2019 NFL Power Rankings:
No. 7 Baltimore Ravens
Can you believe people doubted Lamar Jackson? Like there was a time when fools questioned if he should switch from the only position he's ever known? One would think a Heisman-winning tenure in which a signal-caller progresses as a passer each year would afford him the respect most quarterbacks with half the resume’ garner. Wrong. Pundits still pursed their lips to disrespect the closest thing we've seen to Michael Vick since Vick himself. When Michael says a guy is way better than him, listen. Despite a ringing endorsement from Vick and The Goat, Tom Brady, 31 teams passed on Jackson before he was taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Now, the guys who went before him are no slouches, but let's be clear. If it wasn't for Jackson's skin being a couple of shades too dark and his diction being a tad bit too "southern," there would've been no debates. He would have gone in the top 10 no question.
Despite the bullshit and meaningless suggestions, the Ravens took a chance on the most explosive asset in the history of college football. Now, the plan was for him to redshirt a year behind Joe Flacco. That was until Flacco went down and Jackson proceeded to rattle off a 6-1 record before leading Baltimore to the playoffs and forcing the team to ship Flacco to Denver for two tube steaks and a pair of briefs.
With Flacco gone, the Ravens spent the offseason revamping their offense. The first call to action was promoting Greg Roman, the genius who turned Colin Kaepernick into an NFC-West winning quarterback. The team then grabbed a premier back with the power and speed to boost the running game in Mark Ingram. Last but not least, the Ravens grabbed a true No. 1 wideout in Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, a human Ferrari who hails from the same Broward County soil that produced Jackson and Kodak Black -- Jackson and Brown instantly bonded over Black's music. With Roman pulling strings and Jackson executing, the Ravens exploded onto the scene in 2019, boasting the league's top offense through three weeks (511.7). The passing attack, which was once viewed as a weakness, has been thriving as Jackson has completed 63 percent of his passes for 863 yards, seven touchdowns, and no interceptions. This is huge, as he's shown a willingness to test defenses on the outside, which has opened up the seam for Mark Andrews -- his favorite target other than Brown. We can talk all day about how Jackson's running ability opens up the pass or how he consistently breaks defenders’ ankles with moves reminiscent of USC’s Reggie Bush, but you get the picture. The Ravens' offense is unstoppable.
With Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle and C.J. Mosley gone, we wondered how Baltimore's defense would survive. So far, so good. Patrick Onwuasor currently leads the team in tackles with 18. The duo of Matthew Judon and Pernell McPhee have combined for 5.0 sacks. And the secondary has been decent despite the absence of No. 1 cornerback Jimmy Smith. I don't put much stock into how a defense fares against Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes and Co. They slaughter everyone, and at least Baltimore held its own during the team's 33-28 loss in Week 3 -- first L of the season. Improvements take time, but this is a playoff team that should redeem itself against Cleveland this week.
Offensive Players to Watch: Lamar Jackson, Marquise Brown, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill
Defensive Players to Watch: Matthew Judon, Tim Williams, Patrick Onwuasor, Anthony Averett.
Fantasy Players to Watch: Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, Mark Andrews, Marquise Brown, Gus Edwards, Ravens D/ST
Verdict: Breh this team is special. If they aren’t in the AFC Championship Game facing either New England or Kansas City, I’ll be shocked. Barring injury, there should be nothing that stops this offense from rolling over everybody in its path. 11-5