Twelve Ravens Thoughts following divisional-round weekend

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With the NFL concluding the divisional round of the 2022 postseason this past weekend, I’ve offered a dozen Ravens-related thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. After John Harbaugh vowed to “cast a wide net” for the new offensive coordinator, it’s not surprising that most reported external candidates have passing game backgrounds. After sputtering weeks before Lamar Jackson even got hurt in each of the last two seasons, Baltimore must improve through the air. 

2. Each of the final four ranks in the top nine in passing DVOA and top seven in expected points added per dropback, reflecting the passing efficiency — not necessarily volume — required to make a deep playoff run in today’s game. It’s something the Ravens have lacked since their magical 2019. 

3. That’s not to say balance isn’t important as those four teams ranked in the league’s top half in rushing DVOA and EPA. With Josh Allen’s contract weighing more heavily on the cap moving forward, Buffalo will lament its inability to run the ball in the divisional round all offseason. 

4. Joe Burrow and Cincinnati now have five playoff wins over the last two seasons, which matches the total between Baltimore and Pittsburgh over the last decade. The Ravens — and the Steelers — need to be feeling more urgency than just saying they’re “close,” a word that can doom organizations. 

5. The Ravens defense deserved a nod for how it played against the Bengals, but some assumptions being made are a bit much. This was still a unit that faltered with a late lead as recently as Week 17. We’ll never know what would have happened had Tyler Huntley never fumbled. 

6. I’m a Wink Martindale fan, but it’s a very long offseason when you’re pummeled to the degree the Giants were against Philadelphia. New York has a good defensive line, but there’s a lot of work to do at linebacker and in the secondary for that defense to be more formidable. 

7. Speaking of Philadelphia, you can’t help but watch the Eagles offense and think that’s what the Ravens should have become over these last few seasons. The superior wide receiver group is a given, but I’d want to talk to Eagles quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson for the offensive coordinator opening. 

8. Three of the four teams playing in the conference championship round have a starting quarterback on a rookie deal with the exception being Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City. Even when playing with a high ankle sprain, Mahomes continues to be the very special exception to have. 

9. It’s crazy to see how much volatility San Francisco has experienced over the last decade while also appearing in another Super Bowl and four conference championship games since meeting Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII. Would you prefer such peaks and valleys to the Ravens’ annual high-floor approach? 

10. The Dallas Cowboys haven’t played in an NFC championship game since Jan. 14, 1996, which was two months before the Ravens even became the Ravens. And you thought Baltimore’s 10-year conference championship game drought was frustrating.  

11. Perhaps the Bengals winning delays the timeline, but the NFL moving conference championship games to neutral sites sadly feels inevitable after the way the league was hyping ticket sales for the Bills-Chiefs matchup scheduled to be played in Atlanta. Baltimore last hosted an AFC championship game on Jan. 3, 1971. 

12. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah has Ravens roots, so his “throwing a dart” with Florida’s Anthony Richardson going to Baltimore in his first mock draft was interesting. Keeping Jackson on the tag and drafting his replacement despite major positional needs elsewhere would be some way to punt on a season, however.

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