Twelve Ravens Thoughts following Week 18 loss at Cincinnati

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With the Ravens suffering their third loss in four games to finish the regular season at 10-7 after a 27-16 defeat in Cincinnati on Sunday, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Despite resting some key players, the Ravens battled and kept the score close enough to force Cincinnati’s starters to go the distance, but I can’t pretend to believe much about Sunday’s game was all that meaningful beyond the injuries. That said, thanks for reading “Twelve Ravens Thoughts” anyway! 

2. How much did these AFC North adversaries really show with the strong likelihood of a wild-card rematch in the back of their minds? Whatever either side views as its “A+” game plan certainly wasn’t going to be burned for Week 18. 

3. After Baltimore trailed by three scores early in the second quarter, I was surprised John Harbaugh didn’t remove key players like Marlon Humphrey, Ronnie Stanley, and Calais Campbell. A notable injury would have changed Monday’s tone substantially, but no harm, no foul.

4. Both teams were quite chippy, which is what you expect to see in an intense rivalry. Given some of the postgame talk from the Cincinnati locker room, it’ll be interesting to see what the first-ever Ravens-Bengals playoff game brings, especially if Lamar Jackson makes his return. 

5. The Ravens held Joe Burrow to a season-low 5.12 yards per pass attempt and his third-lowest completion percentage of the year (59.52%), but the Bengals quarterback missed on several throws he typically makes with ease. Can this defense make it two off-games in a row for him? 

6. You hope Gus Edwards is able to play in the wild-card round after exiting Sunday’s game with a head injury. J.K. Dobbins is the clear No. 1 back and offers the most upside, but the Ravens will need Edwards’ short-yardage ability even more in the postseason. 

7. It was refreshing seeing David Ojabo on the field during Cincinnati’s opening drive and even better watching him register a strip-sack in the third quarter. He played 20 defensive snaps and deserves some run in the playoffs with other Baltimore edge rushers not exactly being on fire of late.  

8. After not playing his best in the Pittsburgh loss, Roquan Smith was all over the field with a game-high 16 tackles. It may not be easy with Jackson’s contract saga and the potential price, but how could you not want to re-sign the Pro Bowl linebacker to lead this defense?

9. Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar combined to make 12 catches for 152 yards on 19 targets. I’m looking forward to seeing what these rookie tight ends can do with another offseason in Owings Mills under their belts. 

10. Wide receivers finished with five catches for 115 yards on 14 targets. The 47-yard catch and run by Sammy Watkins late in the fourth quarter ended in a lost fumble, and no Baltimore wide receiver caught a pass in the first half. Please go get DeAndre Hopkins this offseason. 

11. Say what you want about Harbaugh as an unsettling offseason looms, but it would have been very easy for the Ravens to go through the motions after deactivating several key players Sunday. This team almost always plays hard. That isn’t everything, but it says plenty about the head coach. 

12. Putting the wild-card rematch on Sunday night is the middle ground for Ravens fans who might have complained about a Saturday game not giving Jackson enough time and Bengals fans who would have argued a Monday contest would give him too much. Let’s hope we see him in prime time.

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