Nate Davis has predicted that the Ravens will go 9-7 next season, improving just one game. However, despite only winning one extra game in 2017, Davis believes that Baltimore will make the playoffs as the first Wild Card:
In addition to the Ravens making the playoffs as a Wild Card team, Davis has selected the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) as winners of the AFC North and the second seed. He also believes that the New England Patriots will go 16-0, after winning a Super Bowl last season.
The other two predicted division winners were the Tennessee Titans (12-4) and Oakland Raiders (11-5). His second Wild Card team is the Los Angeles Chargers (9-7). Davis has the Raiders defeating the Ravens in the Wild Card Round. Although a pyrrhic victory for Ravens fans, he has Oakland defeating Baltimore’s nemesis, Pittsburgh, in the Divisional Round. Davis believes that New England will repeat, finishing with the greatest record ever (regular season and playoffs combined).
Let’s take this with a grain of salt. The Ravens have made gigantic strides on the defensive side of the football, especially the defensive backfield. They added safety Tony Jefferson, to pair with Eric Weddle. Corners Brandon Carr and Marlon Humphrey were added through free agency and the draft, respectively.
Baltimore also bolstered their power at the linebacker and defensive line positions. In the draft, the Ravens added linebackers Tyus Bowser, Tim Williams and defensive lineman Chris Wormley. All three players get to the quarterback with a vengeance.
One shouldn’t forget about some of the returning players either. Baltimore still has a healthy Terrell Suggs, Matt Judon, Jimmy Smith, C.J. Mosley, and a host of others on defense.
Another thing that Baltimore did was improve their offense at the skill positions. Baltimore added Danny Woodhead and Jeremy Maclin, who both are healthy after having injuries in the 2016 season. Both players have the experience and ability that made them attractive to multiple teams.
In Woodhead’s case, he can catch an inordinate amount of passes out of the backfield. Just in 2015, Woodhead caught 80 passes out of the backfield for 755 yards and six touchdowns. He would’ve been Baltimore’s third-leading receiver last season, just sitting behind Steve Smith Sr. (799 yards) and Mike Wallace (1,017 yards).
As for Maclin, he caught 44 passes for 536 yards and two touchdowns with a torn groin last season. Before being released by the Kansas City Chiefs, Maclin participated in OTAs. He would also show up for Ravens mini camp, where he built chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco.
In 2015, Maclin’s last healthy season, he caught 87 passes for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns. That kind of production would top the charts for Baltimore and is exactly what they need to sharply improve the passing game.
This Ravens team is much more dangerous than what meets the eye. It’s safe to say that they COULD be much better than just winning one more game than last season. However, they will have to put it all together. The talent definitely isn’t lacking.