Eisenberg: Pre-Bye Facts, Opinions And Awards


Opinion: I might consider someone else if he had occasionally missed a kick, but he hasn't, so I have Justin Tucker as the MVP of the Ravens' pre-bye season.

Fact: Tucker is 18-for-18 on field-goal attempts and 11-for-11 on extra points. He kicked a 53-yard game-winner in Jacksonville with 62 seconds to play, and his boots provided the winning margin in the Ravens' other two victories.

Opinion: My runnerup is Eric Weddle, who is the NFL's highest-ranked safety in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus. But Tucker is the MVP pick. If you don't think he's worth every penny of that new contract he signed over the summer, you didn't watch the Seattle and Arizona kickers both botch easy game-winners within minutes of each other last Sunday night.

Fact: If the Cleveland Indians win the World Series, it will mean the "Year of the AFC North" continues, with cities in that division now reigning over the National Hockey League (Pittsburgh Penguins) and National Basketball Association (Cleveland Cavaliers) as well as Major League Baseball.

Opinion: The NFL's championship is the next to be determined after baseball's, and a win could complete a clean sweep for AFC North cities, but the way things are going with the Ravens (3-4), Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) and Cincinnati Bengals (3-4), let's just say the odds aren't great.

Fact: The top three AFC North contenders are a combined 7-10 against teams from outside the division.

Opinion: Going back to the pre-bye awards, Mike Wallace and Zachary Orr also belong in the top five of the MVP race. Orr, who leads the Ravens in tackles in his first year as a starter, is the runaway winner of the Biggest Surprise category. And the team's pre-bye Rookie of the Year? I'm going with Tavon Young.

Fact: The Ravens are one of six AFC teams with a 3-4 record, but they currently rank ahead of all the others in the playoff standings because of various tiebreakers too complicated to list here. Believe it or not, after four straight losses, the Ravens hold the No. 8 seed in the AFC. They're a game-and-a-half out of the No. 6 seed, the second wild-card spot.

Opinion: It wasn't a coincidence that Terrell Suggs missed a game for the first time all season and the Ravens' run defense had its poorest performance of 2016 last Sunday against the New York Jets. Suggs and Timmy Jernigan are the Ravens' top two interior run defenders, according to Pro football Focus.

Fact: Joe Flacco has attempted 32 more passes than any other NFL quarterback in 2016.

Opinion: That statistic belongs in the "incredible but true" category and does a nice job of summing up what's wrong with the Ravens offense through seven games.

Fact: In terms of overall effectiveness, the Ravens offense is ranked No. 24, the defense is No. 7 and the special teams are No. 2, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Opinion: The Ravens went into the 2016 season thinking they needed to identify playmakers on both sides of the ball, and they're still looking on offense, but a handful of their young defensive players are exhibiting a nice playmaking knack. Jernigan, Orr, Young and C.J. Mosley have all had their moments.

Fact: The Ravens have a .700 winning percentage at M&T Bank Stadium since it opened in 1998, but they're 4-7 at home (and 4-8 on the road) since the start of the 2015 season.

Opinion: There's no doubt the Ravens have deflated any expectations for 2016 with their current four-game losing streak. But they do have a chance to hit the reset button with most of their injured players expected back when they resume play on Nov. 6 against the Steelers. It's the first of two home games in a five-day period that will tell a lot about how the story of this season eventually is told.

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