2013 Baltimore Ravens NFL Team Preview
Odds Courtesy of 5dimes.com
The Baltimore Ravens were expected to have some kind of rebuild following their 2012 Superbowl culmination, but Ozzie Newsome planned neither a rebuild nor his own retirement. Instead, Newsome went out and replaced his trio of departed vets (Ray Lewis, Anquan Boldin and Ed Reed) with a host of free agents, including Elvis Dumervil, Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, Michael Huff and Rolando McClain.
Newsome boasted of having made some bargain signings, but the merit of each signing has yet to be seen as this Ravens team had unexpected successes last year with an entirely different cast.
Joe Flacco seemingly earned his paycheck in the postseason, but the team still has to shoulder his six-year $120 million contract. Flacco has yet to establish long lasting excellence, and that’s a massive contract to pay. Fans will point to the Superbowl XLVII win, but the team still must shoulder the load of Flacco’s deal. If he continues to thrust off of last year’s postseason, the signing is justified, but that is hardly guaranteed.
Flacco’s debatable greatness aside, the Ravens have one of the best backfield tandems in the league in Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. Rice ran for 1,173 yards while receiving another 478, and is one of the best dual-threat RBs in the Association. Pierce was especially effective backing Rice up at the end of the season, and both backs are great in short yardage situations, which gives the Ravens a lot of third-down conversions.
Between Flacco and his main targets (Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones) and the two featured backs, the Ravens have the offensive tools to demolish any given defense. The problem may be that their own defense is just about average in its own right. Age and lack of depth plagued the DL last year. Dannell Ellerbe took off in free agency and that hurt the Linebacking group. And the secondary lost three starters, including Ed Reed.
The team signed Elvis Dumervil to pair with Rolando McClain and drafted Arthur Brown, so that should help the linebacking step back up.
Dumervil is a strong tackler with a barrel chested body, and he is said to be one who never gives up on a play. He should fall well into the Raven legacy defensively, but McClain should have a seamless adjustment after playing for the Alabama Crimson Tide because the Ravens use similar defensive schemes. The Ravens will most sorely miss Reed’s leadership in the secondary, and covering the deep ball may become problematic.
Reed didn’t do a lot to stop long runs, but someone will have to step up to fill Reed’s shoes. Among those suitors are Sean Considine, Emanuel Cook, James Ihedigbo, Michael Huff and Matt Elam. Elam was the team’s top pick out of Florida, and is the most likely candidate due to his high upside and great instincts.
All things said, the Ravens will look to a lot of newcomers to fix a somewhat deficient defense. That prospect is likely what leaves NFL Oddsmakers to place the Ravens as just the 10th most likely team to win the Superbowl, despite having won it last year.
Be sure to check out Maddux’s picks for this NFL season, as we line our bettors pockets once again in big fashion.