They went into the season with high expectations, and thus far they’ve exceeded them. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2019 Baltimore Ravens are for real.
After a huge victory against the then-undefeated New England Patriots, many analysts, fans, and sports betters marked down this Cincinnati Bengals match up as a “trap game.” A trap game means that the heavily favored team, in this case, the Baltimore Ravens, will either lose or fail to cover the point spread necessary to satisfy Las Vegas oddsmakers. It would have made some sense if the Ravens had traveled to Cincinnati in a slightly complacent manner, given the drastic decrease in the opponent’s strength compared to New England.
The now 0-9 Bengals, Baltimore’s AFC North rivals, would have loved nothing more than to get their first win in a divisional matchup in front of their home fans. Normally, this could have been a recipe for disaster for past Ravens teams; but this is not your average Baltimore Ravens team.
From what fans see, it seems as if this team is as closely knit (if not more) than the 2012 Ravens that won the Super Bowl in New Orleans. Every single member of this organization wants to rally behind quarterback Lamar Jackson and it is easy to see why. His humble “team first” attitude along with his competitive nature and winners mentality is what makes Lamar such a great leader at such a young age.
There are always going to people who hate and doubt Lamar Jackson and this Baltimore Ravens team. People have been known to critic Lamar’s arm, his decision-making skills, his demand to play the quarterback position, and there are many other claims discrediting Jackson’s record-breaking season. However, none of that phases him. Lamar Jackson wants to go out there every week and win. He doesn’t care how they win, all he wants is to deliver that promise he made on draft day: “They’ll get a Super Bowl outta me. Believe that.”
Now, despite his heroics, including what could have been the NFL’s touchdown run of the year, Lamar Jackson is not the sole reason the Ravens have been finding success in these recent weeks. General Manager Eric DeCosta has been a mastermind bringing in players who have seemingly been perfect fits for this Ravens team, specifically the defense.
Beginning the season with a mid-tier defense was something that caught Ravens fans off-guard, along with the front office. Free-agent signings L.J Fort and Josh Bynes are just two examples of standout defensive players who were added midseason. Also, a trade for cornerback Marcus Peters seemed to be the icing on the cake, Peters now has two touchdowns with the Ravens (three on the year).
Never have the Baltimore Ravens relied more heavily on their offense than they have this year, however that doesn’t take away from how good this defense has been. While their defensive strengths lay strongly in the secondary, this pass rush has quietly been getting to opposing quarterbacks. Matthew Judon sits among the top of the list when it comes to QB hits, hurry’s, and sacks. Also, the run blockers Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce have been getting the job done against opposing running backs.
Our defensive MVP, however, and possible defensive player of the year has to be cornerback Marlon Humphrey. He, like Peters, also has two touchdowns for the Ravens this season; however, he has also locked up some of the league’s most talented wide receivers. He has been breaking up passes, forcing fumbles, recovering fumbles, and shadowing top wide receivers all season long and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.
With Humphrey as the Ravens top cornerback and the combination of Peters, Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr beside him, this defense is a nightmare on paper for opposing quarterbacks. That is all without the mention of Hall of Famer Earl Thomas as the ball-hawk behind them, and the eventual return of talented cornerback Tavon Young.
From day one this team had one common goal, to start and finish this season with wins in Miami (Super Bowl LIV is in Miami). After a rough start regarding injuries and figuring out personnel issues, this Baltimore Ravens team seems primed for a run at the big game not only this year but for years to come.
Like head coach John Harbaugh said to Lamar Jackson “That’s right, we start with one.” Lamar Jackson has officially proved himself as the real deal in the NFL and a legit MVP candidate with this statement victory. His second perfect passer rating on the season makes him only the second player in NFL history to do so. Lamar has been breaking records and breaking ankles effortlessly and I’m not the only one who cannot get enough of it.
Next week brings another tough matchup against Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans in Baltimore. Like the New England game, the fans should be the key to winning this one. If Watson and that high powered offense are kept off the field than the Ravens should emerge victorious once again. Watch for this highly anticipated QB match-up to be one to remember.