The Baltimore Ravens had arguably their most complete performance of the season in Week 9 with a resounding 37-3 win over the Seattle Seahawks. There were several encouraging performances by players in all three phases of the matchup where they outgained, outcoached and outclassed their opponent in a interconference battle of the birds.
Here are a few noteworthy performances from the team’s Week 9 triumph that warrant some spicy yet reasonably conceivable takes:
Ravens are the best team in the NFL
While the Philadelphia Eagles have the best overall record in the league at 8-1 and the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs would be the No. 1 seed in the AFC if the playoffs started today, the Ravens still have a strong case to support this claim. They are tied with the Chiefs for the best record in the conference at 7-2 and have looked like the far more complete team over the course of the season, and especially as of late.
In the past three weeks during their four-game win streak, the Ravens outscored a pair of division-leading teams by a combined 75-9, and Sunday’s blowout of the Seahawks was a prime example of what they’re capable of doing against quality opponents.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs lost to the Denver Broncos for the first time since 2015 last week and were shut out in the second half of their international matchup with the Miami Dolphins in Week 9. They are being carried by one of the better defenses in the league but their offense has looked like a shell of itself for most of the season outside of a few outlier potent performances against two of the worst defenses in the league.
The Eagles also have a win over the Dolphins, who have yet to beat a team with a winning record, and had to come from behind to beat division rivals the Washington Commanders and Dallas Cowboys the past two weeks. Even though they have looked just as explosive as they did last year on offense, their defense struggles to close out games and is ranked dead-last against the pass, Philadelphia has given up the most yards through the air with an average of 257 yards per game and an average opposing passer rating of 99.4.
All the while, the Ravens have looked and performed like the most complete team in the league with no weakness on either side of the ball. They are ranked No.1 in DVOA thanks in large part to having the best defense in the league according to several metrics. They are allowing the lowest opposing passer rating (69.7), rank first in sacks with 35, and have allowed the fewest points (124) and yards per play (4.1) through nine games.
Good morning. The Baltimore Ravens are now the No. 3 team ever tracked by DVOA thru 9 games.— Aaron Schatz (@ASchatzNFL) November 6, 2023
No, I don't think they are quite this good. Let's see them get tested by a top team (Bengals in 2 weeks with healthy Burrow). But they are REALLY good. #RavensFlock pic.twitter.com/Eyn5rgfuuQ
Ravens don’t need MVP performances from Lamar Jackson to win big
The face of the franchise is having the best overall season of his career and is the a front-runner to win league MVP for the second time in his career. While he had a very efficient game both as a passer and runner in the team’s Week 9 win over the Seahawks, he didn’t exactly have an awe-inspiring performance because he didn’t need to.
Jackson recorded a combined 247 yards of total offense in three-quarters of action before sitting out the entire fourth quarter, finishing 21-of-26 for 187 passing yards and rushing for 60 yards on 10 carries. Although he led six of the Ravens’ seven scoring drives, it marked the first time that he didn’t throw or run for a touchdown in a win since the season opener, yet his team routed their opponent anyway.
The Ravens’ new-look offense under first-year Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken continues to prove that they can put up points in a multitude of ways while involving different playmakers seemingly every week. Jackson and backup quarterback Tyler Huntley completed passes to nine different targets on Sunday but the catalyst for their overwhelming success on that side of the ball was their punishing rushing attack. The unit recorded over 30 points for the third week in a row by bludgeoning the Seahawks’ previously top 10 run defense for 298 yards on the ground.
It marked the fourth-most rushing yards ever recorded in franchise history and the most since the regular season finale of the 2020 season. Sunday also further proved that this team is capable of winning in a dominant fashion over a quality division-leading opponent without needing Jackson to put everything on his shoulders.
Keaton Mitchell is the future of the Ravens’ backfield
The star of the Ravens’ best rushing performance of the season was undrafted rookie running back Keaton Mitchell, who recorded a game-high 138 yards on the ground on just nine carries. He ripped off two of the longest runs of the season for the Ravens on a 40-yard touchdown for the first of his career and a 60-yarder that he nearly took the distance. His gaudy 15.3 yards per carry would’ve been even higher had he not been tackled four yards behind the line of scrimmage after one of his linemen missed a block.
Mitchell will certainly be the most popular waiver wire pickup in fantasy football this week after his electrifying breakout performance against the Seahawks. More importantly, he showed that the future of the Ravens backfield is extremely bright as long as he can stay healthy and available. He possesses all of the desirable traits of a dynamic weapon at the position with excellent vision, patience, burst, contact balance, elusiveness, breakaway speed, and the ability to run hard behind his pads.
OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 5, 2023
Tune in on CBS! pic.twitter.com/Bv6jrldTnk
The only other player at his position on the roster who is under contract beyond this season is fifth-year veteran Justice Hill. Gus Edwards and injured fourth-year pro J.K. Dobbins are in the final years of their respective contracts.
Edwards is having a career year having already matched his career-high touchdowns in a single season after adding two more to increase his total to seven in nine games. He is on pace to set a career-high with just over 900 rushing yards in 17 games.
Kyle Van Noy deserves an extension
Much has been made over the breakout campaigns of a trio of fourth-year defenders for the Ravens. Defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, safety Geno Stone and inside linebacker Patrick Queen are having transcendent seasons. Both Madubuike and Stone extended their respective historic streaks on Sunday against the Seahawks but they weren’t the only defenders that extended impressive streaks.
With his back-to-back sacks of Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith in the first half on Sunday, the 10th-year veteran outside linebacker secured his fifth-straight season of five or more sacks. Despite having been on four different teams over the past five years, Van Noy has been a model of consistency, durability, and production.
The two-time Super Bowl champion is on pace to set a new career-high in sacks after being signed off the street in late September. His previous career-high in a single season was 6.5 with the New England Patriots in 2019. He has been able to focus more on being a pass rusher with the Ravens after being deployed as a versatile, hybrid off-ball defender for most of his career.
The Ravens’ front office has a history of getting deals done with players they added during the season and showed enough to warrant an extension before the season ended. They made First-Team All-Pro inside linebacker Roquan Smith the highest-paid player at his position before last season ended because of his transformative presence on the defense down the stretch.
A more comparable situation to Van Noy’s was when the Ravens inked veteran linebacker L.J. Fort to a two-year extension in November of the 2019 season after had only been on the team since the end of September. He had been so impactful in a short period of time that they decided to lock him up before his price could go any higher. A veteran pass rusher who is on pace for double-digit sacks will certainly cost more than an off-ball linebacker who played a rotational role, but at 32 years old and set to turn 33 by the time free agency starts next March, he could be had a lower price now than most of the younger edge defenders who will break the bank on the open market.