If you look across the AFC at all of the teams, the Baltimore Ravens are one team that consistently performs well. Yes, they have had their fair share of problems to deal with just like any other but so what? Offense was the main issue but things are finally starting to come together in that area, at last!
The Ravens were "close but no cigar" in the playoffs this past season, missing it by just a bit and finishing 11-5. But with a rookie head coach and QB, they did an amazing job at turning the team around from the disastrous season they had the year before.
Joe Flacco had become the first rookie QB in NFL history that won his first two playoff games which took the Ravens straight to the AFC Championship. A place they had not been since 2000.
Not to mention rushing 52 times for 180 yards and 2 TDs plus a career long 38-yd. TD run and pulling off a phenomenal 43 yard reception just to name a few accomplishments. Quite spectacular for his first go around in the NFL and what a way to start!
Putting that aside and moving on...
The strength of the team is almost rock solid. Let us take a look back at last year on defense. The top three leaders were Ray Lewis leading in tackles with 84 solo and 76 assists. Age is nothing but a number, with 14 years in the league and he is still proving he can get the job done on the field come game time.
Bart Scott came in second with 54 solo tackles and 50 assists followed by Terrell Suggs with 62 solo tackles and 40 assists. Need I say more? Baltimore's defense is still one of the, hands down, top three best in the league.
Ed Reed led the defense on INT's with 9. Beware when he is let loose on the field because you do not know where he may show up and what he has up his sleeve. Do not sleep on this team.
Special teams definitely stepped in when duty called. Brendon Ayanbadejo led with 18 solo tackles and 12 assists. Next in line was Tom Zbikowski with 19 solos and 4 assists and Jameel McClain rounding out third with 8 solos and 9 assists. I was quite impressed with special teams this past 2008-2009 season. They showed they meant business.
On offense punting averages, kickoff returns, completion percentages, passing yards, rushing yards, average gain per play, first downs and average gain per pass and per rush were all quite high numbers.
These guys held their own and proved their worth to all of those disbelievers out there in the world of football.
On defense the number of sacks was low which is something a team typically wants. That just goes to show one of the ways in which Baltimore's defense is one of the best in the league and continues to remain so.
Despite some injuries sustained throughout the season, the Ravens players showed they were true warriors of endurance and vigor. They battled it out despite being a bit bruised and banged up but that did not matter.
For this Ravens team, the impact of their future playoff chances for the 2009 season should be rather high. When the players recovering from injuries last year are back to 100% all will be back in order. Avoid penalties as much as possible, step it up on third down conversions and tighten up on the offense and WIN WIN WIN. Piece of cake!
We have all the right players that will be key on offense and defense so my concern is very little. Numerous changes were made during the off season but you must have the right ingredients for a team to thrive in all the right ways which includes a remarkable head coach that Baltimore has in John Harbaugh.
With that said, keep an eye out for the Baltimore Ravens because they are more and more back on track, gaining steam, where they need to be. Soon enough they will once again reign supreme as kings of the AFC.