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Ravens News 7/13: WR Breakdown and more

NFL: DEC 29 Steelers at Ravens Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

16-0? Analytics and oddsmakers say Ravens on path to perfection - Jamison Hensley

Analytics and oddsmakers have the Ravens favored to win all 16 games this season. Baltimore looks just as strong or even better than last season, when it won its last 12 regular-season games to finish 14-2. The Ravens return all but one starter from the NFL’s highest-scoring offense and improved the front seven, the weakest part of the defense.

If that doesn’t set up the Ravens for success, they play teams whose combined 2019 winning percentage was .438 (worst in the NFL) and travel a total of 6,310 miles, the lowest of any team over the past four years.

According to Caesars Sportsbook, the Ravens’ toughest games are home on Sept. 28 against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and at the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 18. Baltimore is listed as a 2.5-point favorite in both games.

“I think there’s always a challenge when you have a target on your back, and that just comes with the territory,” Ravens All-Pro offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley said. “Everyone’s going to bring their best game when they play you, so you just have to be ready for that. And, if you’re not ready for that, then you really don’t deserve to be the best. So, that just comes with the territory.”

Deal or No Deal? The 2020 NFL Franchise Tag Primer - Danny Heifetz

Run It Back

Matthew Judon, OLB, Baltimore

Linebacker franchise tag price: $17 million

When the Ravens lost linebackers Terrell Suggs, Za’Darius Smith, and C.J. Mosley last offseason, they needed someone in the front seven to step up. Judon became that person. He led the team in sacks (9.5), tackles for loss (14), and quarterback hits (33), with the latter being more than three times higher than Baltimore’s next-closest defender. Judon earned Pro Bowl honors for a defense that was one of the best in football last year. But the Ravens may be perfectly happy getting one more year from Judon for a Super Bowl run, letting him leave in free agency, and getting a compensatory draft pick in 2022. Judon got his opportunity because Baltimore refused to pay their proven pass rushers, and now that Judon has proved himself, he may see the other end of that cycle.

Training Camp Breakdown: Wide Receiver - Clifton Brown

Best Battle

The two rookie receivers drafted by the Ravens, Duvernay and Proche, will battle to earn a consistent role in the passing game. Baltimore had the fewest passing attempts of any NFL team last year, so Ravens receivers must make the most of their opportunities. One of Baltimore’s goals this season is to add more variety to its passing attack. It’s tough asking rookie receivers like Duvernay and Proche to have an instant impact in 2020, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic forced rookie camps, OTAs and minicamps to be cancelled. However, if Duvernay or Proche can develop quick chemistry with Lamar Jackson, it will add another element to the passing attack.

In the battle to make the roster, 2018 fourth-round pick Jaleel Scott will need a strong training camp to earn a third season with the team. Chris Moore caught just three passes last year, but his ability as a special teams player gives him an edge.

Baltimore Ravens position preview: Who will start between Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown? - Aaron Kasinitz

Roster projection

In my latest projection, I guessed that eight lineman would begin the regular season on the Ravens’ 53-man roster: Stanley, Brown, Bozeman, Mekari, Fluker, Bredeson, Phillips and Smith. That leaves Powers as an odd man out and Skura on an injury list.

How Chiefs can maximize Patrick Mahomes era; top five NFL players - Bucky Brooks

4. Lamar Jackson

The reigning MVP has revolutionized the quarterback position with elite traits and a non-traditional game. As an electric athlete with a flashy running style, Jackson carves up defenses on designed QB runs, option plays and impromptu scrambles. He deserves a 99 Madden rating based on his exceptional stop-start quickness, acceleration and elusiveness as a runner, but his outstanding arm talent sets him apart from some of the run-first quarterbacks of the past. As the only quarterback in NFL history with at least 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a single season, Jackson is a true dual-threat who has the capacity to win games with his legs or arm.