One wise tactic to drastically invigorate a team in the offseason is to predict that the squad will finish the year with the same record as their last, 8-8.
Baltimore followed up its Super Bowl-winning season by plummeting to 30th in the Football Outsiders offensive ratings, and it would take a lot of rebound for the Ravens to have another winning season.
The acquisitions of two-time Pro Bowler tight end Owen Daniels and the dynamic Steve Smith will reduce the workload for a healthy Dennis Pitta, sophomore wideout Marlon Brown and Torrey Smith.
In regards to the team's collective efforts, it is safe to concede that the Baltimore Ravens overcame more attrition than the Pittsburgh Steelers did in 2013.
Despite losing household names Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and playmakers Bernard Pollard, Dannell Ellerbe, Cary Williams, Paul Kruger, Anquan Boldin and Bryant McKinnie, the Ravens capped their Super Bowl title-defending campaign with a remarkable 8-8 record. Lofty expectations for Baltimore to repeat another run or clinch a playoff berth were gaveled after Dennis Pitta went down and a depleted offensive line allowed 48 sacks (second most behind Miami’s 58). (Might I add that they had the fifth most difficult schedule entering 2013.)
This season, the redemptive Ravens are primed to champion the Division, thanks to their draft picks and a young defense. Rookie C.J. Mosley and Timmy Jernigan have major upside, and both will have the potential to contribute immediately to their hybrid defense. With the youngsters learning under the tutelage of the Ravens’ veteran personnel, the defense will readily sport a deceptive, hybrid scheme and style of play, given the flexibility of both of their edge rushers--Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs.
With a fresh batch of rookies to improve their 17th-ranked defense, a defensive line unit that has SB Nation’s Danny Kelly beaming, and behold, holding the fifth-easiest schedule in 2014, the Ravens should earn the first-place spot with 10 wins and roost atop the AFC North.