaugh said. “We’re just going to keep pushing him forward with more challenging things each day. We’ll know by next week where he’s at. Matt will know where he’s at. We’ll see how he’s doing with it as we get close to the game.”
D’Alessandris is right assistant coach to get Ravens in line - Mike Preston
Joe D’Alessandris is the perfect man for a very complex job.
As a Ravens assistant coach, he has to build the offensive line, which isn’t a typical group. The Ravens have a sophisticated, yet complicated blocking scheme, and only someone with experience and patience can handle the job.
You have to be part teacher, part scientist and a pain in the butt.
Meet D’Alessandris. He is all of those wrapped up in one package.
“We go back to the San Diego Chargers days,” said veteran guard D.J. Fluker, who signed with the Ravens during the offseason but played for D’Alessandris in San Diego. “It’s been fun. He hasn’t changed a bit. He’s always on guys about working hard, playing their tails off, five equals one, guys going in there and playing physical. That’s been his mentality since Day One when he drafted me in San Diego. Being here, it’s the same way — nothing has changed. It’s been great.”