Lamar Jackson looks to be the frontrunner in the MVP race and the Ravens are 13-3 with a week to go in the regular season and have locked up the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Steven Ruiz of The Ringer has glowingly opined about Jackson’s play. Jackson has his highest completion percentage as a professional (67.2%), along with the highest passing yardage (3,678) and yards per passing attempt (8.0) of his career. 

His adjusted passing stats are all above the 100 average and many have been career highs. Yards per attempt index (122, the highest of his career), net yards per attempt index (118), adjusted yards per attempt index (125), completion percentage index (114) and interception percentage index (118) are career-best numbers for Jackson. He’s added a 124 passer rating index and a 121 adjusted net yards per attempt index, which are the second best numbers in his career after his 2019 MVP season.

I think it’s been refreshing and I don’t mean that from the perspective of, of evaluating Lamar, I think it’s been refreshing in that he’s been finally placed in an offense that allows him to show his prowess as a passer in ways that I don’t think the last offense under Greg Roman ever did,” Ruiz said. 

“It’s not like it was never a question of, ‘Could he do it’ because we saw him do it at Louisville under Bobby Petrino and it was a very pro-style offense and passing game. I think it’s cool that the rest of the football-watching world kind of gets to see it now and it’s easier to see now playing in Todd Monken’s offense.”

How else are the Ravens dangerous outside of Jackson?

The Ravens have the third best DVOA of all-time and the first team to put up a DVOA of over 100%, per Aaron Schatz. It’s also been nearly two months that the team has lost a game, last falling to the Browns 33-31 on Nov. 12. 

Baltimore is in the driver’s seat of its own destiny – a destiny that seemed to be shrouded in uncertainty with the loss of key players throughout the season. Running backs J.K. Dobbins and Keaton Mitchell went down with knee injuries, along with star tight end Mark Andrews (ankle). Linebackers David Ojabo and Tyus Bowser have also been out due to knee injuries. 

They’ve also dealt with a banged up offensive line – Ronnie Stanley, Tyler Linderbaum, Kevin Zeitler and Morgan Moses – all starters, have missed time this season. Baltimore’s secondary has navigated through blows with Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Stephens, Marcus Williams and Kyle Hamilton all missing time.

How have the Ravens been able to navigate the litany of injuries on the defensive side of the football? It’s defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald’s scheme according to 105.7 The Fan’s Cordell Woodland. It’s been a group that boasts veteran signings in Kyle Van Noy and Jadeveon Clowney that have 8.0 and 8.5 sacks respectively. Defensive tackle Justin Madubuike has 13.0 sacks on the year. The defensive unit leads the NFL with 57.0 sacks in 2023. 

Baltimore has the highest amount of takeaways in the league at 29. Safety Geno Stone leads the team with seven interceptions, the aforementioned Hamilton has four and Stephens has two. Defensive tackle Michael Pierce has a nose for the football with two fumble recoveries. Teams average 16.44 points per game against Baltimore, have a paltry 17 passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns against the defense – another slew of NFL-leading statistics.

“This is the best defense in football. Mike Macdonald has been outstanding this year,” Woodland said. “I haven’t seen an OC out-scheme or out-coach him this year. They’re fast, physical and flat out dominant. [There are] stars on all three levels and so many versatile players that it allows them to move guys all over the place. This is clearly a championship defense.”

Head coach John Harbaugh has been able to navigate the ship throughout the season and last year. Prior to Jackson’s season-ending knee injury against the Broncos on Dec. 4, 2022, the Ravens had compiled a 7-4 record. 

When the questions about Harbaugh’s decision-making became louder from the fan base, PressBox’s Glenn Clark took a number of calls from fans who wanted the 15-year veteran coach to be fired. It baffled Clark to the point of questioning their and his own sanity. 

I lost my mind like I just lost it,” Clark said. “Like, what, what are we doing? Why are we so detached from reality? And this wasn’t the majority of the opinion of fans, but it was a particularly vocal minority that just always wants to fire coaches. I happen to think John Harbaugh’s a hell of a coach. That’s my opinion. I think he’s a damn good football coach because I don’t judge everything on whether or not I agree with the decisions that he makes.”

Baltimore now has a 13-3 record this season and the Ravens have the second-ranked offense in points scored (473) and fourth in yardage (6,072), along with the aforementioned No. 1 scoring defense (263) and the fourth-ranked defense in yardage allowed (4,834).

Clark believes that the hiring of Macdonald and Monken in subsequent seasons are slam dunks. His thought is that Harbaugh deserves credit in those moves.

“John Harbaugh’s been a damn good football coach and I think [he] deserves more credit this year,” Clark said. “I get it. It’s a narrative award. And so there are better narratives – Cleveland losing their quarterback, the Lions being the Lions and so those guys are much higher on the list for coach of the year. But John Harbaugh deserves more consideration for coach of the year and in particular of late, you know, his two coordinator hires appear to be slam dunk.”

Fan excitement is high in Baltimore.

Matt Trigger typically discusses his love for Baltimore sports on the BWATB podcast. He’s a Mount Saint Joseph High School graduate and has been a Ravens fan since the team’s inception in 1996 and he’s held high expectations for the team throughout the year, even following losses.

“It’s Super Bowl or bust,” Trigger said. “Their window dramatically shifts when a lot of these contracts have to be reworked while finding room to keep guys like Queen, Madubuike, or Stone. The AFC is wide open. KC isn’t their normal dominant offensive team. Buffalo is average. Cincinnati is Burrow-less. Jacksonville and Houston are inconsistent. This is our year to have the AFC Championship game come through The Bank.”

Baltimore will take on the Steelers at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday in the team’s regular season finale.

Kyle Andrews
Kyle Andrews

Kyle J. Andrews is a 2018 University of Baltimore and Mount Saint Joseph High School graduate, along with former sports reporter for the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa., the Baltimore Sun Media Group, 105.7 The Fan, Baltimore Beatdown, and Fox Sports 1340 AM. He has covered the Orioles, Ravens, high school sports in the Baltimore area and Central Pennsylvania, minor league baseball, Penn State and Maryland athletics and more.