Welcome to “This Is Totally Your Year,” our overly optimistic preview of the 2014-15 NFL season for all 32 teams. We’ve broken down why every team — yes, even your team (and yes, even your team, Rams fans) — will win it all this year. We’ll also give some reasons for pessimism and even estimate an actual season prediction. Next up: The Baltimore Ravens.
Gosh, just how likable are the Ravens? So likable. Like, just brimming with personality and charm and each player is nothing short of adorable. In a poll of “most liked players,” the Ravens would undoubtedly take the first 53 spots on the list — led by Joe “Bubbles” Flacco and Ray “Nice” Rice. Am I right?
Okay, so, that’s not true. None of it is. In fact, this team hasn’t had someone worth rooting for since Ray Lewis left. That’s right: The most likable guy on the team was RAY LEWIS. Yeah, things are dire in the city where “The Wire” was filmed.
Thankfully, football isn’t about winning people over with your stand-up comedy set. It’s about scoring touchdowns and preventing the other team from doing so. And the Ravens look like they’re ready to get back to their Super Bowl-winning ways this season, because…
Joe Flacco is primed for a bounce-back year.
Earlier today, we talked about how big contracts tend to turn elite athletes into shells of their former selves, since they’ve gotten the paper already and who cares about anything once you’ve got the success and the money? But there’s almost nothing worse than being perceived as a guy who took the money and ran (into a brick wall of shit). Flacco had 22 touchdowns vs. 10 interceptions in 2012. Post-big contract, in 2013, he had 19 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. That’s what we in the industry call “getting worse.”
But Gary Kubiak is the offensive coordinator in Baltimore now, and it sounds like he’ll be focused on the ground game and minimizing Flacco’s propensity for mistakes. Turnovers are absolute killers in the NFL — Andy Dalton was the only playoff quarterback to throw at least 20 INTs last year. If Flacco can keep those down and let his weapons do their thing, the offense will be much improved.
Steve Smith is here, and he’s out for blood.
Why the Panthers cut legendary wide receiver Steve Smith, I’ll never know. If I ever have the opportunity to join a fantasy bar fight league, Steve Smith is my first pick. This guy doesn’t give a fuck. He’s the perfect free agent addition to the Ravens, who had to count on Flacco for leadership last year after Anquan Boldin was traded. Bro, would you ask a jar of mayo to be your leader? No. You want the hot sauce, if you had to pick any condiment to lead a football team. Steve Smith is a habanero. He’ll run underneath and fuck shit up while Torrey Smith bolts downfield. I like that combination.
The defense is good again, apparently.
I kind of stopped paying attention to the Ravens defense after Lewis and Ed Reed left, but reportedly, there are still guys to appreciate on that side of the ball. Assuming Chris Canty and Haloti Ngata don’t die of old age, they should help anchor a defensive line that also features budding star/beast monster person Brandon Williams. For real though, look at this and ask yourself, DID THIS DUDE JUST DID THIS?
You back those guys up with a linebacking corps of Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and Daryl Smith, and you have a kick-ass defense. Not a very deep defense, but definitely a defense that kicks asses.
Give it up for everyone’s favorite, Ray Rice! I’ll wait for your applause.
Anyway, yeah, he can’t be much worse than he was last year, so hopefully he comes back from his two-game suspension invigorated or some shit. You gotta hope for the best on this one.
Reasons for pessimism: As I’ve stated throughout all my AFC North previews, I really have no idea how good this division is. It could be terrible, it could be decent. It it’s decent, the Ravens are in trouble, because a couple of losses to the Steelers and Bengals early could derail the season before it begins. Plus, yeah, Joe Flacco kinda sucks.
Actual season prediction: 6-10, third in the AFC North. I’m not feeling these guys. Sorry.
Photo via Getty