2009 Baltimore Ravens: Season Preview
By Wilson of Predictem.com
2008 Record: 11-5 (2nd in AFC North) ATS 12-4, O/U 9-7
Stadium: M&T Bank Stadium
Head Coach: John Harbaugh
Superbowl Odds: +2300
Training Camp Site: McDaniel College in Westminster, MD
Training Camp Dates: July 28 August 23
Intro: In the past few seasons the Ravens have extremely threatening when experts have picked them to finish last or near the bottom of their division. In 2006 the Ravens managed to claw their way up the ladder and win the division title. But the next year (2007) Baltimore was one of the leagues most disappointing teams as they failed to defend their title.
Last year the Ravens, under rookie coach John Harbaugh, and rookie QB Joe Flacco, were not expected to accomplish too much but they ended up making a run all the way to the AFC title game before bowing out to the almighty Steelers!
The 2009 Baltimore Ravens will not be overlooked by any team this season as they proved to be a respectable opponent in late January. The big concern will be if the Ravens can overcome the loss of some key personnel, including ILB Bart Scott and C Jason Brown.
BET ON BALTIMORE RAVENS GAMES AT REDUCED ODDS -105 AT BETPHOENIX
Whos New? QB John Beck, C Matt Birk, CB-RS Chris Carr, CB Dominique Foxworth, TE L.J. Smith, WR Kelley Washington, TE L.J. Smith (Philadelphia Eagles) draft pick Michael Oher (Mississippi)
Whos gone? QB Kyle Boller, C Jason Brown, DE Marques Douglas, CB Corey Ivy, CB Chris McAlister, S Jim Leonhard, LB Bart Scott
Offense: Joe Flacco will enter his second season behind center with more confidence than before as he knows the offense a little more and has his rookie year in the bag. Flacco is strong, and can make every pass needed in the offensive schemes. His accuracy is decent and he has shown the stones to scramble under pressure. However, he does tend to hold onto the ball too long and when he makes mistakes he makes a few in a row. Flacco will settle down this season due to his experience from last year and should be quite productive, again.
Baltimores running game is not exactly the cream of the crop but they do have three capable backs who will most likely share the ball. Number one option back, Willis McGahee is probably done carrying the ball 20 or more times a game as he has had a history of injuries, but will he be ok with splitting time? McGahee can still get the job done but for his sake it may be the best interest for the team and his body if he welcomes less work. FB LeRon McClain is from the old school and will definitely bang helmets with anyone as the Ravens will count on him to share the ground attack with McGahee. The most dangerous of all the backs might be Ray Rice, who is fast and can make defenses miss in the open field.
Flacco will have an average receiving crew that may get stronger as the year plays out. Derrick Mason is a veteran guy who simply knows how to break free from defenders. He will mix it up with anyone and has the ability to beat DBs underneath or down the field. Mark Clayton will also streak the length of the field at times and provides yet another option for Flacco to check. Baltimore is patiently waiting for Demetrius Williams to stay healthy and bust onto the scene as a primetime player but it may never happen if he cant get back to 100 percent game speed. Recently picked up from Philly is TE L.J. Smith, who will be a presence for the Ravens especially in the red zone.
The Ravens O-line is looking pretty darn good with some rising young talent. OLT Jared Gaither is still a NFL babe at just 23 years old. Gaither is 69 330 pounds of an obstacle for defenses to consider. He only gave up three sacks during the regular season in 2008. The addition of C Matt Birk will also help Flacco feel more protected in the pocket.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison will obviously work in conjunction with the defensive minded head coach Rex Ryan. The Ravens operate out of the base 3-4 but are will also show several looks and are definitely not a traditional 30 front. Baltimore has performed well defensively over the last ten years mainly because of their talented, Pro Bowl level players.
The likely candidate for defensive MVP in 2009 will be FS Ed Reed. Reed will certainly make big plays as he has the speed, hands, and instincts for his position. Now that Bart Scott has departed the Ravens welcome back ILB Ray Lewis to spark the core of the defense. Lewis will not cover as much ground as he did in the past but he will make up for it with his savvy. Terrell Suggs will also be an effective pass rusher as well as solidifying the ROLB role.
DT Haloti Ngata will lead the push for a very strong and huge defensive line that should have no problems penetrating and reeking havoc on QBs and RBs in the backfields and holes.
Special Teams: Matt Stover is a dependable PK from inside the 45 yard-line but he will be challenged for the position by Steven Hauschka and rookie Graham Gano.
The return game will be Chris Carrs to lose as speedster, Yamon Figurs will try again this year to get more time.
2009 Baltimore Ravens Schedule:
September 13Kansas City Chiefs
September 20at San Diego Chargers
September 27Cleveland Browns
October 4at New England Patriots
October 11 Cincinnati Bengals
October 18at Minnesota Vikings
October 25 BYE
November 1Denver Broncos
November 8at Cincinnati Bengals
November 16at Cleveland Browns
November 22 Indianapolis Colts
November 29Pittsburgh Steelers
December 7 at Green Bay Packers
December 13 Detroit Lions
December 20 Chicago Bears
December 27at Pittsburgh Steelers
January 3 at Oakland Raiders
Betting Odds and Projections:
If Flacco can improve then Baltimore will have a great chance to win 10 or more games this season. The Ravens defense is solid and has potential to take teams out of their comfort zone. Baltimore has set the table for a run into the playoffs and maybe even a superbowl shot. Either way, the Ravens should have a ton of success for years to come.
The 12-4 ATS record from 2008 has been noted by Oddsmakers. Don’t expect to find any soft lines on this team this year. Las Vegas casinos and online sportsbooks have the Ravens at +2300 to win this years superbowl. Like most successful programs, it will start with the defense which should allow Flacco and company to be one of the better teams in the league this season. Luck to ya.