2020 Baltimore Ravens Predictions and Season Win Total Picks
Football is a physical, violent game. And the team that is more physical and more violent is going to win more than they are going to lose. The NFL can continue to take public relations-related quarter-measures to try to legislate the brutality of the sport out of the game. But they never will, because at its core savagery is what the sport is all about.
That’s why I was on the bandwagon early for the 2019 Baltimore Ravens. You could see the bloodlust in their souls early on. And after a decade-long submission by teams into more finesse, orchestrated, pass-wacky approaches, the Ravens had the good sense to let loose their primal selves and to bludgeon any team that stood in their path.
The result was a 14-2 regular season and the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Ravens did flop in the playoffs, getting off to a slow, sloppy start against an equally physical and equally hard-nosed Tennessee team. But that doesn’t take away from a season that saw them beat the rest of the league into submission.
I still love this Ravens team. I love their roster, I love their approach and I love their organization. But I’m also bracing for the natural regression this year. Of the 22 teams in the Super Bowl era to win 14 regular season games, only two – the 1990 49ers and the 2004 Patriots – were able to match that total the next year. Those 22 teams combined to average just 10 wins the following season.
There have been six other teams in NFL history that have won either 15 or 16 regular season games. If you add those teams in, then there have been 28 teams that have won 14 or more games in the regular season. Those 28 teams have combined to average 10.8 wins the following season, though.
The momentum from last season will not carry over into this year. Lamar Jackson will be ready to lead Baltimore’s overwhelming rushing offense again this year. And the toughness and talent that this team has in the trenches on both sides of the ball will never go out of style. But there are still reasons – beyond 50 years of NFL history – working against the Ravens this year.
The first reason to suspect a regression is that teams are going to be better prepared for Baltimore’s unique offense. They took a lot of people by surprise with their run-focused attack, especially how they utilized Jackson. But just as teams eventually adjusted their schemes and defenses for guys like Michael Vick, the NFL will have some wrinkles to throw at Jackson.
Also, because Jackson runs the ball so much – 176 carries last season and 323 rushes in his first two seasons – the injury risk for the reigning league MVP is very high.
Next, there is a wealth of statistical indicators that suggest the Ravens will return to the pack. Simple things like their 5-1 record in close games or their plus-10 turnover differential suggest that the sledding could get a lot tougher this season.
Finally, Baltimore has an extremely difficult schedule. Opening games against the Browns, at Houston and versus Kansas City should yield at least one loss. They also have rock fights at Philadelphia and against Pittsburgh in back-to-back weeks. After their bye week, things get cranked up even further, starting with back-to-back road games at Indianapolis and at New England. Those two games are followed by a revenge game versus Tennessee, a short week before a Thursday game at rival Pittsburgh, and then a tilt with a talented Dallas team.
I just listed 10 games that Baltimore could conceivably lose. Most of those are going to be physical, emotional battles. Even if the Ravens go 6-4 in those games – no small feat! – they would still have to go undefeated in their other six games just to earn a ‘push’ on this total.
I’m going to follow history and follow the numbers on this one. I can see them going 10-6 or 11-5. But I will be stunned if the Ravens put together a 13-win season this year after taking 14 games last season. I don’t see it happening.
Take Baltimore Ravens ‘Under’ 12.0 Wins.
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