Ravens ‘will win the division by at least three games’

Upon closer examination, through Week 10, the Ravens are as good as any other team in the NFL

ESPN analysis writer Seth Walder divided all 32 teams into playoff picture tiers, from Tier 1 (“True Super Bowl contenders”) to Tier 7 (“Rest up for 2023”).

The Ravens were placed in Tier 2 (“Playoff Locks”) along with the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys and given a 97.4 percent chance of making the playoffs. However, a solid case can be made for Baltimore joining the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles in the top tier – especially after seeing how Week 10 played out for the final two teams.

Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA), which breaks down every NFL game, ranks the Ravens as the third-best team overall, trailing only the Bills and Eagles. DVOA compares a team’s performance against a league baseline based on the situation to determine its above-average value. The Ravens are No. 3 in offensive DVOA, 13th in defense, and No. 1 in special teams.

But let’s put the stats aside for a moment and look at the Ravens’ track record so far in the season and how it compares to the teams considered the NFL’s best.

They are the only team in the league to hold a double-digit lead in every game this season. Only eight other teams in NFL history have accomplished this feat.

The Ravens haven’t played cupcakes either, as only two of their opponents have lost records to date. According to Football Outsiders, the Ravens have played the third-hardest schedule. They have wins over three teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today (New York Jets, New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and over the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals.

Baltimore’s three losses—to the Miami Dolphins (7-3), Bills (6-3) and New York Giants (7-2)—combined 11 points.

“Would they want another shot in their fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and New York Giants? Sure. They could be 8-1 with a conference lead and a stranglehold on the AFC North,” The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker wrote. “But they have built a lead in their division – bolstered by the Bengals’ 0-3 record against AFC North opponents – without facing a single cream-puff opponent. Their roster has grown stronger with the recent additions to the defense and will become even stronger with the expected return of [tight end Mark] Andrews, running backs Gus Edwards and JK Dobbins, and safety Marcus Williams. Meanwhile, their schedule will get weaker: sixth in the league the rest of the way, according to Football Outsiders.”

Last night, the previously undefeated Eagles lost at home to a Washington Commanders team that entered the game with a 4-5 record. On Sunday, the Bills lost their second game in a row, falling to 0-2 in the AFC East and the sixth seed in the conference. Preseason MVP favorite Josh Allen has one touchdown pass, four interceptions and a fumble in his last two games and six interceptions in his last three.

The Chiefs are playing well, but their resume this season includes a loss to the Indianapolis Colts (4-5-1) and a one-point come-from-behind win at home over the Las Vegas Raiders (2-7).

That’s not to take anything away from the Eagles, Bills, Chiefs or any other team, and there’s still plenty of football to play. At this point, however, the evidence indicates that the Ravens are as good as anyone in the NFL, and as Walker said, they will be returning some key players from injury in the near future.

“It makes for an appealing picture for a team that sounded baffled by its self-defeating nature in the wake of its 24-20 loss to the Giants on Oct. 16,” Walker wrote. “If the Ravens romp through the rest of their schedule, does that mean they’re ready to beat the Bills or the Kansas City Chiefs with a Super Bowl trip on the line? No. They’ll still have to prove they can going play for play with these offensive juggernauts in the postseason melting pot. But Mission No. 1 got back to the point where they could ask those questions to themselves, and the Ravens are on their way.”

Tony Lombardi of Russell Street Report wrote: “Just take care of business game by game, keep refining and growing as a team, play their best football in December and January, and that ultimate prize is achievable for the Ravens – emphasis on one game at a time .”

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