Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews (89) is pushed out of bounds by Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither (59) in the third quarter during a Week 17 NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. The Baltimore Ravens won, 38-3. The Cincinnati Bengals finished with 2020 season 4-11-1.

Baltimore Ravens At Cincinnati Bengals Week 17 Jan 3

Ravens battle upstart Bengals for AFC North supremacy

First place in the AFC North will be on the line when the Baltimore Ravens host the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Those stakes might be hard to believe considering the results of their past three meetings, all Baltimore blowout wins: 38-3, 27-3, 49-13. In fact, the Ravens are 5-0 against Cincinnati since Lamar Jackson became the starting quarterback midway through 2018.

Now, the era of Bengals as divisional doormats may be over with third-year coach Zac Taylor and second-year quarterback Joe Burrow leading a rejuvenated offense.

Cincinnati is 4-2 this season, and Baltimore is 5-1.

“The (Bengals’) whole team is one of the best teams in the National Football League right now,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters. “There’s no question about it — just watch them play. … We’ve got our hands full.”

Burrow went 19-for-29 for 271 passing yards, with three touchdowns and an interception, last week to guide the Bengals past winless Detroit. In doing so, he became the second first- or second-year quarterback ever to throw for multiple touchdowns in each of the first six games of a season, joining Dan Marino.

He’s thrived when teaming up with his former LSU teammate, Ja’Marr Chase. The rookie has 27 receptions for 553 yards (ranked fourth in the NFL), an average of 20.5 yards per catch (third in the league).

What might receive less attention than the Burrow-fueled offense is Cincinnati’s defense. The Bengals ranked 26th in total defense and 22nd in scoring defense last season; through six weeks this year, they’re eighth in the NFL in total defense (331 ypg) and fifth in scoring defense (18.5 ppg).

The Bengals aren’t viewing Sunday as a measuring-stick game, per se.

“This is a team who’s done it consistently for a long time,” Taylor said of Baltimore. “They’ve played at the end of the year when it really matters. And to get to where we want to be, you gotta go on the road and you gotta be able to win games like this.”

The Ravens’ secondary hasn’t been its typical self, allowing 277.3 yards per game, but the defense as a whole has bent without breaking during Baltimore’s current five-game winning streak.

After surviving a 36-35 shootout win over Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City, the Ravens held Detroit to 17 points and Denver to seven.

Last week, they contained Los Angeles Chargers star-in-the-making Justin Herbert in a 34-6 rout. Baltimore held Los Angeles to 26 rushing yards on 12 attempts and limited Herbert to 195 yards on 56.4 percent passing, both season lows for him.

Now, the Ravens are preparing for their first AFC North matchup of the season.

“We have the same mindset,” Jackson said. “Focusing in on each other. Just look at the defense; look at those guys and try to go out there ready.

“We’ve been locked in for the last few weeks, and we’re gonna keep the same focus.”

Several key Ravens sat out practice Wednesday with injuries, including offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva (knee), center Bradley Bozeman (back) and receiver Sammy Watkins (hamstring). Linebacker Patrick Queen (thigh) was a limited participant.

Baltimore also placed All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley on injured reserve Tuesday ahead of season-ending ankle surgery.

For Cincinnati, cornerback Jalen Davis (ankle), center Trey Hopkins (knee) and defensive tackle Josh Tupou (knee) missed Wednesday’s practice.

Five others were limited, including rookie running back Chris Evans (hamstring), who’s coming off his first career touchdown in the Lions’ victory.

–Field Level Media

Nov 15, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Nick Boyle (86) is taken off the field after suffering an injury during a play with New England Patriots linebacker Terez Hall (59) (not pictured) in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens TE Nick Boyle returns to practice

Baltimore Ravens tight end Nick Boyle was designated to return to practice, moving him a step closer for his first game action since suffering a major knee injury in November 2020.

The Ravens have 21 days to activate Boyle to the 53-man roster.

Considered one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL, Boyle has not played since he dislocated his knee against New England on Nov. 15, 2020. A procedure to clean up the knee over the summer delayed his return.

Boyle returned to practice in September but the club chose to put him back on short-term injured reserve to give him more time to recover.

Boyle has 120 catches for 1,047 yards in 73 career games (50 starts), all with the Ravens.

Boyle agreed to a two-year contract extension in January that will keep him with the team through the 2023 season. The Ravens selected Boyle in the fifth round of the 2015 draft.

–Field Level Media

Sep 13, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) and offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley (79) against the Las Vegas Raiders during Monday Night Football at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens OT Ronnie Stanley needs season-ending surgery

Baltimore Ravens All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley is set for season-ending ankle surgery for the second consecutive year.

Stanley recovered from ankle surgery in 2020 to start against Las Vegas in Week 1 this season, but he has missed every game since after playing 100 percent of the snaps against the Raiders.

Stanley, 27, was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.

“This is not what I wanted or expected when coming into the season,” Stanley said in a statement. “As a competitor, I have a mindset of sacrificing my body for my brothers and my team to reach our goals. At this point in time, my ankle isn’t where it should be.”

Stanley suffered the ankle injury on Nov. 1, 2020, just days after signing a five-year extension worth $98.75 million, with a $22.5 million signing bonus.

Stanley earned Pro Bowl honors after the 2019 season. He has started all 63 games he has played in for Baltimore since being the No. 6 overall pick in 2016.

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown (5) carries the ball as defensive back Trey Marshall (36) tackles during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens shut down Justin Herbert, zap Chargers 34-6

The Baltimore Ravens played stingy defense in shutting down Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers’ dynamic offense en route to a 34-6 home win on Sunday.

Baltimore moved to 5-1 with the victory, while the Chargers moved to 4-2.

Entering Sunday’s contest, Los Angeles was averaging 28.4 points per game, but the Ravens held Los Angeles to just the six points and 208 total yards.

Herbert struggled to move L.A.’s offense against Baltimore’s suffocating defense, finishing 22 of 39 for 195 passing yards, with a touchdown and an interception. The Ravens held the Chargers to just 26 rushing yards.

Lamar Jackson didn’t fare much better statistically for the Ravens, completing 19 of 27 passes for 167 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. However, unlike the Chargers, Baltimore established the running game, finishing with 187 rushing yards against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL.

The Ravens scored first on a 12-play, 90-yard drive punctuated by a Latavius Murray 14-yard run with 5:17 left in the first quarter, putting Baltimore up 7-0.

After forcing Los Angeles into a three-and-out, Baltimore extended its lead to 14-0 on the ensuing drive, with Le’Veon Bell walking into the end zone untouched for a 2-yard score.

After a failed fourth-down conversion by the Chargers on their own side of the field, Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker made a 52-yard field goal for a 17-0 Ravens lead with just over seven minutes left in the half.

The Chargers were 1-for-4 on fourth-down tries on Sunday.

The Chargers finally got on the scoreboard in the second quarter. After a Kyzir White interception, Herbert found tight end Jared Cook in the back of the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown, cutting Baltimore’s advantage to 17-6.

L.A’s Tristan Vizcaino missed his league-leading fifth extra point this season.

The Ravens got a 9-yard touchdown reception from tight end Mark Andrews, another Tucker field goal — this one from 39 yards — and a Devonta Freeman 9-yard touchdown run to close out the scoring in the second half.

–Field Level Media

Oct 10, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (81) scores a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the second half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers WR Mike Williams active vs. Ravens

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams is active for Sunday’s game against the host Baltimore Ravens.

Williams, 27, declared himself good to go after testing his injured knee during pregame warmups. He sat out all three practices this week due to what coach Brandon Staley labeled as swelling in his knee.

The fifth-year wideout leads the NFL with six touchdown receptions. He also leads the team in receptions yards (471), while his 31 receptions are three shy of the club lead (Keenan Allen).

While Williams is active for Sunday’s game, the Chargers (4-1) ruled linebacker Drue Tranquill, quarterback Easton Stick, safety Nasir Adderley, running back Larry Rountree, offensive lineman Brenden Jaimes, tight end Tre’ McKitty and defensive lineman Forrest Merrill as inactive.

Tackle Ronnie Stanley, wide receiver Sammy Watkins, running back Ty’Son Williams, safety Ar’Darius Washington, linebacker Jaylon Ferguson and defensive tackle Broderick Washington are inactive for the Ravens (4-1).

–Field Level Media

Sep 13, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14) against the Las Vegas Raiders during Monday Night Football at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens WR Sammy Watkins ruled out vs. Chargers

Sammy Watkins’ loss apparently will be Rashod Bateman’s gain.

Watkins is going to miss the Baltimore Ravens’ home game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, opening the door for Bateman to make his NFL debut.

After injuring his hamstring in Monday night’s win over the Indianapolis Colts, Watkins missed practice all week and has been ruled out of Sunday’s contest. He is third on the Ravens in both catches (18) and receiving yards (292).

“He could be back next week. He could be back the week after,” coach John Harbaugh said Friday. “It just depends on how quickly the hamstring heals.”

The timing of Watkins’ injury creates an opportunity for Bateman to potentially see action in his first NFL game.

Harbaugh said he would “probably expect” Bateman, the 27th overall pick in this year’s draft, to play against the Chargers. The University of Minnesota product had offseason groin surgery and has spent the last three weeks working his way into game shape.

“I think we’re going to build him into the plan on a week-to-week basis,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “Rashod’s going to have a long and fruitful career. This is just the first step. We will integrate him into the plan when the time is right.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 11, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs with the ball past Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) chases during the third quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Duel of star QBs highlights high-powered Chargers-Ravens matchup

After five games, the Los Angeles Chargers (4-1) are the unlikely leaders of the AFC West, with the preseason favorites Kansas City Chiefs looking up at the Bolts in the standings at 2-3.

The Chargers will try to keep the team’s mojo going on the road against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. The last time the two teams met was in the wild-card round of the 2018 playoffs, a 23-17 win for Los Angeles at Baltimore, the last time the Chargers have been in the postseason.

L.A’s defense finished with a postseason team-record-tying seven sacks in that win over the Ravens. Sunday will mark the 13th time the two teams have met in the regular season, with the Ravens holding a 7-5 edge in the series.

The Bolts are clicking on all cylinders offensively, riding the rocket arm of second-year pro Justin Herbert. The University of Oregon product posted a career-high 398 passing yards and four touchdowns in an impressive, come-from-behind 47-42 win at SoFi Stadium last week against the visiting Cleveland Browns.

Herbert is fourth in the NFL in passing yards (1,576), tied for third in passing touchdowns (13) and has thrown just three interceptions in five games. Herbert’s top playmaker has been Austin Ekeler, who is No. 6 in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (543) and tops the league with seven touchdowns along with Tennessee’s Derrick Henry.

The Chargers are 3-1 in one-possession games so far this season. They were 5-7 in one-score games a year ago in 2020 and lost 16 games by eight points or fewer in 2019-20, leading to the offseason departure of former head coach Anthony Lynn.

“It shows us that we have belief to win any type of game,” new Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said about his team’s success in close games. “Any type of way teams want to play, we feel like we can play any style.”

Herbert and the rest of L.A.’s potent offense will have its hands full against what is normally one of the top defenses in the NFL in Baltimore.

The Ravens (4-1) are holding opponents to 23.4 points per contest, with wins this season over AFC West opponents Kansas City and Denver.

The only loss this season for Baltimore was a season-opening setback on the road in overtime against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Offensively, do-everything quarterback Lamar Jackson guided Baltimore to a 19-point comeback win over the Indianapolis Colts this past Monday. Jackson finished with a career-high 442 passing yards and four touchdowns, completing 37 of 43 attempts and earning AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his effort.

“It’s always about the next play in front of us,” Ravens defensive lineman Calais Campbell said about his team’s comeback win. “And we believe. When you create that kind of confidence, that kind of belief, it really builds that character you need to have a chance at the end of the year.”

Jackson leads the Ravens in rushing (341 rushing yards and two touchdowns). He has also thrown for 1,519 passing yards and eight touchdown passes.

The former league MVP ranks fifth in the league in passing yards and eighth in rushing.

“We have great defensive line coaches and edge coaches that are definitely going to work on a great game plan to be able to contain him — try to contain him as best we can,” Chargers cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said this week about stopping Jackson. “We had a great rush plan with [Chiefs QB Patrick] Mahomes [previously], and that helped us out. Hopefully, we can draw up another one with Lamar.”

On the injury front, receiver Sammy Watkins did not practice on Wednesday. Watkins left in the first half of Monday’s game due to a thigh injury and did not return. Also not practicing for the Ravens on Wednesday were tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) and linebacker Pernell McPhee (rest).

The Ravens placed guard Ben Cleveland on injured reserve, so he will miss at least three games. Cleveland was carted off the field Monday night with a knee injury.

For the Chargers, linebacker Drue Tranquill (chest) did not practice on Wednesday. Wide receiver Mike Williams (knee) also sat out team workouts.

–Field Level Media

Oct 11, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) passes the ball under pressure from Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) during the first quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens erase 19-point deficit, top Colts in OT

Lamar Jackson tossed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Brown on the first possession of overtime as the Baltimore Ravens recovered from a 19-point, third-quarter deficit to record a 31-25 victory over the visiting Indianapolis Colts on Monday night.

Jackson completed 37 of 43 passes for a career-high 442 yards and tossed four touchdown passes, including the winner to Brown with 5:24 left in the extra session.

Mark Andrews caught 11 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns while Brown had nine receptions for 125 yards and two scores for Baltimore (4-1).

Rodrigo Blankenship was wide left on a 47-yard field-goal attempt as time expired in regulation for Indianapolis (1-4).

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz completed 25 of 35 passes for a career-high 402 yards and two touchdowns.

Jonathan Taylor scored two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) and accounted for 169 yards (career-best 116 receiving, 53 rushing). Michael Pittman Jr. had six receptions for 89 yards and one score for Indianapolis.

The Ravens rushed for 86 yards, ending their NFL-record-tying, 43-game streak of consecutive 100-yard rushing games. The Pittsburgh Steelers (1974-77) also share the mark.

The teams combined for 1,036 yards — 523 for Baltimore and 513 for the Colts.

The Ravens began their climb from a 22-3 hole when Jackson threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Brown with 56 seconds left in the third quarter. Jackson’s two-point conversion run was short.

Blankenship kicked a 43-yard field goal to give the Colts a 25-9 lead with 12 minutes remaining. Jackson subsequently tossed a 5-yard scoring pass to Andrews, and the two also combined for a two-point conversion as the Ravens moved within eight with 9:38 left.

Blankenship’s 37-yard field-goal try was blocked by Calais Campbell with 4:29 left, and the Ravens capitalized. Jackson and Andrews teamed up on a 4-yard touchdown and the ensuing two-point conversion to knot the score at 25 with 39 seconds left.

The Colts led 10-3 at halftime and increased the margin to 13 on Wentz’s 42-yard scoring pass to Pittman just 61 seconds into the third quarter. Blankenship’s extra-point attempt was wide to the left.

Taylor scored on a 4-yard run to make it 22-3 with 3:06 left in the third. A two-point conversion attempt failed.

Earlier, the Colts got on the board just 2:01 into the contest as Taylor caught a pass from Wentz in the left flat and exploded down the field for the career-best, 76-yard score.

After the teams traded field goals — Justin Tucker’s 23-yarder with 1:36 left in the second quarter and Blankenship’s 37-yard field goal as time expired — Indianapolis held a seven-point halftime lead.

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) prior to the game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens heavily-backed as TD favorite against visiting Colts

The Baltimore Ravens are always bullish on running the football. Now a record is on the line when they host the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night.

The Ravens (3-1) are looking to rush for at least 100 yards for the 44th consecutive game. They are tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1974-77), a team that featured future Hall of Famer Franco Harris as the star back.

Baltimore is a 7.0-point favorite at most sportsbooks, with DraftKings reporting 82 percent of the money and 73 percent of the spread-line bets were backing the Ravens mid-day Monday. The spread-line bets were also lopsided toward the Ravens at 65 percent at PointsBet, but 69 percent of the money was placed on the Colts +7.0.

AI-driven predictive sports analytics provider Quarter4 has Baltimore with an 85 percent win probability.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson is the leader of Baltimore’s third-ranked ground game (164.5 yards per game), and it was his 5-yard gain on the final play of last weekend’s 23-7 win over Denver that pushed the team rushing total to 102. It tied the record but drew the ire of Broncos coach Vic Fangio, who sharply criticized the Ravens.

Jackson said he didn’t know there was such a record until a couple days prior to playing the Broncos.

“I’m not looking up the records and saying, ‘Dang, what record should we break this week?’” Jackson told reporters, adding a chuckle. “It just happened to happen. We’ve been working hard. We’re trying to get yards on the field, trying to score touchdowns, and we end up breaking records doing that.”

Jackson made it clear the record will be on his mind against the Colts (1-3).

“It would mean a lot, because we’ve been doing it ever since I’ve been (the starter),” said Jackson, a first-round draft choice in 2018 who made his first career start in Game 1 of the streak.

Jackson has rushed for a team-high 279 yards but veteran defensive end Calais Campbell was more impressed with Jackson’s arm than his legs against Denver.

Jackson passed for 316 yards, just the second time in the regular season and third time overall that he has topped 300.

“It’s important to be able to win multiple ways and [with] whatever is required,” Campbell told reporters. “We know if we have to throw the ball for 300 yards, we can. If teams are going to stack the box and make it hard on us to run, which is good football, we know that Lamar can get the job done.”

Indianapolis picked up its first win of the season by posting a 27-17 road win over the Miami Dolphins last weekend.

Quarterback Carson Wentz had an efficient outing by completing 24 of 32 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns. He also didn’t throw an interception and has been picked off just once this season after tossing a career-worst 15 (tied for most in the NFL) in 12 games for the Philadelphia Eagles last season.

“I’m never trying to force anything,” Wentz said of avoiding miscues. “Trying to make a big play when it’s there. But otherwise, play smart and keep moving the chains.”

Colts coach Frank Reich said that the way Wentz is taking care of the ball will allow the team to seek out big plays later in the season.

“He’s playing the position in a good manner,” Reich said. “Now it’s just a question of continuing to make the plays we know he’s capable of making, plays that are big plays in games.

“Now you gotta pick the pace up on that without giving back too much on the other side. Because it’s always a risk/reward — you take chances making plays and it’s always a chance that you’re putting things at risk.”

The Over/Under was installed at 48 points at PointsBet, where the market had moved to 46.5 by Monday with the Over being backed by 64 percent of the bets and 54 percent of the money. The Over was also being supported by 58 percent of the bets and 56 percent of the money at DraftKings, where the market was at 46.0 points.

Colts defensive ends Kwity Paye (hamstring) and Isaac Rochell (illness) will miss Monday night’s game, as will offensive tackle Braden Smith (foot/thumb). Star linebacker Darius Leonard (ankle) returned to practice Friday and was not listed on the final injury report, same as running back Nyheim Hines (shoulder).

Baltimore offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) will miss his fourth consecutive game, but at least backup Alejandro Villanueva (knee) was upgraded to questionable on Saturday.

Also questionable are safeties Gene Stone (thigh) and DeShon Elliott (quadriceps).

–Field Level Media

Aug 14, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens linebacker Odafe Oweh (99) leaps to sack New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2) during the first half  at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens rookie Odafe Oweh fined for hit on Teddy Bridgewater

Baltimore Ravens rookie defensive end Odafe Oweh was fined $11,457 for his hit last week on Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who left the game with a concussion.

The Ravens (3-1) beat the Broncos (3-1) on Sunday, and Bridgewater was hurt on the Oweh hit on Denver’s final drive of the second quarter.

Oweh wasn’t flagged on the play, and he said he was sorry Bridgewater sustained the concussion.

“There was no ill intent,” Oweh said, via ESPN. “Our mentality is to bring physicality and do everything that we got to do safely, no penalties. I wish Teddy prosperity. I wasn’t trying to do anything dirty.”

Four games into his rookie season, Oweh has two sacks, 10 tackles (three for loss), six QB hits, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Oweh, a product of Penn State, was the No. 31 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Bridgewater is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3).

–Field Level Media