Led by Most Valuable Player favorite Lamar Jackson, the Ravens routed the Miami Dolphins 56-19 and secured the AFC’s top seed in the NFL playoffs.

With their sixth straight victory Sunday, the Ravens (13-3) clinched a bye in the wild-card round and rendered their regular-season finale next Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers irrelevant to the playoff chase. The Ravens also claimed the AFC North crown for the first time since 2019, when they stormed into the playoffs as the NFL’s top team.

Jackson was named the unanimous MVP that season. On Sunday, he likely wrapped up his second award. Against one of the NFL’s best defenses, Jackson went 18-for-21 for 321 yards and five touchdowns. He finished the game with a perfect passer rating of 158.3, the third of his career.

The Ravens’ offense was overpowering through the air and on the ground. Running backs Gus Edwards and Justice Hill combined for 116 yards and a touchdown; Hill added a 20-yard touchdown catch to open the Ravens’ scoring. Wide receiver Zay Flowers had 3 catches for 106 yards and a 75-yard touchdown, while tight end Isaiah Likely had two touchdown catches, including a one-handed grab on fourth down to give the Ravens a 28-13 lead just before halftime.

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The Ravens kept pouring it on in the second half, helped by an injury-depleted defense that kept Miami’s explosive offense at arm’s length with big plays. Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa went 22-for-38 for 237 yards and two touchdowns, but he threw two picks against a secondary that started the game without cornerback Brandon Stephens (ankle) and safety Kyle Hamilton (knee). Cornerback Marlon Humphrey also left the game in the first quarter with a calf injury.

Maybe the best is yet ahead

Before you gaze in slack-jawed wonderment at just what the Ravens did Sunday, consider whom they did this without. They didn’t have guard Kevin Zeitler, a stalwart throughout the season. Didn’t have a full-strength Zay Flowers at wide receiver, though he still went over 100 receiving yards. Didn’t have cornerback Brandon Stephens or safety Kyle Hamilton. Didn’t have cornerback Marlon Humphrey for long, either, after a first-quarter calf injury.

And, before you look into your crystal ball at what might await whoever comes to M&T Bank Stadium, consider what the Ravens could have in the divisional round, or perhaps later in the playoffs. All those banged-up contributors with a few weeks’ rest. A potentially rejuvenated Ronnie Stanley and Morgan Moses at tackle. Who knows, maybe even tight end Mark Andrews?

The Ravens will enter the playoffs as heavy AFC favorites. Maybe they should be Super Bowl favorites, too.

— Jonas Shaffer, Ravens reporter

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Erasing the doubts

Was it a fluke? Were they lucky? Can the Ravens keep winning through sloppy performances? These were all questions I saw — and I asked — after their other wins. But this is now the third straight win over a very competitive opponent. And it was a pretty big statement about this team’s potential.

Yeah, there were still things to clean up. The Ravens gave up 375 yards. They couldn’t defend the middle of the field well. Ball security was an issue, and the run game was inconsistent. But there’s always going to be something to clean up, and they countered those mistakes with offensive contributions from all over the field, a perfect passer rating from Lamar Jackson and three defensive takeaways. The fact that the Ravens keep overcoming their mistakes, especially when they’re as beat up as they are, should count for something. And, based on the fan reaction from those in the stands and those on X (formerly known as Twitter), it seems that the Ravens Flock finally believes. As fans usher in the new year, it might be time for the doubters to change their ways.

— Giana Han, Ravens reporter

Undisputed top dogs

Give Lamar Jackson the MVP. Give John Harbaugh Coach of the Year. Give the Ravens the All-Pro and Pro Bowl nods. Adjust the damn Super Bowl odds. Baltimore has earned it. In the regular season at least, there are no dragons left to slay. The Ravens are the best team in football.

That doesn’t mean they have nothing left to prove, of course. After playoff disappointments for the last five years, they need to show they can win on the all-or-nothing postseason stage. But the Ravens haven’t just beaten their toughest opponents — they’ve stomped them in a way no other NFL team has managed. Trouncing the Dolphins and claiming the top overall seed is just further evidence of the gap between them and everyone else.

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Kyle Goon, columnist

Ravens have all the momentum

Make that 13 wins (including five straight). Make that eight games scoring 30 or more points. Make that two consecutive Super Bowl hopefuls blown out by the Ravens.

Since their devastating Week 10 loss to the Browns, there has been no letdown for the Ravens. Their best players are playing their best. Their coordinators seem to have every answer. And, with the top seed in hand, Baltimore needs only two playoff wins to reach the Super Bowl. The ghosts of 2019 have haunted the Ravens, but this is their best chance to dispel them once and for all.

Paul Mancano, audience engagement editor

And now we wait

Your Ravens have done pretty much all you could have asked of them. Sure, they probably shouldn’t have lost any of the games they did, but why nitpick? They just ran over the Miami Dolphins less than a week after flattening the San Francisco 49ers. And they did it without a few of their most important players on defense.

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They’ve adapted to whatever problem they’ve faced. And, oh, right, Lamar Jackson followed an offseason of drama with another MVP season. We’ve gushed about his sublime play all season, and I’m still not sure we’ve done it justice. On Sunday he got some much-deserved help with huge catches and tough runs. But he’s the reason any of this works — and his much-discussed contract now seems like a bargain.

We’ll spend the next few weeks thinking about how the Ravens can stay sharp until they play again, a discussion that I generally find sort of boring. But, then again, I watched the Orioles play the Rangers, so. Yeah.

Chris Korman, editor

Jonas Shaffer is a Ravens beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun. Shaffer graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Silver Spring.

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