Sports

Can The Ravens Emerge In The Competitive AFC North?

The Ravens have opened up the gates with a 2-1 regular season record after demolishing the Bills 47-3, falling to the Bengals 34-23, and recently beating the Broncos 27-14. In the preseason the squad had an undefeated 5-0 record. With lots of young talent, the Ravens are looking to tough it out and make the playoffs, something they haven’t done since 2014.

The Ravens brought back Alex Collins, Buck Allen, and Kenneth Dixon (now on the IR) for their RB core. The last time the Ravens had an elite running back was Ray Rice back in 2013, but that all ended after a video of Rice assaulting his now-wife emerged, causing the Ravens to cut ties with their back. Now, with Alex Collins looking to make a huge impact on this Baltimore offense, the rest of the team needs to step it up if they want to have a chance to make it to the playoffs.

QB Joe Flacco, in his eleventh season with the team, will have a decision to make at the end of the season. He is a former Super Bowl Champion and Super Bowl MVP, but also on the downward trend of his career. After the Ravens picked up two new quarterbacks, one being Robert Griffin III, the team could end up looking to trade the former elite quarterback.  

In this year’s NFL Draft, the Ravens picked up Hayden Hurst, TE South Carolina, Lamar Jackson, QB Louisville, and Orlando Brown Jr, OT Oklahoma all in the first three rounds. In the preseason, Jackson threw for 408 yards with 3 touchdowns. Jackson, being a rushing quarterback, ran the ball for 136 yards during the preseason.

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Rookie Lamar Jackson giving autographs. Photo by Staff Sgt. Delano Scott – Flickr.

The team also picked up WR Michael Crabtree, WR John Brown, WR Willie Snead, G Cameron Lee, and many others. The three wide receiver pickups will help the Ravens’ offensive depth after releasing WR Breshad Perriman and WR Jeremy Maclin. The Ravens also released team veteran Lardarius Webb and recent player Danny Woodhead.

The Ravens’ defense is getting younger and younger every season. The defense is led by veteran Terrell Suggs and CJ Mosley. But in the game against the Bengals, the Ravens lost Mosley to an apparent bone bruise on his knee. The linebacker core is strong and growing, but as age grows on Suggs (35), Za’Darius Smith will have his shot to make it big in the NFL. The defensive backs core is strong as well with Marlon Humphrey, Eric Weddle, Brandon Carr, and Tony Jefferson.

This is Coach Harbaugh’s eleventh year with the Baltimore Ravens, he is 95-66 since he joined the organization. Considering that Harbaugh has won a Super Bowl, been to the playoffs six times in ten years, and built a relationship with every player that was a part of the franchise, Harbaugh definitely ought to be considered as a top fifteen coach in the NFL.

With a promising start to the season, and an important test against the Steelers coming up, the Ravens are looking like a strong team, but not a lock to make the playoffs. The team has shown they have to work on their offensive line, being that it has been the weakest part of the offense. Also, with the many draft picks, trades, and signings the team made, they will have a deeper depth chart and that makes for a better rotation. This years’ Baltimore squad, along with the competition in the AFC North, makes it tough to predict the outcome for the season, but I would have to say the odds are stacked against them for emerging in a tough divisional fight.

Justin Cruz is a senior and a member of the Multimedia Journalism Course.

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