2017 Baltimore Ravens Team Preview
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Key Additions: RB Danny Woodhead, WR Jeremy Maclin, CB Brandon Carr, CB Brandon Boykin, S Tony Jefferson
Key Subtractions: FB Kyle Juszczyk, WR Kamar Aiken, TE Dennis Pitta, OT Ricky Wagner, G Vlad Ducasse, C Jeremy Zuttah, DE/DT Timmy Jernigan, DE/DT Lawrence Guy, DE/LB Elvis Dumervil, LB Zach Orr, CB Shareece Wright, CB Jerraud Powers, S Lardarius Webb, S Kendrick Lewis, S Matt Elam.
The Ravens have always been a defensive-minded team, and we should see them continue being one this coming season. They may have lost a handful of key players on the unit – Elvis Dumervil and Timmy Jernigan, among others – but you can believe that they have drafted well enough to have good hopes for the future, led by quality pass rushers Tyus Bowser, Chris Wormley, and Tim Williams.
Pro Bowlers CJ Mosley and Terrell Suggs will remain as the leaders of the unit, and along with the other mainstays and heralded rookies, Baltimore’s D looks poised to once again allow one of the fewest points, yards and rushing touchdowns in the NFL. Additionally, through the additions of veteran and youthful defensive backs, the secondary is looking like it can have a good follow-up to last year’s good showing (18 interceptions, tied for first).
Unfortunately, though, the Ravens fall into the cliche of a hard-nosed defensive team having a stagnant offense. Last year was very evident of that classic case, as they ranked 21st in scoring and 17th in total yards.
The ground attack will again be the main problem of the offense throughout the year (28th in 2016), since they opted to not draft or sign any significant running backs and also lost linemen Jeremy Zuttah and Rick Wagner.
Danny Woodhead is a veteran, pass-catching back that has game, but since Baltimore has no number one rusher to provide real threat, he’ll eventually be just another hot-and-cold player in the backfield, similar to what Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon was a year ago.
The passing game is decent (12th in 2016), but with Joe Flacco (back) projected to miss weeks, it’s an area that’s also going to have a gaping hole while he’s gone – Ryan Mallet can’t be expected to provide a big lift if he ends up being the replacement.
Key Player – Joe Flacco
The 2017 season will be a test of Flacco’s mental and physical toughness. There’s plenty of questions that are being thrown on his end: Can he return quicker than expected? Can he perform well coming off an injury? With no potent RB to help him drive down the field, can he be a better passer and decision-maker?
It will be interesting to see how well could a post-major injury Flacco will play, especially since he just had career-highs in passing yards (4,317) and completion percentage (64.9).
Key Game – October 1st (Pittsburgh Steelers)
This Week 4 rivalry matchup will be a good gauge of the Ravens’ play on both sides of the field. It’s a squad with a high-powered offense that’ll aggressively test their well-respected defense, and a shaky defense that may struggle to contain their own shaky offense.
It will be their first test of the year, so Baltimore should come into this game eager to prove that their stop unit can slow down one of the best scoring attacks in the league.
2016 Team Stats
|Points per game||21.4 (#21)
|Passing yards per game||256.2 (#12)
|Rushing yards per game||91.4 (#28)|
|Scoring defense||20.1 (#9)
The Ravens (+3,300) go 8-8 again.
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