2013 Record: 8-8
Joe Flacco finally silenced his critics. We think. Flacco didn’t have a particularly excellent season, but he was still great and, most importantly, didn’t turn the ball over. In the playoffs he was clutch as ever, as he has been for pretty much his entire career. Ray Rice, still just 26, rushed for his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season and also threw in 61 receptions. Rice can do it all from rushing to screen passes to blocking. Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith were the targets of choice for Flacco. The two combined for more than 1,700 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Dennis Pitta has made fans completely forget about Todd Heap with 61 receptions for 669 yards. Pitta is one of the more underrated tight ends in the league. Boldin is now a 49er, so Jacoby Jones steps up. The Baltimore offense isn’t the most explosive, but it has all the pieces to be, and they make plays when they need to. Perhaps most importantly, the entire team buys into Flacco.
If defense wins championships, the Ravens would seem to be a Super Bowl favorite every year. But when you actually look at the numbers, the defense was mediocre last year. They were 17th in passing yards allowed, 20th against the rush, and just 12th best in points allowed. Notably they allowed 30 or more points four times, which is quite uncharacteristic of the Ravens. 2013 is also a changing of the guard for the Baltimore defense as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are gone, so uncertainty is a-brewing. They did sign defensive tackle Chris Canty and linebacker Daryl Smith, but also lost linebackers Daniel Ellerbe and Paul Kruger and cornerback Cary Williams. But in a contract negotiations snafu, they were able to grab dominant Elvis Dumervil from AFC rival Broncos. While there is plenty of roster turnover following the championship run, GM Ozzie Newsome has never been shy to move guys to get the right combinations, and he does almost every time. There’s plenty of reason to believe the Ravens will be right back into the deep playoffs yet again.