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Ravens News 11/25: Side Dishes and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

NFL Power Rankings, Week 12: Rob Gronkowski and other ‘side dishes’ who stand out for every team - Jones & Graff

9. Baltimore Ravens (7-3)

Previous rank: 10

Week 11 result: Beat the Bears, 16-13

Best side dish: The adage about a receiving tight end being a quarterback’s security blanket is so true about Mark Andrews. Just look at Baltimore’s game plan against Chicago: With Lamar Jackson sidelined with an illness, backup quarterback Tyler Huntley targeted Andrews 10 times, and the tight end caught eight of those passes for 73 yards. No other player received more than six targets. Andrews trails teammate Marquise Brown by just three targets for the season, but he’s the most reliable option, with just two drops (per Pro Football Focus).

NFL Week 12 Defense Rankings - Sam Monson

9. BALTIMORE RAVENS (UP 3)

Baltimore’s defense is one of the most aggressive in the league. They rank fourth in the NFL in blitz rate despite a game against Kansas City where they dialed it back in to avoid playing into the hands of Patrick Mahomes. Marcus Peters‘ season-ending injury has made that aggressive style riskier than in previous years, though. The Ravens are giving up 8.1 yards per pass, which ranks 30th in the league. This defense is still formidable, but it’s easier to exploit than in previous years. Where Baltimore offsets that damage is by tightening up in the red zone and bending but not breaking.

Ravens might be on to something special with young wide receiver corps - Mike Preston

Bateman can play, as can second-year receivers Devin Duvernay and James Proche II. Marquise Brown is ascending midway through his third season and, combined with fourth-year tight end Mark Andrews, the Ravens haven’t had a passing game this complete since 1996 and 1997 when they had receivers Michael Jackson, Derrick Alexander and Jermaine Lewis.

Bateman is 6-1, weighs 193 pounds and snags footballs out of the air like former Ravens receiver Steve Smith Sr. He has already shown elusiveness and the ability to gain yards after the catch. He can be a possession guy — his first 11 catches resulted in first downs — or a game-changer.

Brown has made great progress from a year ago. He consistently makes catches with his arms and fingers outstretched and away from his body. His route running has improved, and while he doesn’t have that great “shake” like Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill, Brown can plant, accelerate and run away from tacklers with his burst. The only downside on Brown (52 catches, 719 yards, two touchdowns) is that he still can be intimidated like he was last Thursday night when Miami defenders were extremely physical.

Duvernay (23 catches, 203 yards, two touchdowns) is a little bigger and taller than Brown, and just as fast. Like Brown, he can play outside or in the slot and can draw a lot of mismatches with No. 3 safeties or cornerbacks in the middle. Proche has only eight catches for 118 yards, but he has some of the best hands on the team — which he proved with a big preseason.

Ravens-Browns Week 12 Preview, Prediction, Where to Watch - Todd Karpovich

The Browns defense has been mostly stout. Linebacker Myles Garrett is a game-wrecker with 13 sacks. Cleveland’s secondary has also been solid. The Ravens are minus-five in turnover ratio and will need to protect the ball because that could decide the game. The Ravens managed 123 yards rushing against the Bears and they’ll need similar success against Cleveland to win this game.

Browns running back Kareem Hunt and offensive tackle Jack Conklin returned to practice this week and that will provide additional challenges for a Ravens, who have given up big plays and struggled with their tackling. Hunt has been out since Week 6 with a calf injury. He has 361 yards rushing with five touchdowns while splitting carries with Nick Chubb.

Tight end David Njoku lead the Browns with 372 yards receiving and he has created matchup problems against the Ravens in the past.

Prediction

This is a huge AFC North matchup on Sunday night. The Ravens will have some energy playing at home after spending the past two weeks on the road. Cleveland is dealing with some inner turmoil and has played inconsistently for much of the season. The Ravens have found a way to win close games. If Lamar Jackson is back in the lineup, Baltimore should prevail.

Ravens 27, Browns 24

NFL picks, predictions for Week 12: Ravens bury Browns; Bucs cool Colts; Steelers stay in AFC hunt - Bill Bender

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-4)

Sunday, 8:20 p.m., NBC

Lamar Jackson missed Week 11, and Baker Mayfield is battling a series of nagging injuries. The Ravens are 3-1 at home this season, but there is the blowout loss to the Bengals earlier this year. Baltimore has won three of the last four in this series, and the league’s second-ranked run defense will be a difference maker. The Ravens take control of the division.

Pick: Ravens 29, Browns 24

NFL Week 12 picks: Cowboys rout Raiders, Buccaneers roll over Colts, Giants upset Eagles - Pete Prisco

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)

The Ravens will have Lamar Jackson back after he missed last week because of illness. The Browns beat the Lions last week, but didn’t look good doing so. Baker Mayfield is struggling. The Ravens will get the offense cranked up with Jackson back, but I think the Browns will as well with their run game. It’s close.

Pick: Ravens 28, Browns 27