Most dominant team in the NFL? Ravens make a strong case

BALTIMORE — They don’t have the NFL’s best record and they’re not the AFC’s No. 1 seed, but the Baltimore Ravens can lay claim to one midseason distinction: They’re the league’s most dominant team.

The Ravens’ point differential is plus-115, which is 35 better than any other team. Baltimore has scored three times as many touchdowns (27) as its defense has allowed (nine). The Ravens’ average margin of victory during their current four-game winning streak is 20 points.

“I said this in camp, I think this is the most talented team I’ve been a part of, the team with the most potential since I’ve been here. I still believe that,” said left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who is in his eighth season in Baltimore. “At every position group, we don’t really have any weaknesses.”

The Ravens’ championship mettle will get tested over the next couple of months because they have the NFL’s toughest remaining schedule, according to ESPN Analytics. In its final eight games, Baltimore faces three division leaders (Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins) and just one team with a losing record (Los Angeles Rams).

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was asked if the Ravens have the same culture as the Rams’ Super Bowl-winning team that he played on two years ago.

“One thousand percent,” Beckham said. “Winning a Super Bowl, I know what the atmosphere was like and the energy in the locker room in the day-to-day, and the team and the players, so this is definitely that.

“At the end of the day, that’s the goal. We don’t have to speak about it all the time, but that’s obviously the goal.”

The Ravens have the fourth-best odds to win the Super Bowl by ESPN BET at +900.

Here are three reflections of how dominant the Ravens have been:

Baltimore has led entering the fourth quarter in all nine games. That’s tied for the fifth-longest streak to begin a season in the Super Bowl era (1966), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The only teams to start with longer streaks include a Super Bowl champion (1998 Denver Broncos), a Super Bowl runner-up (1984 Dolphins) and two teams that finished the regular season at 15-1 (1998 Minnesota Vikings and 2011 Green Bay Packers).

“We believe we should be undefeated at this moment,” Stanley said. “We just gotta keep pushing and play to our potential.”

Baltimore’s only losses came against the Indianapolis Colts and Steelers by a total of 10 points.

The Ravens are 3-0 this season against teams that entered that game with a winning record, and Baltimore never trailed in any of those games. The Ravens beat the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks by a combined score of 103-12.

In those three routs, the Ravens have been the more physical team on both sides of the ball, averaging nearly as many rushing yards gained (191) as average total yards allowed (218).

“You don’t get credit for more than one win, no matter what the score is,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Our job is to stack wins, and our attention turns to the next game.”

Baltimore faces two AFC North teams in a span of five days, playing host to the Browns on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, Fox) and the Bengals on Nov. 16.

The Ravens’ DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) is the third best ever tracked through nine games. DVOA helps identify the top teams in the league using advanced analytics.

The only teams with better DVOA than Baltimore are the 2007 New England Patriots, who finished the regular season at 16-0, and the 1991 Washington team, which won the Super Bowl.

“If we’re playing like that, we don’t even need to hit [a] peak or stride, just keep staying locked in how we are and just playing every opponent the same way [with] physicality, being smart,” Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said. “We have guys who are hungry on our team. [We] have young guys, veterans, and guys just want to win.

“Like I said earlier this season, we have something we’re chasing. It takes us playing Ravens football each and every week, and we’ve been trying to do that, and we have been.”

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