Pro Football Talk has reached the Ravens in its preseason NFL rankings, and it rates them at No. 5.
Among the teams strengths, PFT lists most of the guys you would expect Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata and Ray Rice. PFT also mentions second-year cornerback Jimmy Smith, noting how he missed four games early in his rookie season with an ankle sprain and didnt really get into the swing of the defense until midway through the year, but as 2011 wore on, he looked like a very good young cornerback.
(Not to be too catty, because we all make mistakes, but PFT referred to Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome as Ozzie Smith, confusing Newsome with the great Cardinals shortstop. Its enough to make you do a flip.)
As for weaknesses, heres where Joe Flacco comes in.
The biggest question facing the Ravens is whether quarterback Joe Flacco will be a strength or a weakness of this team. Its not that Flacco is a bad quarterback, its that he hasnt emerged as the kind of high-quality starter the Ravens were hoping hed be when they spent a first-round draft pick on him in 2008.
Thats too harsh an assessment. Flacco did have a few clunkers in 2011, but overall, hes filling a role the Ravens have set for him. But back to what PFT said.
Everyone has mentioned the Ravens age on the offensive line, and so does PFT, but it seemed more greatly concerned about special teams, citing glaring weaknesses. These include place-kicker Billy Cundiff. PFT cites this stat: Cundiff has gone 1-for-10 on field-goal attempts of at least 50 yards since joining the Ravens in 2009. Also, the departure of Haruki Nakamura, gunner on punt coverage, will hurt the unit.
Still, with those negatives, the Ravens are ranked at No. 5 before playing a game. Given that they'll be without NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs for an undetermined part of the season, a ranking at fifth seems fair. Plus, that should help them get into a BCS bowl.