Various thoughts on various subjects, all in 50 words or less:
I'm trying to remember exactly when "Baltimore vs. Colts" became just another game around here. But clearly, it's long past time to move on. Asked about the Colts' history in Baltimore and their fateful departure to Indianapolis, Lamar Jackson said this week, "I did hear about it, but not really."
It was impossible not to notice the Ravens' ground game had its best outing of 2020 last week with two running backs, not three, carrying the snap load for the first time. Having a plethora of quality backs is a nice problem, but giving three what they want/need is challenging.
I'm fully expecting Colts quarterback Philip Rivers to go hard at a Ravens secondary down to using practice squad players due to injuries and Marlon Humphrey's COVID-19 diagnosis. The obvious reply is for newcomer Yannick Ngakoue and the rest of the Ravens' pass rush to step up and pressure Rivers.
The decision to bring back Jimmy Smith on a one-year deal is turning out to be one of the Ravens' smartest moves of 2020. Smith has played well in a variety of roles so far, and now he'll step in for Humphrey at his old haunt at cornerback. Very valuable.
It's sobering to compare the Ravens' starting O-line for their playoff game last season to the O-line projected to play Sunday. Of the five from last year, Marshal Yanda and Ronnie Stanley are gone and Patrick Mekari and Orlando Brown Jr. have changed positions. Bradley Bozeman is the lone holdover.
It didn't surprise me that the Ravens were quiet as the trade deadline passed earlier this week. They'd made a major move the week before, acquiring Ngakoue. Unless you're adding a player of that caliber, you might as well just sign a free agent. Options exist. Remember D-lineman Domata Peko?
Amazingly, Hayden Hurst has exactly as many receptions (30) and yards (349) in eight games in Atlanta this season as he did in 16 games here last year. Many predicted that'd be a good spot for him. But the Ravens got J.K. Dobbins in return. I'd make the trade again.
The suggestion (I'm hearing from some) that Lamar Jackson "can't win the big one" omits basic facts. Yes, he's 0-2 in the playoffs and 0-3 against the Chiefs. But does the division-clinching win in 2018 not count? Do last year's dramatic wins over the Patriots, 49ers and Seahawks not count?
Apologies if you find this obvious, but the Ravens weren't blindsided by the news that a player tested positive for COVID-19. Although they hoped it wouldn't happen, they'd been expecting it, especially as the number of cases surged around the country. They've planned for the moment for months.
No doubt, Sunday's game becomes especially important for the Ravens when you consider the Steelers are playing the collapsing Cowboys. A Pittsburgh win and Baltimore loss would drop the Ravens three games back in the AFC North, a tall mountain to climb. Best to avoid.