Baltimore Ravens Predictions

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The Baltimore Ravens certainly suffered a Super Bowl hangover last year. After winning the Lombardi Trophy during the 2012-13 season, they only managed to go 8-8 in 2013-14. To their credit, they did have a lot of turnover from that Super Bowl winning team. Guys like Ed Reed and Ray Lewis had departed among many others. For a team that had been to the playoffs for five straight years under John Harbaugh, sitting at home during the postseason should serve as a motivating factor.

The offense was the main culprit for last season’s struggles. After signing a huge deal after winning the Super Bowl, Joe Flacco was not very effective, throwing 19 touchdowns against 22 interceptions. He was responsible for the league’s 29th-ranked unit in total offense (307.4 ypg). The Ravens hired Gary Kubiak as their new offensive coordinator to try and get some resemblance of a running game going after finishing 30th in the league in rushing (83.0 ypg) a year ago. Baltimore managed to score more than 22 points just four times this past season.

Ray Rice had the worst year of his career last season, rushing for just 660 yards and four touchdowns while averaging a woeful 3.1 yards per carry. He will now be suspended for the first two games of the regular season for domestic violence, and maybe now he’ll get his act straight and get back to being one of the best running backs in the league. Bernard Pierce wasn’t any better, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry, but he was bothered by a nagging shoulder injury.

Obviously, running backs go as their offensive lines go, and the Ravens had one of the worst in the league a year ago. The only real move they made this offseason to upgrade it was the signing of Jeremy Zuttah from Tampa Bay. He’ll be the new starting center in place of Gino Gradkowski. Marshall Yanda is one of the better guards in the NFL, and Kelechi Osemele missed the second half of the 2013 season with a back injury, but returns. Baltimore let right tackle Michael Oher walk. Ricky Wagner struggled last year in place of the injured Oher, but he was just a fifth-round rookie so there’s hope he improves. The left tackle position is in good hands with Eugene Monroe.

Flacco wasn’t the same when he lost Anquan Boldin, who proved in San Francisco last year that he still has plenty left in the tank. Torrey Smith is a solid receiver, and he should get some help from former Panther Steve Smith this year. Marlon Brown also figures to be in the mix for the No. 2 wideout spot. Perhaps the greatest assets to Flacco this season will be his tight ends. Dennis Pitta missed the first 12 games last year due to injury, and then had 20 receptions in his final four contests. The Ravens also signed Owen Daniels from Houston, giving them a great 1-2 tandem at the tight end position.

The defense actually played pretty well considering all of the losses last offseason. The Ravens finished 12th in both total defense (335.5 ypg) and scoring defense (22.0 ppg). In fact, the stop unit only surrendered 0.4 points per game more than it did in 2012. General manager Ozzie Newsome once again put his imprint on this side of the ball, finding the right pieces to make sure that the defense remained strong.

Daryl Smith played very well as Lewis’ replacement after coming over from Jacksonville. The Ravens didn’t have much at inside linebacker aside from him, so they used the No. 17 pick of the 2014 draft on Alabama’s C.J. Mosley. He comes with injury concerns, but when healthy, he’ll certainly be an upgrade over Jameel McClain. Baltimore also brought in Elvis Dumervil last year to take the place of the departed Paul Kruger. Dumervil had 9.5 sacks while veteran Terrell Suggs had 10. The latter signed a new five-year, $28.5 million contract this offseason, but he’ll be 32 in October and is mostly getting paid due to past performance.

The only big loss on defense this spring was defensive end Arthur Jones, who is now with the Colts. The hope is that second-round pick Timmy Jernigan can step in right away and fill the void. Jernigan dominated in the national championship game against Auburn, so it was surprising to see him fall all the way to the second round. He’ll start next to Chris Canty and Haloti Ngata, who form a tremendous tandem against the run.

With James Ihedigbo gone to Detroit, the Ravens used their third-round pick on safety Terrence Brooks. He’ll likely step in and start right away. They need 2013 first-round pick Matt Elam to improve at the other safety spot. Hopefully, he follows in the footsteps of 2011 first-round corner Jimmy Smith, who struggled early in his career but was exceptional in 2013. He’ll start opposite Lardarius Webb, who is one of the more underrated corners in the game today. Depth could be an issue after the loss of Corey Graham to the Bills this offseason.

Last Season
AFC North
Record
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Over/Under
T-2nd
8-8
7-8-1
5-3
2-5-1
7-8-1
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
29th
12th
-5
20.0
22.0
2014 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
ILB C.J. Mosley, NT Timmy Jernigan, S Terrence Brooks, TE Crockett Gilmore, DE/DT Brent Urban, RB Lorenzo Taliaferro
Additions
RB Justin Forsett, WR Steve Smith, TE Owen Daniels, C Jeremy Zuttah, S Darian Stewart
Losses
FB Vonta Leach, WR Tandon Smith, TE Ed Dickson, OT Michael Oher, DE/DT Arthur Jones, ILB Jameel McClain, CB Corey Graham, S James Ihedigbo
Schedule
2014 Baltimore Ravens Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
9/7 Bengals
-2.5
0.55
9/11 Steelers
-3
0.59
9/21 @ Browns
PK
0.50
9/28 Panthers
-1
0.51
10/5 @ Colts
+3
0.41
10/12 @ Bucs
+1
0.49
10/19 Falcons
-3
0.59
10/26 @ Bengals
+3
0.41
11/2 @ Steelers
+3
0.41
11/9 Titans
-6
0.71
WK 11 BYE
-
-
11/24 @ Saints
+6
0.29
11/30 Chargers
-3
0.59
12/7 @ Dolphins
PK
0.50
12/14 Jaguars
-10.5
0.86
12/21 @ Texans
+1
0.49
12/28 Browns
-6
0.71
Estimated Wins: 8.61

The Ravens have a good chance to bounce back this year due to having a very manageable schedule. They have the fifth-easiest schedule in the entire league as their upcoming opponents went a combined 117-139 for a .461 winning percentage last year.

Baltimore will be facing both the AFC South and NFC South divisions in 2014, which is part of the reason why the schedule ranks as so easy. It will also square off against the Chargers from the AFC West and the Dolphins from the AFC East, who both finished third in their respective divisions.

The Ravens get three key games against division rivals to open the season with two of them at home. They will certainly need to get off to a fast start if they want to win the division. Their bye doesn’t come until Week 11. They close the season with four straight games against non-playoff teams from last year.

I have gone over the lines for all 16 Ravens games and find that oddsmakers in Las Vegas have pegged them as a favorite eight times, an underdog six times, and a pick ‘em twice. They are expecting a bounce-back season from this team according to these odds.

Odds (Courtesy of Bovada)
Regular Season Win Total
to Win the AFC
to Win Super Bowl 49
8.5
18 to 1
40 to 1
2014 Predictions

I was down on the Ravens last year, but I look for them to come back with a much better effort in 2014. They probably weren’t as good as their 8-8 record would suggest last year even. They were actually outgained by an average of 28.1 yards per game on the season.

Flacco must come back with a stronger performance this year after throwing 22 interceptions last season. The upgrades along the offensive line should help, as should the additions of Smith and Daniels, as well as the healthy return of Pitta. This offense won’t be as atrocious as it was a year ago.

The defense should again finish in the top-half of the league. I like the front seven quite a bit, but the secondary is a concern at the safety position. The Ravens will be asking a lot from rookie Brooks, and they need Elam to improve this year.

I look for the Ravens to finish 9-7, which will be good enough for them to claim a wild-card spot in the AFC. The improvements won’t be enough to push them back into first place in the AFC North, but they will certainly be a formidable road team in the playoffs.

Projections
AFC North Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
2nd
3-3
9-7
Over 8.5
Ravens Resources
More Ravens Predictions

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About the Author: Jack Jones has been one of the top experts on the site while competing against roughly 80 of the best handicappers in the world each year. He has made most of his money on the hardwood. In fact, he has finished in the Top-5 in college basketball each of the last three seasons (#5 2011-12, #5 2012-13, #3 2013-14). He was also the No. 1 NBA handicapper from 2012-13. As of early April, Jack has compiled an 802-631 basketball run that has seen his $1,000 game players profit $124,030. He was the No. 3 College Football handicapper in 2012-13. While he doesn't have any top finishes in the NFL, he has produced steady profits without killing his clients. Jack also was your No. 7 MLB handicapper in 2009 and backed it up with a No. 8 MLB finish in 2010. No matter the sport, the one thing you can count on with Jack Jones is that he won't leave any stone unturned. You'll know why he is on a game with his detailed analysis, and more times than not, you will come out well ahead against your book. Head on over to Jack's premium pick page to see what he has in store for tonight!
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