16. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
New Year’s resolution: Find a way to stay healthy
From training camp to the final week of the regular season, overcoming injuries have been an ongoing challenge. The Ravens have suited up 75 players this season, tying 2020 for the most in team history. Baltimore has started 45 different players for at least one game. Even Lamar Jackson, who had never missed a game due to injury in his first three seasons, couldn’t avoid getting sidelined. A right ankle injury has forced him to miss the past three games. When healthy, the Ravens believe they’re a Super Bowl contender. But Baltimore has been a shell of itself this season.
Calais Campbell: Chasing Greatness to the End - Clifton Brown
“I think he can do whatever he wants,” defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. “He still has the energy, he still has the fire. I think he can still do it for one more year. It’s just up to him and his family; it’s his choice. I’d love to see him again, but if not, congratulations on a great career.”
“If I’m going to play, I’m going to play at a high level. I’m not going to go out there and not be at my best. So the question is: Am I willing to sacrifice one more time?”
Campbell doesn’t compare himself to Lewis or Reed, but isn’t shy about saying he’d like to join them in Canton one day.
“The ultimate goal is to reside where they do, in football greatness,” Campbell said. “I don’t know if I’m going to get there or not. With those guys, there was no question. But winning a Super Bowl would definitely, I think, put myself closer into the category of greatness. We’ll see, but that’s something you’ve got to earn.”
Rookie Brandon Stephens Shines for Ravens - Todd Karpovich
“He’s been a starting safety most of the year, he’s played a lot,” coach John Harbaugh said. “And he’s grown throughout the course of the season. He’s really improved. There’s no teacher like experience, especially in football and especially in the defensive secondary. So, there’s a lot to that position; there’s a lot of communication; there’s a lot to see, a lot to anticipate. I promise you, just getting lined up and having an idea where the next motion is coming from is a big challenge.
“And then you equate that to the defense called. There [are] some coverage adjustments that have to be made in there. And then once the route unfolds, getting yourself in the right landmark and leverage relationship based on the routes, those are challenging things. Oh, they might be running the ball, too, so I’ve got to come downhill and make a tackle, make a play on the ball – whatever it might be.”
Ravens Rookies Have Shown Their Promise - Ryan Mink
WR Rashod Bateman
Bateman was sidelined for the Ravens’ first five games by a groin/core surgery. Expectations were tempered for him to make an instant impact upon his return, but Bateman showed immediate juice. He posted 80 receiving yards in his second game, then 80 again a couple weeks later in Miami. Bateman had his first 100-yard contest in his eighth game and scored his first touchdown in Cincinnati in Week 16. He’s topped 80% of the snaps the past three weeks, as the Ravens have leaned on him more and more as he’s shown strong hands to make contested catches and good yards-after-catch ability. Bateman had a season-high 10 targets against the Rams and caught seven for 58 yards.
OLB Odafe Oweh
Oweh started extremely hot, logging a sack in his first game, then a huge forced fumble that earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 2. He had three sacks in his first five games. Oweh hasn’t logged a sack in his last four games and had just two quarterback hits over that time, and he missed Sunday’s game against the Rams because of a foot injury. He’s tied for second on the team in quarterback hits (15) with Tyus Bowser, only trailing Justin Houston (17). Oweh is among the NFL’s rookie leaders in QB hits.
In must-win finale, Ravens are slight home favorites over Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers - Jonas Shaffer
The Ravens (8-8), who opened as touchdown favorites, are now favored by four points in a matchup that both teams need to win to keep their faint postseason hopes alive. The game is also expected to be the last of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s NFL career.
The Ravens, whose five-game losing streak started with a Week 13 loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh, have the worst playoff odds of any team still eligible for a berth (2%), according to FiveThirtyEight. The Steelers’ odds aren’t much better, at 5%. Both teams need at least a victory Sunday and a win by the Jacksonville Jaguars over the Indianapolis Colts.