While doing some casual browsing of my Facebook news feed today, i came across an interesting status from one of my "friends" (the term is used so loosely on the internet) who happens to be a Redskins fan. He claimed "There will be a shift of power among the teams in Maryland this year as the Redskins become the more dominant team", a bold statement in today's world of social media. As per usual, overly sensitive fans from both sides took up arms in the comment box, spewing insults and uneducated statements. Personally, i took the statement with a grain of salt as i do with everything i read on the internet. Here is my humble opinion on the subject.
The Redskins had quite an impressive season last year winning an NFC East division that, at the beginning of the season, looked to be one of the best divisions in football. The Giants were defending Super Bowl champs, the Eagles ended 2011 on a strong note and seemed to have shaken the "dream team" curse, and, as always, the media was showering the Cowboys with unwarranted praise and affection. Then, all of a sudden, fueled by the outstanding play of rookie quarterback RGIII and rookie runningback Alfred Morris, the Washington Redskins were atop the NFC East. Having said that, i do not believe for one second that the Redskins are anywhere near dethroning the Ravens as the kings of the Maryland football world.
The obvious argument is that the Ravens are indeed entering 2013 as the defending Super Bowl Champs (Washington fans are convinced that the Lombardi Trophy was handed out in Week 14 when the Redskins won the head-to-head). But, there are a multitude of other reasons why the Ravens will remain superior to the 'Skins in 2013. Robert Griffin III had an unbelievable season in 2012 on his way to earning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and is one of the most exciting players to watch in all of football. However, Washington lacks a true number one receiver to help RGIII over the hump. Not to mention, all eyes will be on Griffin's knees in 2013 as he ended his 2012 season with a torn ACL in the wildcard playoff game against the Seahawks. One thing the 'Skins do have going for them is a quality backup quarterback in Kirk Cousins, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets a shot to start somewhere in the next few seasons. On the defensive side of the ball, the Redskins' front seven is as good as anyone in the league when healthy. On the back end, however, the Redskins need to do something about their atrocious secondary play. I can't name any players in that secondary off the top of my head (except for DeAngelo Hall, but let's be real, it's not because he's good). Washington ranked 29th in the league against the pass in 2012, giving up over 4500 yards through the air. I don't care how good your quarterback is, you won't win a Super Bowl in today's NFL if you can't defend the pass. While the Ravens have lost quite a few pieces from their 2012 Super Bowl team, i believe they will continue to win games in 2013. The offense is returning a number of key playmakers and remains largely intact, the loss of Anquan Boldin will be felt though. And defensively, Baltimore addressed its biggest need by adding two key players to the defensive line to aid in their struggles against run as well as replacing Paul Kruger with a better and complete outside linebacker in Elvis Dumervil. Michael Huff is a versatile safety and I am confident he will sufficiently fill the void left by Ed Reed. The only real concern i have for the Ravens is how they are going to handle the losses of four veteran leaders: Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, and Matt Birk in the locker room. It is my hope that the culture instilled in the locker room by those leaders remains at some level (and I think it will). If the new look Ravens can stay focused and if a few new leaders emerge in the locker room, they could prove to be an even more dangerous team in 2013.