While 26 other teams across the NFL landscape kept training this week leading up to Sunday's and Monday's slates of games, the Baltimore Ravens (9-3) find themselves enjoying a well-deserved bye week and looking at what's going on in the league from outside of it.
The Ravens, who are currently the leaders of the AFC conference and the AFC North division by extension, were not considered a bonafide Super Bowl contender entering the season, carrying questions into the year related to the installation of a new offensive scheme among others.
Those narratives have completely changed now, and Mike Jones of The Athletic made it very clear in a column published on Thursday that the Ravens, to his eyes, are "Stone-cold locks" to make the postseason next January and perhaps to put together a deep run toward the title.
"The Ravens have had some ups and downs. They have lost a few games thanks largely to self-inflicted wounds. But Baltimore has a championship-caliber defense and a balanced offense led by an MVP-caliber quarterback in Lamar Jackson. The Ravens’ overall physicality and versatility in the run game cause problems for teams and will serve them well in the postseason, especially during those January games in poor weather conditions."- Mike Jones, The Athletic
While Jones started his blurb by acknowledging the Ravens "have had some ups and downs," he quickly changed the tone to a much more positive one noting Baltimore has "a championship-caliber defense" and "a balanced offense led by an MVP-caliber quarterback in Lamar Jackson."
Even though the Flock lost their first-string running back (J.K. Dobbins) basically before the season (he left the Week 1 game midway through it with a season-ending injury), Jones thinks the Ravens' "overall physicality and versatility in the run game cause problems for teams and will serve them well in the postseason."
That's definitely remarkable and a true achievement by new Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken, who has been able to devise solutions for the offense even in the absence of Dobbins by maximizing Jackson's dual-threat skill set as well as Gus Edwards (and most recently Keaton Mitchell) rushing prowess.
The Ravens will return in time for a Week 14 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams at the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore before facing a gauntlet of contenders featuring the Jaguars, the 49ers, the Dolphins, and the Steelers to finish the regular season.