What we’ve learned: Are the Baltimore Ravens the real deal?

The Ravens defeated the Cardinals by a score of 23-17 on Sunday. For bettors, the Cardinals covered and the point total was under the over/under mark.

What did we learn?

Lamar Jackson is still good at football.

After a breakout performance of the ages, Jackson tallied almost 400 yards of total offense, a career-high. Jackson threw for 272 yards (second-most in his career) and two touchdowns. He also added a career-high 120 yards on the ground. Jackson had yet another turnover-free game, and he seems to have alleviated his fumbling problem. Jackson has also set a Ravens record for most consecutive pass attempts without an interception (the last time he threw a regular-season interception was Week 12 of 2018). Jackson was dynamic with his arm and with his leg, picking up critical first downs. On the Ravens’ second drive of the third quarter, Jackson converted three of four third downs, going three-for-three for 27 yards, plus a 19-yard run. Converting those third downs bled an extra eight minutes of time off the clock. In the fourth quarter, Jackson faced a third-and-11 with three minutes to go. He unloaded his best throw of the game, finding Marquise Brown down the sideline for 40 yards and a game-icing first down. It was a majestic arc in the perfect spot for Brown to haul it in.

Kyler Murray does not mess around.

The Ravens have a depleted secondary. However, the secondary is still one of the best in the NFL. Murray threw for 349 yards and a pair of Cardinals receivers took off for over 100 yards. Murray is legit. When the Cardinals ran three and four wide receiver sets, the Ravens were left grasping at air as the Cardinals repeatedly picked up chunks and chunks of yards.

The Ravens own the run game, still.

Through two weeks, the Ravens have the NFL’s best rushing offense and the best rushing defense. Granted, the Ravens have only faced 23 runs in two weeks, but theey are allowing under two yards per carry. Sustainable? Probably not. Ridiculous? Yes.

Mark Andrews is a top-five tight end in the NFL.

Jackson was excellent on third down. Whom was he targeting? He was often targeting Andrews, who showed a knack for finding soft spots in zone coverage and just flat out getting open when he had to. In two weeks, Andrews has 16 catches on 17 targets for 220 yards and a pair of touchdowns. While he is unlikely to keep this average up, Andrews is well on his way to a 100-catch, 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown season. If the Ravens continue to lean on the pass more than they did in 2019, Andrews might have the best statistics of any tight end in the NFL. Andrews is legit.

The Ravens need secondary help against the Chiefs.

Patrick Mahomes was absurd in 2018. The Ravens are already down two of their top four cornerbacks with Tavon Young out for the year and Jimmy Smith out for the time being. Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr are really good corners, but they would need a miracle to contain the likes of Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, and the rest of Kansas City’s weapons. While the Ravens have a strong pair of safeties in Earl Thomas and Tony Jefferson, the Chiefs should be able to stretch the secondary thin with the pass. If the Ravens commit to too many defensive backs onto the field, the Chiefs could take advantage and pound the ball with Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy. For the Ravens, the best defense might be an effective offense. If Jackson, Andrews, Mark Ingram and others can control the clock on offense, the Chiefs might not have the opportunities to dismantle the Ravens’ defense. The Chiefs have allowed 750 yards to the Jaguars and Raiders, so the door is ajar for the Ravens to control the ball against a defense that allows six yards per carry.

Our official Ravens-Chiefs preview will come out later on, but the Ravens could shock the world and win in Arrowhead.

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