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How can the Ravens take back the AFC North?

NFL: DEC 10 Ravens at Steelers Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire

Last season, the Ravens went winless against the Steelers and had their playoff chances destroyed by the Bengals in Week 17. Particularly on offense, the Ravens have some areas that need to be addressed in order to take back the AFC North for the first time since the 2012 Super Bowl season.

In their three divisional losses, the Ravens threw for only 661 yards compared to their opponents 907 passing yards. As a result, Baltimore finished with 90 yards less of total offense on average in those contests. The Ravens also averaged four fewer first downs, contributing to disparities in time of possession.

The Bengals and the Steelers, on average, possessed the ball for almost 16 more minutes than the Ravens. With the offense struggling to pick up first downs and thus extending the amount of time the defense had to be on the field, the Ravens late game big play defense suffered. The defense’s fatigue was evident in Andy Dalton’s 49-yard touchdown pass that eliminated Baltimore from the postseason. Similarly, in Pittsburgh, the defense was burned late by Antonio Brown’s 34-yard reception on the game-winning field goal drive that clinched the division for the Steelers.

Considering the Ravens defense led the league with 22 interceptions, securing a favorable turnover margin should have been an easy task for the offense. However, the 5:2 turnover-ratio favored AFC North foes. When the Ravens hosted the Steelers, Joe Flacco threw two interceptions and Alex Collins fumbled, validating the tried and true sentiment that losing the turnover battle often equates to the same game result.

To make strides to remedy these shortcomings, the Ravens, at minimum, will need to make offseason acquisitions for a stagnant receiving corp to put the team in a better position to win the division.