It’s spooky season, so why not pick the scariest NFL team and write about them?
Well, without a doubt, it’s the Baltimore Ravens. Sure, they might not be the most talented team or have the best record, but they are still in the midst of a great season (5-2, first in the AFC North), and with their dominating win over the Seattle Seahawks, they proved they can beat just about any team in the league.
Let’s start with the biggest reason why: Lamar Jackson.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge Lamar fan. I was one last year and of course I still am. The man is simply dynamic. There’s no better way to put it. He’s way more than just an athlete or running back as many people had him pegged as coming out of college, and he’s proven that this year.
Lamar has 1,650 passing yards this season, good for No. 16 in the NFL and better than some highly regarded quarterbacks like Carson Wentz and Baker Mayfield. His 11 passing touchdowns have him tied for No. 12 in the league with some scrubs named Tom Brady and Philip Rivers, and he’s only thrown five interceptions, less than guys like Rivers, Mayfield, Matt Ryan, Dak Prescott and the 6-0 Jimmy Garoppolo.
Not only has he put up great numbers, but he’s done so with an extremely lackluster receiving corps. Hollywood Brown has been good so far, but the speedster has also missed the last two games with an injury. Otherwise, he’s throwing to a combination of Miles Boykin, Willie Snead and Seth Roberts with the occasional toss to the solid backfield trio of Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. Exciting.
But of course, that’s not all Lamar can do. He might just be the best mobile quarterback since Mike Vick, and honestly, he’s putting up better numbers in that department than Vick ever did. Through seven games, Lamar has run for 576 yards, which is good for No. 6 in the ENTIRE NFL. Running backs included. He’s trailing Dalvin Cook, Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffery, Nick Chubb and Zeke Elliott, and that’s it! He’s also done so on significantly fewer rushes, as his 576 yards came on just 83 attempts, making his average a whopping 6.9 yards! Of players who have at least 75 attempts, he’s easily No. 1, and is averaging 1.4 more yards per rush than the next best, the aforementioned Cook.
In fact, Lamar has as many or more rushing yards than some entire NFL teams, eight of them to be exact: The Chiefs (tied), Chargers, Falcons, Steelers, Bears, Jets (sad emoji), Dolphins and Bengals. Lamar is simply another animal, and defenses have yet to figure out how to properly contain him.
Now let’s talk about the defense, the unit that just made Russell Wilson look like 2019 Eli Manning. While not spectacular, they’re currently No. 13 in the league in terms of yards per game and No. 16 in points, which is solid. Yes, they’ve had some struggles, most notably giving up 40 points to the Cleveland Browns, but last week against the Seahawks they only gave up 16. Perhaps the addition of Marcus Peters is going to be bigger than people thought – he did have a pick-six after all – or maybe they are good enough to do so against even the best of offenses.
Up until this week, you could argue that the Ravens are one of those teams who only does well against bad teams, good enough to sneak into the playoffs by winning their weak division and then lose in the Wild Card round, but then they went and dominated the Seahawks on both sides of the ball. Now at 5-2, the Seahawks are still a legitimate playoff team, and up until last week, Wilson was the leading MVP candidate. Now, especially with Pat Mahomes hurt, it wouldn’t be crazy to think that the top-three candidates are Wilson, Deshaun Watson and yes, Lamar Jackson.
Yes, the Ravens are wildly inconsistent. You don’t know what you’re going to get from them on a week-to-week basis. But that’s the scary part. You don’t know what to expect. The only thing you do know is that on any given day, they can come out and beat anyone in the NFL. Be scared, other teams, be scared.
Jorge Eckardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at Jorge.firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @jorge_eckardt31