If Flacco and the Browns get into a rhythm, Reed sees the Browns being dangerous.
“If they can get on a run and Joe protects the ball like Joe knows how to do, coach will put Joe in a position to succeed,” Reed told Rapoport. “We’ll see how far they can go.”
The Steelers and Browns would still make the playoffs if the season ended today.
Judging Eric DeCosta’s offseason
The bye week provided an opportunity to look back on the offseason and see what decisions general manager Eric DeCosta made to help get the Ravens to 9-3 and in contention for the coveted No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Kyle Goon of the Baltimore Banner highlighted several areas in which DeCosta succeeded.
“The simplest explanation for the Ravens’ good vibes is the cloud that cleared over the team. DeCosta signed Lamar Jackson to a then-record five-year contract,” Goon wrote. “To be frank, paying Jackson was an easy decision – but DeCosta deserves tons of credit for setting the organizational tone by being receptive…”
After lengthy contract negotiations, DeCosta and Jackson brought it home when pen hit paper. Jackson is a long-term Raven and a vital part of the team’s success in 2023.
“Beyond Jackson’s performance, the most compelling point in DeCosta’s favor is what happened to other quarterbacks among the league’s highest-paid passers,” Goon wrote. “Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow is done for the season. Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert and Buffalo’s Josh Allen are stuck on teams that might not make the playoffs. Cleveland’s Deshaun Watson is injured again. Arizona’s Kyler Murray is just about to return from a bad injury injury. A good quarterback is the hardest piece for a contender to obtain, and Jackson has helped put the Ravens in position for the No. 1 overall spot.
Turning away from multiple re-signing opportunities
The Ravens saw some very talented players come out this offseason, including two future Hall of Fame defensive players. There were reports that defensive end Calais Campbell and Justin Houston had varying levels of interest in re-signing, but DeCosta brought neither back. He also let safety Chuck Clark, cornerback Marcus Peters and guard Ben Powers go elsewhere.
“If you look at what these guys are doing now, DeCosta’s decisions, as painful as they were, were largely correct,” Goon wrote. “Letting the veterans go was, in a sense, a gamble on the talent already there. At some of these key positions, Justin Madubuike, Geno Stone and Brandon Stephens are having the best seasons of their careers.”
This offseason, DeCosta added a young star in rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers.
“…the rookie has enjoyed tremendous success – which has rarely been the case when the Ravens select a receiver in the first round,” Goon wrote. “He’s made 58 receptions, he’s averaging more than 10 yards per touch, and his three total touchdowns are almost certainly just the beginning of his scoring impact. DeCosta said Flowers is the highest-rated receiver in the Ravens board before the draft, and honestly it feels like they could use him more, maybe as a returner. But Flowers has played over 86% of the offensive snaps and is a workhorse.
Veteran signings don’t always pan out, but this season brought major production from several individuals, including outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney.
“The Ravens’ top offseason recruit didn’t join the team until Aug. 18. Jadeveon Clowney is in the midst of a renaissance season, punctuated recently by his two fumbles and recovering one against the Chargers,” wrote Goon. The 30-year-old has 7.5 sacks and is eighth in win rate, a better mark than passers such as Bryce Huff, TJ Watt and Nick Bosa. It’s a remarkable turnaround for a journeyman, but DeCosta said in September that the Ravens have been eyeing Clowney for years.”
Another big addition was outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
“Baltimore also received a huge boost from Kyle Van Noy (6 sacks), helping offset injuries to David Ojabo and Tyus Bowser, who were originally considered key pieces in the pass rush,” wrote Goon.
Experts weigh in on what it will take to win the AFC North
The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec, Zac Jackson and Paul Dehner Jr. all weighed in on what the division winner’s final record would be, with the latter two predicting the Ravens would take the win in the North.
Jackson: “The Ravens will be 12-5. They should be slightly concerned that the charmed Steelers might finish with 13, but I think it’s safe to assume the Ravens will get 12 and win the division. The Ravens-Jaguars game on December 17 gives the I’m not sure the Ravens can get that seed and the playoffs with 12 wins, but I’m sticking with that number.
Dehner: “Baltimore’s schedule doesn’t feature any gimmicks, with arguably three of the six best teams in the NFL (Jacksonville, San Francisco, Miami) in a row. But I still believe the Ravens are the best team in the AFC. I think they’re going 3-2 over the last five games, and that should be enough to hold off Pittsburgh… but inevitably (the Steelers) will have to beat the Ravens in Baltimore in Week 18 to win the North – and I don’t see them at all simply not succeed. disabled.”
Zrebiec: “Even if the Steelers go 4-1 during this stretch, that could still force the Ravens to muster 12 wins – including beating Pittsburgh in the season finale – to win the division. I guess that 12 wins will get there, but this week 18 Ravens-Steelers could be for all the marbles in the AFC North. I don’t want to write off the Browns either, but it’s going to be difficult for them to win five of their six last games with their quarterback situation.
Ravens coaches among those who want to ban the hip-drop tackle
More discussion has surfaced in the NFL world surrounding the hip tackle as the NFL continues to pursue player safety.
According to Ted Nguyen of The Athletic, the tackle that took out tight end Mark Andrews will likely be disallowed.
“The league is currently gathering information on hip-drop tackles to decide whether they should join the list of prohibited actions and how they will respond,” Nguyen wrote. “Based on my conversations with league officials, it appears it is only a matter of time. Opinions vary on whether tackling should be banned, but it is important to understand what it is. is taking action and why a rule change that could affect NFL games as soon as possible. as next season is possible.”
The NFL wouldn’t be the first to attempt to define the specific tackling style; The National Rugby League has defined and banned the tackling style.