Q&A with SB Nation: Previewing the Ravens 2013 season

Could Joe Flacco break Vinny Testaverde's single-season passing record this season? - Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The fine folks at SB Nation were looking for some answers on how the Ravens stack up for the 2013 season.

With the 2013 season is right around, SB Nation wanted to know how the Ravens are looking with final preparations coming in the next two weeks.

After reaching out to Baltimore Beatdown, here's what we had to say:

1. Who is the easiest player on the roster to root for?

For Ravens fans, this one's fairly easy, even with Ray Lewis retired and Ed Reed now in Houston. Ray Rice has a certain charisma that makes him liked by not only Ravens fans, but by NFL fans of any team (well, except Pittsburgh, but that's certainly understandable.) Rice is one of the toughest players on the team and he always exudes a good attitude on and off the field. His anti-bullying efforts, as long with other community events, has resonated through the Baltimore area.

2. If you could buy a ticket to just one game this year...

As tempting as it would be to want to see the Ravens host the Patriots on Dec. 22, there's nothing like a Ravens-Steelers game. The hate is in the air and the Ravens fans do what they can to make life miserable for the Pittsburgh faithful that decide to show up to M&T Bank Stadium. That energy carries over to the field as well, which makes it the NFL's best rivalry at the moment. The two play in Baltimore on Sunday, Nov. 28 at 8:30 p.m. That will definitely be a tough ticket to get.

3. Which veterans could be cut before the season due to salary cap issues?

None, actually. The Ravens are around $5.5 million under the salary cap, giving them plenty of flexibility at this time. With the way the roster is shaping out, the Ravens will have plenty of freedom when the final cut down day arrives.

4. Which second year player is going to make the biggest leap?

With Kelechi Osemele already a starter, this description belongs to outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw. Upshaw was a substitution package linebacker a year ago. This year, he'll have the opportunity to start games at Sam linebacker, with Elvis Dumervil coming in on third downs and in pass rush situations. The two figure to split time to keep each other fresh in the fourth quarter. Upshaw has had a solid preseason, especially against the run.

5. What are the odds of your head coach getting fired?

In five years, John Harbaugh has won one Super Bowl, reached three AFC Championships and appeared in the postseason each time. Those odds are at zero percent.

6. What franchise or NFL records could be broken this season?

None of the major career franchise records are up for grabs this season. However, with the offense opening up more in the passing game, this could be the year Joe Flacco makes a run at Vinny Testaverde's team record of 4,177 yards from the 1996 season.

7. Which rookies will see regular playing time this year?

At some point, whether it's to start the year or mid-season, first-round pick Matt Elam figures to see significant playing time at strong safety. Second-round pick Arthur Brown will be a nickel inside linebacker and third-round pick Brandon Williams will rotate in at nose tackle and three-technique defensive tackle. Sleepers to emerge are receivers Aaron Mellette (seventh round) and Marlon Brown (undrafted), assuming both make the roster.

8. Predict the order of finish in your division.

1. Ravens (10-6)

2. Steelers (10-6)

3. Bengals (9-7)

4. Browns (5-11)

9. What do you expect your season-end record will be?

Though the Browns have improved this offseason, they're still some time away from competing at the level the top three teams are at. The Ravens still have to play the Steelers and Bengals twice each, and face tough games against the Broncos, Texans, Packers, Vikings and Patriots. It's a tough schedule that could force six losses after Week 17.

Follow me on twitter: @JasonHButt

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