The Baltimore Ravens absolutely dominated the Detroit Lions in a 38-6 shellacking on Sunday to improve to 5-2, staying in first place in the AFC North division standings. There were several encouraging performances by players in all three phases of the interconference matchup where they produced their most complete performance of the regular season.
Here are a few noteworthy performances from the team’s Week 7 statement win that warrant some spicy yet reasonably conceivable takes:
Lamar Jackson should be the MVP frontrunner
Since the two-time Pro Bowl signal caller didn’t have Mark Ingram to make this proclamation prior to his postgame press conference on Sunday, let’s just do it here. He had his best game of the season by far, setting season highs in passing yards (357), passing touchdowns (three), yards and adjusted yard per attempt (13.2 and 15.44), and his third career passer rating of 155 or higher, which the same amount Tom Brady had in his entire Hall of Fame career.
As impressive as reigning league MVP Patrick Mahomes’ season-best performance in the Kansas City Chiefs’ 31-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers was in Week 7, Jackson’s was even better considering the competition it came against.
The Chargers are among the worst all-around defenses in the league. They rank in the bottom half in several major categories including total yards, passing yards, rushing yards, and points per game as well as yards per play. Prior to having the Ravens hanging 38 on them this past Sunday, the Lions were among the most improved and stingiest defenses in the league and are a top-five run defense unit.
While Mahomes threw for more yards (424-357), he also attempted 15 more passes (42-27) and played 100 percent of his team’s total offensive snaps while Jackson was pulled in the fourth quarter and didn’t play the final drive. Jackson led all six of the Ravens scoring drives on the day including four straight for touchdowns to start the game and would’ve likely had a fifth in a row had it not been for a botched handoff that resulted in a fumble. Mahomes led four scoring drives in the first half on five possessions with the fifth resulting in an interception.
Jackson also finished with a higher completion percentage (77.8-76.2) and passer rating (155.8-129.5). It’ll still likely be a tight race the rest of the way but Jackson has been consistently putting together more impressive performances even when others around him play poorly.
Ravens are the most dangerous team in the league
Ahead of their Week 7 contest, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh praised the Lions, calling them “arguably the best team in the NFC” but on Sunday it was his team that looked like the best team in the entire league with how completely and convincingly they dominated on both sides of the ball.
The offense finally showed just how potent and scary they can be when they’re clicking on all cylinders with all of their pieces healthy. Todd Monken called a great game as his unit scored more points than their last two games combined and racked up their most yards in two years.
On defense, Mike MacDonald’s unit passed its toughest test of the season with flying colors by limiting an opposing offense that had been averaging 28 points per game through six weeks to just six points. They were pitching a shutout through the first three quarters, forced four punts and a turnover on downs in the first half including three straight three-and-outs to start the game, and didn’t give up a first down until there was less than eight minutes left in the second quarter.
If the Ravens continue to stay healthy on both sides of the ball and keep playing dominant complementary football, they’ll be a team that everyone will dread facing the rest of the regular season and nobody wants to draw come the postseason.
"Success does breed success." pic.twitter.com/UJSlFStGsY— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) October 23, 2023
“Success does breed success,” Harbaugh said. “Real confidence is based on having proven to yourself that you can actually do it. It’s one thing to believe in yourself and know the potential is there. It’s another thing to get out there and sink a shot and know that you can.”
Ravens should prioritize re-signing more defenders from 2020 draft class
The Ravens have several playmaking defenders playing in the final year of their respective rookie contracts and are having outstanding breakout seasons. They signed 2020 fifth-round defensive tackle Broderick Washington to an extension prior to the season and three of his fellow fourth-year pros continued to prove that they’re well deserving of the same on Sunday.
Former first-rounder Patrick Queen tied for the third-most tackles on the team with five total tackles—all of which were solos—as he and All-Pro veteran Roquan Smith keep proving to be the top tandem in the league.
Former third-round defensive tackle Justin Madubuike helped lead the charge for the Ravens’ top-ranked pass rush and added to his team-leading sack total with his fourth straight game with at least half a sack or more, matching his career high in just seven games with 5.5 on the year.
Justin Madubuike's lateral quickness to split these blockers is ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/TKlnNLwNHj— Ryan Mink (@ryanmink) October 23, 2023
In addition to his sack, he also logged a pair of tackles for loss, a pair of quarterback hits, three total tackles, and forced an intentional grounding that was nearly a third sack. Madubuike could prove to be the hardest to keep but might be well worth the heavy investment it will take to retain him if he keeps up his torrid pace.
“I think he has continued to grow ever since he’s been here,” Harbaugh said. “He’s always had a lot of upside for sure. You would see the kind of dominant plays here and there. He has just made more of those, he’s more consistent making more dominant type plays whether it’s run or pass.”
Former seventh-round safety Geno Stone has been the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the bunch as he has balled out whenever he’s been called upon to step in for veteran free safety Marcus Williams. He has provided the same dangerous ball-hawking element and now leads the league in interceptions after increasing his career-high to four on Sunday.
Stone made plays all over the field and finished with three solo tackles, a pass breakup up, and a clutch stop on a failed two-point conversion attempt following the Lions only touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter.
Seasoned mercenaries on defense continue to look like steals
The Ravens also have several difference-making veteran defenders that shined bright in Week 7 and continue to make general manager Eric DeCosta look like the best bargain bin shopping executive in the league. He signed three-time Pro Bowl edge defender Jadeveon Clowney and feisty nickel cornerback Arthur Maulet during training camp and two-time Super Bowl champion Kyle Van Noy a month ago. Against the Lions, all three played lights out and made impacts in a multitude of ways.
Van Noy had his best game as a Raven in the resounding win over his former team with a season-high two sacks to lead his new team on the day. On just 33 defensive snaps, the 32-year-old would also finish with five total tackles including two for a loss, and two quarterback hits, and five pressures—tied for the team lead.
The Ravens had eight different defenders generate multiple pressures in their Week 7 win over the Lions.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 22, 2023
Kyle Van Noy and Odafe Oweh finished tied for the team lead in pressures with 5 each.#BALvsDET | #RavensFlock pic.twitter.com/elJoPOT0OU
Maulet contributed to the pass rush as well on a slot blitz for his second sack of the season. Arthur was strong in coverage, aggressive in run support, and played six snaps on special teams. He tied with Smith for the team lead in total tackles with eight including a team-leading seven solos, including one for a loss and logged a quarterback hit on another blitz as well.
Just two totally normal pressure packages from Mike Macdonald.— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) October 23, 2023
1⃣ Travis Jones and Broderick Washington drop into hook/curl zones as Arthur Maulet comes from the slot
2⃣ Michael Pierce drops into a middle hook as Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Stephens come from opposite corners pic.twitter.com/r5rTBtT6uH
“Very productive game by Arthur, no question about it,” Harbaugh said. “He was all over the field. I told him this, ‘Dude, you’re getting a little gassed at the end.’ He’s playing special teams, too. He was in on a lot of plays, blitzed, got a sack. He was really productive, great to see. I think he’s really fitting in well with the defense.”
Clowney only recorded a single solo tackle on the box score stat sheet but continued to be a consistently disruptive force as a pass rusher and finished with four pressures according to Next Gen Stats which was tied with Madubuike for the second-most on the team.
“You get to be a little older and they start saying you can’t do it anymore and Kyle does take that personally,” Harbaugh said. “That’s probably what fuels him. The same thing with (Jadeveon) Clowney. To see those guys do that is pretty cool.”
The three veterans have accounted for 8.5 of the Ravens league-leading 29 sacks and have been integral pieces in the success of Macdonald’s defense thus as they’ve dealt with injuries to younger players they were counting to play bigger roles heading into the season.
Van Noy and Clowney have made the absence of 2021 first-rounder Odafe Oweh and 2022 second-rounder David Ojabo unnoticeable in terms of production as they both have three or more sacks this season. Maulet has offset the loss of third-year pro Ar’Darius Washington who won the starting slot corner spot in training camp.