Home games: Cleveland, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Dallas, Jacksonville, NY Giants.
Road games: Houston, Washington, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, New England, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati.
Projected record: 10-6
Baltimore, thanks largely to its regular season MVP-winning quarterback, exploded into one of the premier teams in football.
Lamar Jackson showed everyone his Heisman Trophy-winning run-and-gun style of play would translate to the NFL as he evaded and eluded defenders to tally 43 touchdowns (7 rushing) and run away with the award for the best player in football.
The playoffs proved Jackson has some ways to go to be the franchise changing, championship contender that the Ravens have been at different stages. In an offensive league, Jackson’s 500 total yards were not enough to overcome Tennessee in the playoffs.
Defensively, the Ravens have re-jigged and should be much improved.
Calais Campbell joins the team from Jacksonville and will add inside punch and pressure opposing quarterbacks at will. LSU linebacker Patrick Queen was the Ravens first round selection and his versatility and dynamic play will add punch to the linebacking core – an area where the Ravens have usually blossomed.
Kicker Justin Tucker deserves a mention here as his consistency and reliability regularly sees coach John Harbaugh content to lean on Tucker’s brilliance to keep the scoreboard ticking over and that will be important as teams begin to slow down Jackson and the Ravens offence.
Ohio State stud, J.K. Dobbins, adds to an already explosive and powerful running back group with Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards combining for 1,700 yards and a dozen scores. Jackson topped the team on the ground with 1,200 rush yards and seven touchdowns but he did fumble the ball eight times.
The strength of this team is this group’s ability to continually carry the rock, adding Dobbins to the mix is a luxury few – if any – teams can even dream about.
Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and Earl Thomas III still combine to be the guts of a strong secondary and all in all, the Ravens are ready for another assault – unless teams figure out ‘Action Jackson’.