Sports Illustrated published their annual NFL Preview issue this week. Spoiler alert: They picked the Cardinals to win it all in a Super Bowl rematch with the Steelers. SI picked the Ravens to win the whole thing last year. Being picked to win by SI is often referred to as the kiss of death. Will that be the case for Arizona or Pittsburgh this season?
The Ravens were not given as lofty a prediction as they were last year. SI, like many other predictors, has the Ravens finishing third in the AFC North, with Pittsburgh winning the division and the Bengals coming in second.
However, SI has the Ravens finishing with a worse record than other media outlets. NFL Network predicted the Ravens to go 10-6, but SI has the Ravens at just 8-8. According to SI’s predictions, the Ravens will go into the bye 4-3, with losses to the Jaguars, Giants and Jets. In the second half, the Ravens are predicted to go 4-5, including being swept by Pittsburgh. The Ravens are predicted to split with the Bengals.
Austin Murphy, who wrote the blurb about the team, focused on the team’s offense. He, like many others, agreed that the Ravens offense should be much improved in year two under Marc Trestman. But this year, Trestman may have to lean on the run more than ever before. Trestman is known as a coordinator who loves the passing game, but the depth at the running back position is hard to ignore.
In other news on their preview page, defensive tackle Brandon Williams is featured as "Mr. Indispensable". Williams may truly be just that for the defense this year as the key to Ravens defensive line. Andy Benoit writes that he is the "best player you’ve probably never heard of."
Ravens fans do know who Williams is, and they know how good he is. Benoit implies that his value will be shown with the bidding war that will ensue for his services this offseason. Hopefully, the Ravens use the franchise tag on him to avoid this all together.
SI doesn’t think that a big year is in store for the Ravens, I guess that’s just more people the Ravens have to prove wrong.