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Some thoughts before Week 1

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Some thoughts before Week 1

We now are one week away from the start of the 2012 season, and this year seems to be filled with a lot of unsettled situations for the Ravens coming in. There's questions on both offense and defense-- more the latter than the former -- and if's going to be interesting to see how everything plays out.
Here's a few questions that I'm wondering about.
1. How well with the defense be able to play without Terrell Suggs for much of the season? The Ravens try to play this down from time to time, but this loss might be bigger than most people realize. Suggs did so much in so many ways for the Ravens. Let's see who can step up and fill the pass-rushing hole.
2. How much will the loss of players like Ben Grubbs, Jarret Johnson, Cory Redding and others hurt? These are veterans who didn't get a lot of publicity. They did their jobs quietly and did them well, but the team needed that. Right now, others are going to have to step in and do that-- and this won't be an easy task, especially in the early weeks. Paul Kruger and others are going to have to help on defense.
3. Will this be kind of a break-through year for Joe Flacco? It's possible. He seems to really fit nicely with the no-huddle style. Some players do better in different situations than others. Flacco seems to be settled in and playing with more confidence with the no-huddle. If so, he could post some big numbers, along with Ray Rice and others.
4. And can the offense take the pressure off the defense? It certainly looks as if they could. The no-huddle, Flacco and the deeper group of receivers should gain more yards and score more points. The offense might need to carry the defense a bit early on while everything gets settled. Doesn't mean we'll be seeing a lot of 35-31 victories, but here's betting the offense is much sharper than a year ago.
5. What's the biggest question? To me, it's how well everything settles in place with the defense. That might take some time, and here's betting the defense will find its way as the season goes on, especially in the second half of the year.

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Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

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USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

Football is back in session for the Ravens.

Their rookies are set to report to the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills, Md Wednesday. Veterans report next Wednesday, the 18th.

The team is reporting to training camp a bit earlier than most NFL teams. Due to Ray Lewis being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 4 in Canton, Oh, the Ravens will face the Chicago Bears in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2. Teams participating are eligible to begin training camp earlier.

This rookie class is already generating national attention. While the Ravens stand by Joe Flacco as their QB1, first-round pick Lamar Jackson could cause a shakeup at some point during the season. And when it comes to much-needed offensive help, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews could begin to provide relief. 

Third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. begins his journey with the Ravens in a more sentimental fashion. His father, Orlando "Zeus" Brown, also played tackle for the Ravens from 1996-98 and then again from 2003-05. Brown passed away in 2011. 

Stay with NBC Sports Washington throughout the next several weeks as we keep a close eye on the Ravens' preseason. 

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

There's only six months until the NFL playoffs and we've got no time to waste.

OK, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves but online betting site, Oddshark, released their early 2018 NFL playoff odds and the Ravens are in a similar situation as previous years.

The Ravens are sitting at +135 — tied for 13th with the San Francisco 49ers — for the best odds to play January football. This would place them in the seventh seed among AFC teams and just outside contention.

The Patriots (-1500), Steelers (-550), Chargers (-145), Jaguars (-140), Texans (-135), and Chiefs (+120) are seeded above them respectively. 

During the 2017 season, the Ravens were constantly in the hunt for the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture. Several weeks ahead of training camp, Vegas is predicting that to be the case in 2018.

Playoff odds in July mean nothing, but considering their offseason changes, the Ravens' 2018 season should bring positive change.

They added weapons for Joe Flacco in free agents Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown, and drafted tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.

Then there was the late first-round draft pick of QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco remains the starter for now, but it will be interesting to see if that changes midway through the season or if they get them both on the field at the same time.

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