Seeking their third straight victory and leading the AFC North, the Ravens (5-3) will visit the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football.
Here are my thoughts after an eventful week, all in 50 words or less:
The expected return of Tyus Bowser on Monday night should be getting more attention. He led the Ravens in sacks last season (7.0) and was their best linebacker in pass coverage. Baltimore's defense is getting a key piece back in action.
Speaking of linebackers, Roquan Smith was an All-Pro for the Bears but didn't get a new contract. Now he's been traded to a contender and the better he performs, the more his value rises. Talk about incentive. Expect Smith to ball out for Baltimore.
Smith arrives at a good time with the Ravens facing Alvin Kamara. The Saints' star is one of the toughest running backs to tackle and he's a tremendous receiver. Kamara against Smith is strength against strength. It should be fun to watch.
The Ravens will face a stingy defense in New Orleans. The Saints are ranked 10th overall defensively and shut out the Raiders in Week 8. Defensive end Cameron Jordan and linebacker Demario Davis must be blocked for the Ravens to run effectively.
Baltimore may need another strong performance from tight end Isaiah Likely, especially if Mark Andrews (knee/shoulder) doesn't play. Give Baltimore's scouting staff credit. It's early in his career, but Likely looks like a fourth-round steal.
The Saints better not sleep on DeSean Jackson if he plays as expected. He's had some huge games on Monday Night Football. The veteran receiver loves the big stage, and he's eager to show his new Ravens teammates he's still got juice.
Signing Jackson looks more important with Rashod Bateman (Lisfranc foot surgery) done for the season. Bateman doesn't turn 23 years old until later this month, so hopefully that youth helps him return better than ever. Bateman had groin surgery as a rookie, now this. He deserves better luck.
Devin Duvernay has already stepped up big-time this year. Now the Ravens will ask more of other receivers like Demarcus Robinson and James Proche II to become reliable targets for Lamar Jackson. Robinson's performance against the Bucs was a promising start.
Ronnie Stanley has the second-highest pass blocking grade among left tackles since Week 5, according to Pro Football Focus. His All-Pro status speaks for itself, but to see Stanley playing so well, so quickly after months of rehab is impressive.
Another win heading into their bye would be huge for the Ravens. When they were 3-3 and coming off their third heartbreaking loss, the Ravens weren't panicking but they were ticked off. Getting to 6-3 would be another indication that Baltimore is an AFC contender to watch.