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Super Bowl Contender: Why the Ravens Will Live Up To Expectations in 2010

Old AccountSenior Writer IJune 23, 2010

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10:  (L-R) Ed Reed #20 and Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens warm up against the New England Patriots during the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens will enter training camp in about a months time in an unfamiliar situation.

This being a Super Bowl favorite heading into the 2010 season.

It is clear that many NFL fans and writers alike are impressed with the Ravens offseason.

Whether it is the addition of Anquan Boldin and Dante Stallworth to bolster the weapons, or the drafting of Sergio Kindle and Terrence Cody to bring youth for the defense, everyone is happy in Baltimore.

The question remains, can the team live up to expectations?

As ESPN.com James Walker mentioned in his blog on Tuesday, the Ravens play much better as the underdog ( well, at least the last two seasons).

However, I see that changing this season. We are looking at a team that is hungry for a Super Bowl (only two men on roster have a Super Bowl ring).

The past two years, the Ravens have made the playoffs and have put together a team that has contender potential.

But we all know how the story book ended at the hands of the Steelers and the Colts.

Now, there is a change of chemistry within the Ravens organization.

Third year starter Joe Flacco is emerging as the leader of the offense, which his teammates have attested to.

Veteran receiver Derrick Mason had an interview a few months ago with the Baltimore Ravens website, where he gave his thoughts on Flacco:

"I think he's become more of that vocal leader now that you've got to have,. "Not all the time, but you've got to have it at some point in the game or season where the quarterback has to step up and be vocal. Hearing it from your quarterback, it means something a little different than from anybody else. That's what you want from your quarterback is that maturity and confidence and Joe has it,".

The torch is being passed. Sure, Ray Lewis may be the most respected man on the team right now, but Flacco is possessing leadership that will bring him closer to his teammates, especially his new weapons.

Flacco is off to a good start with Boldin and Stallworth. Both have been doubted by outsiders, but feel comfortable that they will be put in a position to succeed within the offense.

We also have a competition on the offensive side of the ball. Rookie tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta have been impressive to the staff, battling for the top spots on the depth chart.

Pitta seems to be more of the complete tight end, as he is similar to Todd Heap in many ways.

Dickson does show an explosive ability, as his athleticism makes him a great target in the slot.

Let's not forget Mason, who continues to be one of the more productive receivers in the league.

Now that more attention will be focused on Boldin, Mason will be more of a threat in single coverage, especially on third down conversions.

The offensive line should also be one of the better groups in the league. Jared Gaither is in a contract situation, so there is no reason for why he won't be a top five left tackle in 2010.

This years offense of the Ravens is much more explosive than we have ever seen in the teams history.

With the changes made at the receiver and tight end position, Flacco has no excuses to take a step back in his young career.

It is time for the offense to carry this team, and keep the defense fresh.

As Mason said, "This team is capable of scoring 25-35 points a game".

If the Ravens offense can put up those many points, the team is in great shape.

There is also no reason for why the Ravens defense shouldn't be one of the best in the league once again.

Draftees Kindle and Cody were the headlines of the draft, and for good reason.

Cody has been motivated by the coaching staff, getting in shape, and becoming one of the best run stoppers early in his career.

A combination of Ngata and Cody on the defensive front should put Baltimore as the best rushing defense in the league.

Lewis should have another Pro Bowl season, especially with the holes that will be opened up for him.

He may have lost speed, but Ray is the defensive version of Peyton Manning.

The more advantages given to Lewis, the more dangerous he is.

If there is one question for the Ravens squad, it is the secondary.

Ed Reed is nearing the end of a famous career, andΒ most likely is facing his final season in an NFL uniforms.

The cornerbacks is a better group than people give credit for, but the health of the secondary is key.

However, deep in the NFL season, the pass defense will turn out solid.

Dominique Foxworth played much better down the stretch in Greg Mattison's system.

Lardarius Webb and Fabien Washington will be good second-third string combinations.

With an expected pass rush to improve, the turnovers should be near the top of the league, after a disappointing season in that category.

Overall, the Baltimore Ravens will not disappoint with the hype they are receiving this off season.

Sometimes change is good, and general manager Ozzie Newsome knew changes had to be made if the Lombardi trophy wanted to return to Baltimore.

The combination of the youth and the veterans puts the Ravens not only as a favorite in the AFC, but a contender for the Super Bowl this upcoming season.

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Matt Miselis is a Baltimore Ravens/NFL Featured Columnist for BleacherReport.com. He also contributes to NFLTouchdown.com.

Follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/MattMiselis

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