While the NFL season is still almost 13 weeks away, it doesn't mean we're not getting excited, or at least myself. And this season we the fans have some serious things to be excited for.
Just like always the Ravens are written off. Good; Baltimore always plays better as the underdog in order to crush their opponent's hearts. Last season they stomped the NFC South because the division was weak. With an expected win total of 8.5 wins last season, the Ravens beat expectations along with their opponents. Even the AFC North's last place team, the Browns, were 7-9 and a half win below the NFC South Division winning Carolina Panthers. Apparently the dismantling of teams and a long ride in the playoffs are all flukes according to analysts and odds makers.
This season the Ravens are facing the NFC West and the AFC West, whom both possess Super Bowl contending squads. People think Baltimore can't play up to their level for some apparent reason. I can't wait to hurt people's feelings when they realize the Ravens mean business.
The Browns and Bengals are going to catch up? Can't Wait! Every bloody season I hear about how the Browns are coming to town to crush our hearts. When the defense doesn't have to load the box with eight and be worrisome of a true passing attack is when I'll believe them. Until then just keep it quiet. The Bengals have beat Baltimore for the division the past two seasons, so how can they "catch up" if they're ahead? When the post-season starts and Charm City football continually wins at least one playoff game per season or raise a Lombardi is how they have to catch up to the Ravens. Quick reminder, the Bengals haven't been victorious in the playoffs since 1990. Victorious doesn't mean a championship, it means to simply win a playoff game and be a legitimate threat in the playoffs. To put this in perspective MC Hammer put out "U Can't Touch This" in 1990. But nonetheless, I'm not worried about them.
The pass rush is going to be insane just like last year. Dumervil will be fresh off a 17 sack season, and Terrell Suggs is a lock for great defensive play. The defensive front sounds like Dean Pees is in a candy shop with Timmy Jernigan, Brandon Williams, and rookie Carl Davis. The front seven will be hitting quarterbacks often and racking up the negative yardage, allowing the secondary to sit back and intercept errant passes.
While I said the pass rush, did I mention the run stopping game? The Ravens final game against the Patriots only allowed 14 yards rushing! Don't give me the "They only had to pass" excuse. Belichick is known for his power run game, and the Raven snuffed it out so quickly they had to pass. The Patriots didn't make the choice to pass, Baltimore's defense forced them to pass. Crushing on the rush defense.
Remember that linebacker we are so high on, that rookie linebacker? Yeah, that guy will be ready for another stellar season. His sophomore year will be filled with, "What a play by CJ Mosley!" His tackling ability was on-point, and with another year training behind mentor Daryl Smith, his game will be worth watching every Sunday.
With the change of the PAT's this season it is also worth remembering that the Baltimore Ravens kicking unit is statistically one of the best...EVER. Yeah, with Justin Tucker kicking we shouldn't be as worried for getting a full seven points. Unfortunately for other teams not everybody owns a Justin Tucker type kicker, so we'll get to see more failed extra points and two-point conversions. The Ravens also have an amazing offensive line that may just bully their way into the end-zone for two point conversions themselves! This is going to be fun, I can assure you.
The top two reasons I'm excited for next season are as follows:
Jimmy Smith and the return of Baltimore's secondary. This squad truly was a secondary away from winning last years divisional. It's not even close for me. If Jimmy Smith was healthy, and Baltimore didn't field the tenth through fifteenth selections on the NFL practice squad lists, they win against New England and go on to crush the Colts and meet up for our second Super Bowl in 3 years. But this is a new year, and will be filled with even more excitement as Kyle Arrington will be a part of the dominant Raven defense. With Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith, Kyle Arrington, Rashaad Melvin as corners, and with Will Hill lighting up the safety position, the secondary looks poised for greatness.
My oh my the Ravens may put up some points this year. With a top three offensive line the Ravens are in business to control the line of scrimmage and the pace of the game. Forsett is even more eager this season, and with good reason as he looks to stack another stellar year as the starter. I feel like the late Billy Mays with the line, "But Wait! There's more!" Have I mentioned the brand new weapons? Breshad Perriman, the man who sounds like Torrey 2.0. Faster, bigger, and will be filling the role of number one wide receiver. Oh and I almost forgot (not really) Madd Maxx Williams will be an addition at tight end. At 6'4" & 254 lbs. people are whispering Offensive Rookie of the Year already. Something else worth noting, Dennis 'American Express' Pitta has been at OTA's and looking good so far. Baltimore can essentially run 3 tight end sets with Dennis Pitta, Maxx Williams, and Crockett Gillmore. Look out, it's gonna get messy if you are a linebacker trying to cover one of these guys.
The Baltimore Ravens truly are a sound team with great coaching. Seriously this team is as complete of a team as we've seen in some time. All three facets of the game are sound and primed to explode. With the special teams, offense, and defense; this season will be special. Mark it down; bookmark this page; I don't care... My confidence is almost contagious. All aboard the hype train! Next stop, Sunday September 13th, 2015 @ 4:25 PM Eastern Time.