NFL News & Analysis

5 things we learned from the Baltimore Ravens' Week 16 win over the 49ers

2W99NEW Baltimore Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton (14) celebrates next to cornerback Daryl Worley (41) after intercepting a pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)

• A dominant showing puts the NFL on notice: The Ravens are now the No. 1 team in PFF’s power rankings.

Kyle Hamilton displays his value to the Ravens' defense: The versatile defensive back recorded two interceptions and was all over the field in Week 16.

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The Baltimore Ravens moved to 12-3 with a dominant win over the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football in Week 16.

They are now a win in Week 17 away from wrapping up the AFC's top seed, but a loss to the Miami Dolphins could ignite a Week 18 battle to keep control of the AFC North.

Here are the five things we learned this week.

The Ravens' offense put the 49ers' defense in a bind

The Ravens' offense scored three touchdowns on Monday night, all from inside the 49ers’ 10-yard line. On one of those plays, the 49ers did a great job with their initial coverage but couldn’t survive Lamar Jackson buying time in the pocket before finding Nelson Agholor for the touchdown. The other two were plays that highlighted just how much stress Baltimore's offense puts on opposing defenses.

On their first touchdown of the night, on fourth-and-1 with 9:38 left in the second quarter, the Ravens handed the ball to Gus Edwards to finish the drive. The right side of the line did well to down block, but the focus that Lamar Jackson demanded from opposing defenders was key. The threat of a run by the quarterback forced an extra step from both Nick Bosa and Fred Warner, and that extra step of space was all Edwards needed.

Baltimore's final touchdown of the night saw them sprint out of the huddle and snap the ball almost immediately. The 49ers hadn’t adjusted to the Ravens' look, and the confusion seeped into the play. A fake toss to Edwards moved multiple defenders out of the middle of the field, allowing Jackson to hit a wide-open Zay Flowers for the score. Fewer than five seconds elapsed between when the Ravens got set at the line of scrimmage and when Flowers' feet touched down in the endzone.

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The loss of Keaton Mitchell showed in the running game

The big concern with Keaton Mitchell’s season-ending injury was how the Ravens' offense would continue to manufacture breakaway runs. Although it's been only one game without him in the lineup, that concern isn’t going away after Monday night’s win. Gus Edwards’ longest run of the night was 13 yards, while Justice Hill’s was just six.

Baltimore's lone 15-plus-yard run of the night came on a masterful 30-yard scramble by Lamar Jackson at the end of the first half. As the Ravens look to keep rolling toward a deep playoff run, they might need Jackson to be the spark for the running game.

Kyle Hamilton’s value to the Ravens’ defense was on full display

Ravens second-year safety Kyle Hamilton has seen his stock soar this season, earning plaudits from around the NFL almost every week for his versatility. He has generated 0.48 PFF wins above replacement, making him comfortably PFF’s most valuable safety in the NFL through 16 weeks of the 2023 season.

He lined up predominantly in the slot against the 49ers, allowing just three receptions for 12 yards from six throws into his primary coverage. He also had a pair of interceptions, the first coming when he was lined up as a free safety, proving that he’s not just a box defender, and the other coming on a play where he initially blitzed. It was Hamilton's second interception this year on a play when he was initially a pass rusher.

Ronnie Stanley is still a starting-caliber left tackle

A lot has been made about Ronnie Stanley and his perceived struggles in 2023. Once one of the best pass blockers in the NFL, Stanley hasn’t been able to get back to that form since a devastating injury during the 2020 season. However, he is not suddenly a severe liability.

Among the 40 NFL players to record 300 or more snaps at left tackle this season, Stanley ranks 24th with a 63.9 PFF grade. He ranks 21st with a 72.3 PFF pass-blocking grade and 18th with a 61.9 PFF run-blocking grade. While he is not the same player as before the injury, he is very much still a starting-caliber tackle in the NFL.

The Ravens are now No. 1 in PFF’s Power Rankings

Baltimore's Week 16 win over the 49ers has landed the team at the top of PFF’s power rankings. Per those rankings, they are now the team most likely to win the Super Bowl (28%) and win the AFC (48%). The Ravens play the Miami Dolphins in Week 17, a game with massive playoff implications. A win gives the Ravens the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but a loss means they would need Miami to lose against the Buffalo Bills in Week 18.

What’s not being talked about enough is how important a Baltimore Week 17 win is for the AFC North race, too. Beating the Dolphins would wrap up the conference for the Ravens, but a loss coupled with a Cleveland Browns win over the New York Jets would mean the Ravens head into the final week of the season likely needing a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers to avoid the Browns swooping in and stealing the division.


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