What Pundits Are Saying About the Ravens' COVID Situation
We knew the 2020 season was going to present challenges, and the Ravens will face another ahead of Sunday's matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.
"It's difficult to tell exactly how the Ravens will look if and when they take the field Sunday against the Colts," Penn Live's Aaron Kasinitz wrote.
Here's what we know so far: the Ravens have placed cornerback Marlon Humphrey and seven other players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. All seven players are on the defense, including several starters.
"The removal of seven players from practice creates a new hurdle for Baltimore as it moves deeper into a challenging part of the schedule," Kasinitz wrote. "... Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, said Monday on a conference call the league deemed six players as 'high-risk' close contacts with Humphrey. The seventh player came into contact with an infected person outside of the organization."
All seven players have a chance to return in time for Sunday's game.
"They'll need to isolate for five days, meaning they'll miss the week of practice, but they could return to the team by game day if they test negative for the virus and do not exhibit symptoms," Kasinitz added.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported yesterday that the Ravens had no new positive results from COVID tests that were administered on Monday. A couple weeks ago, the Las Vegas Raiders faced a similar issue when tackle Trent Brown tested positive, and four starting linemen were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. They were able to return for the game on Sunday.
"While Humphrey played all 53 defensive snaps Sunday, the NFL's medical experts have said that, through eight weeks, they have found no evidence of on-field transmission," The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer wrote. "The Minnesota Vikings reported no positive tests after they played a Titans team in late September that, within a week, had nine more positive cases among players.
"But because Tennessee players were not tested the day of their game against the Vikings, it's unclear whether they were infectious when they played That's not the case with Humphrey and Dillon. They're believed to be the first players under the league's tightened protocols to play on the day they tested positive."
Pundits reiterated that the rest of the week will be crucial to see if there are any more positive tests.
"The incubation period for COVID-19 can be a handful of days, meaning the Ravens are not in the clear yet — though no new positive tests have happened just yet," NBC Sports' Andrew Gillis wrote. "No players on the Steelers have tested positive for COVID-19 either."
Ravens Among Winners After a Quiet Trade Deadline
Those looking for fireworks before 4 p.m. yesterday were left disappointed after a relatively quiet trade deadline came and went, but that didn't stop pundits from naming the Ravens as one of their trade deadline winners.
"The Ravens were looking for pass rush help in the summer, but the Jacksonville Jaguars opted to send Yannick Ngakoue to Minnesota instead of Baltimore, in exchange for second- and fifth-round picks," The Athletic's Lindsay Jones wrote. "Fast forward to October, and the Vikings, it turns out, were not one pass rusher away from making a playoff run, and the Ravens were still interested. Baltimore gave Minnesota a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick, which is likely less than they would have had to pay for Ngakoue a few months ago. Now they pick up a potentially game-changing pass rusher at about the same time of year as they added cornerback Marcus Peters a season ago."
Fansided's Cody Williams echoed similar praises for the Ravens after acquiring Ngakoue, saying that it may have been the most impactful trade of the deadline period.
"[T]he deal was absolutely pristine on the part of the Ravens," Williams wrote. "Not only was Baltimore able to pull off the deal and get a productive pass rusher for cheaper than what the Vikings paid to trade for Ngakoue from the Jaguars but they addressed a major need. They have been lacking individual edge-rushing presences for a bit now and Ngakoue, especially once he gets integrated, should fix that."
Despite joining the team just last Wednesday, Ngakoue still played 64 percent of the defensive snaps against the Steelers. He could see an even more significant role against the Colts with Judon and Bowser on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
There was speculation among fans and pundits that the Ravens would target a pass catcher or offensive lineman, but no additional moves came out of the Under Armour Performance Center. Only two trades across the NFL were made on Tuesday before the deadline.
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec told Glenn Clark Radio hours before the deadline passed that he didn't expect General Manager Eric DeCosta to make any major moves outside of the Ngakoue trade, and that held true.
"I just don't feel like there's that piece out there that's worth trading a first or second-round pick for," Zrebiec said. "... Given their cap situation and how little they enjoy trading draft picks. … I don't expect anything kind of major that's really going to impact how you feel about this team going forward."
Power Ranking: Ravens Remain a Top*-*Five Team After Loss to Steelers
The Ravens entered Sunday's matchup against the Steelers as a consensus top-five team in the power rankings, and despite a 28-24 loss, it remained the same.
Baltimore ranked in the top five in all six publications we looked at this week.
"In most statistical categories, the Ravens dominated the rival Steelers on Sunday," Bleacher Report wrote. "The Ravens amassed 457 yards of total offense compared to only 221 for Pittsburgh. They piled up a staggering 265 rushing yards against a Steelers defense that entered the week allowing less than 70 yards a game on the ground. They also converted more than half of their third-down attempts.
"With the loss, Baltimore's chances of repeating as AFC North champions and potentially earning a first-round bye in the playoffs took a sizable hit. And with three of the next four games against teams with winning records, the Ravens need to tighten things up quickly to keep their fading hopes in the division alive."
Looking strictly at the final score doesn't tell the story, as this was a game the Ravens could have very well won. They dominated the Steelers statistically and held a 17-7 halftime lead, but four turnovers were the difference.
"The game came down to the final play but hanging over the Ravens is the fact that Jackson's worst performances of the season have come against Baltimore's best opponents," Sports Illustrated's Jenny Vrentas wrote. "Jackson threw two interceptions and also fumbled the ball twice inside Pittsburgh's 10-yard line, but getting their passing game right falls on more than just Jackson."
Yet despite the loss, the Ravens didn't fall more than two spots in any of the rankings. ESPN, NFL.com, Bleacher Report, and Sports Illustrated moved them down just one spot.
The Ravens are still in the driver's seat for a wild-card spot, and the division isn't out of reach. A Thanksgiving matchup in Pittsburgh still looms, and a lot can change in a month.
"The Ravens remain in good position for a playoff return, but the road is far rockier than a year ago," NFL.com's Dan Hanzus wrote.
|Source||Ranking||Last Week's Ranking||Comments|
|ESPN||No. 5||No. 4||“The Ravens lead the NFL in rushing with 178.7 yards per game, and Baltimore is tough to beat when its dominant ground game is clicking. Since John Harbaugh became coach in 2008, Baltimore is 75-19 (.797) when rushing for more than 120 yards in a game.”|
|NFL.com||No. 5||No. 4||“The Humphrey situation warrants team-wide monitoring, for obvious reasons. The Ravens remain in good position for a playoff return, but the road is far rockier than a year ago.”|
|Bleacher Report||No. 5||No. 4||“With the loss, Baltimore's chances of repeating as AFC North champions and potentially earning a first-round bye in the playoffs took a sizable hit. … The Ravens need to tighten things up quickly to keep their fading hopes in the division alive.”|
|USA Today||No. 5||No. 3||N/A|
|Sports Illustrated||No. 5||No. 4||“The game came down to the final play but hanging over the Ravens is the fact that Jackson’s worst performances of the season have come against Baltimore’s best opponents. Jackson threw two interceptions and also fumbled the ball twice inside Pittsburgh’s 10-yard line, but getting their passing game right falls on more than just Jackson.”|
|CBS Sports||No. 5||No. 3||“They have to throw it better in big games than they did against the Steelers. They are two games behind the Steelers now, which isn't good.”|
Is the Argument for a Third Tight End Overblown?
When attempting to pinpoint the Ravens' struggles in the passing game this season, some pundits believe it centers around the absence of a true third tight end.
Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle, and Hayden Hurst played over 41 percent of the offensive snaps in 2019, but after trading Hurst, Baltimore has only had two tight ends accounting for that snap share this season.
The Ravens are currently averaging 179.9 passing yards per game this season, second-fewest in the NFL only ahead of the New York Jets. But is the argument for a third tight end overblown?
While the Ravens utilized three tight ends heavily in Greg Roman's offense last season, they weren't always on the field at the same time. They ran non-goal-line three tight end formations on just six percent of snaps, according to Shaffer.