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USA Today projection: Ravens finish 8-8 and third in the AFC North

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National pundits continue to sleep on Baltimore this year.

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Minicamp Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

As the NFL offseason continues to drag along, so too do predictions and projections from various media outlets - ESPN, Bleacher Report, and most recently, USA Today. USA Today writer and editor Nate Davis released his record predictions for every team in the league yesterday and wasn’t too high on the Ravens.

Davis has Baltimore finishing .500 with an 8-8 record, placing third in the division behind the Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) and Cleveland Browns (10-6). Davis, like the majority of individuals, projected the Bengals to finish last in the division with a 3-13 record.

“Whether or not they were decoded by the Chargers in last season’s playoffs, second-year QB Lamar Jackson and this offense probably won’t catch many teams by surprise and will surely have to prove this attack can win through the air,” said Davis. “Despite the arrival of star FS Earl Thomas, last year’s top-ranked defense was stripped of many key vets.”

Davis isn’t the only prominent media member to share this sentiment, as many around the NFL have pointed to the losses of Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, and Za’Darius Smith as cause for inevitable regression from the Ravens defense. Like Davis, many have also suggested opposing defenses will figure out Lamar Jackson and Baltimore’s offense next season with more film available.

What Davis and others fail to account for, though, is several factors working in the Ravens favor: the defense is well-equipped with young talent and Don Martindale’s scheme, Jackson should improve in his second season, and the offense will have a different look than last season with Greg Roman having redesigned the entire playbook.

Based on Davis’ projection, the Ravens would fail to return to the postseason, as they’d finish tied for the ninth-best record in the league with the Buffalo Bills. Davis sees the following teams in the AFC winning more games than Baltimore: Chiefs (11-5), Patriots (11-5), Chargers (12-4), Colts (10-6), Texans (9-7), Jaguars (10-6), and the aforementioned Browns and Steelers.

What are your thoughts on these USA Today predictions? Be sure to join the conversation and share your thoughts below! You can find the entire article by clicking this link.