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Ravens News 12/5: Comfortable Lead

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Arizona Cardinals Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens return to work with comfortable AFC North lead as race for No. 1 seed tightens

Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic

Head-to-head wins over the Jaguars and Dolphins would significantly help Baltimore’s cause for the top seed, but there’s only so much in the team’s control. In contrast to the Ravens, the Chiefs, who are still in the top seed mix at 8-4, don’t play a team that currently has a winning record the rest of the way. Aside from Baltimore, the Jaguars’ only other game against a team currently in playoff position is versus the Browns, who started their fourth different quarterback Sunday. The Dolphins do have a challenging finish to their schedule with their last three against the Dallas Cowboys, Ravens and Buffalo Bills.

Either way, the Ravens are set up for a month’s worth of scoreboard-watching — although not everybody will indulge.

“Honestly, I don’t want to pay attention to that,” Ravens rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers said last week when asked about the team’s standing in the AFC. “I just come out and play ball and try to get wins every week.”

The Ravens have talked all season about not getting ahead of themselves. The mentality has served them well so far. Dominant wins haven’t lingered into the next week, nor have disappointing losses.

Twelve Ravens Thoughts coming out of Week 13 bye

Luke Jones, Baltimore Positive

Though no longer occupying the AFC’s top spot after Miami’s win, the Ravens do control their path to the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage with Kansas City falling to Green Bay. Daunting remaining schedule or not, you can’t ask for much more than that with a month to go.

The Browns have allowed a combined 65 points to Denver and the Los Angeles Rams over the last two weeks, which should end any talk about Cleveland having a better defense than Baltimore. The Ravens have allowed the fewest points in the NFL and now rank first in defensive DVOA.

Speaking of the playoff-hopeful Rams, Baltimore sleeping on Sean McVay’s team would be a big mistake coming out of the bye. Matthew Stafford is coming off his best two games of the season, and the Los Angeles defense has also been playing better in recent weeks.

After sitting out the end of the last two seasons, Jackson being the last quarterback standing in the AFC North is wild as Pickett will now miss some action after undergoing ankle surgery. The Ravens will pray, cross their fingers, and clutch a rabbit’s foot that Jackson stays upright.

Watching the Chiefs fall behind by two scores for the second straight week, it struck me that Baltimore hasn’t trailed by more than seven points all season. No, you’re not crowned a champion for such an achievement, but it’s still impressive at this late stage of the season.

As Ravens enter final stretch of regular season with Super Bowl hopes, plenty of challenges await

Brian Wacker, The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens will have played just one game in 23 days when they host the Rams. Their only game in that span was a 20-10 victory Nov. 26 over the host Los Angeles Chargers. The time off will not only serve as a respite for the weary — particularly aging veteran outside linebackers and key contributors Jadeveon Clowney, 30, and 32-year-old Kyle Van Noy — but allow other players to heal from injury. Most notable among them are starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley and former All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who have been hampered by knee and calf injuries, respectively.

“I do think that it’s going to be beneficial for him,” Harbaugh said of Stanley. “It’s something that’s been … It’s not been great. I think he’d probably be the first person to tell you it’s not been great. He needs to get stronger and get his technique right.

“He’s a great player. We want to get him back into playing at that high level.”

The final six games of the season also mark something of a new chapter for the Ravens.

They are without tight end Mark Andrews, Jackson’s favorite target, for at least the remainder of the regular season after he underwent surgery Nov. 21 for an ankle injury he suffered in the first quarter of Baltimore’s Nov. 16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Second-year tight end Isaiah Likely has filled in admirably so far, with four catches for 40 yards against the Chargers, but he remains unproven.

Ravens safety Geno Stone explains how he made each of his interceptions this year

Giana Han, The Baltimore Banner

Week 8 vs. Cardinals

Stone: “All right. Oh, this one. This one. So this one, we checked to a certain call. We were in something else, checked to something else. And kind of wasn’t supposed to be there the way that — I wasn’t supposed to be there, but it was really Kyle [Hamilton] that put me in that position. You know, Ro [Smith] was saying something else, Kyle was saying something else. ... So I just want to make sure the secondary’s on the same page, and we play the same cover, so it didn’t look messed up. So I kind of went down, became hook player [responsible for a shallow zone in the middle of the field]. And that one, I really just saw the over [route] and started running with it. And I saw [quarterback Joshua Dobbs] throw the ball. And I guess I jumped in front of B-Steve [Stephens]. So he was kind of mad, but it is what it is.”

Did the result make you feel justified in your call?

Hamilton: “Yeah, I mean, I’m glad we were in it because it got him a pick. But, I mean, he still pushed under the sail route, picked it off. It was a good play.”

Malik Hamm Returns to Practice From Injured Reserve

Outside linebacker Malik Hamm was designated for return to practice from injured reserve Monday, opening the 21-day window before he would have to be moved to the 53-man roster.

During training camp, Hamm was a standout during two days of joint practices with the Commanders and had one sack and one forced fumble during the preseason.

The Ravens enter Week 14 leading the NFL with 47 sacks, and Hamm could add more depth to the pass rush. The Ravens announced last week that second-year outside linebacker David Ojabo underwent surgery to repair a partially torn ACL and will not return until next season and Baltimore is still holding out hope that Tyus Bowser (knee) can return at some point this season.