Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 8/13/12
After watching the Ravens training camp last week, I noticed a few things that I must address. This team is completely flip-flopping around from a strong defense with an average offense, to an average defense with a good offense. Now, I don’t know if the offense looked that much better with the defensive lack of pressure from outside linebacker or if the offense really got that much better from last year. These are my best and worst case scenarios for the Baltimore Ravens in 2012.

Best Case Offense: With the handcuffs completely taken off of Joe Flacco, he steps up his game and becomes the top five QB he proclaims himself to be.

Flacco has always had his hands tied in the passing game with the coaching staff knowing that the defense and running game can win them games. Now that the defense has clearly regressed, Flacco will have his chance to show Baltimore he can repeat his performance against New England, but across a 16 game season.

Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin pick up where they left off last year and the two new starters on the offensive line can protect Joe long enough to get the ball out.

Best Case Defense: The pass rush from the OLB position was nonexistent, but with some coaching, Courtney Upshaw becomes a quality starting OLB and can produce 10+ sacks.

Ray Lewis looks 35 pounds lighter and much faster and this should give him the chance to not only cover tight ends, but now he can be included on a few blitz packages.

Haloti Ngata and Ed Reed continue to be among the most dominant players at their position and help mask some of the training camp holes at other positions.

Best Case Special Teams: Billy Cundiff becomes the kicker in practice who can nail nearly 60 yard field goals in real games. Jacoby Jones gets coached up and loses his butterfingers that plagued him last year in the playoffs and in this year’s training camp; he’ll become the dominant return man Baltimore thought they signed.

Best Case Overall Team: The team returns to the playoffs with a bye week coming at a perfect time for returning veterans like Lewis and Reed who can use the time off from a long season.

Suggs returns from injury, makes the best of time and returns to the dominant form that he was in 2011. Baltimore enters the playoff race as the AFC’s number two seed again and with any luck, New England gets knocked off, making the road to the Super Bowl run through Baltimore who went 8-0 at home last year.


Worst Case Offense: The new players on the offensive line can’t keep Joe Flacco upright, much like what happened to Mark Sanchez of the Jets last year. Flacco becomes unable to trust his line and forces passes.

Ray Rice becomes the lone offensive weapon on this team and it won’t be enough to stay in the AFC North playoff race. Smith and Boldin become frustrated with their team’s ability to protect the QB long enough to get them the ball and start pointing fingers.

Worst Case Defense: The defense can’t create any pass rush from the OLB position and gives opposing QBs all day to pick apart the defense. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed become injured, which leads to the defense falling to the bottom half of the league. A Lewis injury forces three new starting linebackers onto the field, who often look lost and have little experience calling or changing plays.

Ngata is often double or triple teamed to eliminate the Ravens best defensive weapon.

Worst Case Special Teams: The fans continue to express their anger with Cundiff after costing Baltimore a trip to the Super Bowl and Cundiff caves under the pressure. Jones continues with playoff and training camp woes with returning punts forcing him out of the lineup after costing Baltimore a few close losses.

Worst Case Overall Team: The offense couldn’t protect the QB and the defense couldn’t do much of anything and it showed as Baltimore fails to make the playoff for the first time under John Harbaugh.


Most Likely Offense: The offense will continue to get better with Flacco entering his fifth year with a strong young receiving corps and running game. The offense shouldn’t be asked to do too much. Joe Flacco is a good, average QB but he has yet to become an elite QB who can carry his team for 16 games like a Rodgers, Brady Manning or Brees.

The offense will do enough to bring Baltimore back into the playoffs, but not enough to secure a bye week or even a home playoff game. If the offensive line can play at an elite level with two new players, Baltimore could prove me wrong, but I have yet to see that.

Most Likely Defense: A new defensive coordinator struggles early on with key losses to his former starting outside linebackers. The veteran presence of Ray Lewis will keep this team grounded as he comes up with ways to create pressure with changing defensive fronts and exotic blitz packages. Ed Reed, if he can stay on the field, will remain a dominant safety.

However, with the lack of pass rush, pressure teams will be able to avoid him and the Baltimore defense will finish somewhere in the middle of the pack, somewhere between No. 13 and No. 16 in the NFL.

Most Likely Special Teams: Cundiff will return to being an average kicker who just had a bad moment under pressure in last year’s playoff game. Cundiff will not cost Baltimore any more games than your average kicker would. Jones is able to get his fumbles under control for the most part, excluding one or two over the course of the season, with a solid coaching staff.

Season Prediction: Wild Card playoff team wins 10 games in the regular season that finishes second in the AFC North. With Suggs making a late December push, Baltimore is propelled to road playoff wins before falling short again in the AFC Championship game.


Please comment and let me know what you think!

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