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Ravens News 7/13: Playoff leap, OL rankings and more

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NFL: Preaseason-Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Redskins, Ravens lead list of five teams that could make leap into the playoff field in 2018 - Will Brinson

Baltimore Ravens

2017 Record: 9-7

2017 Expected Wins: 10.4

2018 Vegas Win Total: 6.5

Why They Will Make The Playoffs: We spend so much time in 2018 focusing on skill-position guys, we often lose sight of the fact where football is played, and the Ravens are deep in the trenches. They have a mauling offensive line, and it shouldn’t be surprising if Orlando Brown -- a good football player with terrible combine testing -- ends up producing right away. Alex Collins is an under-appreciated smashmouth running back. Dude plays with his hair on fire. Even if you don’t believe Flacco steps up, there are enough dangerous guys on offense to stretch the field and give him a deep weapon. Personally I don’t want to bet against Joe Flacco with his back up against the wall. I’ve seen it and he turns into Joe Montana. Defensively this is a top-three DVOA team that didn’t do a lot to get better in the offseason, but they don’t need to get better. Baltimore shut out three teams last year! It doesn’t sound as great as it should, but shutting out three different NFL teams in a single season in this era of passing is pretty impressive. Four of their seven losses were by one score, and they were 0-4 in those games. John Harbaugh is a very good coach. They have a three-game stretch of road games early but win one of those and they’re getting to nine wins.

Quarterback play will likely determine if the Ravens are able to snap their three year postseason drought.

The Competition 2018: Inside Linebacker - Ryan Mink

Most Anticipated Battle

McClellan has been an integral part of the team for a long time, but he’s going to have to fend off younger, healthier options at his position. The way the kickoff rules have changed also doesn’t help a bulked-up player like McClellan. Correa has primarily moved to outside linebacker, but if he’s going to make the team, he has to show that he’s position flexible and can contribute inside if needed. Bradley will need to show that he’s healthy and can pick up where he left off.

The team could save $1.25 million of salary cap space by releasing Albert McClellan.

Notable NFL Supplemental Draft picks -

T Jared Gaither -- 2007 fifth round, Ravens

Baltimore Ravens, 2007-2009; Kansas City Chiefs, 2011; San Diego Chargers, 2012

» Played in 53 career games, including 37 starts

» Tied for the tallest offensive lineman in NFL history (6-foot-9)

Gaither followed Jonathan Ogden at left tackle and played at a high level in 2008 and 2009 before injury ended his time in Baltimore.

NFL offensive line rankings: All 32 team’s units entering 2018 - Michael Renner



Left Tackle: Ronnie Stanley, 76.2 overall grade

Left Guard: Alex Lewis, 45.6* (2016 grade)

Center: Matt Skura, 37.3

Right Guard: Marshal Yanda, 84.4

Right Tackle: James Hurst, 42.4

2017 season-end rank: 18th (-6)

The fate of the Ravens line falls in the hands – or more accurately the ankle – of Marshal Yanda. The future Hall of Famer has been unquestionably the best guard in football the past few years, but without him, Joe Flacco turned into a gun shy, checkdown artist last year. Turning 34 in September, there’s no certainty that Yanda ever returns to form.

Pro Football Focus is less than impressed with the Ravens line after the departures of center Ryan Jensen and right tackle Austin Howard. For comparison within the division, Pittsburgh ranks 4th, Cleveland 14th and Cincinnati 26th.