With the Ravens hoping to get back on track and improve to 8-4 hosting last-place Denver on Sunday afternoon, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Despite terrific overall numbers, the Broncos defense is coming off underwhelming performances in back-to-back weeks, making one wonder if an inept offense is finally breaking that impressive unit’s spirit. Can the Ravens find a way to start fast and avoid another Carolina-like slog at home?
2. Marlon Humphrey returned to practice Thursday and appears on track to play after missing some fourth-quarter snaps in Jacksonville with a twisted ankle. Other than Lamar Jackson, there isn’t a player the Ravens miss more when Humphrey isn’t on the field. The defense looks lost without him.
3. It’s no secret that scoring is down in the NFL this season, but Denver averaging a league-worst 14.3 points per game is stunning, especially after acquiring a $245 million franchise quarterback. Even the offense-challenged Ravens of yesteryear never fell below 16.6 points per game (2005) in a single season.
4. The 3-8 Broncos have lost only two games by more than one possession while the Ravens’ biggest margin of victory was 15 points against the Jets in the opener. Baltimore is rightly a substantial favorite, but its red-zone struggles and Denver’s defense make a blowout feel unlikely.
5. Ravens players said the right things giving proper respect to Russell Wilson this week, but the nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback has looked like a shell of his former self this season with a QBR ahead of only Davis Mills and Baker Mayfield among qualified quarterbacks. Who saw that coming?
6. Even after completing three passes of at least 25 yards against Jacksonville, the Ravens’ 24 completions of 20 or more yards rank ahead of only the Rams (23) and the Giants (19), per Sharp Football. That ranking probably isn’t improving much against a top five pass defense this week.
7. After John Harbaugh confirmed his “very preliminary” contact with Stanford, Greg Roman maintains his “singular focus” remains on Denver. His biggest detractors are surely rooting for a rapid departure to Palo Alto, but I don’t see a Jim Caldwell-like replacement on the current coaching staff if that’s what they’re envisioning.
8. According to Sharp Football, the Ravens rank third in the NFL with a plus-86 point differential over the first three quarters and 31st with a minus-38 mark in the fourth quarter. You have to wonder about the psychological fallout from so many blown leads at this point.
9. David Ojabo was regarded as raw even before his injury, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see him brought along so slowly. Mike Macdonald said, “What we say to him to encourage him is just, ‘Go out, practice really fast. Almost make it impossible for us not to dress you.’”
10. Meanwhile, Odafe Oweh has played a career-low 40% of the snaps since the bye. Macdonald maintained it’s more a product of how well Jason Pierre-Paul is playing and that coaches are “happy with where he’s at,” but it’s difficult to buy that about a 2021 first-round pick carrying high expectations.
11. Ravens coaches and players are looking forward to seeing former special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg, but Denver’s senior assistant has to cringe seeing his new team rank dead last in Football Outsiders’ special teams efficiency. They rank in the bottom seven in every category except punting, which is 21st. Yuck.
12. Marshal Yanda will take his place in a Ravens Ring of Honor with so many former first-round picks for Baltimore. The 2007 third-round pick out of Iowa is an outstanding player development story as he blossomed into an eight-time Pro Bowl guard. The next stop should be Canton one day.