Baltimore Ravens: Defense Playing Good or Using Smoke and Mirrors?

By Ross Watson
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Fact of the day alert! The Ravens defense has been on the field for 1,342 plays this season and since the start of 2001 no defense has logged more plays in a season. Pretty remarkable right? Maybe this extended time on the field is part of the reason that statistically the Baltimore Ravens defense has had a mediocre season by their own very own standards.

When you factor in the injuries to Ladarius Webb, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Jameel McClain then winding up 17th overall in total defense at the end of the year doesn’t seem so bad after all, and perhaps gives some insight into how they managed to stop the No.4 and No. 1 rated offenses in the league on the road (in consecutive weeks) once Lewis and Suggs had returned. Before you all blow up on me about the Ravens giving up 35 points against the Denver Broncos, please remember that 14 of those points came via kick returns, not exactly the defense’s problem.

Upon reviewing this information, should the bookies really have four point spread in favor of the San Francisco 49ers when they are only ranked as the 11th best regular season offense, and the Ravens have two whole weeks to prepare a game plan for Colin Kapernick?

I’m thinking the spread is too big but, as with anything, the guys in Vegas have a point spread set for a reason and that reason is the 49ers defense, which was ranked second overall in total defense. Having said this, if you take a look at the 49ers schedule you will see that it’s been fairly soft in terms of top offenses. Even when they have played a top offensive team it’s been their own offense that has helped them win the games.

Against the Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints they gave up an average of 29 points per game. Even though the Ravens haven’t been an “elite” offense, their form in recent weeks suggest that even a well drilled 9ers defense might have a little trouble with how balanced and dynamic the Ravens offense has become.


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