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Ravens News 10/20: Atop the AFC and more

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NFL: OCT 03 Ravens at Broncos Photo by Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

6 Things to Know After Week 6: Ravens In Control of the AFC - Jenny Vrentas

The Ravens are all alone atop the AFC. With the Bills’ loss Monday night, Baltimore is the only team in the conference at 5–1 (the NFC, on the other hand, has five teams at 5–1 or better!). Who could have expected this after an awful preseason stretch when the Ravens lost nearly their entire running back depth chart plus CB Marcus Peters to season-ending injuries?

Yet, they beat one of the NFL’s hottest teams on Sunday, the Chargers, by putting up 187 rushing yards and befuddling Justin Herbert like no other defense has this season, with disguised looks and tight man-to-man coverage. The Ravens have taken pretty much any criticism or concern thrown their direction and discarded it so far this season. John Harbaugh deservedly won Coach of the Year in 2019, Lamar Jackson’s MVP season. But the job he’s done so far this season, not letting the onslaught of preseason injuries become catastrophic for either his team’s scheme or morale, might be even better.

Ravens can build on Dominant Defensive performance - Jack McKessy

Baltimore’s front three of Justin Madubuike, Brandon Williams, and Calais Campbell were consistently getting penetration up front. No Los Angeles back surpassed even 10 yards on the day as the defensive front they faced quickly filled any gaps the offensive line created. They combined for nine tackles, including a couple of tackles for a loss from Campbell. The linebackers behind them matched the defensive line’s physicality with their own, forcing double teams and allowing guys in the secondary to create extra backfield pressure themselves. On the rare occasions that Ekeler managed to cross the line of scrimmage, the Baltimore linebackers showed they left their tackling issues in last week’s game, finally succeeding in finishing tackles this week.

Baltimore’s dominance against a Chargers team that many considered to be early favorites out of the AFC has put them on the map as one of the best teams in the NFL through six weeks. Their defense will continue to be challenged in the coming weeks with Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals next week and MVP sleeper candidate Kirk Cousins two weeks later. If they continue to play the way they did on Sunday while Lamar Jackson keeps dominating on offense, look out for this Ravens team come the postseason.

NFL Rookie Rankings Week 7: Chasing the top spot while Surtain Stokes the flames - Dalton Miller

7) Odafe Oweh, OLB, Baltimore Ravens

Oweh had his most challenging game as a pro from a pass-rushing perspective, but that’s mostly because he had to face the No. 4 player on the NFL rookie rankings heading into Week 7.

Oweh’s technical ability isn’t anything to write home about yet. He’s been winning off inconsistent hands hitting a rush move, and his athleticism and sheer determination have made up for some of the inconsistencies.

With the hot Bengals coming to town next week, it’ll be an excellent divisional test to see if he rises or falls.

Ravens LT Ronnie Stanley to undergo season-ending surgery on ankle injury - Jeff Zrebiec

“At this point in time, my ankle isn’t where it should be,” Stanley said in a statement.

“This is the best decision not only for my health, but also for the team long term. I look forward to supporting my team from the sideline this season and coming back fully healthy in 2022.”

What does this mean for Stanley?

Stanley is getting what’s believed to be his third surgery on the ankle since he sustained the injury, so at this point, it’s fair to question whether he’ll be able to regain the form that made him one of the top left tackles in the sport. Shutting it down and getting the surgery now allows him to focus on rehabbing the ankle and trying to be in the best shape possible for the 2022 season.

Stanley was hurt just two days after signing a five-year, $98.75 million contract. He’s essentially played less than two full games since that big contract. It’s been a tough situation for the player and team and Stanley now has another arduous rehab process to go through.

NFL Week 7 odds, picks: Bengals shock first-place Ravens, Colts upset 49ers on Sunday night - John Breech

Cincinnati (4-2) at Baltimore (5-1)

1 p.m. ET (CBS)

I can’t remember the last time the Bengals played in a somewhat important game this late in the season.

The biggest surprise of the season for the Bengals so far has been their defense.

They’re definitely better this year, but I won’t know how much better until I see them play against the Ravens and that’s because the Ravens have the one offense in the NFL that the Bengals can’t figure out. In the last three meetings between these two teams, the Ravens have gone 3-0 while averaging 38 points per game.

For the first time in forever, the Bengals actually match up pretty well with Baltimore. The Ravens have given up the third-most pass yards in the AFC this year and the Bengals have a quarterback who can take advantage of that. On the other side of the ball, the Ravens are averaging 155.2 yards per game on the ground, which is the fourth most in the NFL, but the Bengals should be able to slow them down. Cincinnati is one of just eight teams in the league this year surrendering fewer than 100 rushing yards per game.

The pick: Bengals 27-24 over Ravens

NFL picks, predictions for Week 7: Ravens stay hot vs. Bengals; Chiefs cool Titans; Saints edge Seahawks - Bill Bender

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-6.5)

The Bengals have been one of the surprise teams of the first third of the season around second-year quarterback Joe Burrow. Problem is they are running into one of the league’s hottest teams in the Ravens and MVP candidate Lamar Jackson, who is 5-0 against the Bengals as a starter. The last three meetings have not been close, but this Cincinnati team is different.

Pick: Ravens 30, Bengals 22