With nine weeks already in the books and the halfway point of regular season already in the rearview mirror, this feels like the best possible time to look back at what has happened and forward to what might be coming during the next couple of months.
That's what the folks over ESPN did on Wednesday, Nov. 8, as they released their "NFL 2023 Midseason Report," to which all NFL Nation beat reporters contributed. Each of them was tasked with answering two simple questions: what do we know and don't know about the franchise they cover?
Here are the answers that Ravens' beat reporter Jamison Hensley shared with his readers on Wednesday.
What we know about the Ravens?
According to Hensley, one and only one thing is clear and he stated it in the first sentence of his blurb about the Ravens: they are "a serious Super Bowl contender."
"The Ravens are a serious Super Bowl contender. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is an MVP candidate, leading the league in completion rate (71.5%) and topping all quarterbacks in rushing yards (440). The defense is allowing a league-low 13.8 points per game while producing an NFL-best 35 sacks. Over the last three weeks, the Ravens have beaten two division leaders (the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks) by a combined score of 75–9."- Jamison Hensley, ESPN
Hensley also thinks Lamar is "an MVP candidate," building his case around a career-high and league-leading 71.5% completion rate and his 440 rushing yards, the most among quarterbacks.
The Beat reporter also touched on the strong defense of the Ravens, noting that it's allowing "a league-low 13.8 points per game" to their opponents, while also "producing an NFL-best 35 sacks" through Week 9, helping Baltimore beat the Lions and Seahawks (both division leaders) by "a combined score of 75-9."
What we don't know about the Ravens?
Hensley didn't get any creative with his unknown fact about this franchise... "Will Jackson stay healthy?" he pondered.
"Will Jackson stay healthy? In the last two years, the Ravens were in first place in the AFC North in December before Jackson’s injuries derailed their seasons. With Jackson dealing with an ankle injury in 2021 and a knee injury in 2022, Baltimore lost seven of nine games without him in December or later. The Ravens have tried to reduce the number of hits on Jackson this season. Baltimore has called an average of 4.4 designed runs per game, which is a career-low for Jackson."- Jamison Hensley, ESPN
This is a recurrent question being asked about the Ravens, but it's so tiring and meaningless when there is many more other things that could be highlighted that it barely makes any sense regurgitating it over and over again.
As Hensley noted, the Ravens "were in first place in the AFC North in December before Jackson's injuries derailed their seasons," which is as correct as completely out of control for this team no matter what it does on and/or off the field.
Baltimore will keep giving Lamar games, reps, snaps, and everything he demands because he is the starting quarterback and the face of the franchise and that's what these types of folks do.
Yes, the Ravens can cut down the number of rushing attempts and scrambles Jackson goes for weekly (Hensley pointed out "Baltimore has called an average of 4.4 designed runs per game, which is a career-low for Jackson") but that's pretty much it and it's not like Lamar will enterily change (for the bad) his game simply to avoid an injury that might or might not happen.
As we have always said in the past, as long as all negatives going against the Ravens when it comes to contending for a Super Bowl win have to do with health and injuries, we can very well live with that!