At this point of the preseason every NFL fan thinks their team is ready to start a Super Bowl run, and the folks here in Baltimore are no exception. While the Ravens have looked impressive thus far, there are a handful of areas that might present obstacles on their road to that elusive Lombardi trophy.
This unit was spotty at best last season and then proceeded to lose Ben Grubbs to the Saints via free agency back in March.
Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher are serviceable at the tackle spots but neither is very consistent. Oher seems to get a costly penalty every single week and McKinnie almost didn't even bother showing up for training camp.
The team has promising talent in Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski, but there is no guarantee they will be able to contribute anything in their first professional season.
As much as Ravens fans crave a high-powered passing offense, the team will still depend on Ray Rice to move the chains, so hopefully this unit can still create some holes for him.
With Terrell Suggs out for at least the first six games (and likely more), the Ravens will need to find a way to replace not only his sack production, but a player who will get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
T-Sizzle finished with 14 sacks in 2011 and was named AP Defensive Player of the Year. Replacing him will likely be Paul Kruger and Courtney Upshaw.
Who will lead the Ravens in sacks in 2012?
Kruger has a high motor and has shown flashes of his pass rushing ability but he obviously doesn't have the same skill set as Suggs, or even Jarret Johnson, who also left Baltimore during the offseason. Upshaw is a physical freak but he's a rookie and will likely have some growing pains adjusting to the speed of the pro game.
Lack of Depth:
Ravens Nation (I really hate that term) is as giddy as a girl at a Justin Bieber concert after the preseason Joe Flacco has put together. He's looked confident and his throws have been extremely accurate.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but...what if he gets hurt and has to miss an extended amount of time?
Behind Flacco the team has Tyrod Taylor, who is still more likely to run the ball than throw it, and Curtis Painter, who looked relatively unspectacular during his time as starter for the Colts last season.
The Ravens are not just a playoff-caliber team, but a Super Bowl-caliber team, so to enter a season without a quality, veteran backup seems foolish. However, they did the same thing last season and things worked out well, so what do I know?
Also, the lack of depth behind Ray Rice and Ed Reed scares me a bit as well. Let's hope some of the Ravens' young talent develops quickly.
Did you know the Ravens will face 11 former Pro Bowl quarterbacks this season? Not to mention four of those signal callers are former Super Bowl winners and five of last season's top 10 defenses.
With these numbers it's not hard to believe that Baltimore has the 4th toughest schedule in the league (and somehow the Patriots have the easiest). The Ravens have a roster mix of veteran leadership and young, promising talent so they are up for the challenge of another postseason run, but the folks at the league office didn't do them any favors.