Opinion: OK, here’s my stab at some Ravens midseason awards. MVP: C.J. Mosley. (Beats out Jimmy Smith.) Rookie of the Year: Marlon Humphrey. Newcomer of the Year: Alex Collins. (Easy.) Best win: 40-0 over Miami. (Beats out road win in Oakland.) Worst defeat: 27-24 to Chicago. (Double ouch.)
Fact: Only two of the Ravens’ seven remaining 2017 opponents currently have winning records – 6-2 Pittsburgh and 4-3 Green Bay. The other five are a combined 16 games under .500, with 0-8 Cleveland contributing half of that misery.
Opinion: The schedule becomes even softer when you consider Pittsburgh, Detroit and Cincinnati are the only upcoming opponents settled and happy at quarterback. Green Bay, Houston, Cleveland and Indianapolis are all playing backups.
Fact: According to Pro Football Focus, the highest-rated Ravens player at any skill position through nine games is Nick Boyle, who is ranked No. 20 among all tight ends in the league. Jeremy Maclin is the highest-rated Ravens wideout at No. 29, and Alex Collins is the highest-rated running back at No. 31. Joe Flacco is ranked No. 31 among quarterbacks. (Patrick Ricard is the No. 3 fullback, but he has only played 64 offensive snaps.)
Opinion: Any way you slice it, that isn’t a lot of love for the Ravens’ skill-position ensemble.
Fact: In his first five seasons, Flacco had a plus-46 touchdown-to- interception ratio. In his last five seasons, his ratio is plus-17.
Opinion: It’s worth remembering that the Ravens wanted to take their bye in the middle of the season so badly that they turned down the chance to take it the week after they went to London, as many teams do. The Ravens came back from London and lost the next week – in fact, lost three of their next four. But given how banged up they are, the bye couldn’t come at a better time.
Fact: Thirteen months removed from being fired as the Ravens’ offensive coordinator, Marc Trestman is nearing the end of his first season as head coach of the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. They’re only 9-9, but with one more win, they’ll earn a spot in the Grey Cup, Canada’s Super Bowl.
Opinion: If you’re interested in Baltimore pro football history, you should check out “Present at the Creation,” a new book by Upton Bell, the son of Bert Bell, the NFL commissioner from 1946 until his death in 1959. Upton worked and scouted for the Baltimore Colts when Johnny Unitas played, then ran the New England Patriots before getting into radio. According to Peter King of The MMQB, “Present at the Creation is on my nightstand, and should be on yours if you’re a football history buff.”
Fact: Miami linebacker Kiko Alonso wasn’t ejected or suspended, but was fined $9,115 for the hit that gave Flacco a concussion on Oct. 26.
Opinion: I don’t get it. It can be argued that Flacco slid late in his run, giving Alonso the right to hit him. But how is it not a flagrant hit, subject to severe penalty, when a linebacker drives his shoulder and forearm into the head of a quarterback who has given himself up, knocking the quarterback’s helmet off in the process? It’s the definition of unnecessary roughness. The league makes a mockery of its system of penalties and fines, not to mention its concern for player safety, when it renders judgements like this.
Fact: The Ravens defense leads the league in allowing the fewest yards-per-play (4.18) on first down.
Opinion: It isn’t a Ravens-themed topic, but count me among the legions impressed with Tony Romo in his debut season as a broadcaster on CBS. He makes headlines with his ability to predict plays, but what stands out to me is his palpable enthusiasm for football. It makes him fun to listen to, regardless of how the game is going.
Fact: Carl Davis and Willie Henry both have higher Pro Football Focus grades for the season than the player they replaced, Lawrence Guy, now with New England.
Opinion: Davis and Henry are relatively recent draft picks who played little for the Ravens until this season, and they might not have played much this year if Brent Urban had stayed healthy. But Urban’s season-ending injury gave them an opportunity, and Davis and Henry have emerged as viable puzzle pieces.