The Baltimore Ravens made the playoffs for the third straight season in 2020, but after getting one victory they bowed out in the divisional round with an ugly offensive showing in Buffalo.
Still, even though the season ended with a bad taste in Baltimore fans’ mouths, there’s reason to be excited with one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL under center and a solid rushing attack behind him. Especially considering one of the better defenses in the NFL makes its home in Maryland.
11-5, 2nd in AFC North
Points: 18.9 points per game, rank 2nd
Yards: 5.2 yards per play, rank 7th
Football Outsiders Ranking: 9th
Points: 29.3 points per game, rank 7th
Yards: 5.9 yards per play, rank 7th
Football Outsiders Ranking: 11th
2021 DraftKings Sportsbook odds
Super Bowl: +1400
AFC/NFC Champion: +650
AFC North: +115
Win Total: 11 (Over +100, Under -120)
Despite their offensive success, the Ravens had the worst-ranked passing offense in the NFL a season ago. Quarterback Lamar Jackson has proven he can toss the ball, he just had no real weapons to throw to. The front office rectified that through free agency, by nabbing Sammy Watkins who will complement Hollywood Brown, as well as drafting Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Biggest question entering training camp
While the offense clearly upgraded at the pass-catcher spots, the defense lost some big time production. Both Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue, who had six and three sacks respectively, left in free agency. Calais Campbell returns, but Baltimore will need to find another player to bring pressure off the edge to hurry opposing quarterbacks.
What needs to happen for the Ravens to win the Super Bowl?
Baltimore will need to have Watkins and Bateman fit in smoothly with their new team and Brown will have to figure out how to stop dropping the ball. The run game should continue to play well, as it has since Jackson arrived in town a few years ago. The Ravens will also need to get that second edge rusher spot figured out fast.
Baltimore will continue to be a top team in the AFC and should be looked at as a legitimate AFC title contender. Still, they’re going to need to take the next step in order to have a real Super Bowl shot. Jackson will have to prove he can hit open receivers consistently and his pass-catchers will have to get open on a regular basis, so the offense doesn’t become one-dimensional again.
Still, they nearly made it to the AFC Championship game as the most one-dimensional team in the NFL last season, so even a modest passing game improvement could mean trouble for the rest of the AFC.