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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!

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