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Ravens News 12/28: Playoff Race and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Week 16 observations: Injuries aside, the Ravens now know what has to change defensively - Jeff Zrebiec

In two games against Baltimore this year, Burrow threw for seven touchdowns and 941 yards, the most ever for a player against one opponent in a single season according to ESPN Stats & Info. Mixon scored three touchdowns. Chase totaled 15 catches for 326 yards and a touchdown. Higgins had 19 catches for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Boyd and tight end C.J. Uzomah also each had over 100 receiving yards in the two games and combined for three scores.

The Bengals aren’t going away either. As long as he stays healthy, Burrow should only get better. Mixon still has some good years ahead of him. Chase and Higgins are quickly becoming one of the top outside receiving duos in the league and they’re in their first and second years, respectively. The Bengals will continue to build their offensive line and they have plenty of salary-cap space and draft picks to fortify their roster.

Baltimore needs to use many of its offseason assets to build a more formidable defense that can better match up. The Ravens need to get healthier defensively, but also better.

That means adding more speed in the middle of the field and a front seven that can better disrupt the quarterback without blitzing. That means the addition of a playmaking safety who can take away the deep part of the field. That, as we saw Sunday, definitely means acquiring more cornerback depth.

Snap Counts: Defensive Backups Play a Ton, Young Wide Receivers Show Out - Ryan Mink

Second-year defensive tackle Broderick Washington played a season-high 48 snaps with Justin Madubuike on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. He logged one sack and nearly had another on the first play of the game but Joe Burrow wiggled out of his grasp.

Veteran defensive tackle Calais Campbell (thigh) suited up after missing the team’s Week 15 game against Green Bay, but he only played eight defensive snaps.

Offensively, the Ravens got a good look at two young wide receivers – James Proche and Tylan Wallace. Sammy Watkins didn’t get any practice all week because he was on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and only played three offensive snaps. So Proche (47%) and Wallace (46%) basically split the No. 3 receiver job behind Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman. Proche caught seven of eight passes his way for 76 yards. Wallace converted a third-and-long with an 18-yard catch over the middle in which he shook off contact.

Defensive Notes Week 16 Ravens @ Bengals 2021 - Ken McKusick

Odafe Oweh led the Ravens with contributions to 7 pressures (3 full, 3 shared pressure plus a QH) within 3 seconds plus a late QH. Isaiah Mack had a sack, another negated by offsetting 12-men fouls, a 3rd he set up for Washington, and a 4th pressure that resulted in an incomplete.

Patrick Queen started off with a fine first series including some good run play and a PD in coverage of Evans in the end zone. He finished tied with Jefferson for the team lead in tackles. However, he appeared to lose coverage of Boyd on the 68-yard TD (Q2, 13:28).

Isaiah [Mack] showed outstanding quickness for a big man and excelled in his work as a 3-tech against vs Adeniji. He’s listed as an undersized as a NT at 6’1”, 300. However, he has quickness the Ravens should be able to use in 2022 despite the skill set that overlaps Madubuike.

Ravens Tight End Mark Andrews Continues to Produce Without Lamar Jackson - Todd Karpovich

With Jackson sidelined the past three games with an ankle injury, Andrews has become a popular player for backups Tyler Huntley and Josh Johnson, catching 29 of 34 targets for 376 yards with four touchdowns.

Andrews has posted at least 100 receiving yards and one touchdown in three straight games, tying Jimmy Graham (2013) for the longest such streak by a tight end in NFL history.

From Weeks 7-13, Jackson was the worst quarterback in the NFL throwing to tight ends with a QB rating of 45.5, according to CBS Sports.

“There are a lot of guys having to step up and guys that haven’t been here for more than a week playing defense and whatnot,” Andrews said. “So, I think the more practice we get, the more we can drill in the details, focus on ourselves and not anything else. It’s all about ourselves. There’s some good football being played. We’ve just got to keep on going. Two games left; we’re going to get it down. I’m confident, and I’m ready for these next two.”

The Seven Questions That Will Decide the NFL Playoff Race - Steven Ruiz

What’s the Remaining Potential for Chaos in the AFC North?

Based on Week 16’s results, you wouldn’t know that this is one of the tightest division races in NFL history. The Bengals, fresh off a 41-21 rout of the battered Ravens, look like the only AFC North squad worthy of making the playoffs, and Sunday’s win raised their odds of winning the North to 72 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight’s prediction model. And yet, every team in the division still has a fairly realistic shot at coming out on top.

If the Bengals lose their final two games and the Browns and Ravens both run the table, then Baltimore would be your division champ. And if Pittsburgh beats the Browns and Ravens in weeks 17 and 18, the Steelers will win the division if the Bengals drop both of their next two. Got all that?