The majority of national pundits are back to viewing the Baltimore Ravens as the best team in the league coming off the divisional round of the playoffs in which they blew out the Houston Texans 34-10. Now, it’s time to see where the team lands among the NFL landscape of power rankings heading into the conference championship round.
NFL.com: 1 (Last week: 1)
At halftime, the tension was high. Midway through the fourth quarter, the game was a laugher. That’s the power of Lamar Jackson and an offense that can shift to bully-ball mode when it needs to. The Ravens seemed to struggle with the Texans’ blitz-heavy approach at first, but offensive coordinator Todd Monken made nice adjustments throughout the game, with a big turn in the third quarter. He really leaned on the two-TE sets in the second half and ground down a worn-out Houston defense. And hats off to Mike Macdonald’s defense for holding the Texans’ offensive unit to three first-half points despite Houston crossing midfield three times. Macdonald is quickly becoming a household name after spending the past decade being groomed by the Harbaughs (John in Baltimore, Jim at Michigan), and all three of them could be NFL head coaches next season — especially if the Ravens win the Super Bowl. And right now, they look pretty tough to beat.
Fox Sports: 1 (Last week: 1)
Tied 10-10 and heading into the half, I’ll admit I was concerned the pressure of the moment might get to the Ravens. My bad.
USA Today: 1 (Last week: 1)
Lamar Jackson was responsible for all four of the Ravens’ touchdowns last week, putting in work to rewrite his postseason narrative. He could have afforded to be average after his defense limited the Texans to just 213 total yards. Doing that against a rookie quarterback is one thing; doing it to Patrick Mahomes will make Baltimore Super Bowl 58 favorites.
The 33rd Team: 1 (Last week: 1)
The Baltimore Ravens are the league’s most consistent team while coming off another blowout win against a quality opponent. Baltimore has the league’s best defense, and Lamar Jackson is arguably the most unique quarterback talent in history. That combination of reliability and ceiling makes the Ravens hard to beat. The pressure is on Baltimore with Patrick Mahomes coming to town and a Super Bowl berth on the line.
Sharp Football Analysis: 1 (Last week: 1)
The Ravens have been the most dominant team in the league, and they showed that dominance against the Texans in the only game of the weekend that did not feature much drama. Houston did manage to tie the game heading into halftime thanks to a punt return touchdown, but that was their only trip to the end zone on the day. The Ravens defense stifled C.J. Stroud, limiting him to just 175 yards on 33 attempts. Baltimore’s offense made adjustments at halftime and ran away – literally – with the game late. A date with Patrick Mahomes awaits, but the Ravens are rightfully the favorite in that game.
Pro Football Network: 1 (Last week: 1)
The only Divisional Round winner that didn’t have to hold their breath this weekend, the Ravens posted an easy win against the upstart Texans on Saturday. Baltimore and Houston played to a 10-10 tie at the half, but Lamar Jackson scored three touchdowns and a field goal on their four second-half drives to post a commanding victory.
The presumptive MVP, Lamar was outstanding yet again. He took what was available in the passing game, completing 16 of 22 attempts for 152 yards and two scores, but did even more damage on the ground, where he totaled 100 yards on 11 carries and scored two more TDs.
But there may not have been a more obvious winner from the Ravens’ win than defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who buoyed his head-coaching bona fides with an excellent game plan against C.J. Stroud. While Baltimore didn’t sack or intercept the potential Offensive Rookie of the Year, it held Stroud to 5.3 yards per attempt and pressured him on more than half of his dropbacks.
Facing Mahomes in the AFC title game will be a different beast for Macdonald, who is interviewing for five of the league’s seven HC vacancies. But the Ravens have already dominated teams like the Lions (38-6 in Week 7), the 49ers (33-19 in Week 16), and the Miami Dolphins (56-19 in Week 17).
Any of the four remaining teams can win Super Bowl 58. But Baltimore offers the entire package and should be considered the favorite entering Conference Championship Weekend.
US.AS.com: 1 (Last week: 1)
Rust? What rust? It might have taken the Ravens a little while to get the ball rolling but once they did, there was no stopping this three headed monster that without question looks like the favorite to win the Super Bowl after blowing out the Texans at home. Baltimore dominated Houston on the ground, in the air and on D.
John Harbaugh rested his starters in Week 18 which meant Lamar Jackson and the rest of the Ravens heavy hitters hadn’t played in over 20 days. It was Lamar’s legs that carried Baltimore in the first half as the offense needed a couple of cranks before revving up in final two quarters. Jackson’s passing stats weren’t out of this world, because they didn’t have to be.
He went for 152 yards but tossed two TDs and ran for another two. He led the Ravens rushing attack that went for 229 yards on the DeMeco Ryan’s defense that was incapable of slowing down Jackson, Justice Hill and Gus Edwards. It’s incredible how Harbaugh and his coaching staff are capable of watcing starting running backs go down for the season, and replace them without the offense skipping a beat.
The key to winning playoff games is running the ball and playing good defense. The Ravens do both of those. Oh, and they have the league’s sure shot MVP as their quarterback. If the Ravens lose in the next two games, it will be because of self inflicted wounds, because when this team is rolling there isn’t a team in this league that can stop them.