The Baltimore Ravens find themselves at 2-0, tied with the rival Pittsburgh Steelers and prepping to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. For a team with no expectations coming into the season, the Ravens are turning heads. How is Baltimore winning? It certainly isn’t their offense. The Ravens’ defense has been the deciding factor in these last two games and will continue their dominance for the rest of year. The question is, can this defense light the way to a championship?
Baltimore was dominant in Week 1. This team, on the road, shut out the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens hadn’t won in Cincinnati since 2012 so pulling out the win at all was a shock. This was the first glimpse of what the defense could do. They forced four interceptions on Andy Dalton, tied for his career high and limited his greatest weapon, A.J. Green. The offense helped out by orchestrating long drives with their run game to drain the clock. Tony Jefferson, Terrell Suggs, Michael Pierce, and Za’Darius Smith all had sacks in the game. The entire unit was dominant from start to finish. With so many injuries to the offense, the defense had to step up and they did in a big way.
Week 2 was more of the same. The Cleveland Browns threw four interceptions split between DeShone Kizer and Kevin Hogan. Also, the Ravens forced two fumbles on the Browns in the 24-10 victory. Once again, there were standout performances and elevated play from the entire unit. Rookie Tyus Bowser had a field day, he had two tackles, a sack, and an interception. Suggs also had a tackle and another sack this game. Baltimore had another great game on defense and they deserve all the credit. The offense did the scoring but the defense gave them great field position almost every drive. Their opponents have been limited to ten points over two weeks, earning them the number three ranked team defense according to Pro Football Reference. The Ravens’ defense is star-studded and will quickly become their most valuable asset.
Like everyone else, Baltimore wants to win. If they want a shot at the playoffs and beyond, the Ravens must rely on their defense. Joe Flacco and the offense are not doing poorly, but they aren’t impressive either. While they are scoring consistently, there isn’t a go-to guy you want in crunch time. Jeremy Maclin and Terrance West have been the 1-2 air and ground combo but even their stats aren’t noteworthy. To help with this, the defense must continue to pacify the opposing offense and provide Flacco and company with great field position. It’s not like Baltimore hasn’t relied on their defense before, their two Super Bowl wins are credited to their superior defenses. The defense will help pull out wins against teams that they should have lost to. With enough of those close wins, the Ravens can at least compete for the Wild Card. If they can beat the Steelers in Week 4, the Ravens will have a legitimate shot at the division as well. So yes, Baltimore can rely on their defense to the end, but they must deliver every week.
The year has just begun and the Ravens have found themselves near the front of the pack. If the defense holds up, they can stay there all season and make the playoffs. Contenders in the AFC West and competition in their own division will complicate things but don’t count Baltimore out just yet. They look really good and should force teams to prepare for them weeks in advance. The defense has the potential to be one of best in the league this year, let’s see if that becomes the reality.
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