Various thoughts on various things, all in 50 words or less:
The Ravens' seven 2021 Pro Bowl selections all deserve a pat on the back, but the heartiest pat goes to tackle Orlando Brown Jr. Making it in any year is an accomplishment but making it in a year when you tackled a challenging midseason position switch is quite a feat.
Interesting that half of the Ravens' six homegrown Pro Bowl selections originally joined the team as undrafted free agents (Justin Tucker, Morgan Cox, Patrick Ricard) and just as many were draft picks (Brown, Marlon Humphrey, Matthew Judon) To be clear, that's one first-round pick and three UDFAs.
Further proof of the importance of UDFAs: all three Ravens who have played center in 2021 got started that way (Matt Skura, Patrick Mekari, Trystan Colon-Castillo) as did the team's leading rusher among running backs since 2018 (Gus Edwards) and linebacker Chris Board, a major contributor recently.
What I like about Judon's second consecutive Pro Bowl selection is how it contradicts the notion that statistics tell you everything. As he noted, he doesn't have as many sacks as a year ago, but he has set hard edges, hit with force, applied pressure and chased the ball relentlessly.
Rightfully, the 9-5 Ravens are solid favorites over the 5-9 New York Giants Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. But both teams have top 10 scoring defenses and both are 5-4 in their last nine games. The Giants have improved during the season under first-year head coach Joe Judge.
If Colt McCoy starts for the Giants (still to be determined), it would mark a rare start for a backup quarterback against the Ravens in 2020. Washington's Dwayne Haskins was still officially starting when the teams met in Week 4. Andy Dalton started for Dallas in Week 13. That's it.
At the risk of jinxing him, rookie punt returner James Proche II was advertised as sure-handed and has delivered as advertised. He has fielded 39 punts (23 returns, 16 fair catches) with nary a bobble, and also ranks sixth in the league in average yards per return. Good stuff there.
His NFL debut consisted of just 11 plays near the end of a blowout win, but rookie quarterback Tyler Huntley exhibited speed and the potential for explosiveness as a runner, and looked comfortable as a passer. My guess is the Ravens will want to continue to oversee his development.
When identifying Ravens who have contributed under the radar in 2020, don't leave out veteran defensive lineman Justin Ellis. He doesn't have gaudy statistics, but his workload increased dramatically due to injuries to the starters at his position, and he was up to the task as a run-plugger.
They still have to get the job done, but if the Ravens win out, they would end the 2020 season with a better road record (6-2) than home record (5-3) – a reason not to fret so much about them spending January on the road if they make the playoffs.