Last Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens did what eight other teams couldn't do this season. They beat the New England Patriots. It wasn't an easy task but they were up for the challenge.
The Ravens sit firmly atop of the AFC North standings after sending a message to the NFL via their prime time win over New England. Head coach John Harbaugh refuses to lose focus of the big picture. Now, it's time to turn the page to next opponent.
"For us, our mindset will be to get ready for the next game, which is Cincinnati, which is a rival game in their stadium," Harbaugh said on Monday, November 4, 2019. "They’re getting all their players back. They’re going to be starting a new quarterback— a young quarterback. They have a great receiving corps, obviously. As we well know, [they have] a great running back. Their defense is always a challenge. [Carlos] Dunlap is going to be back. Believe me, that’s all we’re thinking about right now."
Fortunately, the Ravens are getting a key guy back too. Veteran corner Jimmy Smith returned to the lineup against New England and played well. Smith's return gives the Ravens a formidable group of cornerbacks, which includes Marcus Peters, Brandon Carr and Marlon Humphries.
This group should be able to hold its own against the potent passing attacks that Baltimore will face if they make a playoff run. Defensive coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale used a little creativity to get all four of his top corners on the field at the same time against the Patriots. It's a look they'll likely use again in the future.
Offensively, the Ravens are in a good place with Jackson continuing to exploit defenses with both his passing and running ability. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman's reconstructed scheme gives opposing defenses trouble. It has expanded to include unlikely pass catchers such as tight end Nick Boyle who caught a touchdown pass last week.
With the exception of a muffed punt return by Cyrus Jones, the Ravens strengths were on full display last Sunday night. It was an impressive win but Harbaugh wants to build on it, which starts with beating the winless Cincinnati Bengals.
"You want to make a big win matter? Then, you have to follow it up with a win. If you follow it up with a loss, you've just negated the win. You might as well not have won the game. So, we don't want to throw that away. We also understand that records don't mean one thing. They don't. It's the National Football League. We'll have to play our best, and they're going to be healthy coming off the bye. They're going to have a great game plan, and we're going to have to play our best game of the year. That's what we're going to have to do.”