Offensive X-factor: Gary Kubiak
The Ravens offense was a mess in 2013, so Baltimore brought in one of the best offensive minds to fix it, hiring former Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak to become their new offensive coordinator.
It's a role in which he's thrived in the past.
Regarded as an offensive guru, Kubiak has won multiple Super Bowls as an offensive assistant coach. He won his first as the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 1994.
Kubiak later joined the Denver Broncos in 1995 to become their offensive coordinator. There, Kubiak helped Denver win back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 1997 and 1998.
After several more years as Denver's offensive coordinator, Kubiak became head coach of the Texans in 2006. He would go on to lead Houston to an unprecedented level success for that franchise.
In 2011, Kubiak led the team to its first-ever first division crown, playoff berth and playoff win. He followed that up with a 12-4 campaign in 2012 and another playoff win in the Wild Card Round.
Kubiak did all of this with an offense that routinely ranked among the NFL's best. Houston set a franchise-record 153.0 rushing yards per game in 2011, which ranked second in the NFL that year.
However, Kubiak knows how to keep his offense balanced. From 2009-2012, Houston's passing offense ranked seventh, seventh, 10th and 11th, respectively.
The Ravens offense is full of talented players, including Dennis Pitta, Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, Ray Rice and Owen Daniels.
How well Kubiak utilizes all of those weapons will determine how well this offense performs in 2014. If Baltimore's offense can just be "average," that will be a significant upgrade from last year.
Defensive X-factor: Cornerback
As mentioned before, the Ravens have two solid cornerbacks in Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb. However, there's very little behind them in the event that either Smith or Webb go down with an injury.
Of all the positions on Baltimore's roster, there might not be a bigger drop-off from the starters to the backups than here.
Asa Jackson and Chykie Brown simply haven't done enough when getting meaningful playing time to show they're capable of making a positive impact.
Those are also the only four corners on the roster. That means Baltimore is one injury way from a safety having to get significant snaps at corner.
Speaking of injuries, Webb missed the entire preseason and training camp while dealing with a back issue. He is expected to return Week 1 against the Bengals though. But having missed so much practice could mean Webb will be rusty.
As if Webb's injury wasn't bad enough, Smith suffered a chest injury in the second exhibition game that knocked him out for the remainder of the 2014 preseason. Jackson also missed a good portion of the preseason with an ankle injury.
Again, this can go from being a solid position to being a big weakness with just one or two injures. How healthy the Baltimore corners stay this year will be a big X-factor on defense.