Sports

NFL Previews That Don’t Suck: AFC North

 

Baltimore Ravens

Coach: John Harbaugh

The Ravens of Bodymore, Murdaland (you’re welcome Wire fans) are in a situation similar to the Steelers. The perennial contender is just two seasons removed from a Super Bowl victory, but only managed to go 8-8 in 2013. Joe Flacco was the sixth-best passer in the NFL last year, but it just didn’t translate. The Ravens were 30th in the league in rushing last year.

Ray Rice also had a down year with an injury. That may continue since he’s serving a suspension for training to be a domestic violence advocate (nice job, NFL). Getting rid of the terrible Michael Oher should help. Good thing they made that movie when they did. Having Eugene Monroe for a full season should remedy some of that. Adding Steve Smith at receiver might help, but he’s 35. The tight end duo of Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels is intriguing.

Defensively, Haloti Ngata will continue to devour offensive lineman, Terrell Suggs will still be from Ball So Hard University and Lardarius Webb will not tolerate anything thrown his way. Bookending Suggs with Elvis Dumervil because of a fax error last year was a coup and will continue to produce results. Who knew this team could lose Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and only have a slight dropoff in production?

 

2013 Record: 8-8, 3rd in AFC East

AFC North Record: 3-3

 

Notable Losses: FB Vonta Leach, DE Arthur Jones, TE Ed Dickson

Notable Additions: WR Steve Smith, TE Owen Daniels, RB Justin Forsett

Notable Draft Picks: LB CJ Mosley, DT Timmy Jernigan, DE Brent Urban

 

Best Case Scenario: 11-5, AFC East Champion

The AFC North really is wide open. If the Bengals and Steelers play badly (and even if they play well), there’s no reason this team can’t win.

Worst: 6-10

Then again they do have some aging players (along with Smith, Suggs is 32 and Dumervil is 30). They’ll also have to deal with domestic violence advocate Ray Rice.

 

2014 Schedule:

vs. Bengals

vs. Steelers

@ Browns

vs. Panthers

@ Colts

@ Bucs

vs. Falcons

@ Bengals

@ Steelers

vs. Titans

Bye

@ Saints

vs. Chargers

@ Dolphins

vs. Jaguars

@ Texans

vs. Browns