You’ve had plenty of time to digest the Ravens’ big Sunday night win over the Patriots. If the teams meet again in the playoffs, who wins the rematch?

Jen Badie, editor: I think a Ravens’ win in a rematch could be a strong possibility. It is of course notoriously difficult to beat a team twice in a season. And you’re talking about Bill Belichick, who is a defensive guru. But New England seemed just as flummoxed by the Ravens’ run offense and Lamar Jackson as the other teams who’ve faced them this season. Also, historically, New England has been taken down in the postseason six times by teams they had lost to during the regular season since Belichick and Tom Brady joined forces in 2000, including by the Ravens in 2012.

C.J. Doon, editor: The Ravens, but by a much tighter margin. It would be fascinating to see how coach Bill Belichick would adjust his defense facing Lamar Jackson for a second time in a few months. The Los Angeles Chargers had no answers for Jackson in their regular-season meeting last year, only to shut him down in the wild-card round so completely that fans were calling for Joe Flacco to come into the game at halftime. But Jackson is a more complete quarterback now, capable of having a perfect passer rating and a 47-yard touchdown run in the same game. There might not be any answers for him anymore.


Daniel Oyefusi, reporter: No team in the NFL is better at making adjustments than the Patriots, and a late January postseason game in Foxborough is daunting for any quarterback, let alone a second-year quarterback. But after seeing the way the Ravens handled New England two weeks ago, I would give the edge to the Ravens, even if they have to go on the road to win again.

Peter Schmuck, columnist: Of course, that depends on who’s healthy and who’s not and who gets to play at home. Based on the respective schedules, the Patriots will get home-field advantage throughout and they’ll have experience against Lamar, which worked for the Chargers last January.

Jonas Shaffer, reporter: Too much can happen between now and then to know who would win in a potential Round 2. Chances are that a rematch would come in Foxborough, and any January game in Massachusetts runs the risk of snowy weather. While the Ravens have made strides in almost every game since Week 5, the Patriots offense should be healthier than it was in Week 9. Remember, New England went into Arrowhead Stadium last year and knocked off another team with a potent attack in last year’s AFC championship.

Childs Walker, reporter: It depends where the game is played. If the Ravens had to travel to Foxborough in late January, they’d again be the underdogs. At home, they would have the advantage. The rare teams that have handled Bill Belichick’s Patriots in the regular season have actually performed well in playoff rematches.

Last week we asked if Lamar Jackson can win MVP. After Sunday’s perfect performance, is it his award to lose?

Badie: Jackson was phenomenal on Sunday but let’s not forget the Ravens were playing a winless Bengals team with the worst rush defense in the NFL. He deserves to be in the conversation; he’s the most exciting player in the league. However, Russell Wilson just led the Seahawks (8-2) to a dramatic overtime win against the previously undefeated 49ers in San Francisco, running for 21 yards to set up the winning field goal. He has thrown for 2,737 yards, 23 touchdowns and has a 68.5% completion rate (not to mention just two interceptions). Right now, it’s Wilson’s to lose.

Doon: Yes. He’s going to set the NFL record for most rushing yards by a quarterback and has had two of the 10 best Total Quarterback Rating (an efficiency stat like yards per play that takes into account expected points added) performances of the past 13 years this season. If the Ravens win the division and claim a top two seed, the award should be his.

Oyefusi: Russell Wilson didn’t have his greatest game on Monday night, but he pulled out an upset victory on the road and his overall numbers are still better than Jackson’s. Both quarterbacks have tough second-half schedules. It’s not Jackson’s to lose, but he’s right behind Wilson.

Schmuck: No, but it is his to win. He’s on a big-time high right now as far as national attention. Hard to imagine him maintaining that level of excitement, but if he keeps grinding out big-stat days, he has a real shot.

Shaffer: After Sunday’s win, it sure seemed like it. And then Russell Wilson made more of his own magic Monday night. If the Seattle Seahawks star continues to will his team to these impressive victories, it’ll be hard to deny a quarterback with such impressive production. He might not have Lamar Jackson’s running totals, but who else has a 23-touchdown, two-interception stat line?

Walker: No. He’s neck and neck with Russell Wilson, with gifted players such as Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson and Christian McCaffrey lurking just behind. There’s a whole lot of football left to be played.

Should John Harbaugh get more consideration for Coach of the Year?

Badie: He should be in the conversation: He’s leading a 7-2 team with an MVP-caliber second-year quarterback and he’s transformed his team from one that was known for years for its defense to one with a seemingly unstoppable offense. He got a lot of grief for some questionable, aggressive decisions in the Chiefs game and the Ravens lost at home to a Browns team that is now 3-6. A lot is going to depend on how far he can get this team into the playoffs.

Doon: Why not? Like MVP, this is a narrative award, and Jackson’s rise is tied to Harbaugh and his belief in the young quarterback. Moments like that sideline interaction caught on camera during Sunday’s game only help reinforce that Harbaugh has constructed a coaching staff and roster that has accentuated Jackson’s singular talents. The 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan, Packers’ Matt LeFleur and Saints’ Sean Payton might finish with better records, but Harbaugh can say he helped turn the No. 32 pick in the draft into an MVP contender.

Oyefusi: I think so. Not only has he oversaw a team that has completely changed its identity, he has managed one that has undergone significant changes in terms of defensive personnel. Another overlooked factor is the youth of this Ravens team, and how Harbaugh has been able to keep them focused with the team’s success this season.

Schmuck: Sure, if he continues to navigate this difficult midseason stretch and earns a playoff bye. He’s done a terrific job, but his greatest achievement with this team was the smooth transition he engineered with Jackson at midseason last year.


Shaffer: If the Ravens keep pace and earn a top-two seed in the AFC, sure. Kyle Shanahan was the front-runner entering Monday night, and the San Francisco 49ers’ turnaround might still be enough, even with their first loss. After that, it becomes a value judgment. Is the Ravens’ ascent more impressive than the Pittsburgh Steelers’ midseason emergence? Or Bill Belichick’s remaking of the New England Patriots’ defense into a potentially historically elite unit? Or Brian Flores getting at least two wins out of these Miami Dolphins?

Walker: Yes. Established coaches are always overlooked in that race, and Harbaugh deserves credit for going all in to build around Jackson’s unique skills. But when you have teams like the 49ers making drastic turnarounds, it’s probably not realistic.

The Ravens look like one of the best teams in the NFL, but no team is perfect. What’s their biggest weakness?

Badie: Injuries. The Ravens lost Jimmy Smith for the first half (not to mention Tony Jefferson and Tavon Young) and the secondary suffered until the Ravens traded for Marcus Peters. Now Michael Pierce is “day-to-day.” While the Ravens run defense has improved some, it’s allowed an average of 112 yards over the last three games, including over 150 to the lowly Bengals. The defensive line needs to be 100 percent with the Texans (No. 4 in rushing) and 49ers (No. 2 in rushing) looming.


Doon: The defensive line. When Matthew Judon, Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce play, the Ravens can adequately stop the run and pressure the quarterback. When any of the three are sidelined — like Williams was in a blowout loss to the Browns or Pierce was for most of Sunday’ win over the Bengals, in which the Ravens allowed the most rushing yards since Week 4 — the cracks start to show.

Oyefusi: The lack of depth on the defensive line. Michael Pierce’s ankle injury showed that if he and/or Brandon Williams isn’t healthy, the run defense plummets, which affects the entire defense. Harbaugh said Pierce is “day-to-day” but the team’s roster moves on Tuesday may have given a little insight into how dire the situation is.

Schmuck: The Ravens don’t appear to have a glaring weakness at the moment, but they could certainly get to the quarterback more. If they could go sack crazy over the next seven weeks, anything is possible with this team.

Shaffer: With Don “Wink” Martindale calling the shots, the Ravens will usually find a way to pressure opposing quarterbacks. But their run defense has been surprisingly weak this season. If Michael Pierce is limited or unavailable over the season’s second half, Brandon Williams’ effectiveness likely suffers with a higher snap count. Even on Sunday, the Ravens expected the Cincinnati Bengals to pound the ball inside, and for a half, they couldn’t really stop them.

Walker: Their pedestrian talent along the defensive front. We saw them scramble to sign two defensive linemen this week after Michael Pierce’s ankle injury left them thin in the interior. And they’ve yet to find a consistently productive edge rusher beyond Matthew Judon.

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