Torrey Smith's Vertical Threat Makes Baltimore Ravens AFC Super Bowl Favorites

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystSeptember 10, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Torrey Smith #82 of the Baltimore Ravens breaks a tackle by  Sterling Moore #29 of the New England Patriots to score a touchdown in the third quarter during their AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens have been a Super Bowl contender defined by their defense for many years, but not only has the stage been set this year for the Ravens offense to perhaps shoulder the load but the player that could put the team over the top is the sort of vertical speedster that almost seems out of place in Baltimore.

Wide receiver Torrey Smith had one of the more memorable debuts in the history of the National Football League last year, with his first three NFL receptions all going for scores against the St. Louis Rams.

The 23-year-old went on to catch 50 passes for 841 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie, and as Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco recently told Jamison Hensley of ESPN a more confident Smith is primed to take the reins as the top receiving option for the Ravens.

"He's sure of himself," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "When you don't what to worry about a simple thing as where to line up, you're able to focus a lot more energy on more important things. He can relax and play. He can be who he is. That's what is exciting."

What's exciting for fans of the Ravens is the element that Smith brings to the Baltimore offense, especially in their new up-tempo, no-huddle passing attack.

Perhaps not since the team arrived in Baltimore have the Ravens had a receiver who is not only capable of stretching defenses and hitting the "home run" like Smith but who also terrifies opposing secondaries.

Not only does that make him a dangerous weapon in his own right, but it only serves to open up underneath routes for the likes of Anquan Boldin and free up running room for tailback Ray Rice.

No wonder Joe Flacco is excited.

If tonight's showing against the Cincinnati Bengals is any indication the Baltimore Ravens may have one of the most formidable offenses in the AFC this season, and when you add that to an always-potent Baltimore defense you have the recipe for a trip to New Orleans.