Keaton Mitchell has arrived
There was much speculation about whether the Ravens would trade for a top-tier running back leading up to the NFL trade deadline. While there were rumors that Baltimore was interested in doing so, nothing came to fruition in the end. Following the performance of undrafted rookie running back Keaton Mitchell against the Seahawks, the Ravens appear to have been correct in their decision to stand pat with the players they have.
The East Carolina running back’s speed and playmaking ability was evident during the preseason, and after missing most of the regular season up to this point with injuries, he was finally able to demonstrate his potential in an actual game against Seattle. On just nine carries, Mitchell gained 138 rushing yards and a touchdown with a longest run of 60 yards. It was more than just Mitchell’s eyepopping speed that stood out, as the 5-foot-8 191-pound back displayed physicality and tackle-breaking ability as well. According to PFF, 132 of Mitchell’s 138 rushing yards came after contact. Meanwhile, Next Gen Stats charted Mitchell as having 108 rushing yards over expected.
Rookie Keaton Mitchell gained +108 rushing yards over expected on 9 carries, the most a running back has gained in a single game since Week 10, 2020 (Ronald Jones, +110).— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 5, 2023
Mitchell had played just 2 snaps all season before playing 13 (21.0%) in Week 9.#BALvsSEA | #RavensFlock pic.twitter.com/9eUTemLKkV
While Gus Edwards will likely remain the team’s top back and Justice Hill will continue to get a large share of snaps, Mitchell earned much more playing time with his breakout performance. Adding his speed to the backfield gives Baltimore another element to their already varied and dangerous offensive attack.
The Ravens may be the best team in the NFL
Following their second blowout win over an NFC division leader in the past three weeks, talk of the Ravens being the NFL’s best team has started to heat up. While recency bias is certainly a major factor when it comes to these sorts of topics in the NFL media landscape, several statistics point to this actually being the case with Baltimore. One such statistic is point differential, where the Ravens are the best in the NFL at +115, 35 points better than the second-place Buffalo Bills. Baltimore is also top five in total yards on offense and defense.
Another proponent for how good Baltimore has been is DVOA. The Ravens currently rank as the best team in the NFL in total team DVOA, which factors in offense, defense, and special teams, where Baltimore ranks No. 4, No. 2, and No. 14 respectively. Perhaps the most surprising is that the 2023 Ravens are the third-best team ever tracked by DVOA through the first nine games of a season.
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
Baltimore will have the chance to prove whether or not they are actually the NFL’s toughest team as they gear up for a challenging stretch of games against several of the NFL’s other playoff contenders in the second half of the season, starting with two divisional games in a five-day stretch.
This has the makings of a special defense
If any organization in the NFL knows what makes a defense special, it is the Ravens, and the 2023 Baltimore defense has all the potential of being just that. The Ravens lead the NFL in several defensive categories through the first nine games of the season, including points allowed with 124, points per game at 13.8, yards per play at 4.1, and sacks with 35. The 2023 Baltimore defense has allowed a touchdown on 8.7% of drives, the best since the legendary 2000 Ravens’ defense.
The 2023 Baltimore Ravens defense is allowing a touchdown on only 8.7% of opposing drives.— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) November 5, 2023
Since 2000 (as far back as @TruMediaSports
has data), only one defense has been better.
That's the 2000 Ravens. pic.twitter.com/NEjHwlqNhL
Baltimore’s defense completely shut down Seattle, holding them to 151 total yards on the day while only giving up six first downs and allowing just one third-down conversion on 12 attempts. The Ravens sacked quarterback Geno Smith four times, one of which resulted in a forced fumble and recovery by Baltimore. Safety Geno Stone also intercepted Smith, his sixth of the season to maintain the league lead.
With offenses such as the Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers, and Miami Dolphins remaining on the schedule, the Ravens’ defense will show whether they are the type of unit that will be remembered in history among the franchise’s best.