Will The Baltimore Ravens Be Able To Climb To The Top In 2017?
2016 Season Recap
The 2016 season was a setback for the Ravens. Since winning the Super Bowl after the 2012 season, the Ravens have only made the playoffs once, and have missed the playoffs in two straight seasons for the first time in the John Harbaugh/Joe Flacco era. The short answer is simple…if they can stay healthy and win the close games, yes.
There is absolutely no reason the Baltimore Ravens should have a repeat of the past couple seasons. They have way too much talent coming back to not be successful next season.
A few close losses early in the season led the Ravens to a 3-4 start. They lost by 1 at home to the Raiders in Week 4 and then followed that up with a 6 point loss at home to the Redskins. Then they went to New York and lost by 4 to the Giants and 8 to the Jets. If they win two of those games, they make the playoffs. Let’s look at a couple other close games.
On Christmas day, the Ravens played the Pittsburgh Steelers in a classic. If not for an incredible play by Antonio Brown, the Ravens would have swept the division champions, and would have been crowned AFC North champs instead.
Judging by the stats the Ravens had this season, saying yes might seem illogical. The Ravens averaged 21.4 ppg (points per game) this season on offense, good for 21st in the NFL. That will not cut it moving forward. Take the Atlanta Falcons, for example, they averaged 33.8 ppg this season, and made a deep run into the playoffs.
Offense isn’t everything, though, and the Ravens defense was still a Top 10 scoring defense in the league. Baltimore gave up an average of 20.1 ppg this season. That is pretty good. Take into account that 5 of the 8 losses by the Ravens this season were by a combined 30 points, and you can see why they finished 8-8.
At season’s end, the Ravens had a whopping 22 players on IR (injured reserve). That is astonishing. Terrell Suggs is having bicep surgery this offseason, and if he can stay healthy in 2017, he should get back to form. Linebacker C.J. Mosley is a great young talent on the defensive side of the ball, but has also had some injury problems. 2015 1st-Round Pick Wide Receiver Breshad Perriman will have to step up with Steve Smith retiring, but he has all the talent to do so.
In 2017, look for the Ravens to run the ball more. They were 28th in the league in rypg (rushing yards per game), averaging 91.4 ypg. With Coach Mornhinweg returning, the offense will still rely on quarterback Joe Flacco to lead them to wins, but they will have a more balanced attack this season.
Defensively, the Ravens struggled with stopping the pass. Again, the Ravens were a Top 10 team in passing defense, but they struggled to create turnovers when the quarterback dropped back to pass. Aside from that, they gave up too many first down conversions passing the ball. If the Ravens can stick to the receivers on third down, and make tackles, they should be a playoff caliber team.
Heading into the 2017 season, some sports betting sites have the Ravens at 30-to-1 odds of winning the Super Bowl, much like the Atlanta Falcons odds before this season. As long as the Ravens can run the ball and not put pressure on Flacco to win them games, they should be able to score a ton this season. They have the talent on that side of the ball. If they make the playoffs, it will be because of the already stellar defense. If they win the Super Bowl, it will be because of a well-balanced squad.