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Analyzing the Baltimore Ravens’ Defense: Figures and Expectations

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By: Michael O’Nair

We’re a little more than halfway through the 2023 NFL season now, and the Baltimore Ravens pace their division with a 7-3 record. The Ravens have reached that point with one of the most balanced rosters in the entire league on both sides of the ball.

There really isn’t a single area of the game that you can call a weakness for the Ravens, as they continually churn out excellent play from their offense — both their passing and rushing attacks — defense and special teams.

With excellent performances on all fronts, it feels difficult to single out one area where the Ravens have truly excelled: if forced to choose, though, I’d have to go with their defense, which ranks second in the NFL.

The Ravens are limiting opposing offenses to just 15.7 points per game, a feat that feels impossible in this offense-focused era of football. Here’s a look at what makes the Ravens’ unit tick, and why they’ll be a nightmare for any team to face once the playoffs begin.

Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith

The Ravens defense really turned the corner beginning with last season’s trade deadline, when they acquired All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith from the Chicago Bears for the relatively cheap asking price of a second round pick. Smith joined fellow first-round pick Patrick Queen to create a terrifying duo of inside linebackers capable of both playing the run and stopping the pass. The two standout athletes feed off of one another, supplementing strong play with strong play as they lead the Ravens defense.

Queen and Smith’s versatility comes from the fact that you never know how the Ravens will use them: they could blitz an opposing quarterback, but they could just as easily fake like they’re going to before dropping back into coverage.

You can enhance your sports experience even further by utilizing the BetMGM bonus code, which opens up exciting opportunities to wager on the Ravens and other NFL teams. This dynamic duo is undoubtedly a key factor contributing to the Ravens’ promising fourth-best odds of winning the Super Bowl this year, listed at or around +1000 on various sports betting platforms. As Queen and Smith roam the field, you can expect not only spectacular defensive plays but also an increased sense of anticipation for savvy sports bettors looking to capitalize on the Ravens’ impressive performance. With their knack for creating turnovers and game-changing plays, Queen and Smith make the Ravens an enticing prospect for those who enjoy sports betting action.

Ravens’ Pass Rush

Whether it’s Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs during the Super Bowl championship days or players like Queen and Smith today, Baltimore and a fearsome pass rush seem to go together like bread and butter. This season has been no different, as the Ravens lead the NFL with 39 sacks, an average of nearly four per game. It isn’t particularly close, either, as the Chiefs rank second with just 31.

Baltimore’s pass rush still isn’t at full strength, as players like Tyus Bower have missed significant time due to injuries, but that hasn’t seemed to matter. What’s more is that the Ravens haven’t had to send the house in order to put opposing quarterbacks on the ground: they only blitz roughly one-third of the time. Being able to get after the quarterback with just four pass rushers helps the rest of the defense do their jobs properly. If an opposing quarterback is running for his life most of the time, it’s that much easier for Marlon Humphrey or Marcus Williams to come up and snatch an interception.

Has Baltimore Even Reached Their Ceiling?

The scary thing about this Ravens team is that they may not have even reached their full potential yet. The team has dealt with a bevy of injuries so far this season, whether it’s starting running back JK Dobbins tearing his Achilles tendon in the first game of the year or offensive guard Andrew Vorhees, who looked to be a first round pick in the NFL Draft this April, blowing his knee out during the NFL Combine — a stroke of bad luck that allowed the Ravens to pick him up in the seventh round of the draft.

Baltimore’s defensive unit might’ve suffered even worse than the offense has, as players like safety Ar’Darius Washington, linebackers Malik Hamm and David Ojabo and cornerback Damarion Williams have all missed at least one month on the Injured Reserve list. Each of those four players is likely to return to the active roster during Week 11 of the season, which begins on Thursday when Baltimore takes on the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football, meaning that the Ravens will get much needed additions to help bolster the rest of their roster.

Other key contributors like All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey, Trenton Simpson and Treyvon Mullen have missed time or been banged up with nagging injuries this season, and it’ll be interesting to see if the Ravens find a higher gear down the stretch. They’re one of the few teams in the league who hasn’t yet had their bye week: that’ll take place during Week 13 at the start of December, so if Baltimore can pace themselves and get healthy for the stretch run, their hard-hitting style will make them a nightmare to face as the weather gets colder.

In Summary

As the 2023 NFL season surpasses its midway point, the Baltimore Ravens shine with a 7-3 record, underlining their balanced and impressive roster. Among their strengths, the Ravens’ defense stands out as a force to be reckoned with.

Leading the NFL by holding opponents to just 15.7 points per game, the Ravens’ defense is a rare gem in an era of high-scoring offenses. Key to their success is the dynamic linebacker duo of Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith, capable of both blitzing and pass coverage.

Baltimore’s ferocious pass rush, with a league-leading 39 sacks, continues to dominate even in the absence of some injured players. Their ability to pressure quarterbacks with just four rushers benefits the secondary, leading to more interceptions.

What’s even scarier for their opponents is that the Ravens have dealt with injuries and haven’t reached their full potential. With key players set to return and a late-season bye week to rest and recuperate, the Ravens are poised to be a formidable force down the stretch. Facing this Ravens defense will be a daunting challenge for any team.

The post Analyzing the Baltimore Ravens’ Defense: Figures and Expectations appeared first on Russell Street Report.

Originally posted on Russell Street Report

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