Marquise Brown Emerges As 'Legitimate No. 1 Target'
Don't look now, but the Ravens might have the No. 1 wide receiver fans have been clamoring for. Through two games, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown has certainly looked the part.
Brown has 12 catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns on the season, including six receptions for 113 yards and a 42-yard touchdown catch in the Ravens' 36-35 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday night.
"The Ravens added wide receivers in the draft (27th overall pick Rashod Bateman) and in free agency (Sammy Watkins), but Brown has become a legitimate No. 1 target," ESPN's Jamison Hensley wrote.
"Teams have crowded the middle to take away tight end Mark Andrews as an option, and Lamar Jackson has responded by getting the ball more to the outside and into the arms of Brown. His 182 yards receiving ranks 10th in the NFL — more than DeAndre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs."
Brown's performance Sunday night was even more impressive when considering he didn't expect to play at the beginning of the week. An ankle injury kept him out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday and limited him on Friday. He was listed as questionable heading into the game.
"With his new No. 5 on his jersey, Hollywood has emerged as the Ravens' top receiver this season, leading the team in all major receiving categories despite an injury-plagued start to the year," Heavy.com wrote. "Brown missed several [weeks of] practices throughout training camp and two in the week leading up to the crucial matchup against the Chiefs, but you'd hardly know it watching him during games."
The naysayers might contend that it's just two games, but that would be ignoring how well Brown played down the stretch last season. As Hensley pointed out, Brown has caught eight touchdowns in his past eight games – more than anyone else in the NFL.
Brown has Pro Football Focus' second-highest receiving grade among wide receivers (87.4) and is the Ravens' top-graded player.
"The Ravens have withstood a brutal stretch of injuries to start the season in large part because of Brown," Heavy.com wrote. "If he's able to keep the passing game afloat until the rest of the offense gets healthy, the Ravens' Super Bowl hopes may not be as dashed as previously thought."
Ravens Surge in Power Rankings After Uplifting Win Over Chiefs
Power rankings are often volatile early in the season, and the Ravens shook things up for the second week in a row. After taking a tumble last week, the Ravens rose in the rankings thanks to their statement-making win over the Chiefs.
Baltimore is a consensus top-10 team in the six sets of power rankings we looked at and are in the top five in three.
The Ravens are ranked highest by NFL.com, which moved them up four spots to No. 3, trailing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chiefs, who remained at No. 2 despite the loss.
"Lamar Jackson reminded the football world on Sunday night there's nobody quite like him, and his utter uniqueness is what makes the Ravens capable of beating anyone," NFL.com's Dan Hanzus wrote. "The former MVP willed his short-handed team to a thrilling 36-35 comeback win over the defending conference champion Chiefs, who were shut out 12-0 in the game's final quarter.
"Jackson seemed to do it all, but he did have some help: The defensive hero was rookie first-round pick Odafe Oweh, whose forced fumble and recovery late in the fourth quarter halted a seemingly preordained game-winning drive by Kansas City and set the stage for Baltimore's gutsy fourth-and-1 conversion to seal the game. The Ravens are in business."
The Ravens are wreaking havoc with USA Today's rankings. After the outlet dropped them 10 spots to No. 18 last week, it shot them back up to No. 7.
"QB Lamar Jackson has claimed another of Michael Vick's spots in the record book after hitting triple digits in both passing and rushing yards in a game for the ninth time," USA Today's Nate Davis wrote. "And Jackson edited in style while beating Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City for the first time."
The Ravens moved up five spots to No. 5 in Sports Illustrated's rankings.
"The Ravens have dealt with a staggering number of injuries early, but I trust John Harbaugh's team to overcome whatever obstacles it faces more than I'd trust most squads," Sports Illustrated's Mitch Goldich wrote. "They've played two wild toss-up games, which resulted in a frustrating loss and a signature win. I don't think they'll blitz their way through most of the season like they did in 2019, but after proving they can beat the Chiefs in September, everyone should know they are one of the few AFC teams that could topple them in January."
The Ravens only rose two spots to No. 9 in CBS Sports' rankings.
"That was an impressive victory over the Chiefs, a team that had their number in recent years, CBS Sports' Pete Prisco wrote. "The offense looked great, but the defense needs to be better."
|Source||Ranking||Last Week's Ranking||Comments|
|NFL.com||No. 3||No. 7||“Lamar Jackson reminded the football world on Sunday night there's nobody quite like him, and his utter uniqueness is what makes the Ravens capable of beating anyone. The former MVP willed his short-handed team to a thrilling 36-35 comeback win over the defending conference champion Chiefs, who were shut out 12-0 in the game's final quarter.”|
|Bleacher Report||No. 5||No. 9||“Heading into Sunday night, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson faced a daunting task. If he didn't beat the Kansas City Chiefs for the first time in his career, the Ravens would fall into the dreaded 0-2 hole after a soul-crushing overtime loss the week before in Las Vegas. Fortunately for the Ravens, Jackson is a superstar.”|
|ESPN||No. 9||No. 10||N/A|
|Sports Illustrated||No. 5||No. 10||“The Ravens have dealt with a staggering number of injuries early, but I trust John Harbaugh’s team to overcome whatever obstacles it faces more than I’d trust most squads. … I don’t think they’ll blitz their way through most of the season like they did in 2019, but after proving they can beat the Chiefs in September, everyone should know they are one of the few AFC teams that could topple them in January.”|
|CBS Sports||No. 9||No. 11||“That was an impressive victory over the Chiefs, a team that had their number in recent years. The offense looked great, but the defense needs to be better.”|
|USA Today||No. 7||No. 18||“QB Lamar Jackson has claimed another of Michael Vick's spots in the record book after hitting triple digits in both passing and rushing yards in a game for the ninth time.”|
Chiefs Writer Said Ravens Were No Longer a 'Dangerous Opponent' for K.C.
The pundits were nearly unanimous in picking the Chiefs to beat the Ravens, which was understandable considering the banged-up Ravens were coming off a heartbreaking loss on short rest and playing against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, aka the Ravens' kryptonite.
However, one Chiefs writer took things a step further by declaring the Ravens no longer a legitimate threat to beat Kansas City.
"When it comes to playing against the Chiefs, we need to retire the dated notion that the Ravens are a
'dangerous opponent,'" Arrowhead Addict's Matt Conner wrote. "That's not to say that the Ravens aren't able to put together a winning season. They can and they likely will again this year. They have a quarterback that most teams would be happy to have. They're coached by one of the league's best. They have proven excellent at building a competitive roster year after year after year.
"They are, by all definitions, a successful NFL franchise. But at this point, the Ravens are 'dangerous' only in the way that you might say any team is dangerous if you believe in the 'any given Sunday' philosophy. So why do we refer to them as some sort of juggernaut opponent placed on the Chiefs schedule once again?
"Here's the more accurate story: recent history says the Chiefs have a better chance of wiping the floor with Harbaugh's minions than they do enjoying a competitive game."
Conner went on to say that the Ravens shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence as the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns when it comes to teams who can challenge the two-time defending AFC Champion Chiefs.
"At this point, they deserve the sort of mention we might give the Tennessee Titans or L.A. Chargers or Miami Dolphins," Conner wrote. "They are a good team who could be in the mix, but it's not a franchise anyone should consider 'dangerous' for the Chiefs. That notion is tired."
But not as tired as the notion that Jackson will never beat the Chiefs and Mahomes. After the game, Conner had no choice but to admit his hot take was all wet.
"What we've forgotten, however, is that even for all of their injuries, the Ravens have been and remain one of the league's deepest roster and most well-coached teams," Conner wrote. "They are one of the few model organizations whose consistency allows them to stay competitive in moments just like this. They're also led by the 2019 MVP who is the sort of quarterback who can prove impossible to defend."