Various thoughts on various things, all in 50 words or less:
The Ravens will face a version of themselves, circa 2019, when they play the Browns in Cleveland Monday night. Think about it. The Browns have built a long winning streak after a modest start. Their bruising ground game is carrying them. Not a whole lot has gone wrong. Sound familiar?
A team that needs a game more is likelier to win it – I do believe that – and the Ravens certainly need this one more in the playoff race. But you know the Browns would love to deal the Ravens a setback after taking lumps in the rivalry for so long.
There isn't much doubt about how the game will proceed. The Ravens are back to being ranked No. 1 in the league in rushing – by a good margin – after picking up 294 yards against Dallas. The Browns are No. 2 in rushing. May the best ground attack win.
Naturally, those rankings beg the question of which team stops the run better, and it turns out they're also similar in that regard, at least statistically. The Browns are No. 8 in rushing defense while the Ravens are No. 13. They're just seven yards apart in average per-game yield.
It goes without saying that the Ravens really need defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams to get healthier by Monday night. Both gutted it out in Tuesday night's win but the Cowboys had decent success on the ground and the Browns are running the ball better than Dallas.
The Ravens are right to tell themselves they have to win out and finish 11-5 to make the AFC playoffs. But the other wild card contenders have tougher schedules and play each other in several cases. While not advisable, there's a chance the Ravens could make it at 10-6.
The wise guys in Las Vegas do know a few things, and for what it's worth, they still like the Ravens more than any of the other wild card contenders. According to betonline.ag, the Ravens are the fourth choice to win the AFC, behind only the Chiefs, Steelers and Bills.
The Ravens' declining sack total (six in their past six games) is partly attributable to several of the opposing offenses running up-tempo schemes based on getting rid of the ball quickly on passing plays. Nonetheless, the Ravens clearly need to find a way to start applying more pressure.
You have to love how Jihad Ward argued for more playing time Tuesday night. After missing five straight games, four as a healthy scratch, he had the Ravens' only sack and four of their five quarterback hits. Not sure how you put him back on the shelf after that.
The Ravens seem set to go with Ben Powers at right guard, as he has started the past three games and played virtually every snap. It means one less moving part for an offensive line that has dealt with too many of those in 2020 due to injuries and COVID-19.