Virtually from the time he joined the Baltimore Ravens as the 17th player picked in the 2014 NFL Draft, C.J. Mosley has been compared to Ray Lewis.
That’s a lot to live up to. Lewis played 17 seasons at middle linebacker for the Ravens and earned Pro Bowl invitations in 13 of them. In his first year of eligibility, Lewis is a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018, which will be announced in February.
Mosley has made a good start at living up to wholesale jerseys Lewis’ legacy. This week, the Ravens’ current middle linebacker was named to the Pro Bowl for the third time in his four NFL seasons.
In 2017, Mosley ranks sixth in NFL with 120 tackles and third in solo tackles with 85. In addition to this tackle totals, Mosley has a sack, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries, and he’s the only player in the NFL with such a varied line of auxiliary defensive stats in that quantity. Mosley also ranks ninth in NFL with 94 interception-return yards, which include a 63-yard pick six.
While Mosley was talking about the Pro Bowl honor with reporters in the Baltimore locker room on Thursday, it wasn’t Lewis’ name that came up.
“I’m never one to brag about individual goals,” Mosley said. “I know my style of play and all the work I put in in the offseason, the things I do. I won’t say I’m surprised that I got it for the third time. I was kind of upset I didn’t get it my second year. I feel I had a pretty good year that year, too. So I hope I can keep it going so I can be like Jonathan Ogden.”
Ogden played for the Ravens for 12 seasons, and the left offensive tackle made the Pro Bowl in 11 of them. The Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrined Ogden in 2013.
Mosley has been accumulating football honors throughout his life. He was the Class 6A Lineman of the Year at Theodore High School in 2009. Mosley was a consensus All-American in 2012 and a unanimous All-American in 2013 at Alabama. He earned the SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award and the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker in 2013 with the Crimson Tide.
“At the end of the day, you reflect on that a lot more,” Mosley said of how he views his NFL honors. “It’s like now, I reflect on how my career was at Alabama because every time I go back, I get that same feeling, like ‘Man, time goes by so fast.’ When you’re in training camp at Alabama, you don’t think about that. But once you’re out, you kind of look back and realize all the friends you made, the teammates and the brothers that you made back then. So later down the road, it’ll be the same thing when I’m finally done playing in the NFL. But for the most part, I’ve gotten a lot of individual awards, so definitely trying to take that next step and try to get a ring.”
Ogden and Lewis played on Super Bowl-winning teams with Baltimore. They were teammates when the Ravens defeated the New York Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28, 2001, and Lewis earned another ring when Baltimore beat the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, 2013.
With two games left in the regular season, the Ravens aren’t in one of the six AFC playoff positions. But if it beats the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, Baltimore will move up at least to the sixth spot, even if the team currently holding that position, the Buffalo Bills upend the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Both teams would own 9-6 records, but the Ravens would have the advantage based on the third tiebreaker used to separate two teams from different divisions — best winning percentage in common games, with a minimum of four needed.
That rule will come into play when Baltimore plays the Colts, giving it four common opponents with Buffalo. If the Ravens win on Saturday, they’d be 4-0 against the Colts, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders, while the Bills would be 3-1 versust those teams. In regular-season finales on New Year’s Eve, the Ravens play the Bengals and the Bills play the Dolphins.
The Colts and Ravens kick off at 3:30 p.m. CST Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. NFL Network will televise the game.
The game opens an NFL Saturday doubleheader. The Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers will square off at 7:30 CST at Lambeau Field. NBC will televise that game.
While the Ravens and Colts might have to play in a light rain, the temperature will be in the 60s. The temperature for kickoff in Green Bay is forecast at 14 degrees.