Ravens Jump Up National Power Rankings After Beating Steelers
I'm not sure if the Ravens' big jump up the national power rankings this week says more about the team or how little the pundits know and how easily persuadable they are.
Probably a little of both.
The Ravens were nearing the bottom of some of these power rankings after their four-game losing streak, but their 17.5 average ranking after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers puts Baltimore in the middle of the NFL pack.
Baltimore's average jump up these lists was five spots, with the biggest boost coming from CBS Sports with a 13-spot leap. USA Today vaulted the Ravens up nine spots.
Ironically, the Steelers' average ranking is still two notches higher than the Ravens at 15.2 despite falling to Baltimore Sunday.
Even though Yahoo! Sports gave Baltimore its lowest ranking (No. 21) of any of the outlets below, Frank Schwab deserves some props for not being persuaded by just one game. He was the only expert below that didn't move Baltimore up or down his rankings.
CBS Sports: No. 14 (moved up 13 spots)
"They are back to looking impressive on defense. That's what has them in first place in the division."
ESPN: No. 15 (moved up five spots)
"The Ravens are 4-4 this season, with every game decided by eight or fewer points. The Ravens have been about as even as you can get, with a plus-1 point differential."
Bleacher Report: No. 17 (moved up six spots)
"The Browns are up next on a short week. That means Baltimore can add a little padding in the AFC North race."
Fox Sports: No. 18 (moved up three spots)
"The Ravens finally beat a decent team after four straight losses, practically dominating the inexplicably bad Steelers squad. They lead the AFC North, but that's hardly an accomplishment given every team's struggles. If there's one thing they need to improve upon, it's their non-existent running game."
USA Today: No. 19 (moved up nine spots)
"All it took was Mike Wallace's franchise record 95-yard TD catch, and Baltimore had shed maddening four-game slide for first place in AFC North."
NFL.com: No. 19 (moved up five spots)
"Watching Joe Flacco hop around with that knee brace dangling must've made every fan in Baltimore take a very large gulp. I mean, his knee briefly appeared to resemble Igor's inconsistent hump in "Young Frankenstein." If that reference is too dated for you, think about the head orc's face in "Return of the King." Flacco is fine."
ProFootballTalk.com: No. 20 (moved up four spots)
"Making Mike Wallace Mike Wallace Again."
Yahoo! Sports: No. 21 (no movement)
"Don't get too excited about the Ravens. A 95-yard touchdown accounted for about 35 percent of their total yardage on Sunday. A blocked punt was returned for their only other touchdown. The offense has shown almost no consistency, aside from the great Justin Tucker kicking the ball. I need to see it again before I believe they're much better than the team that lost four in a row."
Ravens Can't Be Cheap With Wallace This Offseason
It's still a long way off before we need to really starting thinking about it, but General Manager Ozzie Newsome is going to have some decisions to make at wide receiver this offseason.
Veteran Steve Smith Sr. is expected to retire, Kamar Aiken is scheduled to become a free agent, and then there's Mike Wallace.
Wallace signed a two-year contract reportedly worth $11.5 million last offseason. Only $3.5 million has counted against the salary cap this year, but that elevates to $8 million next year. To put that number in perspective, it nearly doubles the most expensive wide receiver cap hit this year with Smith reportedly at $4.1 million.
Based on the way Wallace has produced this year, with a team-high 614 receiving yards and four touchdowns, he seems to be earning the increase in pay.
"When Mike Wallace signed his two-year contract, it was mostly viewed as a one-season [deal]," wrote WNST's Luke Jones. "He's caught four of Flacco's six touchdown passes and is on pace for 1,200 yards. The Ravens are cheapskates with their receivers, but shouldn't be here."
SI.com Re-Draft Says Ravens Should've Taken Tunsil Over Stanley
With half the season in the books, Sports Illustrated is taking another stab at the draft based on the performances of the league's top rookies.
Things have gotten off to a rocky start for Ravens No. 6 overall pick Ronnie Stanley in large part because a foot injury held him out of four games and may have contributed to his rough outing against the Steelers last week when he was flagged four times and gave up two sacks, including a sack-strip.
His Sunday performance was ranked as the fourth worst among all NFL players by Pro Football Focus.
Foot injury or not, Sports Illustrated says the Ravens should have taken left tackle Laremy Tunsil, who they passed on and eventually went to the Miami Dolphins at No. 13.
"The draft's biggest what-if: Who would have selected Tunsil if video of the consensus top lineman smoking marijuana through a gas mask bong hadn't hit the internet moments before the draft started?" asked SI.com. "Stanley has endured a frustrating start to his rookie year, missing the past four games with a foot injury, while Tunsil has steadily come into his own at left guard clearing the way for the resurgent Dolphins."
Harbaugh Becomes Winningest Coach In Ravens Franchise History
One major franchise milestone has gone widely unrecognized given the circumstances the Ravens are in with a 4-4 record.
But with the win over the Steelers Sunday, Head Coach John Harbaugh become the winningest coach in Ravens franchise history.
Billick came to Baltimore in 1999 and stayed for nine years. In addition to his 80 wins, Billick recorded five playoffs wins and a Super Bowl victory. Harbaugh is currently serving in his ninth season and has a Super Bowl title of his own.
Their records and accomplishments are very similar, but Harbaugh's 10 playoff wins are twice as many as Billick's.
There have been just three head coaches since the Ravens' 1998 inception. Ted Marchibroda led the team from 1996-1998, notching 16 wins along the way.
Mike Tomlin Would Let Boswell Attempt Rabona Again
It has become a viral sensation and is being dubbed the worst onside kick attempt in the history of the NFL.
But Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin would try it again.
Steelers kicker Chris Boswell attempted a Rabona soccer trick during an onside kick against the Ravens, but he instead hit the ball into the back of his own leg and was subsequently flagged for kicking the ball a second time.
As spectacularly bad as it played out at M&T Bank Stadium, Boswell has shown Tomlin that it could also be a great asset. In fact, Boswell successfully attempted it in college, and it was a thing of beauty.
"We felt comfortable about allowing him to deliver that kick based on what we've seen him do here in practice-like settings," Tomlin said, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. "Would I give him the opportunity again? I would, based on what I've seen in preparation."