Better, worse or the same? Ravens’ defense overhauls front seven - Jamison Hensley
General manager Eric DeCosta’s main focus this offseason was revamping the Ravens’ front seven and bolstering the run defense.
Campbell and Wolfe should significantly improve Baltimore’s pass rush on the interior, which was a major weakness. Baltimore’s defensive linemen totaled four sacks in 2019, the fewest by any team. Williams shifts to nose tackle.
“I just think that we’re better up front,” Martindale said. “It’s going to be fun to watch. I just can’t wait to get together.”
The Ravens didn’t add a free agent or draft pick to one of the top cornerback groups in the league. So, how can it be better? Nickelback Tavon Young, who missed all of last season with a neck injury, is back and gives the Ravens another playmaker in the secondary.
Depth will be improved if Elliott can stay on the field. He has missed 26 of 32 games because of injuries. Stone can make an immediate impact on special teams.
6. Calais Campbell
One of the few areas where the Ravens struggled in their 14-2 2019 season was in run defense, with Baltimore ranking 21st in yards allowed per carry. Between that and the lack of established pass-rushing prowess (outside of Matt Judon) on this blitz-heavy team, Baltimore revamped its defensive front, trading for Campbell and signing Derek Wolfe out of Denver to complement standout nose tackle Brandon Williams. Campbell, who turns 34 in September, might not be able to match the production he recorded in his first year with the Jaguars in 2017 (14.5 sacks), but he remains a quality all-around player who is adept at setting the edge against the run, which is the key to success in coordinator Wink Martindale’s system.
Training Camp Breakdown: Cornerbacks - Clifton Brown
Jimmy Smith is one of the league’s best corners who isn’t a projected starter, and he may see reps at both corner and safety. No secondary is deeper than Baltimore’s.
Averett and Marshall are two young corners, competing to have a role in a crowded secondary. Both players were fourth-round picks and the Ravens want to see continued growth from them.
Under the Radar
Baltimore led the NFL in interceptions in 2017 with 22. Last year, the Ravens had just 13 interceptions with Peters and Humphrey both notching three. Baltimore is expected to have an improved pass rush this season, which could help this talented cornerback group collect more picks.
2020 NFL schedule: Here’s the one game for all 32 teams that could make or break their seasons - John Breech
Week 3. vs Chiefs. Lamar Jackson is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the NFL, but if there are two things he hasn’t been able to do, it’s win a playoff game or beat the Chiefs. If the Ravens are ever going to win a Super Bowl with Jackson, they’re likely going to have to beat Kansas City at some point, which Jackson has never done. The Ravens’ electrifying quarterback is 0-2 all-time against Mahomes and the Chiefs. However, both of those games were played in Kansas City while this year’s game will be played in Baltimore. This game could end up having major playoff ramifications too, and that’s because the winner here should have the upper hand when it comes to earning the top seed in the AFC. The reason that’s important this year is because only one AFC team will be getting a bye under the NFL’s new playoff format.
The Ravens have maintained their ranking as the team with the second-best win total expectation throughout the offseason. After initially opening at 11 wins with balanced juice, they have gained the hook to 11.5 but also added juice to make the over an even-money proposition.
It may not take another MVP-caliber season from Lamar Jackson for the Ravens to realize their win total expectation — according to our ELO rankings, they have the easiest schedule by opponent ELO in the NFL. The Ravens should run away with the AFC North, as our simulation finds consensus with betting markets, giving them an implied probability of 70% to repeat as division champions.