By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots' bye week had its share of good results around the AFC. But the most important development outside of New England was less-than-ideal.
Last week we learned the hard way that the Ravens are, in fact, a very good football team this season. And on Sunday they did what very good football teams do: they embarrass the hell out of the Bengals.
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens pretty much immediately ruined any hope in New England that they would take a trip down to Letdown City. Instead they absolutely trucked right through Cincinnati by a 49-13 final with scoring on both sides of the ball, just like their 37-20 win over the Patriots last Sunday night.
Did the Bengals have anything in them to slow the Ravens down after an impressive win the week before? Nope, they had nothin'. First play from scrimmage, Jackson to Marquise Brown for 49 yards. Four plays later they were in the end zone as Jackson hit tight end Mark Andrews from two yards out.
Baltimore scored touchdowns on five of its first six possessions, the lone exception being a kneeldown at the end of the first half. You know, that's a great way to give yourself a chance to win a football game.
Jackson, in particular, needs to calm down. He rushed seven times for 65 yards and a touchdown - solid RB2 numbers. But he also went an outrageous 15-for-17 passing, for 223 yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers. Thankfully that's a perfect 158.3 passer rating, or else that stat would be useless. He now also leads the league this season in "greatest spin move of all time" candidates.
— Kevin Richardson MMA (@KRichardsonMMA) November 11, 2019
But the Bengals suck Mike! Well then the Ravens did what they were supposed to do. You don't always see talented teams play their best football on a week-to-week basis or consistently beat the teams they should always beat. Case in point, the Saints laying a Humpty Dumpty-sized egg at home against the horrid Falcons.
Most importantly, the Ravens' win has forced the Patriots to get back to their own winning ways after taking their first defeat of 2019. At 7-2 they're now essentially tied with the 8-1 Pats, since they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker if they finish with the same record.
Bill Belichick will need the Pats to be quite a lot more on the mark than they were in Baltimore last week. History suggests that we're about to get the best version of the 2019 Patriots. They'd be getting it in there juuust in time with a Super Bowl LII rematch coming up against the Eagles, who are 5-4 and also coming off a bye with an adorable two-game winning streak.
It remains severely reasonable to believe that the Patriots will still finish the regular season with more wins than the Ravens, thereby wrapping up home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. But that looked like their birthright for several weeks. The past two have changed things. The annoying-as-ever Ravens are breathing down their necks for that top seed and their breath stinks.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].