Baltimore Ravens have been an inspiring team in the NFL this season, finishing second in the AFC North after facing some serious disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic earlier in the campaign. After their Week 11 game with Tennessee Titans, 22 players were placed on the 22 players on the reserved/Covid-19 list.
One of those was star quarterback Lamar Jackson, and the following game against Pittsburgh Steelers was moved twice. The franchise has reportedly been fined $250,000 by the NFL for the coronavirus outbreak that caused such disruption. But the Ravens overcame all of that disruption and sealed their spot in the play-offs last weekend with a 38-3 domination of the Cincinnati Bengals. In the game, Jackson throwing three touchdown passes and became the first quarterback in NFL history to achieve two seasons of .more than 1,000 rushing yards.
Week 11 shadows
After Week 11, the Ravens were then sitting on a 6-5 record and had just suffered three straight losses. It looked like they would not make the play-offs at all One of those defeats was a stinging overtime defeat to the Titans, the team that they will be facing first in the play-offs this weekend. Their season looked over and Jackson looked like a busted flush, a shadow of the player that he can be. The defense looked old and full of holes.
In many ways, the Ravens were handed a boost by the schedule, with their last five games of the regular season featuring just one team that would make the play-offs. Five successive victories now mean that the Ravens have stormed into the post-season as a team in some serious form. Their points differential over the last five weeks is +97.
That puts them in the perfect place to gain some revenge on the Titans, the team that ended their play-off campaign last season. That 28-12 defeat to Tennessee in last season’s AFC Divisional Round stung, and was felt by most to be a serious opportunity for real success missed.
The Ravens will need to improve their rush defense if they are to gain revenge over the Titans at the weekend. Tennessee running back Derrick Henry is in indomitable form this season, and it was his stiff arm on Earl Thomas that became the defining image of the play-off defeat last season.
Anything is possible
The Ravens kept a closer eye on Henry when the teams met earlier this season, but their defense looked exhausted after the 30-24 overtime defeat. The Ravens have missed 131 tackles this season, according to Pro Football Reference, the second worst figure in the NFL. They will need to make sure that they get a grip on Henry or their chances for revenge will diminish rapidly.
The way the Ravens have turned their season round is inspiring. Now it is up to Jackson and the rest of his team to prove just how good they can really be. If they maintain the resolve and determination that they have shown over the last month or so then anything is possible.