The Baltimore Ravens approach the 2012 regular season with huge expectations for what this year will bring. This is arguably the golden age of the franchise's brief existence with four consecutive playoff berths, each of which saw the Ravens make it to the divisional round or further. Now, they can qualify for a fifth consecutive playoff berth and repeat as division champions for the first time in franchise history.
Though not quite playing to the lofty standards of the 2000 and 2006 units, the defense continued to impress last season. With Ray Lewis discovering the fountain of youth and Ed Reed developing a nose for the ball, they continue to be mainstays as a top-10 defensive unit. Yet this year could mark their most serious challenge, as they will have to play at least a few weeks without reigning Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs.
Even the Ravens offense has been impressive over the past four years, which is impressive considering their past struggles. Ray Rice is in the prime of a potential Hall-of-Fame career, and the receivers are as good as any that the Ravens have ever suited up. Joe Flacco has given the team a franchise quarterback and has led the team to victories while clinching nearly every franchise passing record.
So what will come in 2012? Despite playing in the AFC Championship last year, the Ravens face a good deal of adversity this season. Older players, the Suggs injury, uncertainty on the offensive line and changes on defense are all things that they have to deal with.
There could be many good things that happen to the Ravens in 2012. At the same time, though, pessimists have areas to point to if they want to claim the Ravens will drop off this season.
No one knows what will happen yet, but that doesn't mean we can't guess or that we can't dream big and think up bold predictions for the coming season. So take a look at these bold predictions and feel free to sound off in the comments section if you agree/disagree or if you have something else to add.