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Ravens News 11/22: Pick Stunts

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens Brent Skeen-USA TODAY Sports

Inside the Ravens’ quarterback room: How Lamar Jackson has emerged as a more evolved and vocal leader

Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun

“Lamar’s like any other student,” says Martin, who spent the previous two seasons as Baltimore’s wide receivers coach and 25 years ago was the quarterback for national champion Tennessee. “He comes in with his bookbag, takes out his notepad, takes out his pen or pencil and just about every word that comes out of my mouth he’s taking it in.

“If there’s something that hits his brain a certain way, he’ll ask a question. He’s very good about being clear to make sure there’s clarity to whatever it is that you’re saying. He’s not shy about asking questions. He doesn’t play around in meetings. He’s a creative thinker. He’s meticulous about things. When you put a play in, he has this blank stare, because he’s playing the play in his mind. A lot of guys can’t do that.”

“We talked about empowering the quarterback as far as protections, as far as being able to change routes. He loved it.”

“I’m more vocal than I was before,” Jackson said. “Early on [in my career], I was just wanting to learn the ins and outs of defenses in the NFL. But now, [with] me just seeing them each and every week — different defenses every week — I’ve got a lot more questions. I see certain things, and then I want to just tell Coach Monken, ‘We should try to put this in the game plan’ [and] stuff like that.”

The Ravens have the NFL’s best pass rush. It can look a lot like basketball.

Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner

No pass rush in the NFL has been better than the Ravens’, which leads the league with 44 sacks, tied for the most over the first 11 weeks of a season since at least 2000, according to TruMedia. Perhaps that’s because no pass rush borrows as much from basketball.

The Ravens’ top four pass rushers all played the sport in high school, and another played in college. Their pass rush guru, Chuck Smith, encourages players to think of the craft in basketball terms. The plays themselves evoke comparisons in the team’s locker room to screens and corner 3-pointers, to defensive traps and games of one-on-one.

“You’ve got to win your one-on-ones,” said safety Kyle Hamilton, the son of a former professional basketball player and a former Division I hoops recruit himself. “It’s like a one-on-one basketball game: Clear out, let them do their thing, and I like my guy over there.”

Added Clowney, a veteran of countless more conventional end-tackle stunts: “It’s all setting each other up. … In basketball, set them up for assists sometimes — you pick for them sometimes, they pick for you.”

Grading all 31 first-round picks after Week 11 of the 2023 NFL season

Dalton Wasserman, PFF

PICK NO. 22: BALTIMORE RAVENS: WR ZAY FLOWERS

Overall Rookie Grade: 73.1 (Rank: 6/15)

Principal Opponent: DJ Turner II

Week 11 Snaps: 64

Week 11 Grade: 74.3

Flowers set the tone early against Cincinnati with a huge gain on a nasty whip route in the slot. That play set up the Ravens’ first touchdown in a game they never trailed in. Flowers’ stat line should’ve looked better, as he used his blazing speed to score a 68-yard touchdown on a screen. Unfortunately, the play was negated by a holding penalty. With Mark Andrews possibly out for the season, Flowers’ continued production will be vital to Baltimore’s Super Bowl chances.

NFL Week 12 Power Rankings 2023: How all 32 teams stack up

Jamison Hensley, ESPN

5. Baltimore Ravens (8-3)

Week 11 ranking: 5

Preseason hot seat: WR Rashod Bateman

Current temperature of hot seat: Hot

Bateman continues to flash at times, but he still hasn’t made a convincing argument so far for Baltimore to pick up his fifth-year option. He ranks third among Ravens wide receivers with 20 catches and fourth with 215 receiving yards. Bateman is still having problems getting into the end zone — he has four touchdown catches in three seasons, and there are seven wide receivers in Bateman’s 2021 draft class who have more. It hasn’t helped that quarterback Lamar Jackson has overthrown him a couple of times this season when he got behind the secondary. However, Bateman’s opportunities could increase because of tight end Mark Andrews’ likely season-ending ankle injury.

Ravens in AFC’s Top Spot; What Does It Mean for Their Playoff Outlook?

Ryan Mink, BaltimoreRavens.com

At 8-3, Baltimore sits a half-game ahead of the Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, and Cleveland Browns, who are all 7-3.

The Ravens aren’t in the driver’s seat for the top playoff seed yet, however. If they and the Chiefs both won out, Kansas City would get the No. 1 seed because of a conference record tiebreaker.

According to ESPN Analytics, the Ravens have a 96% chance of making the playoffs, but just a 19% chance of retaining the top seed, which comes with a first-round bye and homefield advantage. The Chiefs still have better odds at that (41%).

ESPN’s power football index has the Ravens with the third-toughest strength of schedule remaining. The Ravens’ remaining opponents are currently 35-25.

The other AFC playoff contenders right behind Baltimore have easier paths down the stretch in terms of strength of schedule: Dolphins (14), Chiefs (19), Jaguars (22), Browns (23).

Early NFL Week 12 Predictions and Picks Against the Spread: Impact of Injuries to Cooper Kupp, Aaron Jones, and Kenneth Walker III

Brian Blewis, Pro Football Network

Baltimore Ravens vs. Los Angeles Chargers Odds

Spread

Ravens -4

Moneyline

Ravens -200, Chargers +170

Total

46.5

Losing Mark Andrews for the season could be a huge blow to this Ravens offense, even against a Chargers defense that is one of the worst units in the NFL and just allowed nearly 400 yards of offense to the Packers. They’ll have a long week to prepare for their first game without Andrews, but that, combined with the Chargers’ struggles against top defenses this season, has me liking another prime-time under.

Pick: Under 46.5