This is a bit of a surprise.
At first sight, the Ravens look like a team that could return to the AFC Championship, like last year.
But when one digs deeper, it's evident that the Ravens are a team on the downfall.
For the past few years, Baltimore has been a team that has relied on a dominant defense and a middle-of-the-pack offense.
The Ravens defense looks to be in good shape entering 2012; Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata are some of the elite players on that unit. However, Lewis is getting old, and he missed four games last year while only recording 95 tackles.
Reed has flirted with retirement talks. It might just be a ruse to get a new contract extension, but it could also be something that he is seriously thinking about doing. Retiring would leave a huge void at safety, and the loss would be worse considering that fact that the Ravens don't have a good safety waiting in the wings.
Ed Reed isn't the only one with contract problems. Star RB Ray Rice seems to be unhappy with being franchised. He, like every other player in the league, wants long-term security for his job. Rice led the league in yards from scrimmage and is by far the Ravens' best offensive player.
Suggs suffered an injury during offseason workouts and is expected to be out for the year. The star LB led the team in sacks with 14. He also recorded 70 tackles this past season.
Baltimore has some problems to work out before the start of the season. Otherwise, the Ravens could be in for a tough season.
If the Ravens can get contract issues worked out, they might manage 11 wins. If not, look for nine to 10 wins from the Ravens.