The Baltimore Ravens have been the model of consistency under head coach John Harbaugh. They have been to the playoffs in six of his seven seasons, and they easily could have won the Super Bowl last year.

After going on the road to beat the Steelers 30-17 in the wild card round, the Ravens suffered a very tough 31-35 loss to the eventual champion Patriots in the divisional round. Wide receiver Steve Smith vowed they’d be back this season with a different outcome this time.

The Ravens went through some drastic changes this offseason. Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak left for Denver, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was traded to Detroit, while receiver Torrey Smith and pass rusher Pernell McPhee departed in free agency.

Baltimore has done very little this offseason outside of the draft. Will standing pat be enough to get it back to the postseason in 2015? Let’s take a look at what’s in store for the Ravens this upcoming season.

Last Season
AFC North
Record
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Over/Under
3rd
10-6
7-8-1
4-4
3-4-1
7-9
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
12th
8th
+2
25.6
18.9
2015 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
Breshad Perriman (WR), Maxx Williams (TE), Carl Davis (DT), Za’Darius Smith (DE), Javorius Allen (RB), Tray Walker (CB), Nick Boyle (TE), Robert Myers (OG), Darren Waller (WR)
Additions
Kendrick Lewis (FS), Matt Schaub (QB), Kyle Arrington (CB)
Losses
Torrey Smith (WR), Haloti Ngata (DT), Owen Daniels (TE), Jacoby Jones (WR), Pernell McPhee (OLB), Darian Stewart (FS), Tyrod Taylor (QB), Gino Gradkowski (C), Bernard Pierce (RB), Antoine Cason (CB), Jerome Miles (S)
2015 Baltimore Ravens Schedule
Week Opponent Spread Win Chance
1 @ Broncos +4 0.34
2 @ Raiders -5 0.68
3 Bengals -3 0.59
4 @ Steelers +2.5 0.45
5 Browns -7 0.75
6 @ 49ers +2 0.47
7 @ Cardinals +2 0.47
8 Chargers -3.5 0.64
9 BYE
10 Jaguars -10.5 0.86
11 Rams -3.5 0.64
12 @ Browns -3 0.59
13 @ Dolphins PK 0.5o
14 Seahawks +1 0.49
15 Chiefs -3.5 0.64
16 Steelers -2 0.53
17 @ Bengals +2 0.47
Estimated Wins: 9.11
Offense

Joe Flacco is coming off the best season of his career statistically. He set career-highs in passing yards (3,986) and touchdowns (27). He did that under Kubiak, who has bolted for Denver to be their head coach. But the new offensive coordinator is Marc Trestman, who was the head coach in Chicago last season. Trestman is known as the “quarterback whisperer”, and he did do some nice things with Jay Cutler in 2013 before a dismal season last year.

General manager Ozzie Newsome used his first two picks of the draft to give Flacco more weapons. He spent his first-round pick on UCF receiver Breshad Perriman, who may have more upside than any other receiver in the draft. He’ll likely start right away opposite Steve Smith now that Torrey Smith is gone. Steve showed he still had plenty left in the tank, catching 79 balls for 1,065 yards and six touchdowns last year. The second pick was used on Minnesota TE Maxx Williams, who somehow managed to slip to the bottom of the second round. He’ll take the place of the departed Owen Daniels.

Justin Forsett is coming off a career year that nobody could have seen coming. He finished with 1,266 rushing yards and eight touchdowns along with 44 catches for 263 yards. He should have even more receptions out of the backfield due to Trestman, who loves having running backs catch the ball out of the backfield. In fact, Matt Forte set an NFL record for receptions (102) by a running back in a single season in Chicago in 2014.

Baltimore has the best offensive line in the NFL. All five starters from last year return. This group is led by Marshal Yanda, who is the best guard in the league. He’ll be joined by center Jeremy Zuttah and guard Kelechi Osemele in the interior once again. Eugene Monroe didn’t have his best season last year, but he was slowed by knee and ankle injuries on the blind side. Ricky Wagner performed great in his first season as Baltimore’s starting right tackle last year, surrendering only two sacks. In fact, Flacco was only sacked 19 times last year.

Defense

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ aggressive 3-4 scheme creates a lot of pressure without blitzing. He doesn’t have to call too many blitzes when he has Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs isolated in one-on-one situations. This duo combined for a whopping 29 sacks last season as the most dominant pass-rushing tandem in the game. These two led a Baltimore defense that ranked 6th in scoring (18.9) and 8th in total defense (336.9) last year.

It seems like every year the Ravens lose key players on defense, only to come back just as strong or even stronger the next year. That’s because Ozzie Newsome is arguably the best general manager in the league. The losses are heavy again this year with both Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee gone. Ngata was traded to Detroit, while McPhee bolted for Chicago shortly after.

The reason they allowed Ngata to leave is because they want to get Timmy Jernigan more playing time. The second-round pick of the 2014 NFL Draft had a strong rookie campaign. He stopped the run well and managed four sacks in limited action. He’ll start alongside Brandon Williams, a nose tackle who stuffs the run with the best of them. Chris Canty was released and re-signed this offseason at a cheaper price after a lackluster 2014 season. Look for third-round rookie Carl Davis to push him for playing time. Some had Davis going in the first round, but he slipped because of attitude problems.

McPhee was one of the best third pass-rushers in the league last year. The options to replace him are Courtney Upshaw and rookie fourth-round pick Za’Darius Smith. One of them needs to emerge to be able to give Suggs and Dumervil a breather every once in a while. The rest of the linebacking corps is solid as well. Starters C.J. Mosley and Daryl Smith are both coming off superb 2014 campaigns. Mosley likely would have won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors last season if not for Aaron Donald’s huge season.

Improving the secondary this offseason was a priority after finishing 23rd in the league against the pass (248.7 yards/game) last year. Once Jimmy Smith went down with a Lisfranc injury, the Ravens really struggled. Smith missed the second half of the year and should return healthy. He’ll once again start across from Lardarius Webb, who had one of his worst seasons last year. Fourth-round rookie Tray Walker and nickel corner Kyle Arrington came over from the Patriots to add depth. The safety positions are in better hands. Will Hill came on strong in the middle of last season. He’ll start next to Kendrick Lewis, who comes over from Houston after his best season there.

Odds (Courtesy of 5Dimes)
Season Win Total
to Make Playoffs
to Win AFC North
to Win the AFC
to Win Super Bowl 50
9
-120
+170
+1000
+2300
Season Predictions

It’s amazing that the Ravens continue to get overlooked every year. They are consistently picked either second or third in the AFC North because of the massive overhauls the roster seems to go through each season. But the fact of the matter is that they’ve been to the playoffs six of the past seven seasons under Harbaugh, which includes a Super Bowl victory and three trips to the AFC Championship Game.

Sure, it is concerning that they lose key players such as NT Ngata, OLB McPHee, WR Smith, as well as offensive coordinator Kubiak, but this team is built to win for years to come. I love the Trestman hire as he’s much better when he can just focus on the offense. This offense won’t miss a beat, and it could be even better with the additions of rookies Perriman and Williams in the first two rounds. It doesn’t hurt that the Ravens have the best offensive line in football, either.

But it’s the defense that is the backbone of this team. The Ravens may have the strongest front seven in the league, and if Jimmy Smith can stay healthy, the secondary is going to be improved. I think Pittsburgh and Baltimore are neck-and-neck in this division. But because Pittsburgh plays both Indianapolis and New England, while Baltimore plays Jacksonville and Miami from those same divisions, I’ll give the edge to the Ravens in the AFC North because of the schedule.

2015 Projections
AFC North Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
1st
4-2
11-5
Over 9
Ravens 10-Year Results
Year W L Playoffs Coach Win Total
2014 10 6 Lost Div Harbaugh 8.5
2013 8 8 Harbaugh 8.5
2012 10 6 Won SB Harbaugh 10
2011 12 4 Lost Conf Harbaugh 10.5
2010 12 4 Lost Div Harbaugh 10
2009 9 7 Lost Div Harbaugh 8.5
2008 11 5 Lost Conf Harbaugh 6
2007 5 11 Billick 9
2006 13 3 Lost Div Billick 8
2005 6 10 Billick 10

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