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Ravens News 11/28: Confidence Scale

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The AFC-leading Ravens’ inconsistency on offense keeps us wondering

Kyle Goon, The Baltimore Banner

The offense is too inconsistent!

Let’s face it: Big things were expected from the Ravens offense against the Chargers, who allow the most passing yards in the NFL. The Ravens, meanwhile, came into Sunday night with at least 30 points in five straight games. But up until the final two minutes, they had managed just 13 points. Lamar Jackson was less than his best, just 18 for 32 with 177 yards and the touchdown to Zay Flowers.

Looking behind the broad numbers, a few key statistics stand out. One was how Jackson performed under pressure: He was 16 for 20 with 159 yards and his touchdown with time, but just 2 for 12 for 18 yards when he felt the heat. That’s partly an issue of protection. The offensive line had trouble staying in front of Khalil Mack and the Chargers rushers, especially after crossing the 50 yard line into L.A. territory. But Jackson wasn’t exactly sound on some of his decisions either, and he under-threw several routes (one to an uncovered Rashod Bateman springs to mind).

There’s a lot going on here, between injuries to Mark Andrews, and various nicks to key players like Ronnie Stanley and Odell Beckham Jr. Todd Monken’s screen calls didn’t look so hot in this game, reverting to a trend we saw earlier in the season. The Ravens had trouble converting on third and fourth down, and indeed even struggled to realize what down they were on at various times. Not great!

At least this sputtering offensive performance came in a win, and the Ravens have a bye week to lick their myriad wounds. In two weeks they’ll have an opportunity to reassert themselves at home, where they’ve been very good this season. Every campaign has ups and downs — maybe Baltimore’s bye will help them stabilize.

Five things we learned from the Ravens’ 20-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers

Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun

Kyle Hamilton becomes whatever the Ravens need him to be on each possession

On the Chargers’ second drive, Hamilton discarded a block and torpedoed in to drop Derius Davis for a 2-yard loss. On the next play, he was the primary pass rusher forcing Herbert to throw the ball away.

The next time Los Angeles had the ball, Hamilton stuck step for step with speedy Jalen Guyton to break up a deep attempt from Herbert.

In the third quarter, he shoved through a Guyton block in the flat to pull Keenan Allen down for a 2-yard loss.

Every week now, we see these juxtapositions of wildly different skills from the second-year safety, whom Browns coach Kevin Stefanski aptly compared to NBA wunderkind Victor Wembanyama. Do you want Hamilton to be a third inside linebacker? A streaking edge rusher? An eraser of slot targets? He can do it all, sometimes in the course of a single drive.

Linebacker Roquan Smith is the outspoken leader of the Ravens’ defense. Cornerback Brandon Stephens is the revelation we never saw coming. The pass rushers have blown away expectations. But none of them is more valuable than the 6-foot-4 chameleon who appears headed for his first Pro Bowl.

Hamilton entered the game among the team’s top five in tackles, interceptions, passes defended, tackles for loss and sacks. He had the fifth-highest coverage grade among all starting safeties, according to Pro Football Focus. If one player epitomizes the positionless defense advocated by coordinator Mike Macdonald, he’s it.

NFL Week 12 Highlights: Notable grades from Sunday’s games

Gordon McGuinness, PFF

LB PATRICK QUEEN, BALTIMORE RAVENS

PFF Grade: 94.2

The Ravens needed a big showing from their defense in a low-scoring battle with the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football, and that’s exactly what they got. It wasn’t limited to just Patrick Queen, but he was the team’s best player on that side of the ball. He finished the game with a pass breakup and a forced fumble, and while he allowed six receptions from seven targets, they went for just 13 yards combined.

Panthers fire Frank Reich: Ranking seven head coach candidates for Carolina, including Lions’ Ben Johnson

Josh Edwards, CBS Sports

4. Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald

Macdonald spent seven seasons coaching in the Baltimore organization before Jim Harbaugh hired him as Michigan’s defensive coordinator in 2021. The 36-year-old proved himself in that lone season with the Wolverines. His work in Ann Arbor led to John Harbaugh bringing him home to the Ravens. Following the 2021 season, Baltimore made the decision to move on from long-time defensive coordinator Wink Martindale and Macdonald took over in 2022. The Baltimore defense has not skipped a beat and adoration for Macdonald has spread.

According to FTNFantasy, the Ravens are second in defensive DVOA, which measures efficiency and overall success.

Who will claim the AFC’s No. 1 seed? Sizing up the top seven contenders in a thrilling race

Jeffri Chadiha, NFL.com

Baltimore Ravens

9-3 · AFC North leader

The case for: The Ravens have been the most complete team in the AFC all season. They have a top-tier offense, a extremely stingy defense and an MVP-caliber quarterback in Lamar Jackson, a player who’s become more dangerous in an offense designed to feature his passing skills. This is also a team that is built for football in December. Baltimore runs the ball effectively, harasses quarterbacks routinely and has an elite special teams unit (even though kicker Justin Tucker missed a huge field goal late in Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Chargers). This is a team that can dominate when it’s on point. Just as it did against Detroit and Seattle, who lost to Baltimore by a combined score of 75-9.

The case against: Jackson no longer has his favorite target in Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews, who recently underwent surgery to repair a fractured fibula and torn ankle ligaments. That’s a major blow to Baltimore’s revamped passing attack. The Ravens also have shown a tendency to blow leads, with the most frustrating moment coming in a Week 10 loss to Cleveland (after Baltimore led by 14 points in the fourth quarter). Baltimore also won’t find any favors in its schedule. The Ravens end the season with games against the Jaguars, 49ers, Dolphins and Steelers.

Confidence scale (1-10): EIGHT. The Ravens understand what’s at stake. They have earned home-field advantage once during the Lamar Jackson era, back in 2019. They didn’t capitalize on it then, and this is their best shot at acquiring it again.