Break Out The Crystal Ball: Five Ravens Predictions

Featured, Sports and Bets — September 3, 2014 at 11:10 pm by

Nobody, and I mean nobody, knows what the hell is going to happen during any given NFL season.  Good teams suddenly turn bad, bad teams suddenly turn good, and on any given Sunday a lowly cellar dweller can open up a can of whoop-ass on an elite, first place team.   It’s a mind bending mess for fans and gamblers, but that’s part of the fun, and just one of the reasons why professional football is so freakin’ incredible.

But just because it’s tough to try to figure this shit out doesn’t mean we should just curl up into a ball and piss all over ourselves, does it?  Of course not.  Football is meant to be talked about, discussed, and predicted.  This is why we talk zone defenses in bars, why we play fantasy football, and why we gamble.  Plus, when you make a prediction about the NFL, or your favorite team, and it comes true; well, that means you know more about football than any of the other idiots you talk and argue football with.

So without further ado and mindless banter, it’s time to break out the crystal ball and throw down some predicts about our favorite squad, the Baltimore Ravens.

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1. Joe Flacco Will Throw For 30 Touchdowns and 4,500 Yards.

Considering how shitty Flacco and the offense were last season, this is a pretty bold statement.  Flacco attempted 614 passes last season, but that was only good for 3,912 yards and 19 touchdowns.  By contrast, Peyton Manning attempted just 45 more passes, but that added up to 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns.  Needless to say, Flacco and the passing game were less than efficient.  That had a lot to do with the Ravens’ horrific running game and an offensive line that was simply awful, but it also had a lot to do with Flacco making horrific decisions and going through stretches of wild inaccuracy.  On the plus side, without Flacco and his 4 game winning drives, this team may have been a 4-12, or 3-13, squad.

But it’s a new day for our former Super Bowl MVP.  Enter Gary Kubiak, who brings a fresh offense and a completely different passing philosophy to Baltimore.  Kubiak runs a version of the west coast offense that emphasizes a short, controlled passing game and a primarily zone-blocked running game.  Flacco, since his first NFL season, had been running a version of the Air Coryell offense that emphasized running and a deep and vertical passing game. Flacco’s reads were most likely deep to short.  Now, often times his read will go short first off of a three-step drop.  Kubiak also loves to use roll-outs and waggles to get his quarterbacks and his passing pocket moving.

This offense will be just what the doctor ordered for Joe.  While there will still be plenty of deep passing plays mixed into the playbook, Flacco will primarily be making quick throws and moving the chains in rhythm.  The tempo to this offense already looks improved  in preseason and Flacco seems to be a better quarterback when he works quickly.  Even a slightly improved run game will help, but the system and it’s architect seem flexible and able to adjust when things aren’t going as planned.  While the run game will be improved, ultimately I think this will be a pass first team.  There’s too many weapons in the passing game and I’m not sold on this offensive line being suddenly devastating, zone blocking monsters.  Flacco’s attempts will be in the same ballpark, with way more yards and way more TDs.  This will be Joe’s best statistical regular season, by far.

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2. Elvis Dumervil Will Have Fifteen Sacks

Last year Doom was Baltimore’s most effective defensive player.  Despite playing the SAM position on almost exclusively passing downs, Elvis notched 9.5 sacks.  (Courtney Upshaw is also a SAM linebacker and the two are listed as co-starters, even though they are very rarely, if ever, on the field together.  Upshaw plays on run downs.)  Dumervil was extremely disruptive as a pass rusher, he is consistently in the backfield harassing and hurrying quarterbacks.  Pro Football Focus had him rated as the Ravens best defensive player in 2013.  Now he’s had a year in the system and he seems ready to maximize his role even further.  Plus Terrell Suggs looks healthy and ready on the other side.  Add the fact that the offense will be improved and the fact that the Ravens will be playing with a lead more this season and that spells more snaps and more sacks for Doom.

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3.  Kyle Jusczcyk Will Catch At Least 50 Passes.

I’ve been screaming about this guy all preseason.  Gary Kubiak obviously loves Kyle’s football skills and this kid has breakout season written all over him.  Good hands, good speed for his position, and the ability to run over defenders make him a matchup nightmare for linebackers and safeties.  That power aspect makes him a nightmare for smaller corners too.  Jusczck has lined up as an H-Back, a wideout, a tight end, a slot receiver, and as a fullback in the four preseason games.  Expect the same when the games start counting.  And I don’t think his presence in the offense will take catches away from Dennis Pitta or Steve Smith either (assuming Smith is playing mostly in the slot.) We believe this will be a pass-first offense, remember, there will be plenty of footballs to go around.

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4. Lorenzo Taliaferrro Will Get Significant Carries This Season

I said he’d be the Opening Day starter, but I’m wrong, as Bernard  Pierce will get the starting call on Sunday.  But I think Lorenzo outplayed every other Raven running back in the preseason and he looked like a man amongst boys playing versus the second and third stringers this August.  He’s better than Pierce is, and Pierce is pretty good. But Pierce gets injured a lot too, which will automatically give Taliaferro carries, and I think Lorenzo will win the back-up job outright by season’s end anyway.  (Forsett is listed ahead of Taliaferro on the depth chart too, but that’s fake.) Lorenzo can pass block effectively, which will help his cause, and he’s got the skill set to succeed in the Kubiak scheme.  Pierce and Rice were terrible last season, if that carries over it’ll be Flacco and Lorenzo rollin’ in a Benzo…….

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5. The Ravens Will Be A Wild Card Team

The Ravens should be better than 8-8 this year.  The talent is there, they are well coached and the offense has new life.  The problem may be depth, but if the Purple and Black can stay relatively healthy, they should be a playoff team.  I’m looking for a vastly improved offense and a defense that will come together as the season wears on.  Cincinnati should win the division, but it doesn’t matter either way, just get in the postseason dance; then anything can happen……

Let’s Go Ravens!

 

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