Paparazzi Pj Vick seriously needs to know precisely how good are the Baltimore Ravens? Whether it’s age, Joe Flacco‘s completion percentage, or Baltimore’s ability to beat the tough teams, it’s as if many fans and media members have revisionist history. The question still remains to be answered, how good are the Baltimore Ravens?
What the Baltimore Ravens Must Do to Win the AFC North Title Again
This here is Andrea Hangst the AFC North Lead Blogger and an NFL analyst for Bleacher Report, is a fantasy football contributor for Pro Football Focus, and is the editor and founder of NFL blog F*BALL and co-host of the weekly F*BALL NFL Podcast.
Defense, Defense, Defense
It’s no secret that the Ravens’ bread-and-butter is their defense, which has ranked in the top 10 every year since 2003. Though Baltimore has made incremental, yearly improvements on offense, it’s imperative that they continue to field a top-10 or top-five defense in order to stay in the Super Bowl hunt.
With the emphasis ever-growing on the passing game and teams fielding all manner of receiving formations, key members of the Ravens’ linebacking corps have decided to slim down in an attempt to increase their speed.
Both Ray Lewis and Jameel McClain are at or under 240 pounds in order to take on the array of receivers and tight ends being thrown to in today’s NFL, but it will take more than just speed in coverage to assure the Ravens yet again field one of the league’s best defenses.
It is going to take a lot of effort—more so than usual. With linebacker Terrell Suggs out for at least part of the season, other members of both the linebacking corps and the defensive line will have to step up significantly in his absence.
Luckily, Baltimore added a lot of rookie speed this year. Wide receiver Tommy Streeter, cornerback Asa Jackson and undrafted rookie receiver Deonte Thompson are all incredibly fast; Jackson set records in college for his return skills, averaging 14.7 yardson punts. They also brought on former Houston Texans receiver Jacoby Jones, who also has a background in returns.
No matter what the Ravens do on either offense or defense, games can still be won or lost via special teams play. Football, after all, is a game of inches. So it is extremely important that the Ravens can reverse their special teams slide if they want to retain the upper hand in the AFC North in the 2012 season.