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Football Outsiders: Ravens can be a top five defense

NFL: Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Another year, another release of Football Outsider’s Almanac. After sending Football Outsider’s five questions, Rivers McCown responded. Here is question and answer number one:

Last season, the Ravens defense was one of the better squads in the league. During the offseason, they heavily invested in the defense, spending over $100 million in contracts to defensive players. Do you think this group can be a top three defense? Top five?

In yards allowed? Sure. The Ravens are definitely going to want to slow-play this year, especially if Flacco isn’t healthy at the beginning of it. That’s going to mean a lot of clock grinding and field position battles, which Baltimore can win.

As you saw towards the end of last season though, Baltimore needs an A-plus run defense to be able to sustain their good pass defense. Terrell Suggs is aging and we haven’t yet found his heir on this roster -- maybe it’s Tyus Bowser -- which means they don’t really have a true pass-rushing No. 1 at this point.

After watching the few snaps the first-team defense played, as they set the tone against Washington in their first preseason game, Rivers words feel spot-on. Yes, the Ravens will need to slow-play. They’ll be a clock-grinding, position-battling strategy squad. With this defense and some of the best special team players in the league, the Ravens can win the knock-down drag-out fourth quarter battles. The low-scoring affairs.

As for the Sizzle heir, Matt Judon has progressed well and Tyus Bowser looks to be the Ravens pass-rush weapon of the future, but we don’t know yet. These next few weeks and the entire 2017 season will hopefully give the Ravens an answer.