Photo Credit: Baltimore Beatdown
Heading into Wildcard Weekend, the biggest wildcard this postseason has to be the Baltimore Ravens. After deciding to bench Joe Flacco for Lamar Jackson, the rookie quarterback has rejuvenated what seemed to be a stale Baltimore offense into what could possibly be the toughest offense to defend this postseason. While expectation seems to be up in the air for what this Baltimore team can achieve, here are three reasons why the Baltimore Ravens can represent the AFC in Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII.
1. A Consistent Running Attack
In the NFL if you have a good run game your team has a chance to make it deep into the season, and that’s exactly what the Ravens have. With what seems to be a simple running attack from an offensive standpoint consisting almost completely of zone reads from the shotgun, no defense has been able to execute a plan of stopping Jackson and company. Since Jackson has taken over play-calling duties they have averaged an astounding 230 yards per game on the ground, ranking them the second best rushing offense in the NFL. Moving forward the Ravens will have the advantage from the fact that only two of the AFC playoff teams have faced the revamped Ravens offense, the first team being the LA Chargers who they play this Sunday. The only other team the Ravens have faced in this years postseason is the Kansas City Chiefs, and we all know how that defense has played this year. Overall, the Ravens running game will give them an advantage against nearly every opponent they face because of the playmaking capability of Lamar Jackson and the college style offense very few teams are accustomed to defending in the NFL.
2. The Best Defense in Football
The Ravens are no slouches on the other side of the ball, in fact, they lead the NFL in total defense. This defense really has everything you could want in a championship caliber team. They have a great front seven lead by linebackers CJ Mosley and veteran Terrell Suggs as well as secondary led by Eric Weddle and Jimmy Smith, that only allowed a quarterback to throw for over 300 yards three times the entire season. The Ravens allowed the third fewest first downs in all of football and rank as the top defense remaining in third-down efficiency, so in order to beat the Ravens opposing offenses must find ways to stay on the field and not allow the Ravens defense forced quick stops and dominate the time of possession. This Baltimore defense has no weakness so opposing offenses must be hitting on all cylinders if they want a chance to win.
3. A Proven Head Coach
Although early in the season it looked unlikely that John Harbaugh would remain the head ball coach for the Ravens, he has managed to rewrite the script and turn his team into a legitimate playoff contender. The postseason is nothing new to Harbaugh as he has had success in six previous playoff appearances with Baltimore. Harbaugh has led his team to victory in Wildcard Weekend six times along with 3 appearances in the AFC Championship as well as a Super Bowl win in 2012. What I’m trying to say here is that Harbaugh knows how to win in the playoffs and will have his team ready no matter what situation they face. Harbaugh is a big-time coach so don’t expect the pressure of playoff football to get to him or his team.
Overall, with the quality of their defense, the explosive and new aged offense they run and their proven coach in John Harbaugh the Ravens have everything a team needs to make a run in the month of January. Although the odds are stacked against them I truly believe the Baltimore Ravens have the ability to win the AFC.