Week 2 Power Rankings: Ravens Make Sizable Jump
The Ravens took a pretty good leap up national power rankings this week. Well, except for one.
Bleacher Report's Chris Simms moved Baltimore up just two spots, but that's because he already had the team at a respectable No. 11 position last week. As such, he didn't need to compensate for a poor ranking after a dominant 20-0 performance over the Cincinnati Bengals.
But even with his modest two-spot bump, Simms still leads the pack with the highest Ravens* *ranking at No. 9. Bleacher Report is the only outlet of those listed below that has Baltimore cracking the top 10.
It seems others are coming around, however.
Taking Simms out of the equation, the Ravens' average jump up the rankings was seven spots. The most movement came from Pro Football Focus, which had Baltimore rising up nine. NFL.com's Elliot Harrison gave Baltimore its lowest placement at No. 17.
Bleacher Report: No. 9 (up two spots from last week)
Simms: "I've loved the Ravens all offseason. Loved them. So, what did I do? I went out and picked the Bengals to beat them in Week 1. … Baltimore has had a solid front seven, but now the team has speed on the back end. This is a dangerous combination, as Cincinnati found out. … This offense could prove to be dangerous as well, especially once Flacco gets back into the groove."
USA Today: No. 11 (up seven)
"If Joe Flacco only has to throw 17 times a week, there won't be any need to put this decimated but battle-hardened team on his injured back."
Pro Football Focus: No. 12 (up nine)
ESPN.com: No. 14 (up seven)
"The Ravens rushed for 157 yards and pitched a shutout on defense in Sunday's opener against the Bengals. Possible overreaction: Rushing and defense is the formula the Ravens need to follow, especially if quarterback Joe Flacco isn't healthy enough to post more than 121 yards on 9-of-17 passing."
Yahoo! Sports: No. 16 (up seven spots)
Frank Schwab: "Not to rain on any parades, but Joe Flacco completed nine passes, the Ravens averaged 4.5 yards per play and they lost running back Danny Woodhead to injury. The defense is going to have to carry this team for a while, but at least that unit looked capable of it in Week 1."
CBSSports.com: No. 16 (up eight spots)
Pete Prisco: "That defensive effort against the Bengals was impressive. Can they keep it up? If so, they will be the same Ravens we've come to expect."
NFL.com: No. 17 (up five spots)
Harrison: "Took grief from both sides last week. Ravens fans thought I had their team too low at No. 22. The other 31 fan bases thought there was no reason they should've moved up six spots from the preseason power rankings. Blame Baltimore QB Joe Flacco being out for the month preceding the opener."
Ravens Hope DeShone Kizer Won't Buck Trend of Defenses Feasting on Rookie QBs
Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer will visit Baltimore with the very man that helped develop a young Joe Flacco before he eventually blossomed into a Super Bowl MVP.
Hue Jackson, who was Flacco's quarterbacks coach his first two years in the league (2008-09), is in his second year as the head coach in Cleveland and he will do his best to help his new rookie quarterback buck a nasty trend in Baltimore.
As ESPN points out, five rookie quarterbacks have come to M&T Bank Stadium during Head Coach John Harbaugh's tenure, and all five have returned home with a loss. Brandon Weeden, Cody Kessler, Andy Dalton, Geno Smith and Carson Wentz all suffered the same defeat.
Talk about rude hosts.
Something tells me this year's defense won't be any more welcoming, but if Jackson could help coach Flacco to an 11-5 season his rookie year, maybe he can help Kizer break the streak in Baltimore.
"Here's a young guy that's trying to acquire some of the things that Joe has had happen for him in his career," Jackson said on a conference call Wednesday with Baltimore reporters. "Again, the blueprint for me of bringing Joe along, there's some things in that that I use for DeShone. But as we all know, some players are different. Some guys react to things differently, so I'll use what works for DeShone the best, but obviously, I will take some things that I used with Joe."
One thing's for sure. The Ravens aren't getting cocky over their rookie quarterback record. Several defenders, including veteran Terrell Suggs, showed respect to Kizer when asked about potentially clobbering him at M&T Bank Stadium. Tony Jefferson warned against taking Kizer lightly in the video to the right.
Vegas Makes Ravens Early 7.5-Point Favorites Over Browns
The Ravens get their home opener in Week 2, and Vegas thinks they'll make the hometown fans happy with a victory. Baltimore is the early 7.5-point favorite.
Having won eight of the last nine matchups at M&T Bank Stadium, it makes sense that the Ravens are the favorites, but don't count the Browns out. The feisty AFC North division rival typically keeps things close with the Ravens. Five of the past seven meetings were decided by six points or fewer.
"The Browns unsurprisingly fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers in their season opener, but they covered the 8½-point spread at home with rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer under center in the 21-18 loss," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer.
With many onlookers expecting another dominant performance from Baltimore's defense, things could fall even more heavily in the Ravens' favor if the Browns get as little pressure on Flacco as they did on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger last week.
By the way, if you didn't notice, Flacco was removed from the injury report yesterday. That's a piece of excellent injury news for a team that has been hit hard.
A Note on Taquan Mizzell in Light of Danny Woodhead's InjuryFor those who mourned the release of undrafted rookie running back Taquan Mizzell when the Ravens trimmed the roster to 53, the weeping only got louder Sunday when Danny Woodhead hurt his hamstring, which will sideline him for a minimum of four weeks.
Mizzell is a dual-threat running back in a similar mold to that of Woodhead, and the rookie showed potential in the preseason. He led the team in both rushing (40 carries for 126 yards) and receiving (12 catches for 90 yards and a touchdown).
As you can tell in the video below, I agreed with the decision to part ways with Mizzell on the 53-man cutdown day and risk of seeing if he could return to the practice squad. He never made it there, however, as the Chicago Bears claimed him off waivers to their active roster.
But you never know what could happen in Chicago, where Mizzell was inactive Sunday.
"Mizzell's inactive status confirms that he's fourth in the pecking order at running back, with all of Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen and Benny Cunningham ahead of him on the depth chart," wrote CBSSports.com. "It will probably take an injury for Mizzell to be active at any point this season, and multiple injuries in order for him to log meaningful snaps on offense."
If multiple injuries occur at another position, it'll be hard for the Bears to keep four running backs on their active roster. It's a situation worth watching.
How Brian Cushing's Suspension Affects Baltimore
The NFL announced Wednesday that Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing has been suspended 10 games for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Cushing already served a four-game suspension in 2010 for the same violation.
Guess which team Cushing will face the day of his scheduled return?
Not the Ravens. It's actually the Tennessee Titans.
The 10th and final game of the suspension will force Cushing to miss the Baltimore-Houston Monday night primetime showdown on Nov. 27.