- The Baltimore Ravens are prohibitive Super Bowl favorites.
- Lamar Jackson is the MVP frontrunner, but a much-improved defense is why they look unbeatable.
- Marcus Peters’ influence is looming even larger than his stats suggest.
Lamar Jackson wasted no time propelling the Baltimore Ravens to contention. The sophomore signal-caller began his burgeoning MVP candidacy by throwing for five touchdowns in a Week 1 romp over the Miami Dolphins, proving offseason chatter about his major strides as a passer was rooted in much more than hopeful optimism.
Over two months later, Jackson is running away from the rest of the field in the MVP race, and Baltimore is on a league-best seven-game winning streak. But as much credit as Jackson deserves for his team’s performance, it’s the Ravens’ much-improved defense that’s turned them from intriguing playoff team to prohibitive Super Bowl favorite.
Lamar Jackson Wasn’t the Catalyst for Ravens’ Midseason Turnaround
Defense was supposed to be Baltimore’s downfall in 2019. A franchise long identified by its dominance on that side of the ball let several marquee defenders walk in the offseason. Worse, the Ravens did little to replace them, mostly counting on internal improvement to offset the losses of stars who led them to the best defense in football a year ago.
Four games into the regular season, it became clear that defense would be what holds Baltimore back. John Harbaugh’s team surrendered a total of 73 points in back-to-back losses to the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns, dropping it to 24th in Football Outsiders’ defensive efficiency. The Ravens’ worst fears weren’t only being realized, but seemed increasingly unlikely to be overcome.
You’d hardly know it two months later. The Houston Texans and Los Angeles Rams’ high-flying offenses combined for 13 points against the Ravens over the last two games, while Tom Brady played perhaps his worst game of the season in Baltimore’s statement…