Jonas Shaffer, The Baltimore Banner
The Ravens’ most common personnel grouping this year is 11 personnel (one back, one tight end and three wide receivers). During former offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s tenure from 2019-2022, the Ravens’ approach in the grouping was relatively balanced: Jackson dropped back to pass on 58.9% of his early-down plays, according to TruMedia, one of the NFL’s lowest rates.
Under new play-caller Todd Monken, the Ravens have reversed course. Entering Week 9, no offense had a higher drop-back rate on first and second down (80.1%), when more of the playbook is available to offensive coordinators. No one in 11 personnel even came close. The Ravens had been eager to pass, even if it meant passing up opportunities for easy yardage on the ground. In 11 personnel, they’d seen light boxes (six defenders or fewer) on 72.1% of their early-down plays. Roman’s passing attacks had rarely earned that respect.
On Sunday, however, Monken seemed to embrace the potential of his spread rushing attack. In a 37-3 flattening of the Seattle Seahawks, the Ravens rushed for 298 yards, the fourth most in franchise history, and they ran especially wild out of 11 personnel: 16 designed runs, 163 yards, one touchdown.
Running back Keaton Mitchell’s 40-yard score in the third quarter? That was 11 personnel, with five Seahawks defenders in the box.
Mitchell’s 60-yard scamper in the fourth quarter? That was 11 personnel, with six defenders in the box.
Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic
Standing out: Trusted veterans Kevin Zeitler and Morgan Moses continue to play at a high level. Second-year center Tyler Linderbaum has been the team’s best lineman. The 2022 first-round pick is much improved in pass protection and gets after it in the run game.
Needs improvement: It’s unclear how much it has to do with the ongoing challenges with his surgically repaired ankle or his Week 1 knee injury, but left tackle Ronnie Stanley’s play has dipped. He’s had a few good games, but the Ravens need him to play with more consistency, particularly with so many standout edge rushers left on their schedule.
Midseason grade: B
A B might be a bit harsh for a team that leads the league in rushing. However, expectations were high with three accomplished veteran starters and a stud young center. A few games have been a struggle, but there’s been far more good than bad. This group is getting better every week, and that’s one of the biggest reasons for Ravens’ optimism.
Standing out: For much of the offseason, the Ravens planned to use Brandon Stephens as their third or fourth safety and play him extensively on special teams. The plans changed and Stephens has been the team’s best cornerback in the season’s first half. He has two interceptions, eight pass breakups and has done a nice job contesting everything.
Jamison Hensley, ESPN
Baltimore Ravens (7-2)
FPI rank: 2
Chances to make the playoffs: 95.7%
Chances to win their division: 74.6%
What we know: The Ravens are a serious Super Bowl contender. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is an MVP candidate, leading the league in completion rate (71.5%) and topping all quarterbacks in rushing yards (440). The defense is allowing a league-low 13.8 points per game while producing an NFL-best 35 sacks. Over the last three weeks, the Ravens have beaten two division leaders (the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks) by a combined score of 75-9.
What we don’t know yet: Will Jackson stay healthy? In the last two years, the Ravens were in first place in the AFC North in December before Jackson’s injuries derailed their seasons. With Jackson dealing with an ankle injury in 2021 and a knee injury in 2022, Baltimore lost seven of nine games without him in December or later. The Ravens have tried to reduce the number of hits on Jackson this season. Baltimore has called an average of 4.4 designed runs per game, which is a career-low for Jackson.
Stat that defined the first half: The Ravens have been so dominant that they’ve held the lead entering the fourth quarter of every game this season. This is tied for the fifth-longest streak to begin a season in the Super Bowl era, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Of the previous five teams to do so, three went on to reach the Super Bowl, including the 1998 Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.
Week 10 NFL picks: Jaguars hand 49ers another loss, Bengals cool off C.J. Stroud, Ravens keep rolling
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox, fubo)
The Ravens are playing as well as anybody, especially on defense, where they are the No. 1 scoring defense. The Browns are third in scoring, but first in yards on defense. So this should be a game won by the team that gets the best quarterback play. I think that’s Lamar Jackson over Deshaun Watson. Ravens take it.
Pick: Ravens 24, Browns 16
Bill Bender, The Sporting News
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-6)
The Ravens hammered the Browns 28-3 in Week 4, but Dorian Thompson-Robinson was the starter in that game. Deshaun Watson threw a pair of TDs and let the defense do the rest last week. That won’t be as easy on the road against Baltimore – which has outscored opponents 119-40 at home. Cleveland has chances in the rematch, but a late field goal by Justin Tucker gives Baltimore a season sweep of their AFC North rival.
Pick: Ravens 24, Browns 21