Baltimore Ravens Offensive Line: How Do They Compare

ravens offensive line
Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens offensive line has been a popular topic as of late. Throughout recent history the Ravens have had one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. But how does this years offensive line compared to years prior? Lets take a look.

The Ravens Offensive Line

Week in, week out, they are the first to be blamed and the last to fame. As a fan base, we need to do an in-depth look at our previous and current “Status Quo” of the offensive line. With that being said, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of things.

Some say that the Ravens’ current offensive line is good. Others will say that they are bad. Some of us roll with a happy medium of good enough. It’s tough to properly grade all these big fellas in a world where everyone is focused on skill positions, but thankfully, some people at Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference have us covered.

The Present

Left Tackle: Alejandro Villanueva

Ranked 57/81 in the Tackle position
Marked as a 62.7 Graded Yellow Player

This guy is a solid player game in and game out. Yes, unfortunately, he has gotten beaten in the pass pro a lot more than I’d like to admit, but the guy is always looking to make improvements when he can. Coming to Baltimore has opened his versatility more, in my opinion, considering he was going to be placed at right tackle before the Ronnie Stanley injury. The transition to right tackle was a little rough, but it was also full of potential. The team moving him back to his most comfortable position ended up working out.

Left Guard: Ben Powers

Ranked 25/78 in the Guard Position
Marked as a 68 Graded Green Player

Ben Powers has been a giant question mark of “Can he fill in this weird left guard void?” since Bradley Bozeman moved over to center. Don’t get me wrong, he is a quality player and has been proving me wrong week in and out. The way he tends to move around to get in crucial blocks has been quite impressive. Will he keep the “this all game thing” going, or will there be more rotations?

Center: Bradley Bozeman

Ranked 10/38 in the Center Position
Marked as 72.1 Graded Green Player

Everyone should know by now that Bozeman is my favorite offensive lineman on this current Ravens team. Outside of a few bad snaps (which happens from time to time) he’s been an excellent guy in the communications job, along with getting in all of his assigned blocks. I have been praying to the football gods that he stays Raven for a long time.

Right Guard: Kevin Zeitler

Ranked 17/78 in the Guard Position
Marked as 70.9 Graded Green Player

Mr. Kevin Zeitler. A guy we only wish we had sooner to fill the large shoes left by the retirement of future Hall of Famer Marshal Yanda. A guy who has now played for 3/4 AFC North teams (if I’m not mistaken) and excels in the right guard spot. His footwork, hand in the cadence/snap count, and ability to make adjustments at whims notice are uncanny. Sometimes, he does get beat but not very often. Just get his replacement ready to fill his shoes whenever he goes to retire (hopefully as a Raven).

Right Tackle: Patrick Mekari

Ranked 44/81 in Tackle Position
Marked as 68.4 Graded Green Player

Patrick Mekari has been at the top of my list for this team, starting center or guard. It hurt a little seeing him not a starter in either position at first, but when Stanley went down early in the season & seeing him take over right tackle with huge success was a pleasant surprise. Later on he got hurt himself. His presence was missed while away. The game vs. the Bears, though, did show that the rust needs to be shaken off.

This lineup listed above is good enough to get this Ravens team to the playoffs & into a bit of a post-season run. You can take whatever you want out of the stats you can find, the film, & anything else to form your own opinion. But at the end of the day, this is a solid unit, even with a 68.42 grading average.

2019 Offensive Line

  • Left Tackle: Ronnie Stanley
    • 88.5 Graded Blue Player
  • Left Guard: Bradley Bozeman
    • 63.4 Graded Yellow Player
  • Center: Matt Skura/Patrick Mekari
    • Matt: 68.7 Graded Green Player
    • Patrick: 70.5 Graded Green Player
  • Right Guard: Marshal Yanda
    • 86.6 Graded Blue Player
  • Right Tackle: Orlando Brown Jr
    • 72 Graded Green Player

The 2019 14-2 Baltimore Ravens offensive line was an average of 74.95 graded team. They were roughly 6.53 points better than the current team (as of somewhere in between weeks 11 & 12 of the 2021 season). There was some bolstering but also some regression in other areas, as we all know. We had all pros in Ronnie, Marshal, and Zues Jr.

2020 Offensive Line Grading

  • Left Tackle: Zues Jr
    • Graded as a 76.5
  • Left Guard: Bradley Bozeman
    • PFF Grade 64.3
  • Center: Matt Skura
    • PFF Grade 50.2
  • Right Guard: Ben Powers
    • PFF Grade 59.4
  • Right Tackle: DJ Fluker
    • PFF Grade 63.8

We can also ask how did the team have an 11-5 record with this offensive line? Let me remind you of these things. Ronnie went down the first time. Matt Skura, Trystan Colon, & Patrick Mekari were all competing for the starting center position. Tyre Phillips was also in the right guard rotation. The 2020 COVID season was bizarre and mildly successful for a whole lot of offensive line shuffles.

Anyways, as we look forward to the remaining weeks in the 2021 season, note that our current starting lineup can be just as good as the 2019 offensive line. Give it time and let it grow. Even though times look tough with the recent injury report, the big guys up front are communicating more and getting that chemistry they need to get the job done. Thanks to them, the Baltimore Ravens can end the 2021 season as a 12-5 or 13-4 team.

Thursday Night Football: A Chance to Change the Narrative

Following a week 9 win, the Miami Dolphins have an opportunity to shock the world against the Ravens on Thursday Night Football.

This season, as we all know, has been a rough one for The Dolphins. After winning a close game in week 1, the Dolphins began to lose grip on their season. Coaching miscues, injuries, and regression led to Miami losing 7 straight.

They finally snapped their streak on Sunday, grinding out a defensive battle without QB Tua Tagovailoa.

Although it seems that Miami’s season is likely over from a postseason perspective, there is still something to prove.

The NFL Playoff Picture going into week 10.

Brian Flores and Chris Grier must show ownership that there is reason for them to stay. A competitive game with one of the league’s premiere teams on Thursday Night Football could help the optics of their situation.

Optics is the operative word here. While Miami doesn’t much have to compete for as a team, individual players have a chance to define the early portions of their careers.

Primetime games present an opportunity that 1pm Sunday showdowns don’t: fans from across the league are watching, and their opinions on players often come from the very little they get to see from their specific teams.

A prime, and frankly, a painful example of this comes on December 26th, 2020.

A Cautionary Tale

Following an impressive win against New England, the Tua led Dolphins went into Las Vegas to take on the Raiders, with playoff hopes on the line. Little did they know, the public opinion of 2 players would change drastically that night, both in different directions.

The game started slow, with very little coming from either offense. Tua was struggling, and many of his completed passes were coming at or behind the line of scrimmage.

With 94 yards on 22 attempts, Miami was in need of a spark, and they made the decision that it wouldn’t come from Tua.

Tua was benched against Las Vegas.

Instead, Miami went with 38 year old veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fans were outraged, and the national media had begun to change their opinion. A quarterback once looked at as a potential star just failed to outperform a career backup.

Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, received an overwhelming amount of positive attention.

Impact of the Comeback

Following Tua’s benching, the veteran was able to go 9-13 for 182 yards and a touchdown, including the infamous facemask pass, to come from behind and give Miami a 1 point win.

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Facemask Pass was the Best Play of 2020.

The media instantly reinstated the “Fitzmagic” nickname, and questioned whether Tua should remain the starter. Comparisons between the two QB’s play began to run wild on social media.

Tua’s status throughout the league began to diminish, as he slowly became looked at as a mediocre option. To this day, Tua seems to be of a low opinion to national media, while Fitzpatrick carries his nickname and the lore behind it.

Since then, Tua is 1-5 as the starter, and Miami has looked into other options at the QB position, such as troubled superstar Deshaun Watson. Part of the Dolphins diminishing opinion on Tagovailoa may have come from that December night.

Dolphins fielded questions regarding Deshaun Watson.

Although he performed well in several other games that year, the emphasis on the primetime game shows a trend. When the lights are brightest, media and casual fans judge players the most.

The story of Tua Tagovailoa presents a cautionary tale, and although he remains Miami’s starting quarterback, that game may have been the beginning of the end for his time as a Miami Dolphin.

Seize the Moment

That’s why, along with hopes of winning, Dolphins players must seize the opportunity Thursday Night Football. This game can go a long way in beginning storied careers for many young players. Potential rising stars such as Jaylen Waddle or Jaelan Phillips can cement their place in the eyes of many, while an unexpected hero can emerge, much like Fitzpatrick has time and time again.

Thursday night is an opportunity to shine for Dolphins players looking to make their mark on a subpar team. Legends are made in primetime, and it will be fascinating to see who takes advantage and makes their presence known.

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Three Targets for the Ravens at the Trade Deadline

Ravens Trade Targets
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The NFL trade deadline is fast approaching. Expiring at 4 pm ET on November 2nd, teams are scrambling to make inquiries to teams concerning certain players. Contending teams will be looking to add that final piece to their playoff puzzle while tanking teams will be looking to jettison players to acquire more draft capital. For the Baltimore Ravens, this may be the most pivotal trade deadline in team history.

Despite sitting at 5-2, the Ravens have had myriad injuries along their entire roster. Making a last minute trade to bring in a player or two to help ease those injury woes may just be what the team needs to do in order to make a serious championship run.

The Ravens have proven they can win with their current talent but there is nothing to say that improving that talent can’t make life a little easier for those in Baltimore.

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta has shown that he is more than willing to wheel and deal for the benefit of his team and this year may be no different. In the past, he has brought aboard the likes of Marcus Peters, Calais Campbell, and Yannick Ngakoue. With 17 players on injured reserve, the Ravens could use his charismatic bargaining powers now more than ever.

The Ravens are absolutely loaded with draft picks, including nine in the first four rounds so it’s safe to safe Baltimore has plenty of bargaining chips with which to use. Below are three realistic players the Ravens could target for a trade before the deadline expires.

Ravens Trade Target #1: Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts

We start our list of Ravens trade targets with the low hanging fruit. Marlon Mack respectfully wants out of Indianapolis in hopes of getting more playing time. The Ravens are in desperate need of a running back that can offer some sort of explosion. The Colts, most likely without a first round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, are in need of more draft picks. In the end, a trade would benefit all parties involved.

The Ravens have been trotting out veterans the likes of Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, and Le’Veon Bell — with little success. All of those backs are well past their prime and offer little in the way of explosiveness. Their youngest back, Ty’Son Williams, clearly doesn’t have the confidence of the team and just looks lost when he’s on the field.

To put it simply, the Ravens need more juice in the backfield, a running back who can actually bounce to the outside and make plays. Baltimore’s entire identity the last few years has been the run game, and that run game has been subpar to say the very least. Mack, despite coming off of an ACL injury, has looked great in his limited usage this season.

He is still fresh and with only one year on his deal, carries very little financial burden. A late round pick would be all that’s needed to make this swap happen and Baltimore should be quick to call over to Indianapolis.

Trade Target #2: Andre Dillard, OT, Philadelphia Eagles

To say the Ravens are desperate for reinforcements along their offensive line may be the understatement of the year. Injuries have withered the offensive line down to almost nothing, and the injured reserve list seemingly keeps getting longer with each passing week.

Andre Dillard may be just the guy to help alleviate the ails of Baltimore. Despite being the 22nd overall pick in 2019, Dillard has hardly played up to that standing, being benched in favor of 7th round pick Jordan Mailata. A change of scenery in Baltimore may do just the trick. Patrick Mekari, the team’s starting right tackle, injured his ankle in the loss to Cincinnati and could miss up to six weeks.

The Ravens need more protection on the edges if Lamar Jackson is to keep playing Superman every week. Dillard has been playing relatively well this season, upping his trade value for the Eagles. His youth, physical acumen, and positional versatility should make him a savory target for the Ravens.

Trade Target #3: Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Miami Dolphins

This trade has much more to do with the future of Baltimore’s secondary than it does at its present state. Corner will be a pressing need for the Ravens in the offseason as the team has big decisions to make with Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith. Smith may not be back and Peters carries a large contract while coming off an ACL injury.

Even if both were to be brought back, more depth is needed. The Ravens always seem to go through healthy corners like its nothing every year so adding a youthful defensive back can only help. Igbinoghene could be on Baltimore’s radar. Despite being a first round pick in 2020, the former Auburn corner has seen very little playing time and it looks as though that was a wasted pick by the Dolphins.

Still, Igbinoghene has a tremendous athletic profile and with a little more time and better coaching, he could become a regular contributor to the defense. He is certainly worth a late round flyer at this point. Meanwhile, it looks as though as the Dolphins are on the verge of another rebuild and virtually any and all players are on the trade market. Noah Igbinoghene may be the first to go.

Week 8 NFL Power Rankings

Week 8 NFL Power Rankings
Ja’Marr Chase speeds past Tavon Young – The Athletic

The Week 8 NFL Power Rankings are a fickle mistress. Just when you think you have things figured out, the Ravens get blown out by the Bengals in Baltimore and the Falcons finally hold onto a lead. Everything you know is wrong, so let’s dive into some more things that are going to be wrong next week! Right now, this is how the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings landscape looks heading into Week 8.

32. Detroit Lions (0-7)

Last Week: 32

Looks like we’re going to go back to the “yeah, but they played them really hard!!!” narrative in Detroit this week. Look, I respect Dan Campbell for what he’s trying to do with the Lions. It was an awful situation no one wanted, which is part of the reason Campbell was the best option for their vacant head coach position. But, still, I’m done giving the Lions the benefit of the doubt for losing close games. The fact of the matter is the season is almost half over and they still haven’t won a game. I’ll think about letting them out of time-out when they actually get a win.

31. Houston Texans (1-6)

Last Week: 30

Remember after Week 2 and we all thought the Texans were way better than we all thought they would be? They handily beat the Jacksonville Jaguars then traveled to Cleveland and gave the Browns a run for their money? Yeah. All that optimism is gone. Four of the Texans’ last five games haven’t been competitive, and this 31-5 loss to Arizona was a special kind of non-competitive. The kind of non-competitive that has literally never been accomplished before in NFL history. 

30. Miami Dolphins (1-6)

Last Week: 29

How much lower can things get for Miami in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings? The disappointment for a team many thought was headed in the right direction is immense. The story all week has been rumors of the potential blockbuster trade for disgruntled Texans’ quarterback Desean Watson. But would that actually help? Tua Tagovailoa threw for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns. He completed 80 percent of his passes. Yeah he threw two ugly picks in Falcons territory. But, he also brought the Dolphins back down the field and gave them a lead with 2:33 left in the game. Watson won’t save this team, and losing all those draft picks will probably set them back for years. Actually, if I was Watson, I’d refuse to play there too.

29. New York Jets (1-6)

Last Week: 27

Under most circumstances, getting blown out 54-13 by a team with a losing record would be worthy of a steeper drop than this. Luckily for the Jets, the bottom three teams look even worse than they do after this week. Although, Zach Wilson heard a pop in his knee in the second quarter. Now, every Jets fan in the country is in purgatory. If Wilson misses significant time, it might be time to embrace the tank in Jersey B.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5)

Last week: 31

After their 20-game losing streak, the Jacksonville Jaguars have now gone two whole weeks without a loss! I’m kidding. The Jags barely beat the lowly Dolphins last week and didn’t play at all this week. But, there has been plenty of turmoil going on among the NFL’s worst teams this week. So, the Jaguars come out looking slightly less awful in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings than they did a few weeks ago. Now that the national attention is off their dysfunction, can they refocus and stay out of the basement?

27. New York Giants (2-5)

Last Week: 28

Daniel Jones had an ‘ok’ day as a passer this week (23/33, 203 yards, one TD). He didn’t make any major mistakes, which is progress. He also made one of the coolest catches you’ll see all season.

I’m not here to tell you beating the crap out of a Panthers team that has completely collapsed over the last month is praiseworthy. It’s a nice feel-good win for the Giants. But, it was one of the least impressive blowout wins I’ve ever seen. Keep grinding, Giants. There’s potential there, though I’m not sure you’ll find it many more times this season.

26. Philadelphia Eagles (2-5)

Last Week: 24

Poor Jalen Hurts. He’s trying so hard to give Philadelphia something to root for. He started to do just that after the Eagles’ first drive finding Kenneth Gainwell for a 13-yard touchdown pass. Unfortunately, the Eagles couldn’t get anything going again until they were already down 30-7 in the fourth quarter. Like last week, Hurts engineered a pair of touchdown drives late in the game but couldn’t make it happen on their last possession. Even if he had, it might have been too late. But, it certainly would have been a fascinating ending.

25. Washington Football Team (2-5)

Last Week: 25

For most of the first half, it looked like Washington had a chance to pull off a miracle. They had a 42-yard field goal that would have given them the lead, blocked in the second quarter. Then, they blocked one of their own, but couldn’t capitalize. A Taylor Heinicke sack-fumble after the first drive of the second half began a series of unfortunate events. Eventually, it resulted in a 24-7 deficit well into the fourth quarter. I don’t see this loss as confirming anything we didn’t already know about Washington, so at No. 25 they stay this week.

24. Denver Broncos (3-4)

Last Week: 22

After such a promising start, the Broncos are now losers of four in a row. This week, it came against Case Keenum, D’Ernest Johnson, and Johnny Stanton. Who is Johnny Stanton you ask? He’s the Browns backup fullback of course! I can’t believe you didn’t know that. In seriousness, when the backup fullback is making plays against you, you know it’s time to hit the reset button. Something is critically wrong in Denver. It might not be long before they find themselves in the company of those bottom-feeder teams they feasted on in the first three weeks.

23. Atlanta Falcons (3-3)

Last Week: 26

Way to go, Falcons! You finally didn’t Falcon up a huge lead! They lead 20-7 with 20 minutes left in the game. But, in typical Atlanta fashion, they let the opposing team back into the game. In fact, they actually lost the lead near the end of the fourth quarter. Luckily, the Dolphins are awful. Matt Ryan drove the Falcons back down the field to set up an easy 36-yard game winner for Younghoe Koo. Suddenly, the Falcons are 3-3 and knocking on the door of the playoff race. 

22. Seattle Seahawks (2-5)

Last Week: 17

This Seattle Seahawks team is just hopeless without Russell Wilson. It seems like every week Geno Smith has an opportunity to go win the game at the end due to the relative incompetence of their opponent. He’s turned the ball over every single time, whether it’s an INT, a fumble, or a super inaccurate throw to DK Metcalf after taking back-to-back crippling sacks. This team still has a few more weeks before Russ comes back. At this point, I’m not sure even he can save their season.

21. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3)

Last Week: 21

The Pittsburgh Steelers did not play a game this week. They’re back to being alone in the AFC North basement after the Browns got back to their winning ways this week. But, they get those same injury-riddled Browns in Cleveland this coming week. Win, and your season is back on track. Lose, and you’re still stuck in no-man’s land.

20. Chicago Bears (3-4)

Last Week: 19

I have no idea what to make of this Bears team. One week they look legit, beating a very good Cincinnati Bengals team, then they let Justin Fields be sacked nine times against the Browns. Then, they put together two solid wins against the Lions and Raiders. They even did decently against the Packers last week, even though Aaron Rodgers confirmed he still owns them. This week was just a complete rejection of all the progress they’ve made. Justin Fields looks broken and I’m not sure Matt Nagy can put him back together.

19. Indianapolis Colts (3-4)

Last Week: 23

I expected a little more out of a Colts team that took the Ravens so close last week. Yeah, they won, but it was about as ugly a win as you could have. The Colts benefited from four extremely well timed turnovers. They gave it away a few times themselves and seemed only capable of actually scoring any points following a big turnover. This game probably would have looked more like a high scoring baseball game at the end if it hadn’t been for the turnovers.

You’re telling me this was the best you could do for SNF, NFL??? No, it’s ok guys. We don’t need to flex the Bengals-Ravens battle for first place in the division and conference. Everyone is going to love the snooze fest between the two most boring teams in the NFL! Still, they won and there was a ton of movement in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings, so they benefit.

18. Carolina Panthers (3-4)

Last Week: 14

Sam Darnold… just… holy crap man. I don’t think anyone disputes the Jets made him worse. But did they break him beyond repair? He was awful today. Darnold didn’t throw a single pass longer than 10 yards until the second half. He gave up a safety  at the beginning of the second quarter with an unnecessary intentional grounding. He took his third sack of the day on the final play of the third quarter and the Panthers benched him for PJ Walker. Walker didn’t fare much better, but at least we learned the Sam Darnold renaissance was fool’s gold.

17. San Francisco 49ers (2-4)

Last Week: 16

Welp. Last week I talked about this team flipping their 2-3 start to 4-3 taking advantage of an easy couple of games. You can’t do that when you turn the ball over four times, which is what the 49ers did against the Colts this week. Jimmy Garoppolo alone accounted for three of those turnovers. All three of them came in the second half. Deebo Samuel’s came in the first, but it helped spark a Colts team that looked offensively inept through most of the contest. Without those turnovers, San Francisco probably grinds away a low scoring 18-7 victory and we basically learn nothing about either team. But, the 49ers refused to win this one the Colts repeatedly tried to hand them.

16. New England Patriots (3-4)

Last Week: 20

Tom Brady might be moved on to his new home in Tampa Bay. But, the Patriots’ absolute dominance over the Jets from that era still lives on. New England still hasn’t lost to Jersey B since a surprise overtime loss in 2015, and they haven’t lost to them in regulation since Mark Sanchez won that inexplicable playoff game in January of 2011. Mac Jones was clinical and Damien Harris rushed for over 100 yards. The Patriots are not dead yet.

15. New Orleans Saints (4-2)

Last Week: 15

Two wins in a row for the New Orleans Saints plus a useful bye week has a generally positive feeling sweeping through Nawlins. Though, they really lucked out that Geno Smith was the opposing quarterback. Winston was sloppy. His fumbled snap turned touchdown pass to Alvin Kamara that gave the Saints their first lead was a microcosm of their entire season. Yeah, it looked like a pretty janky way to score. But they still scored, dammit. I still have no idea if this Saints team is good or not. So, just outside of the playoff teams they remain in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings.

14. Las Vegas Raiders (5-2)

Last Week: 18

I thought the Raiders were dead in the water after the Jon Gruden debacle. This was a sloppy team that I felt deserved ‘pretender’ status as much as the Broncos and Panthers. Then, they lost their head coach. How could they possibly survive that? Well, after two ‘get right’ games against the Broncos and Eagles, the Raiders are suddenly 5-2 and right back in the playoff discussion. Was Jon Gruden that bad of a head coach? Has their soft schedule the last couple of weeks inflated their rebound? It could be a while before we find out as they’re on bye next week and play the Giants the week after their upcoming bye. 

13. Minnesota Vikings (3-3)

Last Week: 13

In the coming weeks, the true nature of the Minnesota Vikings is going to be revealed. They play the Cowboys, Ravens, Chargers, and Packers each of the next four weeks. The way this team has played, you could just as easily see them pulling off a respectable numbers of wins as getting totally blown out in every game. If I had to bet, they’ll probably split those games 2-2. Because of course they will. For now, they’re still a playoff team in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings based on what we’ve seen so far.

12. Kansas City Chiefs (3-4)

Last Week: 9

Is having the 3-4 Kansas City Chiefs ahead of the 5-2 Las Vegas Raiders disrespectful? Probably. That’s what happens when reigning back-to-back AFC Champions flash big-game potential at points in the season, even though they’re putting up their fair share of stinkers too. This was Kansas City’s worst game of the season, and I’m starting to think it might not get better in a timely manner. Hence, nearly falling out of the playoff contenders in the Week 8 NFL Power Rankings. They’ll probably beat up on the lowly Giants this coming week and lose to the Packers. Then they go to Las Vegas. We’ll find out a lot about where the Chiefs are at that point.

11. Cleveland Browns (4-3)

Last Week: 11

Ouch. That’s the battle cry of the Cleveland Browns right now. Luckily, Baker Mayfield is expected to come back at some point this season. D’Ernest Johnson looks good enough to hold the fort down until Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt can come back. This was an ugly win against the Broncos, but this was also an ugly version of the Browns. Kevin Stefanski proved he is a hell of a coach. Watch out for this Browns team once they’re healthy.

10. Baltimore Ravens (5-2)

Last Week: 6

Lamar giveth, Lamar taketh away. The Ravens are far too unpredictable this year to really get behind. They should be 4-3 right now because of an uncalled delay of game against the Lions. They fooled me last week when they put a hurting on an overmatched Chargers team. They’re still a top-10 team based on what they’ve done this season. But, getting dominated like that at home makes me think this Ravens team doesn’t have the consistency to overcome their big game problems.

9. Tennessee Titans (5-2)

Last Week: 12

Derrick Henry, man. Not only is he a force in the ground game, but apparently he can throw for touchdowns too! He was held relatively in check as a rusher this week (3.0 YPC, 0 TDs). But, when he puts together cool highlights like that in a 27-3 beatdown against the reigning AFC champs, you have to take notice. The Titans are as hot as anyone in the NFL right now so watch out.

8. Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)

Last Week: 8

The Chargers are coming off their bye this week to prepare for a New England Patriots team coming off a massive blowout win. They can right the ship after the debacle against the Ravens last week with a win. But, a loss will raise a LOT of questions about whether this team is a true Super Bowl contender right now.

7. Green Bay Packers (6-1)

Last Week: 7

It was a bit of a slow start for the Packers this week. Were it not for TJ Slaton’s blocked kick, the Packers would have been trailing the Football Team at one point in the first half. But, the Packers hit the gas in the second half and wound up with a fairly convincing 24-10 victory. I won’t award any brownie points for that one, but 6-1 is 6-1.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (5-2)

Last Week: 10

You could make the argument that the Bengals could be 6-1 right now if Evan McPherson had made either of his missed field goals against the Packers. Hell, you could make the argument they could be 7-0 with a bit better luck at the end with the Bears. ‘What ifs’ won’t get you anywhere in the NFL, but beating the snot out of a division opponent on the road absolutely will. After winning only six games the past two years combined, the Cincinnati Bengals are looking like fringe Super Bowl contenders in 2021.

5. Los Angeles Rams (6-1)

Last Week: 5

Matthew Stafford put together a very good performance against his old team. Even though it cost two first round picks and a third, it’s looking like that Stafford-Goff trade in the offseason was a great idea. I haven’t forgotten the Rams struggled to put the Lions away all game. But, they did take the lead in the fourth quarter and sealed it with two interceptions on their former No. 1 overall pick. Like I said with the Packers, 6-1 is 6-1.

4. Dallas Cowboys (5-1)

Last Week: 4

The Cowboys were on bye this week and still managed to separate even further from the rest of the NFC East. There’s still 11 games left to play, but it already feels like this division is wrapped up. The Cowboys might be tested a little next week in Minnesota, but after that it could be a while before they have a realistic chance to slip up.

3. Buffalo Bills (4-2)

Last Week: 3

The Bills get a week of rest to process their loss to the Titans, who look even better after this week. Their next three games? Dolphins, Jags, Jets. I’d be shocked if they aren’t 7-2 when they get ready to host the up-and-down Colts in Week 11.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-1)

Last Week: 2

Chris Godwin had a dominant day against Chicago with 111 yards on 8 catches and a touchdown. Brady’s other three touchdown passes went to Mike Evans, although Evans wasn’t as electric with the ball in his hands this week. The Bucs forced six turnovers on a Bears team that looked totally lost. Could #8 be in the future for Tom Brady?

1. Arizona Cardinals (6-0)

Last Week: 1

The Arizona Cardinals achieved Scorigami this week against the Houston Texans. For those who don’t know, it means their 31-5 final score had never been done before in NFL history. How did they get there? Well, they allowed the Texans to go up 5-0 with a field goal and a safety in the first quarter. But, it was all Arizona after that after Kyler Murray led the Cardinals to four touchdowns and a field goal the rest of the game.

Baltimore Ravens, Lamar Jackson dominate Chargers

Baltimore Ravens

The game with the most intrigue of the weekend turned into an absolute romp. Behind Lamar’s day, the Baltimore Ravens routed the visiting Chargers 34-6. The Ravens dominated both sides of the ball en route to a 5-1 record atop the AFC North. Baltimore’s had some close finishes this season, including last Monday night, but this was a surprising reprieve for Ravens faithful.

Game Recap: Total Offensive Domination

The early afternoon contest featured two of the hottest quarterbacks and MVP hopefuls Lamar Jackson and Justin Herbert. Both led potent, high scoring offenses and many predicted a shootout considering how porous both defenses have been all season. Instead, the Ravens jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and never looked back. Baltimore’s run game looked like the run game of old, steamrolling LA’s front seven with 187 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. Three separate running backs ran for a touchdown, including the recently elevated Le’Veon Bell. Jackson’s stats won’t blow up the stat sheet as they had the last few weeks but he was still patient in the pocket and placed the ball where it needed to be to keep drives alive. Essentially, Lamar’s game through the air was unnecessary to keep the Chargers reeling.

Game Recap: Defense Shows Up

It was Baltimore’s defense, however, that came up big. The Ravens D had been gashed all season long, and most predicted Herbert’s high flying Chargers would do the same. Instead, the defense continually got pressure on Herbert and completely shut down Austin Ekeler. DeShonn Elliott snagged his first interception of the year while tacking on a sack, proving to be one of the most versatile defenders in the league. Justin Houston also added a sack late in the game to put him ever closer to 100 career sacks.

The most interesting take from this contest? Despite the margin of victory, no single player dominated the game. This was an all around team victory and everyone contributed to the massive victory. Rookie receiver Rashod Bateman made his long anticipated debut and had 4 receptions for 29 yards but had an ugly drop in the 4th quarter that turned into an interception for the Chargers. Still, it’s nice to see the Ravens try to work their young receiver into the game. Lamar Jackson also made history by passing Dan Marino for most wins (35) by a quarterback before age 25. Another game, another record set.

Baltimore Ravens Next Matchup

As stated before, this win improves the Ravens to 5-1 while maintaining first place in the AFC North. Next up? A home game against the surprisingly hot Cincinnati Bengals in Baltimore’s first divisional game this season. The following week, the Ravens will go on a much needed bye. This was a massive win for the Baltimore Ravens before beginning a stretch of divisional games in late November-early December.