The Baltimore Ravens had one of the more painful endings to a regular-season in 2017. After a disappointing 4-5 start, the Ravens returned from their Week 10 bye and would win 5 of their next 6.
All they needed to do was win at home against the Bengals in Week 17 to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. It didn’t look good early, as Baltimore fell trailed 17-3 early and trailed 24-10 midway thru the 3rd quarter. The Ravens then scored 17 unanswered to take a 27-24 lead, only to give up a 49-yard TD pass with just 44 seconds to play to end their season.
After missing the playoffs each of the last three years, some might have expected some big changes to come in the offseason. Instead, Baltimore was one of the least active teams in the league.
The Ravens three biggest additions all came at wide receiver, where they signed the likes of Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead. No real surprise that this is where their focus was. Baltimore’s receiving corps was one of the worst in the league in 2017 and they had lost their top two targets in Mike Wallace and tight end Benjamin Watson.
They continued to focus on improving the offense in the draft. Baltimore traded back twice in the first round to get the guy they wanted all along in South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst. They also traded back into the first round to take Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson and used their two 3rd round picks on Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews and Oklahoma offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr.
A lot of the focus going into training camp will be on whether or not Jackson can push veteran Joe Flacco for the starting quarterback job. Flacco has been with Baltimore for the entire tenure of head coach John Harbaugh, who both will be entering their 11th season with the team.
The two had made the postseason in 6 of their first 7 years together, including a Super Bowl title in 2012.
2018 Ravens Schedule & Projected Odds
Below is the Ravens schedule for the 2018 season. The odds you see are from the early lines released by Vegas with the only exception being Week 17, where they don’t release any odds.
We used the odds listed to get an expected number of wins for the upcoming campaign, which as you can see is 8.53, which we would round up to a 9-7 record.
|2||at Bengals TNF||PK||0.50|
|4||at Steelers SNF||+6||0.29|
Projected Wins: 8.53
Over/Under Wins Prediction: OVER 8
I think the value has to be with Baltimore going OVER the 8 win mark set by the books. I just think this team is flying a bit under the radar after another season without making the playoffs.
The Ravens won 9 games last year and could have easily reached double-digits. Not only did they have that crushing loss to the Bengals in Week 17, but they also lost in overtime to the Bears and blew a 38-29 lead in the final 6 minutes of a 38-39 loss to the Steelers.
Despite an offense that struggled to get anything going in the passing game (29th at 189.4 ypg), the Ravens still managed to finish 9th in scoring at 24.7 ppg. The additions of Crabtree, Brown, Snead and Hurst might not jump out as big time moves, but it’s hard to imagine the passing game not improving in 2018.
If it does, this could be one of the more complete teams in the league. Despite defenses not really having to respect the passing game, the Ravens still managed to finish 11th with 116 ypg on the ground. They also have all their core pieces back from a defense that ranked 6th in the NFL allowing just 18.9 ppg.
You also have to factor in the track record of Harbaugh in his 10 years with the team. Only once in his tenure have the Ravens failed to win at least 8 games.
Odds to Win the Super Bowl: +5500
If you are someone that is looking for value, I think the Ravens at +5500 are worth a look. There are currently 18 teams who have better odds to win it all than the Ravens.
Odds to Win the AFC: +2000
I see similar value here with Baltimore to win the AFC this season. The Ravens come in at 20 to 1, behind the likes of both the Broncos and Raiders, who are each listed at +1500. I think they are better than both of those teams, which speaks volumes to just how underrated this team is.
Odds to Win the AFC North: +400
You aren’t going to get a massive payout betting the Ravens to win the AFC North, but at +400 there’s definitely some value with this prop bet. The Steelers are the overwhelming favorites to win the division at -260, but I’m not as high on Pittsburgh as others this year. I think 10-6 or 11-5 could take this division and that’s definitely a reasonable mark for Baltimore to reach in 2018.