The Baltimore Ravens bounced back from an 8-8 campaign in 2013 with a 10-6 record in 2014. While it was the 3rd best record in the AFC North, it was enough to land them in the playoffs as a Wild Card. Baltimore opened the postseason with an impressive 30-17 win on the road at Pittsburgh, but would lose a heartbreaker at New England 31-35 (blew a 14-point lead) in the Divisional Round.

The Ravens have been one of the most consistent franchises in terms of winning since they brought in head coach John Harbaugh. Baltimore has won 64.3% (72-40) of their games under Harbaugh, who took over in 2008. In those 7 seasons, the Ravens have posted double-digit wins 5 times and have missed the playoffs just once, while winning the Super Bowl in 2012.

Needless to say, the expectations are high going into the 2015 season. While Baltimore saw some key pieces in the offseason, including long-time defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, wide out Torrey Smith and outside linebacker Pernell McPhee. General manager Ozzie Newsome has done an excellent job of building this roster to sustain those losses and the Ravens look to be just as strong, if not stronger.

Last Season
AFC North
Record
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Over/Under
3rd
10-6
7-8-1
4-4
3-4-1
7-9
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
12th
8th
+2
25.6
18.9
2015 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
Breshad Perriman (WR), Maxx Williams (TE), Carl Davis (DT), Za’Darius Smith (DE), Javorius Allen (RB), Tray Walker (CB), Nick Boyle (TE), Robert Myers (OG), Darren Waller (WR)
Additions
Kendrick Lewis (FS), Matt Schaub (QB)
Losses
Torrey Smith (WR), Haloti Ngata (DT), Owen Daniels (TE), Jacoby Jones (WR), Pernell McPhee (LB), Darian Stewart (FS), Tyrod Taylor (QB), Gino Gradkowski (C)
2015 Schedule & Odds
Week Opponent Spread Win Chance
1 @ Broncos +4 0.34
2 @ Raiders -5 0.68
3 Bengals -3 0.59
4 @ Steelers +2.5 0.45
5 Browns -7 0.75
6 @ 49ers +2 0.47
7 @ Cardinals +2 0.47
8 Chargers -3.5 0.64
9 BYE
10 Jaguars -10.5 0.86
11 Rams -3.5 0.64
12 @ Browns -3 0.59
13 @ Dolphins PK 0.5o
14 Seahawks +1 0.49
15 Chiefs -3.5 0.64
16 Steelers -2 0.53
17 @ Bengals +2 0.47
Estimated Wins: 9.11
Roster Breakdown

Baltimore’s offense had another productive season behind one of the more underrated signal callers in the game in Joe Flacco, who threw for 3,986 yards with 27 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions. Overall the Ravens ranked 12th in total offense (364.9 ypg) and 8th in scoring (25.6 ppg).

Surprisingly, with Ray Rice lost in the offseason, Baltimore’s rushing attack was one of the best in the league, ranking 8th at 126.2 ypg. Thanks in large part to offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking schemes, which paved the way for a breakout year from Justin Forsett (1,266 yards, 8 TDs). While he might have has big as impact running the football, Forsett figures to play a big part of the offense catching passes out of the backfield.

The big question is how the offense will transition under new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, as Kubiak left to be the head coach of the Denver Broncos. Trestman spent the last two years as the head coach of the Chicago Bears and figures to bring a more vertical passing game to Baltimore. If anything, the offense could get even better, as Trestman will actually have a legit quarterback to work with instead of having to make due with Jay Cutler.

Smith would have been a great fit for Trestman’s offense, but his loss was eased by the addition of 1st round rookie wide out Breshad Perriman, who many believe is a better version of Smith. Perriman will start right away alongside veteran Steve Smith, while Marlon Brown, Kamar Aiken and Michael Campanaro figure to play key roles. Baltimore also filled a huge need at tight end by selecting Minnesota’s Maxx Williams in the second round.

The good news for the Ravens is that they will once again have one of the top offensive lines in the NFL, as all 5 starters return up front in the trenches. The interior of the unit is especially strong, led by one of the best right guards in the game in Marshal Yanda. They also have to capable starters at both tackle spots in Eugene Monroe and Rick Wagner.

Baltimore complimented their strong offense with a stout defense, which ranked 8th in total defense (336.9 ypg) and 6th in scoring defense (18.9 ppg). They were especially good at stopping the run (88.2 ypg, 4th) and getting after the quarterback (49 sacks, T-2nd).

Losing a player like Ngata in the trenches could cripple some teams, but the Ravens appear to be in good shape to replace him. That’s because they hit on 2014 2nd round pick Timmy Jernigan, who showed a lot of promise as a rookie. Jernigan will start alongside massive nose tackle Brandon Williams and fellow 3-4 defensive end Chris Canty. They also used a 3rd round pick on Iowa’s Carl Davis to serve as a backup to Williams at the nose.

While the Ravens would have loved to have McPhee back, he was expendable given he served as a backup to their dynamic duo at outside linebacker in Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, who combined for 29 sacks. Courtney Upshaw and rookie Za’Darius Smith will take over for McPhee as the primary backup. On the inside, Baltimore has two studs in 2nd-year linebacker C.J. Mosely and veteran Daryl Smith.

The weakness of the defense last year was the secondary, especially after star corner Jimmy Smith went down with a season-ending injury that cost him to miss the entire 2nd half. Getting Smith back healthy will be a big boost, as he will continue to start opposite of Lardarius Webb. 3rd-year safety Matt Elam, who has been a disappointment so far, was lost for this upcoming season, but his departure is eased by the free agent addition of veteran Kendrick Lewis, who was expected to start anyway.

Future Odds
Regular Season Win Total
to Win the AFC
to Win Super Bowl L
9
19 to 2
23 to 1
Odds Courtesty of 5Dimes
Projections

As the Ravens learned the hard way last year, 10-wins doesn’t guarantee you anything in the AFC North. With Pittsburgh and Cincinnati both figuring to be just as good, Baltimore will likely have to top that mark to win the division.
While you could make a strong argument for all 3 teams to finish on top, I give the slight edge to the Ravens. In my opinion, they are the most complete team of the 3. Pittsburgh’s offense will by dynamic, but they have major holes on defense and I just don’t trust Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.

I have Baltimore taking the AFC North crown with an overall record of 11-5, which makes them one of my favorite win total bets of 2015, as Vegas has their over/under total wins set at just 9. I think it’s an extremely safe bet, as worse case would be 9-7. If the offense clicks under Trestman and the defense remains a force without Ngata, the Ravens will be a legit Super Bowl contender.

AFC North Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
1st
4-2
11-5
OVER 9
Ravens 10-Year Recap
Year W L Playoffs Coach Win Total
2014 10 6 Lost Div Harbaugh 8.5
2013 8 8 Harbaugh 8.5
2012 10 6 Won SB Harbaugh 10
2011 12 4 Lost Conf Harbaugh 10.5
2010 12 4 Lost Div Harbaugh 10
2009 9 7 Lost Div Harbaugh 8.5
2008 11 5 Lost Conf Harbaugh 6
2007 5 11 Billick 9
2006 13 3 Lost Div Billick 8
2005 6 10 Billick 10

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