NFL Team Previews: Baltimore Ravens

Pigskin HeavenCorrespondent IAugust 24, 2009

PITTSBURGH - JANUARY 18:  Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Championship game on January 18, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Pigskin Heaven's Sascha Bartels is breaking down every single team in the NFL prior to the season. Here is his analysis and forecast for the Baltimore Ravens. Click on a team to read their preview.

AFC East: BUF | MIA | NE | NYJ

AFC North: BAL | CIN | CLE | PIT

AFC South: IND | HOU | JAX | TEN



NFC North: CHI | DET | GBA | MIN

NFC South: ATL | CAR | NOL | TBA


What’s new?

2008 Ravens' defensive coordinator Rex Ryan is now the Jets head coach, and starting linebacker Bart Scott followed him to the Meadowlands.

Not too much else is new in Baltimore. Derrick Mason retired, the Ravens signed Drew Bennett. Drew Bennett retired, Derrick Mason un-retired.

The Ravens did add tight end L.J. Smith and QB John Beck, but most of their main additions to the roster came through the draft. Tackle Willie Anderson retired, and a replacement was found right away in Michael Oher.

The rest of the draft was used to implement some use into the defense,  most notably with the addition of defensive end Paul Kruger.

Three burning questions

Is Joe Flacco due for a sophomore slump?

Flacco had a very impressive rookie season. He completed 60 percent of his passes, a great number for the first season, and he came 29 yards short of 3000 yards.

His only flaws were a nearly 1:1 touchdown to interception ratio and an average 80.3 QB rating.

Since Derrick Mason has decided to return, Flacco’s chances of surpassing his 2008 totals seem good, but with Mason and Heap nearing the end of their effective careers, and Mark Clayton not developing into a No. 1 target, the Ravens will need to help out their young franchise QB soon.

Will the defense lose a step or four?

Rex Ryan leaves, but the defense has been effective under several different defensive minds for the better part of a decade now.

Ed Reed has yet to practice with contact, and Ray Lewis is at the twilight of his career as well. Haloti Ngata is one of the best defensive linemen in football, but I’m not that impressed with the rest of the line.

I also believe that the corners can be beaten. Certainly, the Ravens will still possess a top flight defense, but there could be some cracks in the foundation.

Will one runner emerge as the workhorse?

It wasn’t so much a running back-by-committee type of situation in Baltimore as it was a different guy featured every week due to the others being injured.

Last year the featured runner was supposed to be Willis McGahee, who would get spelled by Ray Rice.

I think this year those roles may get reversed, and if healthy, expect Rice to become the main load bearer for the offense.


For the prognosis and final record, read the originally posted article here.

This is an original article by Pigskin Heaven Staffer, Sascha Bartels. You can read it, more of Sascha's articles, and more from the Pigskin Heaven staff here.