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Ravens News 11/16: AFCN Jumble and more

Baltimore Ravens v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Ten numbers that must get better if the Ravens are going to improve over the second half - Jeff Zrebiec

Minus-5

Ravens’ turnover differential

The Ravens have forced just seven turnovers and have committed 12. That’s not a winning recipe. Given its myriad injuries, Baltimore is not explosive or talented enough to continue to lose the turnover battle and win games. The only teams with fewer takeaways are the San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars. That’s not good company to be keeping at this stage of the season. Causing more turnovers will help the offense and give it shorter fields. Committing fewer will keep the defense out of more tough spots. The Ravens have to play better complementary football, limiting their mistakes on offense and forcing more on defense.

7 and 0

Number of 50-plus yard plays allowed by the Ravens defense and gained by the Ravens offense

It’s easy to say that if you took away a play here and a play there, the Ravens’ defensive numbers would be respectable. However, there’s truth to that. The defense has looked good for stretches, then it will have a breakdown and give up a big play. In the Ravens’ three losses, their opponents have 11 total plays of more than 30 yards. Any defensive improvement starts with allowing much fewer chunk plays and forcing teams to win by stringing together long drives. Offensively, the Ravens are much improved in the downfield passing game. However, they are the only team in football without an offensive play of 50-plus yards. Hitting on more big plays would make life easier for Jackson and give the Ravens more margin of error.

Lamar Jackson Is Getting Valuable Lessons - Ryan Mink

Opposing defensive coordinators have been throwing their laboratory concocted schemes at Jackson all season. For the most part, they’ve missed. The notion of Jackson being “figured out” has flopped.

But Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores, a defensive Bill Belichick disciple, definitely hit. Now the Ravens must prove that other defensive coordinators won’t be able to beat the Ravens with their cloned approach.

That’s the part that keeps clanging around in my head. Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman and his staff will find Xs and Os solutions this week to counterpunch what opponents have had success with. It didn’t happen fast enough, but there were some answers late in Miami.

Now it’s going to come down to Jackson and his teammates executing those solutions, and there’s every reason to believe that they will. If opponents want to keep daring the Ravens to beat them deep and one-on-one on the outside, Baltimore has the wideouts to do it and Jackson certainly isn’t afraid to challenge them.

Baltimore Ravens’ Derek Wolfe expected to miss rest of season, coach John Harbaugh says - Jamison Hensley

“I think Derek’s going to be out for the rest of the year, in all honesty. It looks that way,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t really have any details on it. I can’t say I understand it completely.”

The 21-day window to make a decision on Wolfe’s status — to activate him to the 53-man roster or keep him on IR — ends Tuesday.

“He’s not in a place where he’s going to be able to play,” Harbaugh said.

A nine-year starter in the NFL, Wolfe was re-signed by the Ravens this offseason to a three-year, $12 million contract (including $8.5 million guaranteed). With Wolfe out, Justin Madubuike stepped into the starting lineup, making 16 tackles and one sack thus far.

Wolfe joins cornerback Marcus Peters, offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards and safety DeShon Elliott as Ravens starters who are out for the season.

Ravens Have Good As Chance As Anyone in Topsy Turvy AFC - Todd Karpovich

Ravens coach John Harbaugh says the NFL is a week-to-week league, meaning anything could happen on a given day.

That has certainly been the case in the AFC this year.

While the Tennessee Titans have been the most impressive team, it’s hard to determine who else is separating themselves from the pack.

There have been major upsets every week and there is a logjam for potential playoff spots.

Here’s a look at the current AFC playoffs race.

1. Tennessee Titans (8-2)

Wins: Seahawks, Colts, Jaguars, Bills, Chiefs Colts, Rams, Saints

Losses: Cardinals, Jets

Outlook: Running back Derrick Henry will miss the rest of the regular season with a foot injury, but the Titans have shown they can win without him, Tennessee also has the easiest schedule down the stretch. If Henry is back for the playoffs, the Titans are the team to beat.

2. Buffalo Bills (6-3)

Wins: Dolphins (2), Washington, Chiefs, Texans and Jets.

Losses: Steelers, Titans, Jaguars

Outlook: Buffalo has been largely inconsistent this season. The Bills will have to hold off the surging Patriots in the AFC East. Buffalo still has the talent to make a deep playoff run.

3. Baltimore Ravens (6-3)

Wins: Chiefs, Lions, Broncos, Colts, Chargers, Vikings

Losses: Raiders, Bengals, Dolphins

Outlook: The Ravens have five AFC North games remaining so the division could come down to the last week. Baltimore has looked like the best team in the AFC in certain weeks, but it has played inconsistently at times. The Ravens can’t afford many more slips the rest of the way,

Mediocrity rules AFC North, plus Josh McDaniels on head coach radar once again - Jason La Canfora

Please, someone, tell me what to make of the AFC North. Are all of these teams good? None of them? Just patently mediocre (like much of the league)?

We know at least one of these teams is going to the postseason, but are we convinced that two or more are? How can it be that whenever it appears an opportunity is there for one of these teams to step forward, and make a real statement, no one does? If nothing else, Week 10 was another reminder about how bonkers this league can be, and it’s clear that serious flaws remain for all these teams as we enter the playoff push.

The Ravens allowed the 30th-ranked defense to blitz them with abandon on pretty much every second and third down, they made no adjustments, their defense continued to surrender big play after big play and they were suffocated 22-10 on Thursday night in the lowest output of the Lamar Jackson era. But we were only getting started. The AFC North had more follies to come.

And it makes the jumbled-up AFC even more difficult to figure out as we approach Thanksgiving. If nothing else, I wouldn’t write the Bengals off just yet, and I wouldn’t be in a hurry to crown any of these teams.