The fans of Baltimore are not happy with their Ravens. The perennial playoff team has missed the post season for three straight years. John Harbaugh is most definitely on the hot seat this year, at real risk of losing his job. The expectation in Baltimore this year is playoffs or bust.
The most major question for this team is at QB. Joe Flacco is inconsistent and last year lost his team several games while dealing with a back injury. Health is now a major issue for the vet. If he can stay healthy and be a little bit more than a game manager, the Ravens should be fine. That is a major question though, can Flacco stay healthy and still preform like the QB he was three years ago when he was in his prime? If not then I suspect the Ravens will make the switch to Lamar Jackson, the explosive rookie out of Louisville who has been called the next Michael Vick but with a rocket arm. I could see Flacco on the bench in week one if Jackson dominates in the preseason. However if Flacco starts he will be on an extremely short leash.
The Ravens backfield is populated by Alex Collins. Criminally underrated last year Collins was one of my favorite backs to watch, he’s a contact runner that reminds me of Marshawn Lynch in his prime. He put up 979 yards last year and averaged nearly five yards a carry. That’s top tier back play and behind a dominate offensive line that just added depth in the draft the running game could be the key to salvation for the Ravens.
Meanwhile the receiving core is fantastically weird. That is not to say it is bad by any means it just has a lot of different pieces. Michael Crabtree, the clear number one an aging veteran but a player that can still ball. John Brown comes over from Arizona as a quality secondary receiving target who can shine in most any scenario. He won’t be a superstar but he’ll make for a decent target. Meanwhile rookie Hayden Hurst gives the Ravens something they haven’t had since there prime years, a decent receiving tight end. If Hurst can open up the middle of the field, former Saint Willie Snead might be able to have a resurgence on the outside. The receiving core is potentially dangerous, key word potentially, there are a lot of if’s, but I believe they will come through big in the 2018 season.
The Ravens strong suit is defense, they flew under the radar but through the first half of last year I though the Ravens were the best defense in the leauge. Michael Pierce and Carl Davis had huge breakout seasons stopping the run on the defensive line in 2017 and that should carry over to this season. Brandon Williams provided the pass rush and was a top DT in the leauge last year despite missing four games with a foot injury, he should be healthy in 2018. The Ravens linebacking core is still one of the best in the leauge depth wise. Tyus Bowser, C.J. Mosely, Patrick Onwusar, and Terell Suggs are all pro bowl level talents. Suggs even at his age is still a game wrecker and Mosely was one of the best run stuffing linebackers in the leauge last year. Zadarius Smith who had 3.5 half sacks in 14 starts last year is a young talent to watch that could win a starting job. The secondary is solid and with Jimmy Smith hopefully returning to the defense in mid-September they will be able to regain there early 2017 form. Eric Weddle is still a pro bowl level safety, Marlon Humphrey will look to impress again in his second season at corner as he was under the radar great in 2017. The Ravens defense has the potential to be great but another injury in the secondary could put an end to that.
The Ravens are a great roster held back by an aging QB, the AFC equivalent to the Giants if you will. If Flacco preforms well this is a wild card team, if not they miss the playoffs and the Harbaugh era in Baltimore is over.
Record Prediction: 10-6