The Baltimore Ravens failed to even make it back to the playoffs in their attempt to defend their 2012 Super Bowl title, finishing with an overall record of just 8-8. It didn’t come as a huge surprise given the losses this team had to overcome from the previous, most notably the leadership of veterans Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin.

Not playing past week 17 isn’t something the Ravens have had to experience since John Harbaugh took over as head coach. In fact, it was the first time they failed to make the playoffs since he took over the job in 2008. That’s certainly a positive sign for Baltimore getting things turned around quickly.

What really killed the Ravens last year was the offense. Joe Flacco had little to nothing to work at receiver and Ray Rice had the least productive season of his career. (660 yards, 4 TDs). As a whole the unit ranked 29th in total offense (307.4 ypg) and 25th in scoring (20.0 ppg).

Let’s take a closer look at what the Ravens have added/subtracted over the offseason and how it might impact their performance on the field in 2014.

Last Season
AFC North
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
2014 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
ILB C.J. Mosley, NT Timmy Jernigan, S Terrence Brooks, TE Crockett Gilmore, DE/DT Brent Urban, RB Lorenzo Taliaferro
RB Justin Forsett, WR Steve Smith, TE Owen Daniels, C Jeremy Zuttah, S Darian Stewart
FB Vonta Leach, WR Tandon Smith, TE Ed Dickson, OT Michael Oher, DE/DT Arthur Jones, ILB Jameel McClain, CB Corey Graham, S James Ihedigbo
2014 Preview
2014 Baltimore Ravens Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
9/7 Bengals
9/11 Steelers
9/21 @ Browns
9/28 Panthers
10/5 @ Colts
10/12 @ Bucs
10/19 Falcons
10/26 @ Bengals
11/2 @ Steelers
11/9 Titans
Week 11 BYE
11/24 @ Saints
11/30 Chargers
12/7 @ Dolphins
12/14 Jaguars
12/21 @ Texans
12/28 Browns
Estimated Wins: 8.61

It’s hard to get overly excited about the addition of veteran wide out Steve Smith, who provided little to nothing last year for the Carolina Panthers, but his presence could do wonders for the entire receiving corps. That’s not to say he won’t have an impact on the field. With the signing of tight end Owen Daniels and return of Dennis Pitta (only played 4 games last year), Baltimore is going to use a lot of two tight end sets and try and find some mismatches across the middle of the field. They still have a talented playmaker on the outside in Torrey Smith and 2nd year wide out Marlon Brown showed a lot of promise as a rookie with a team-high 7 touchdown receptions. They drafted Vanderbilt’s Michael Campanaro to help at the slot and get back Jacoby Jones. It’s not a top notch receiving group, but it’s a lot better than what Flacco had to work with last year.

The biggest key to the passing game getting better is Rice returning to form. He was overweight last year, which was the main culprit in his career-worst 3.1 yards/carry. He’s said to be in much better shape and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if he rebounded. Baltimore also has a capable backup in Bernard Pierce.

One of the biggest moves the Ravens made this offseason that I don’t think is getting enough credit, is their trade for center Jeremy Zuttah, who is a major upgrade over Gino Gradkowski. Gradkowski was constantly getting pushed around, which not only played a role in Rice’s struggles, but was a big reason why Flacco was sacked 48 times. The offensive line should also get a boost from the return of a healthy Kelechi Osemele, who was limited to just 7 games because of a back injury that required offseason surgery.

As for the defense, a lot of people expected the Ravens to really struggle on this side of the ball without Lewis and Reed on the field. While they had their moments where they didn’t look good, they finished in the top half of the league in total, scoring, passing and rush defense.

The only real significant losses from last year’s stop unit is defensive end Arthur Jones, safety James Ihedigbo and corner Corey Graham. The good news is that Baltimore is well positioned to fill all of those holes.

They used a second round pick on Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan, who has the potential to play inside at nose tackle and allow Haloti Ngata to move back to end or he could simply be plugged into Jones’ spot. They are also high on 2nd year player Brandon Williams and haven’t given up on former 2nd round pick Terrence Cody.

As for the losses in the secondary, the Ravens have plenty of talent at corner with Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith and are expecting 3rd round pick Terrence Brooks to step in and start right away at free safety. The addition of Brooks will also allow 2013 first round pick Matt Elam to move over to his more natural position at strong safety. This could end up being one of more underrated secondaries in the NFL.

As it’s been for years, the heart and soul of the Ravens defense is at the four linebacker spots, and there’s reason to be excited about what this unit will bring in 2014. Baltimore used their first round pick on Alabama’s C.J. Mosley, who expected to start alongside veteran Daryl Smith inside. The Ravens also have two dynamic pass rushers on the outside with Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dummervil, who combined for 19.5 sacks in 2013.

Regular Season Win Total
to Win the AFC
to Win Super Bowl XLVIX
37 to 1
Odds Courtesty of Bovada

There’s a lot of upside for the Ravens in 2014, but at the same there’s a lot of question marks. As much praise as Flacco got after winning the Super Bowl, he’s desperately needs a strong running game to play at his full potential. I’m expecting a better year out of Rice, but it’s not a sure thing. Running backs just don’t last that long and this will be his 6th year as the primary back. The defense looks to be solid, but they are counting a lot on there rookies to make big impacts, which can backfire in a hurry.

With that said, I think the schedule is manageable for the Ravens. Baltimore is a dominant 41-9 at home since Harbaugh took over and there’s not a game at M&T Bank Stadium where they won’t be favored in 2014. The key is going to come down to how this team plays on the road. The have a couple of tough away games at Indianapolis and New Orleans outside the division, but they also have a number of winnable games against the likes of Tampa Bay, Miami and Houston.

While I am a big believer in Harbaugh and his ability to get the most out of his players, I just don’t see enough to get overly optimistic about this team. There’s a ton a potential, but a lot has to go right for this team to win the division. I have Baltimore going 9-7, which has them finishing 2nd in the AFC North behind the Steelers and just ahead of the Bengals. That should put right in the thick of things for one of the two Wild Card spots in the AFC.

AFC North Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
Over 8.5
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