Two-a-Days: 2010 Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens sneaked into the NFL postseason last year, and they did it with a young quarterback for the second year in a row. Now that Joe Flacco has yet another year under his belt, and the Ravens have given him yet another offensive weapon, perhaps the Ravens can make good on their high expectations for the first time in a decade.
2009 NFL Season Recap
The Ravens squeaked into the playoffs last year with a little help from the football gods. Their 9-7 record was among four such records in the AFC last year, but it was the Ravens (and the New York Jets) that won the tiebreakers. Like the Jets, the Ravens took advantage of their fortune and won their opening round playoff game by destroying the New England Patriots in Foxborough. In that postseason game alone, it was easy to see who the Ravens go-to guy was, and it wasn’t a wide receiver or their budding quarterback, instead it was their thick-legged running back, Ray Rice who stole the show that game. Rice finished the year with 1,339 yards and a 5.3-yards-per-carry average. But he didn’t stop on the ground, Rice eclipsed the 2,000-yards from scrimmage mark by catching 78 passes out of the backfield for 702 receiving yards. However, as good as Rice was in the opening playoff game and against the Indianapolis Colts in the Divisional Round, the Ravens still fell to the Colts, who ended the Ravens season on a sour note.
2010 Offseason Transactions
Although not their biggest wideout acquisition of the season, the Ravens signing of Donte Stallworth was a controversial one given Stallworth’s admitted drunk driving accident that saw the wideout sentenced to jail for 30 days. However, the Ravens wanted to boost their receiving core even more, so they traded for the Arizona Cardinal’s Anquan Boldin and re-upped Derrick Mason to keep him in Baltimore through the 2011 NFL season. Defensively, the Ravens had all kinds of issues during the offseason. They had to terminate oft-injured cornerback Samari Rolle, signed Ken Hamlin, put Ed Reed and rookie Terrence Cody on the PUP list, and placed starting cornerback Dominique Foxworth on injured reserve.
2010 NFL Prediction
For the first time in their existence in Baltimore, the Ravens have more questions on defense than on offense. Ed Reed is seriously hurt, and perhaps will never be the same again. Foxworth’s puts a lot of pressure on the Ravens other cornerback, Fabian Washington. And Ravens linebacking core, once a factory for linebacking talent, is now a shell of its former self, especially with Ray Lewis entering this 15th season as 35-year old man. Terrell Suggs is going to have to do better than 4.5 sacks in 13 games if the Ravens defense is going to keep Baltimore in the division race this season, and Dawan Landry has to become a force at the safety position to make up for Reed’s temporary absence.
The offense, however, has a chance to help the defense out by living up to their players talents. Flacco will have to get the ball to the likes of Boldin, Mason, Stallworth and Mark Clayton on a consistent basis. This should be rather easy since teams have to honor the big-play ability of Ray Rice. When you have those five names, plus Todd Heap and rookie David Pitta at tight end, I think you have to seriously consider the Ravens as a potential top five defense in the NFL. If they live up to the potential, and the Ravens offensive coordinator is creative, the 2010 Baltimore Ravens should be looking at an 11-5 record and at least on playoff win this season.
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