The vast majority of national pundits still view the Baltimore Ravens as the unquestioned best team in the league after they blew out the Miami Dolphins 56-19 on a New Year’s Eve in Week 17. Now, it’s time to see where the team lands among the NFL landscape of power rankings heading into Week 18.
The Athletic: 1 (Last week: 1)
The lesson: Hire great assistants
John Harbaugh hit back-to-back home runs by hiring defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald in 2022 and offensive coordinator Todd Monken in 2023. As a result, his Ravens clinched the AFC’s top seed by thumping the Dolphins on Sunday. Well, that, and having Lamar Jackson, who was 18-for-21 for 321 yards and five touchdowns against Miami. Jackson’s plus-28.2 passing EPA was the best single-game performance since Joe Burrow against the Ravens in 2021 (plus-34.1), according to NextGenStats, and probably clinched the MVP award.
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Maybe the Bills or a Joe Flacco-led Browns team can come into Baltimore and win in the playoffs. After all, the Ravens have already lost to the Browns at home, and Gardner Minshew won there once. But the way this team is playing reminds me of the Denver Nuggets or Texas Rangers getting white hot at exactly the right time en route to winning the NBA and MLB championships, respectively. If there’s an immediate worry, it’s in the secondary. Kyle Hamilton and Brandon Stephens missed Sunday’s win over Miami, and Marlon Humphrey (calf) and Daryl Worley (stinger) both left the game with injuries. Of course, Baltimore can survive without them in Week 18, with the Ravens having already clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and there will be two weeks of additional healing time before their first playoff game. Regardless, Lamar Jackson’s superpower — the reason he just feels like the clear-cut MVP right now — is that he can offset some of your problems and coax an entire team, not just an offense, to turn in a dominant performance any given game.
ESPN: 1 (Last week: 1)
Biggest offseason contract to watch: DT Justin Madubuike
It’s difficult to find someone who is having a bigger breakout season in a contract year than Madubuike. The 2020 third-round pick has become the NFL’s best interior pass-rusher, drawing comparisons to Aaron Donald. Madubuike has recorded 13 sacks this season after totaling 8.5 sacks in his first three years. He will likely command a contract that averages over $20 million per season. If Baltimore can’t reach a deal with him after the season, the Ravens will presumably place the franchise tag on him to keep him for the 2024 season.
The Ringer: 1 (Last week: 1)
The Ravens locked up a first-round bye and home field advantage through the playoffs with a dominant win over the Dolphins in Week 17. Lamar Jackson will soon be the MVP of the league. The offense, under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, ranks sixth in EPA per drive and second in EPA per rush. The defense ranks first in points allowed per drive and fifth in success rate. No team in the NFL has a better point differential (210) than Baltimore entering Week 18. Everything is going right for the Ravens this year; they’re the rightful favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. All they have to do now is finish the job. —Austin Gayle
Sports Illustrated: 1 (Last week: 1)
The bananas part about the Ravens posting 56 points on the Miami Dolphins is that, at the 1:44 mark of the first quarter, the Ravens were down 10–7 and Lamar Jackson was about to be dragged down short of the first-down marker by Bradley Chubb. How the tenor of a game can change with this team.
Fox Sports: 1 (Last week: 2)
We know for sure that the 37-point beatdown of Miami locked up the No. 1 seed for the Ravens. I’m also firmly convinced Lamar Jackson’s five-touchdown day against the Dolphins wrapped up his second NFL MVP award. Now, we wait to see if they can keep rolling in the playoffs.
USA Today: 1 (Last week: 1)
If you didn’t think they were the league’s best after handling the Niners, then consider that the AFC’s top-seeded squad has won 10 games against teams with winning records – seven of those by at least 14 points. Case. Closed. (As is the MVP debate about QB Lamar Jackson.)
Sporting News: 1 (Last week: 1)
The Ravens made sure they left no doubt about the team to beat ahead of Super Bowl 58 by throttling the 49ers and Dolphins in consecutive weeks. Along with those stellar offensive performances, Lamar Jackson has all but sewn up his second MVP.
Yahoo Sports: 1 (Last week: 1)
For the second straight week in this space: Wow. Here are some of the Ravens’ most eye-opening results this season:
Week 1: 25-9 win vs. Texans
Week 4: 28-3 win at Browns
Week 7: 38-6 win vs. Lions
Week 10: 37-3 win vs. Seahawks
Week 15: 23-7 win at Jaguars
Week 16: 33-19 win at 49ers
Week 17: 56-19 win vs. Dolphins
The Ravens aren’t just beating good teams. They’re destroying them.
Sharp Football Analysis: 1 (Last week: 1)
Baltimore stamped their authority on this spot with a 56-19 thrashing of the Dolphins. Lamar Jackson sure looked “quarterbacky” enough on his way to 321 yards and 5 touchdowns in just 21 attempts. With the bye locked up, it will be interesting to see how much effort Baltimore gives against the Steelers, who are still fighting for their playoff lives.
New York Post: 1 (Last week: 1)
Message received, loud and clear. In a game between arguably the AFC’s two best teams, the Ravens routed the Dolphins, 56-19, to clinch the AFC North and home-field advantage until the Super Bowl. Lamar Jackson might’ve clinched NFL MVP, too, with 321 passing yards, five touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 rating. The Ravens closed with 21 straight fourth-quarter points.
Pro Football Network: 1 (Last week: 1)
The Ravens have officially made it hard to feel uneasy about their ability to produce when it matters. Lamar Jackson is often a heart attack when he drops back to pass, and their recent injury history is hard to forget. However, the Ravens appear to be an incredibly well-coached team in all three phases of the game, boasting an elite defense and one of the most versatile offenses in the NFL, despite missing Mark Andrews.
Bleacher Report: 1 (Last week: 1)
The Baltimore Ravens were apparently in a message-sending mood in Week 17. It’s not the first time the Ravens have demolished a good team at M&T Bank Stadium—they blew out the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions earlier in the year. But dropping a piano on the Dolphins just before the playoffs begin was the most emphatic message of the lot. It guaranteed the Ravens the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. And after Lamar Jackson had two more touchdown passes (five) than incompletions (three), the MVP race is probably all but over as well.
CBS Sports: 1 (Last week: 1)
They are the class of the NFL right now after blowing out Miami just a week after dominating the 49ers. Lamar Jackson is the MVP.
Sportsnaut: 1 (Last week: 1)
The Baltimore Ravens are the best NFL team right now. Week 17 represented the latest blowout victory over one of the best NFL teams in 2023, now reeling off one-sided wins over the 49ers and Dolphins. The Ravens are the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs and that home-field advantage could prove pivotal for a Super Bowl run.