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The Balitimore Ravens are underdogs again this season

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Ravens were chosen by Peter King to go the Super Bowl because of what they were able to do in the 2014 playoffs. They were able to get that kind of attention and respect because of what Harbaugh and the Ravens did from 2008-2012. Last season, the Ravens stayed with the eventual Super Bowl champs in Week 1 all the way until the end of that game. However, that all turned to nothing when injuries, missed calls and bad luck plagued the team.

The respect for the Ravens was deserved after just Harbaugh's first season as head coach. After 2008, the rest of the league saw what John Harbaugh was. He led a team with a rookie quarterback to the AFC championship game. But even in 2012, the Ravens were seen as underdogs in the playoffs, and considered long shots to win the Super Bowl.  They started the season 9-2, but the result was a 10-6 record, as they went 1-3 to finish the season. They ended up winning the Super Bowl, but lost multiple players, including key starters, and missed the playoffs for the first time under Harbaugh. In 2014, they were just a few plays away from beating the Patriots in the playoffs, and that led to analysts like Peter King predicting a Super Bowl for Baltimore the following season.

This offseason there hasn't been much talk about the Ravens other than
that they're the third talented team in the division. When the schedule was released earlier this offseason, the ESPN writers for the Ravens opponents have them finishing at 7-9, though Jamison Hensley, the Ravens ESPN writer is more optimistic and sees them finishing 10-6. The Ravens also received good draft grades, but they are graded positively for the draft seemingly every year.

The point is, while most people think the Ravens will improve on their 5-11 finish, they’re still not seen as the "top dog" in the division anymore. They’re only third best. Though we won't be able to know for sure until the last preseason games, the Ravens have an opportunity to shock a lot of teams this season if their key players, including quarterback Joe Flacco come back healthy.