The Baltimore Ravens have made the playoffs in six of the seven season in which John Harbaugh has been their head coach. With the Ravens defense returning to Top 10 form in 2014, there is no reason to suspect that Baltimore will not return to the postseason in 2014. In fact NFL odds at sportsbooks have listed the Ravens as a respectable 25/1 longshot in predictions to win the Super Bowl, 12/1 to win the AFC Championship and +190 favorites to win the AFC North. By all accounts, Baltimore has a legitimate chance of making a run to the championship that is until you consider what the organization lost in the offseason.
Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak left to become the new head coach in Denver. Nose tackle Haloti Ngata is now in Detroit and wide receivers Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones have new homes. Owen Daniels, one of the league’s up-and-coming tight ends, followed Kubiak to Denver. There is no doubt that the Baltimore Ravens lost some key pieces to their roster. Still, the cupboard is not bare, especially on offense. Quarterback Joe Flacco returns after throwing for 3,986 yards and 27 touchdowns last season. Flacco is strong-armed and smart, traits that have helped him become one of the league’s most unheralded quarterbacks. They also helped him earn a Super Bowl ring and huge contract.
Flacco still has one of the league’s more formidable weapons in 36-year-old wide receiver Steve Smith. Smith, who will be playing in his 15th NFL season, finished last year with 79 receptions for 1,065 yards. The Ravens drafted Breshad Perriman (6-2, 212) out of Central Florida to replace Smith. Perriman is basically a faster version of Smith, reportedly having run the 40-yard dash in under 4.3 seconds. Baltimore also drafted tight end Maxx Williams from Minnesota. Williams is a complete tight end who could wind up contributing greatly since the future of Dennis Pitta (hip injuries) is still in doubt.
The Ravens defense will likely carry them to the playoffs and possibly a 2015 AFC North title. The pair of Elvis Dumervil (17) and Terrell Suggs (12) combined for 29 sacks last season. Linebacker C.J. Mosely is quietly becoming one of the NFL’s best at the position. Baltimore plays in what might again be the toughest division in NFL odds, the AFC North. Three teams – Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh – made the playoffs last season. The Ravens will find out very quickly where they are this season when they open the season with Kubiak and Denver and then take on both the Steelers and the Bengals in the first four weeks of the 2015 season.
Ravens Update (9/11/15): Baltimore are now +2000 favorites in Super Bowl predictions, +900 to win the AFC Conference and +130 to win the AFC North.