2011 Baltimore Ravens Predictions and Super Bowl Futures Odds
by Aaron Smith - 8/24/2011
The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000. While the team has been close on multiple occasions, it hasn’t been able to get back to the big game for a chance at a second ring. Ray Lewis and the Ravens defense is getting older, but it is still one of the better defenses in the NFL. Joe Flacco and the offense have quite a bit of ability, but they have struggled badly against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Baltimore hasn’t been quite as consistent as they need to be in recent years.
When Jim Harbaugh was named head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, the Harbaugh brothers made NFL history. They are the first pair of brothers to serve as head coaches in the NFL. John Harbaugh may no longer be the only head coach in the family, but he is definitely the brother with a better chance at success in the near future. Can the Ravens get over the hump this year?
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The Baltimore Ravens offense was mediocre last year. That unit finished 22nd in the league in total offense, and only 14th in the league in rushing offense. The Ravens averaged just 114 yards per game on the ground last season, which was a drop off of 24 yards per game from the previous season. Ray Rice is one of the best running backs in the league, but the Ravens didn’t do as good of a job blocking for him last year. The front office made a big move to change that this season when they brought in fullback Vonta Leach.
Flacco will be the starting quarterback once again, and that’s not a bad thing. It seems he isn’t the hot commodity in fantasy leagues that he was last year, but last season was definitely his best year as a pro. Flacco had an impressive 25/10 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions. The bad news for him is the team got rid of Derrick Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Todd Heap in the offseason. The Ravens hope Lee Evans can provide the team with a solid deep threat on the outside. They also need Anquan Boldin to be much better than he was last season.
It’s no secret that the Baltimore defense is the true strength of this team. Lewis is still the motivational leader of this defense. He isn’t the player he was a few years ago, but he is still a very good linebacker. While he might not get the glory, the best player on this Ravens defense right now is defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Ngata clogs up the middle on a consistent basis, and he also picked 5.5 sacks last season. Kelly Gregg is no longer on the front line, but the Ravens have high expectations for Terrance Cody. Expect the Ravens to be one of the best run defenses in the league again this year.
Terrell Suggs had a huge season last year. He gives the Ravens a great pass rusher on the outside. Jarret Johnson is an underrated linebacker who has played in an amazing 113 consecutive games. The secondary looks a little different than it did a year ago. The Ravens had a surprising amount of difficulty against the pass last season. Chris Carr, LaDarius Webb, Domonique Foxworth, and Jimmy Smith should all see time at the corner spots. Ed Reed turns 33 this year, but he is still one of the better guys to have at the back of a defense.
The Ravens were much improved in the special teams category last year. Billy Cundiff made it to the Pro Bowl because of a season where he finished with an impressive 40 touchbacks. He also missed only three field goals all year. Sam Koch ranked second in the AFC with a net punt average of 39.2. The Ravens need a little better production out of their punt return team, but as a whole the special teams are a strong point for Baltimore.
2011 Baltimore Ravens Schedule
The Ravens season starts out with a showdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Baltimore. The Ravens get a tough break by playing a second-place schedule. They must play the Chargers, who will likely be the best team in the AFC West this year. In addition, they’ll play a tough New York Jets team for a second straight season. The good news for Baltimore is six of their last eight games look like games they should win. Overall, the schedule isn’t too difficult for the Ravens this season.
Baltimore Ravens Division, Conference and Super Bowl Odds
For a second straight year, the books aren’t sure who to favor in the AFC North. BetOnline lists the Baltimore Ravens at +100 in the AFC North (just behind the Steelers, who are -120). What about the team’s chances to win the AFC Championship? BetOnline lists the Ravens at +650 to win the AFC title. JustBet puts the Ravens at +1,500 to win the Super Bowl this season. What about the team total for Baltimore? The ‘over/under’ is placed at 10.5 wins by JustBet.
2011 Baltimore Ravens Predictions
Can this be the year the Ravens get a shot at another Super Bowl title? I still think the Ravens have the ability to be a player in the race, but the lack of a consistent passing game will likely hurt them. Expect Rice to have a sensational year out of the backfield. It will likely be Boldin and the other receivers that hold the key to the Ravens playoff hopes. In the end, I expect Baltimore to win 11 games in the regular season, but get knocked out of the playoffs before the Super Bowl.
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