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Lofty Expectations For Ravens – Browns on Deck

Better than Last Year?

Baltimore ended the 2019 season with the best record and most points scored in the league while breaking an NFL rushing record that stood for 41 years until Lamar Jackson and company staked their claim to that title with 3,296 yards.

Head coach John Harbaugh shared his thoughts on the accomplishment, “It’s like Joe DiMaggio’s record – that’s the record that would never be broken, and it just got broken by the 2019 Baltimore Ravens. It feels really good. The first team I think ever to average 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing in a season. That’s nothing to take lightly. That’s something that these guys are going to have and we’re going to carry with us for a long time, coaches and players.”

But the good vibes didn’t last much longer because the Ravens got knocked off of their pedestal by the Titans in their first playoff game. And now, after months of soul searching as to where it all went so wrong following a regular-season in which it all went so right, we are left to contemplate how this season’s iteration will compare to last.

If we take a look at what the boys in Vegas are saying, we can see that the NFL odds on the Ravens are reflecting them as the team to beat, along with the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. As of this writing, the Sin City and online sportsbooks are dealing Baltimore at +350 to win the AFC, trailing only the Chiefs at +325, and +700 to win the Super Bowl, again behind only KC at +650.

Despite the Ravens being viewed as a half-click below Kansas City, but better than every other team this season, it appears as though Baltimore will be better suited this year to annihilate opponents during the regular season and dethrone the Chiefs as Super Bowl champs. Consider that every offensive position is as good, or better, except for right guard with the retirement of Marshal Yanda.

Lamar Jackson was immense last season, putting up staggering numbers and copping his first MVP title. There is no reason to believe he won’t be at least as good this season and will have another year of seasoning under his belt, which is nothing but a good thing for a 23-year-old wunderkind.

The Ravens’ ground attack was led by Jackson but let’s not forget that Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill also contributed to the record-breaking rushing season. All three will return but they will be joined by J.K. Dobbins, arguably the best pure running back in the 2020 class when he fell to Baltimore late in the second round. It’s a case of the rich getting richer.

The Ravens’ rushing game was so prolific, monopolizing a good portion of their game plan, that it’s not surprising the receiving corps was lightly used, totaling just 1,419 yards, the fewest since the 2011 Jacksonville Jaguars. The corps will be back, almost intact with the exception of Seth Roberts, but this year they will have their featured receiver, Marquise Brown, at full throttle after having a surgical screw removed from his foot.

Baltimore’s offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, believes his second-year receiver will be better because of it, “I think last year, all of us, to a man, were saying, ‘Wow, once ‘Hollywood’ (Brown) has an offseason — a real offseason — wow, that’s going to be something.’ So, I think we are going to see that this year. I really think he’s had a great offseason, physically, and [I’m] very excited about what that looks like this year. [I] can’t wait to get the ball rolling.”

Browns Visit Baltimore in Week 1

Last year the Browns invaded Baltimore in Week 4 and stunned the Ravens, 40-25, accounting for one of only two regular-season losses in 2019. But to be fair, Baltimore was coming off of a 33-28 loss to the Chiefs at Arrowhead and was not so surprisingly a bit worn out when they entertained Cleveland the following week. The Ravens would return the favor later on in the season when they traveled to FirstEnergy Stadium and defeated the Browns, 31-15, in Week 16.

The NFL lines being offered on this game have the Ravens as 10-point home favorites but if Lamar Jackson and his crew of Ravens are bent on redemption after suffering a humiliating loss to the Browns at home last year then you can be sure this game will be decidedly different than last year’s Week 4 showdown. Watch out for Baltimore this season as the Ravens will be flying high all year long!

How “Complete” Are the Ravens as They Enter the 2020 Season?

The Ravens had the best regular season of any team in the National Football League in 2019, yet fell well short of their Super Bowl goals as they were dispatched in their first playoff game at home in an upset loss to the Tennessee Titans.

The team has already put a plan in place to get better in 2020, and also are looking to make sure the letdown of a playoff loss in round two won’t happen again.

According to many they are the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this season, and today NFL.com has a column up about what team in the league is the most “complete,” and the Ravens are right at the top.

Here’s what the piece had to say:

1. Baltimore Ravens

General manager Eric DeCosta has assembled the best roster in the NFL, bar none. Last season, the Ravens led the league in scoring and finished third in scoring defense. Both units are positioned to dominate once again in 2020.

On offense, it obviously starts with Lamar Jackson. The former Heisman Trophy winner and reigning NFL MVP took a massive leap forward in his second pro season, leading the league with 36 touchdown passes and shattering Michael Vick’s QB record with 1,206 rushing yards. Scary thought: He’s only going to get better, with a talented, young supporting cast he can continue to grow alongside. Second-round pick J.K. Dobbins, with his talent, toughness, work ethic and pedigree, was put on Earth to run the football for the Ravens. With Dobbins joining a backfield that already featured Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, Baltimore has every possible skill set you could want from the running back position. Meanwhile, second-year wideout Hollywood Brown can fly, making him a big-play threat on every snap. And tight end Mark Andrews is fresh off a breakout season that ended in the Pro Bowl, thanks to 852 yards and 10 touchdowns. Marshal Yanda’s retirement is a hit to the offensive line, no doubt, but the Ravens boast one of the NFL’s top tackle tandems in 26-year-old Ronnie Stanley and 24-year-old Orlando Brown Jr.

Defensively, Baltimore remains absolutely stacked in the back end, with first-team All-Pro CB Marlon Humphrey fronting one of the league’s most talented secondaries. On the second level, the Ravens snagged first-round pick Patrick Queen, whose athletic game is perfect for the modern NFL. And up front, DeCosta traded for Calais Campbell and added Derek Wolfe in free agency, giving the D-line a pair of experienced, versatile veterans with great leadership skills. Did I mention that Campbell’s been a Pro Bowler in five of the past six seasons?

No NFL team is perfect, but DeCosta’s fine work — in free agency and the draft — has produced a roster with the fewest blemishes in the league today.

Matt Judon Happy with the Ravens, But Still Looking for Long Term Deal

Matt Judon has become a valued asset for the Ravens’ defense, but he’d soon like to secure his worth with a long-term deal, Michael Baca of NFL.com reports.

“I think we have 30 more days to work out a long-term contract,” Judon told reporters in a video conference call Monday. “I’m happy to be a Raven. I want to stay here for as long as I play, but I understand that it’s a business and they kind of have a bad/good problem to have. We have a lot of young talent.”

Coming off his first Pro Bowl season, the Ravens pass rusher signed his franchise tag in late May and assured Baltimore will be getting its 2019 sack leader back for the 2020 season. Teams have until July 15 to sign their franchise-tagged players to long-term deals.

Judon grew his production last year, posting career-high numbers in sacks (9.5), QB hits (33) and forced fumbles (4), while also becoming a key leader for a defense that ranked in the top five in points and yards allowed per game in 2019. Judon’s value doesn’t end on the field either. The 27-year-old has the ability to play both defensive end and outside linebacker, and as a fifth-round pick in 2016, Judon has been a mere blip on the Ravens’ cap during his tenure.

“I’m pleased to be tagged,” Judon said. “I feel like only a few players get to go through this in their lifetime. As much as I want stability in the future, I’m proud of where I’m at and where I came. I’m a fifth-round draft pick out of Grand Valley State.”

Jackson Tweets How Being on the Cover of “Madden 21” is a “Dream Come True”

Many Ravens fans will be purchasing the “Madden 21” video game this summer, and when they do they will have a rare treat as their hometown quarterback, Lamar Jackson, will be on the cover this year.

Jackson, last season’s NFL MVP, tweeted out today how honored he is to be the cover man for this year’s game, which will release in August for all video game systems.

Relive some of Jackson’s 2019 highlights for the 14-2 Ravens!!

Ravens Coach John Harbaugh Concerned About Covid-19 When Camps Open

Covid-19 is still a huge talking point in the NFL, and with training camps set to open in about a month, Ravens coach John Harbaugh still has plenty of concerns about how teams are going to deal with the deadly virus and keeping players and team personal safe.

We’re going to do everything we can do,” Harbaugh said in a radio interview Thursday.

“We’re going to space, we’re going to have masks. But, you know, it’s a communication sport. We have to be able to communicate with each other in person. We have to practice.”

The league “has made very clear they are letting the science and data drive their decision-making,” NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Friday on NFL NOW.

“Like the data that is constantly being updated with each passing day, everything remains in flux, meaning some protocols could change in the weeks to come. Questions like Harbaugh’s about the viability of operating under such requirements are to be expected, especially in a game that is very much fixed in its preseason preparation process.

“Well as another head coach told me, you’ve got other things here,” Pelissero continued. “When you talk about crunching things down. You didn’t have spring practices. Now you have the possibility of not having as much practice, as much padded time through the course of August. As that head coach put it, how are you going to pick your team?

“There’s pro scouting departments that, looking at the possibility of shrinking the preseason, say how are we going to evaluate other rosters when it comes to getting to the waiver process? There are a ton of questions.”

It remains to be seen all the protocols that are put into place to try and keep teams safe once camp opens, but Harbaugh is right in stating that there should be major concerns on how the league is going to handle things just a month from now.

Could the Ravens 2020 Training Camp Be in Another State?

Ravens team president Dick Cass said Thursday that even with Maryland’s stay-at-home order set to be lifted Friday and hospitalizations due to the coronavirus declining, the Ravens could explore moving their training camp to an out-of-state site, Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun reports.

Social-distancing guidelines amid the pandemic have turned the NFL draft and offseason program into virtual events, and Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people remain in effect.

But Cass and team officials have been optimistic that training camp will start, as scheduled, in late July. The Ravens have held camp at their team facility in Owings Mills since 2011. McDaniel College’s Westminster campus hosted it for the first 15 years of the franchise’s history and was the site of Baltimore Colts training camp from 1953 to 1971.

“We’ll consider all options,” Cass said in a video conference call hosted by United Way of Central Maryland. “I think when we think about the option of trying to move our training camp outside Maryland, we don’t like that option. We think that we can conduct training camp safely in Maryland. We know that our building will be absolutely pristine, and I think the safest place to conduct our training camp will be in Maryland, at our facility.”

“But if circumstances don’t allow that, we will explore the options that are available to us. We have to.”

Ravens 2020 Schedule is Out, Team to Open at Home Against Cleveland

The Ravens 2020 schedule is out, and while it’s the easiest schedule in the league in terms of opponents, this team has plenty to prove after losing in the Divisional Round at home to the Titans in January.

Here’s the complete slate:

Week 1: 9/13/20: vs. Browns 1 p.m.

Week 2: 9/20/20: at Texans 4:25 p.m.

Week 3: 9/28/20: vs. Chiefs (MNF) 8:15 p.m.

Week 4: 10/4/20: at Redskins 1 p.m.

Week 5: 10/11/20: vs. Bengals 1 p.m.

Week 6: 10/18/20: at Eagles 1 p.m.

Week 7: 10/25/20: vs. Steelers 1 p.m.

Week 8: 11/1/20: BYE WEEK

Week 9: 11/8/20: at Colts 1 p.m.

Week 10: 11/15/20: at Patriots (SNF) 8:20 p.m.

Week 11: 11/22/20: vs. Titans 1 p.m.

Week 12: 11/26/20: at Steelers (Thanksgiving) 8:20 p.m.

Week 13: 12/3/20: vs. Cowboys (TNF) 8:20 p.m.

Week 14: 12/14/20: at Browns (MNF) 8:15 p.m.

Week 15: 12/20/20: vs. Jaguars 1 p.m.

Week 16: 12/27/20: vs. Giants 1 p.m.

Week 17: 1/3/21: at Bengals 1 p.m.

An Educated Guess at What the 2020 Ravens Schedule Could Look Like

The 2020 Baltimore Ravens schedule will be released in a televised event on Thursday night, and while we already know who the Ravens will go up against and where, we don’t know in what order, or what may or may not be on prime time.

Here are the teams the Ravens will play:

Home: Bengals, Browns, Steelers, Jaguars, Titans, Cowboys, Giants, Chiefs
Away: Bengals, Browns, Steelers, Colts, Texans, Redskins, Eagles, Patriots

Today we give a reminder of the teams that we will see the Ravens in the 2020 season, and we give our guess in what order we will see them in.

(A quick sidebar – we are moving forward with this schedule as if the season will start and play out on time, with no issues due to the covid-19 pandemic).

Sunday 9/13 Week One vs Dallas (NBC Sunday Night Football)
Sunday 9/20 Week Two at Cleveland
Sunday 9/27 Week Three at Philadelphia
Sunday 10/4 Week Four vs New York Giants
Monday 10/12 Week Five vs KC Chiefs (Monday Night Football)
Sunday 10/18 Week Six BYE WEEK
Sunday 10/25 Week Seven at New England
Sunday 11/01 Week Eight vs Pittsburgh
Sunday 11/08 Week Nine vs Jacksonville
Thursday 11/12 Week Ten at Cincinnati (Thursday Night Football)
Sunday 11/22 Week Eleven vs Cleveland
Sunday 11/29 Week Twelve vs Indianapolis
Sunday 12/06 Week Thirteen vs Tennessee (NBC Sunday Night Football)
Sunday 12/13 Week Fourteen at Washington
Sunday 12/20 Week Fifteen at Pittsburgh
Sunday 12/27 Week Sixteen at Houston
Sunday 01/03 Week Seventeen vs Cincinnati