It doesn’t help the record or the odds that the Ravens are down a few key players due to COVID…
The Ravens have placed running backs Mark Ingram II and J.K. Dobbins, and defensive tackle Brandon Williams on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Earlier in the week, the Ravens closed the Under Armour Performance Center after multiple members of the organization tested positive for COVID-19. Those individuals began to self-quarantine and the Ravens went through the process of contact tracing.
Head Coach John Harbaugh announced later that the facility had been re-opened and the team was in meetings and would conduct a walk through.
The Ravens are one day away from a Thanksgiving night game against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers.
Dobbins leads the Ravens running backs with 380 rushing yards this season. He’s averaged 5.3 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns. Dobbins ran for a season-high 113 yards against Pittsburgh earlier this month and led Baltimore’s running backs with 15 carries for 70 yards Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.
Ingram missed two games because of an ankle injury, but returned to the field for the past two weeks. He had five carries for five yards against the New England Patriots and two rushes for two yards versus the Titans.
Williams suffered an ankle injury early in the game in New England and was sidelined for Sunday’s game. It’s the second time he’s been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list this season. Williams was forced to sit out the Ravens’ Week 6 win in Philadelphia.
So what do we have here on Thursday night?
The Ravens (6-4), who trail the Steelers (10-0) by four games in the AFC North with six to play, would officially be eliminated from the division race if they lose on Thanksgiving night. However, as far as the playoffs are concerned, the Ravens head into the game with the odds of playing in the postseason firmly in their favor despite the fact that they would not make the playoffs if the season ended today.
Because of their favorable schedule after the Pittsburgh game — four of their five remaining games are against teams with losing records — the Ravens still have an 85.5 percent chance of making the playoffs according to ESPN’s Football Power Index, and a 75.1 percent chance according to Football Outsiders.
It’s cliché to refer to a game as “must win,” but that’s how ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon described Thanksgiving’s game in Pittsburgh for the Ravens.
“It’s a total must-win situation. Totally,” Kornheiser said on “Pardon the Interruption.” “Baltimore has to beat Pittsburgh in this. … Baltimore is in trouble. I think they’re at a crossroads for this game.”
Said Wilbon: “I do agree with you in terms of their circumstance, they desperately need this particular game.”
Data aside, Kornheiser and Wilbon believe the Ravens need to beat the Steelers to prove they’re still a top team after losing three of their past four games.
Defeating a team playing as well as the undefeated Steelers on the road is difficult under any circumstances, but the task became even more daunting with yesterday’s news that running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram II and defensive tackle Brandon Williams have been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Kornheiser pointed out that Lamar Jackson is 1-3 against winning teams this season (not counting a season-opening rout of the Cleveland Browns, who are 7-3) and said Jackson needs to be the catalyst for a win in Pittsburgh.
Wilbon said it’s unfair to place too much blame on Jackson for the Ravens’ skid and the offense’s regression.
“Look, as good as Lamar Jackson was and has been, and still is in terms of his talent, he is not the player you want to saddle up like a young John Elway and just try to go through an entire season,” Wilbon said. “They need to now help him, Lamar Jackson. The Baltimore staff, the coaches, I don’t know what they can do with juggling of talent at this point, but he needs some assistance out there.
“So it is a must-win, but you know what, I don’t see them winning. Not with the personnel missing that we’ve just gone over.”