I would love to be able to tell you right now that the Ravens are going to repeat as Super Bowl Champions.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the way it works in the NFL. For any team to win a championship, a lot of things have to go right. They have to stay relatively healthy, they have to get the right matchups, they have to make the playoffs, you know, little things like that.
Having said all that, the Ravens have as good a shot as anybody. Here are five reasons why:
1) No complacency – One of the reasons teams have trouble repeating is that after winning a championship, the players tend to be…well, they just don’t want it as much any more. “Look man,” they seem to say, “we just won one of theese things. Won’t that carry us for a while? Get of my back, I’ll be in Tahiti this offseason…training.”
This years’ Ravens team won’t have that problem, mostly because practically the whole team is new. There are a whopping 36 new players on this team, and only one (former New York Giant Chris Canty) has a championship ring. Besides, you think John Harbaugh is gonna let his foot off the gas for a second? Especially with his lunatic brother in San Francisco favored to go back to the Super Bowl? No chance.
2) The Defense – Somebody explain to me how a defense loses two Hall of Famers, one of which is still playing for another team, and gets BETTER? How does that happen? They have the best GM in football in Ozzie Newsome, that’s how. Newsome somehow snaked Elvis Dumervil out of Denver when Denver thought they had a deal done with him. With a healthy Terrell Suggs on one side and Dumervil on the other, plus the master of pressure Steve Spagnuolo on the defensive coaching staff, this defense is going to be an absolute nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. To paraphrase the great American hero, B. A. Baracus, “I pity the fool that lines up at quarterback against the Ravens.”
3) Joe Flacco – I do not understand how this guy was ever considered a liability, but that is certainly not the case any longer. Now the undisputed team leader, this is his time to shine. And if you think the huge contract that he signed in the off season will make him less likely to work, you don’t know the man at all. Flacco had a postseason for the ages last year, topping it off with a title, and then he got paid. He did what fans say players never do, he played out his original contract, then rolled the dice on a one year franchise tag and came up sevens. How can you not like this guy? If he wins another Super Bowl this year, they need to make a statue for him. Well, maybe not yet, but, look, the guy can play and he has no fear. None. Did I mention he’s only 28? Or that he has not only never missed the playoffs, but has won at least one playoff games each year? DJ Khaled writes songs about this guy in his sleep. He is the MAN. Period.
4) Ray Rice – The 26 year old running back is flat out one of the best backs in football. Last year he had over 1500 yards from scrimmage, and that was DOWN from his average of 1646 per year. If you take out his rookie year when he was a part time player, that average becomes a ridiculous 1876 yards. He’s a beast, and he’ll be even better with the increased role of Bernard Pierce to spell him more. Look for his yards per touch to go up, resulting in more yards on less touches, leaving him fresher down the stretch.
5) Tom Brady and Peyton Manning – Wait, what? How are these guys, two of the league’s best quarterbacks, heck, two of HISTORY’S best quarterbacks, a reason that the Ravens have as good shot at repeating? Simple: the Ravens own them both. Brady’s postseason stats vs. the Ravens – 3 TDs and 7 INTs with a 1-2 record, and would be 0-3 if not for the fact that Lee Evans has hands like feet (they stink). Manning actually has a winning postseason record (2-1) against the Ravens, but in one of those wins he posted a horrific 39.6 passer rating. Overall in three games, Manning has a rather pedestrian 5 TDs and 5 INTs. The most important thing is that the Ravens are not the least bit intimidated by these two, and since the AFC champion is likely going to have to beat at least one of them, knowing that they have beaten them before bodes well for the defending champs.
There are, of course, reasons that they may not win, like missng Anquan Boldin, questions of who will take over for Ray Lewis as the teams emotional leader, and, of course, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning (forget all that slop I wrote up there, these are LIVING LEGENDS here, come on). And, of course, injuries are unpredictable. But barring significant injuries, the Ravens will be in the mix, and in July, that’s really all you can ask.