weather icon Clear

Ravens should be Super Bowl favorite after gritty win over 49ers

Updated December 1, 2019 - 5:48 pm

The NFL had its game of the year on Sunday as the red-hot Ravens hosted the one-loss 49ers, and it did not disappoint as Baltimore emerged with a 20-17 victory on the final kick of the game.

It could just be a Super Bowl preview and, if it is, sign us up. But there was a more important message coming out of this game: No team has a better resume down the stretch than the Ravens.

1. Why should the Ravens be the undisputed Super Bowl favorites at this point?

You will be hard-pressed to find a team with a better track record this late in the season. During their eight-game winning streak, the Ravens have beaten both conferences top seeds (San Francisco, New England), four likely division winners (Patriots, 49ers, Seahawks, Texans), and another team that would qualify for the playoffs (Steelers).

Yes, the Ravens lost at the Chiefs (33-28), but that was in Week 3. They’re a different team now.

While the Ravens didn’t earn any style points against the 49ers — Lamar Jackson threw for just 105 yards and didn’t have a completion of more than 20 yards — this was an old-school game in a driving, swirling rain. And it was still a lot of fun.

Love seeing coaches Kyle Shanahan and John Harbaugh combine to go for five fourth-down conversions. Each team made its share of plays. There was tough defense in the trenches and some hard hits. It had the feel of a heavyweight bout. A Super Bowl rematch could be even better.

“Just a great win,”Harbaugh said. “They played a very good game. They had a plan. It was obvious what the plan was, all three phases, and it was a gritty game. It’s a grit win for us.”

2. Why should Ryan Tannehill — of all people — be a long-shot MVP candidate?

The Titans were left for dead at 2-4 following a 16-0 loss to the lowly Broncos. But since the former Dolphins quarterback replaced Marcus Mariot, Tennessee has run into the thick of the AFC playoff picture with five wins in their last six games. Included was a victory over the Chiefs, and two emphatic wins over AFC South foes Jacksonville and Indianapolis (31-17 on Sunday).

Tye Smith’s blocked field goal that led to a 63-yard touchdown return won the game Sunday, and the offense continues to go through running back Derrick Henry (149 yards in 26 carries; the team is 8-0 when he rushes for 100 yards). But the offense is feeding off the reinvigorated Tannehill.

He was 17-for-22 for 182 yards, two touchdowns and 131.2 rating, and that’s exactly what this team needs now and will require with a tough closing schedule (Raiders, Texans twice, Saints).

3. Why will this not be a fun week to be around the Eagles’ facility?

You could maybe understand the Eagles losing at home to the Patriots and then the Seahawks. Those are two good, playoff-bound teams. But the Dolphins? And after watching the Cowboys get humiliated on Thanksgiving by the Bills? Inexcusable.

Philadelphia missed a perfect opportunity to resurrect its season with the first of three games against teams with losing records. But it fell on its collective face when the defense allowed 37 points to Ryan Fitzpatrick after yielding a combined 34 points to Tom Brady and Russell Wilson.

Don’t blame Carson Wentz for this one. With three starters back in the offensive lineup, Wentz had 310 yards and three touchdowns.

4. Why did Sunday’s loss to the Redskins likely seal the fate of Panthers coach Ron Rivera?

Carolina got pushed around at home by the previously 2-8 Redskins. Derrius Guice rushed for a career-best 129 yards and two touchdowns, including a 60-yard run, and Adrian Peterson had 99 yards on 13 carries. Even maligned rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins had an efficient game.

Carolina owner Dave Tepper is known for having one of the sharpest, analytical minds on Wall Street. It’s not really a question of if he fires Rivera after five losses in the last six games (four straight) after a 4-2 start, but when, and who the forward-thinking Teppers is eyeing.

5. Which coaches have cost their team victories with questionable quarterback choices?

The answer: Bengals rookie coach Zac Taylor and Jaguars coach Doug Marrone.

We know Taylor wanted to take a look at rookie Ryan Finley, but the decision to bench Andy Dalton likely cost the Bengals victories against Raiders and Steelers. Dalton finally rescued his team and delivered the first win of the season with 243 passing yards and a stellar touchdown pass between three Jets defenders to Tyler Boyd.

Marrone, likely under the direction of the front office that signed Nick Foles to a four-year, $88-million contract, stuck with his veteran quarterback way too long during this now four-game losing streak.

Foles was benched Sunday after three turnovers and a 41.7 rating in the first half, and Gardner Minshew gave the Jaguars hopes of a comeback with a pair of scoring drives. But it was too little, too late.

Greg A. Bedard covers the NFL for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at gbedard@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GregABedard on Twitter.

Don't miss the latest Raiders news. Like our Vegas Nation page
Raiders Videos
2020 NFL Draft plans announced - Video
NFL and tourism representatives have announced the plan for the 2020 NFL Draft in Las Vegas, an event expected to be one of the biggest events in city history. Las Vegas Review-Journal's Cassie Soto and Mick Akers discuss the details, including staging areas and road closures.
Raiders Serve Lunch at Jack Dailey Elementary - VIDEO
On Tuesday, Raiders fullback Alec Ingold and tight end Darren Waller visited Jack Dailey Elementary to serve lunch and interact with the students (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NFL 2020 Draft Announcement - Video
The city of Las Vegas and the NFL have announced their plans to host the 2020 NFL draft announcement including multiple locations on the strip and a stage at the Bellagio fountains.
Jon Gruden Tours Allegiant Stadium - VIDEO
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden toured the team's new home Allegiant Stadium for the first time.
Dana White fuels rumors of Tom Brady to Las Vegas Raiders - VIDEO
UFC president Dana White believes there is a real possibility he will be watching his good friend Tom Brady taking snaps for the Las Vegas Raiders from White’s suite at Allegiant Stadium next season. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NFL’s Roger Goodell says Las Vegas could be Super Bowl City - Video
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday morning that Las Vegas has everything a city needs to host a Super Bowl, and more.
Allegiant Stadium Set to Open on Time - VIDEO
The Las Vegas Stadium Authority board was informed during their meeting on Thursday that Allegiant Stadium will be completed on time.
Conor McGregor says he'd be honored to be the first to fight at Allegiant Stadium
Raiders PSLs sold out
Raiders personal seat licenses for Allegiant Stadium have sold out. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Josh Jacobs Named PFWA's Offensive Rookie of the Year - VIDEO
On Tuesday, Raiders running back Josh Jacobs was named Offensive Rookie of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant Stadium roof completion date pushed back yet again - Video
Allegiant Stadium's roof, a signature feature of the building, was expected to be installed by fall but is now planned for completion by mid-May. Las Vegas Review-Journal host Cassie Soto discusses the set back with business writer and stadium insider Rick Velotta.
CES 2020: 5G could enhance fan engagement in Allegiant Stadium - Video
The integration of 5G could help enhance fan engagement at Allegiant Stadium, the home of the future Las Vegas Raiders.
Raiders Sign Richie Incognito to Contract Extension, Hope to create Continuity - VIDEO
The Raiders announced that they signed guard Richie Incognito to a contract extension, hoping to create some continuity on a team that had so much turnover this past season.
Raiders excited for the Vegas transition - VIDEO
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said Monday that the team is excited for the move from Oakland to Las Vegas. The team will hold their offseason programs in Oakland and Napa before officially debuting as the Las Vegas Raiders next season.
Raiders foundation set for move to Vegas - VIDEO
While the season may not have gone as the team would have liked, the Raiders understand that they have a solid foundation for their new home. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders roller coaster season ends with a tough loss in Denver - VIDEO
The Raiders lost to the Broncos after a failed 2-pt conversion and finish their up-and-down season 7-9.
Raiders lose final game, end season 7-9
The Raiders lost their final game as the "Oakland Raiders," to the Denver Broncos 16-15. They end their season at seven wins and nine losses.
Raiders thank Oakland for their support as they prepare for Vegas move - VIDEO
The Raiders talk about their impending move to Las Vegas after their 16-15 loss to the Denver Broncos. The team closes the season with a 7-9 record. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders' season ends with loss to Broncos, 16-15 - Video
The Raiders 2019 season has come to a close with a 16-15 loss to the Broncos on Sunday evening, crushing any playoff hopes the Raiders had left.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Post Season Hopes Still Alive - Video
The Vegas Nation crew previews the Raiders matchup against the Denver Broncos and breaks down how the team can still make the playoffs, or at least close out the season with a win and what it means as they prepare to head to Las Vegas 2020. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Darren Waller Wins Craig Long Award - VIDEO
Raiders tight end Darren Waller was named the recipient of the sixth-annual Craig Long Award. The Craig Long Award is presented annually to the Raiders player who best exemplifies professionalism and collaboration with the media.
Jacobs doubtful Sunday, Raiders hold final regular season practice - VIDEO
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden announced that Josh Jacobs would be doubtful for Sunday's game against the Broncos after the team held their final regular season practice in Oakland.
The NFL wants to showcase Raiders Las Vegas debut - VIDEO
The NFL is trying to figure out how to get as many eyes as possible on the grand opening of Allegiant Stadium in the Raiders Las Vegas debut next season.
Jacobs and Mullen among Raiders missing from Thursday's practice - VIDEO
Rookies Josh Jacobs and Trayvon Mullen were two of the six Raiders missing from Thursday's practice. The others were guards Richie Incognito and Gabe Jackson, defensive back Lamarcus Joyner and wide receiver Tyrell Williams .
Josh Jacobs Treated for a Skin Infection - VIDEO
Raiders running back Josh Jacobs underwent surgery for a “superficial skin infection.” Jacobs was among 6 players who missed practice Thursday due to injury.
Former Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch coming out of retirement - VIDEO
Late Monday night it was announced that former Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch is coming out of retirement. Lynch signed with the Seattle Seahawks, the team he won a Super Bowl with.
Weather and Playoffs cant distract Raiders against Broncos - VIDEO
The Raiders can not allow their cold weather woes and potential playoff opportunity to distract them against the Denver Broncos in the final game of the season.
Raiders have to step up once more with a Playoff chance on the line - VIDEO
The Raiders will go into Denver on Sunday looking for the season sweep of the Broncos and to give themselves an opportunity for postseason play but with multiple injuries on the roster the reserves will once again have to step up in their absence.
Raiders find continuing to fight rewarding - VIDEO
The Raiders have fought through adversity all season and they might strike gold for their efforts with a wildcard birth.
Raiders win in Los Angeles revive playoff hopes - VIDEO
With their post season destiny in control of other teams around the league, Sunday's win against the Chargers revived the Raiders playoff hopes going into the last game of the season.
Raiders say they pushed through adversity for W over Chargers - VIDEO
Raiders' Hunter Renfrow, Maxx Crosby and Darren Waller talk about the team fighting back through tough situations and adversity to keep themselves in playoff contention after defeating the Los Angeles Chargers on the road, 24-17. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders keep playoff hopes alive, beat Chargers 24-17 - Video
The Raiders beat the Chargers 24-17 on Sunday afternoon to snap a four-game losing streak and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Vegas Nation: Raiders-Chargers Game Preview Video
The Raiders are the visiting team against the Chargers, but the influx of Raiders fans may give the Silver and Black a home field advantage. Ed Graney and Myles Simmons preview the matchup, discuss how Josh Jacobs and Ritchie Incognito's injuries could affect the team and talk about who wants it more in what could be Philip Rivers' final game in a Chargers uniform. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roger Goodell tours Allegiant Stadium
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell toured $2 billion Allegiant Stadium and called Las Vegas a "Super Bowl city" on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019.