Tuesday, August 13, 2013

NFL 2013 Preview - Baltimore Ravens

BALTIMORE RAVENS                                                  

Head Coach: John Harbaugh

2012 Record: 10-6-0 (1st in AFC North)

New Players: LB Elvis Dumervil; S Michael Huff; DL Marcus Spears; LB Daryl Smith; WR Brandon Stokley; TE Visanthe Schiancoe; DL Chris Canty.

Gone Elsewhere: WR Anquan Boldin; S Ed Reed; OL Matt Birk; LB Dannell Ellerbe; LB Paul Kruger; S Bernard Pollard; CB Cary Williams; LB Ray Lewis (retired).

Offense: The Ravens have the Super Bowl winning quarterback in Joe Flacco, who during the regular season passed for 3,817 yards with 22 touchdowns and ten interceptions before going on a tear in the playoffs.
QB Joe Flacco
Flacco will lead the offense again after his breakout year and will be backed up by Tyrod Taylor.
The running game is led by Ray Rice, who was his usual steady self in 2012, going for 1,143 yards (4.4 ypc average) and scored nine touchdowns to go with 61 receptions for 478 yards and a touchdown. Along with Rice in the backfield is Bernard Pierce, who was a pleasant surprise rushing for 532 yards. The fullback is Vonta Leach.
The wide receivers will be without leading receiver Anquan Boldin, who took off for San Francisco after the Super Bowl season. That leaves Torrey Smith (49 receptions for 855 yards and eight touchdowns) and Jacoby Jones, who caught 30 passes for 406 yards and a touchdown, as the primary targets for Flacco. Also in the fold will be Tandon Doss and Brandon Stokley, a former Ravens player who caught 45 passes for 544 yards and five scores with Denver last season.
The tight end position will be without Dennis Pitta, who is out for the season following a hip injury in training camp. Replacing Pitta will be Ed Dickson (21 receptions for 225 yards) and veterans Billy Bajema and Visanthe Schiancoe, who played sparingly with New England last year.
The offensive line has center Gino Gradkowski (replacing the departed Matt Birk), guards Kelechi Osemele and Marshal Yanda and tackles Michael Oher and Bryant McKinnie.

Defense: This unit will be without two vital cogs from the past decade as Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are gone.
Lewis retired in style with the Super Bowl title and Reed bolted for the Houston Texans.
Back in 2013 will be defensive ends Haloti Ngata (five quarterback sacks) and Arthur Jones along with nose tackle Terrence Cody in the 3-4 look.
The linebackers are Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil (11 QB sacks with the Denver Broncos), Jameel McClain
LB Terrell Suggs
and rookie Arthur Brown (Kansas State). Adding depth in the front seven are Albert McClellan, Courtney Upshaw, Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, Pernell McPhee and Josh Byrnes.
The secondary will see rookie Matt Elam (Florida) and Michael Huff at the safety spots with Ladarius Webb and playoff hero Corey Graham at the cornerback positions. Jimmy Smith and Chris Johnson provide depth.
The Ravens weren't necessarily stellar in the 2012 regular season, finishing just 17th on defense while allowing 351 yards per game. They also allowed 344 points but a plus-nine in the turnover rate helped immensely.

OUTLOOK: The infusion of youth on defense along with newcomers may take some time to get used to, but the Ravens have a swagger going into 2103 as the defending Super Bowl champions.
On offense, if Flacco can show that his post-season success was no fluke, then the offense should do it's part after averaging 353 yards a game last year, which was decent (16th in NFL) while also averaging just over 24 points per game.
The Ravens finally put it all together when it mattered most IN THE PLAYOFFS and managed to win the Vince Lombardi trophy, but doing it again is now the big challenge.
Head Coach John Harbaugh exudes a confidence and isn't afraid to challenge his team on occasion. In order to rise to the occasion in 2013, the Ravens will need the defensive changes to come together quickly, which is why they added a veteran presence like Elvis Dumervil. Having LB Terrell Suggs starting all season long will definitely help as well.
Playing in the tough AFC North is never easy and the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers and even the Cleveland Browns will be tough games. Baltimore is a team that has fallen short in year's past, but coming in as the top dog this year, they know they have the targets on their collective backs.
Another playoff appearance should happen along with a 10-6 record once again. Whether the Ravens can rise up and win it all again remains to be seen. But they have tasted it and should be hungry once again.
Stay tuned.


Sept. 5- at Denver
Sept. 15- vs. Cleveland
Sept. 22- vs. Houston
Sept. 29- at Buffalo
Oct. 6- at Miami
Oct. 13- vs. Green Bay
Oct. 20- at Pittsburgh
Oct. 27- BYE WEEK
Nov. 3- at Cleveland
Nov. 10- vs. Cincinnati
Nov. 17- at Chicago
Nov. 24- vs. NY Jets
Nov. 28- vs. Pittsburgh
Dec. 8- vs. Minnesota
Dec. 16- at Detroit
Dec. 22- vs. New England
Dec. 29- at Cincinnati

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