Ravens

Quick Links

Ravens will be right there with the Chiefs in 2020, according to Peter King

Ravens will be right there with the Chiefs in 2020, according to Peter King

Everybody wants to be number one, but sometimes being number two is still a compliment; especially for the Baltimore Ravens.

With the release of NBC Sports Peter King’s 2020 NFL Power Rankings, the Ravens find themselves sitting behind only one team in the league, the Kansas City Chiefs. It makes sense, right? The Chiefs are the defending NFL Super Bowl champs.

Like the Chiefs, the Ravens are one of the most exciting teams in the league to watch, and they won their division with their own MVP quarterback, Lamar Jackson. But unlike them, the Ravens finished the 2019 regular season at 14-2, good for two more wins than the Chiefs. So how do the Chiefs manage to sit atop King’s Power Rankings? It’s simple…the Super Bowl!

Had it not been for the streaking Tennessee Titans, led by the Bo Jackson reincarnate Derrick Henry, who laid the Ravens season to rest with a 28-12 drubbing in the AFC Divisional Playoffs, we might have caught lightning in a bottle for the conference championship game. Fate had something different in mind. 

The Titans would go on to face the Chiefs in the AFC Conference Championship with a Super Bowl victory for the Chiefs, soon thereafter. The Ravens season would come to an end. They now find themselves searching for a new approach in order to unseat the Chiefs for the Lombardi Trophy. 

According to King’s report, the Ravens must first hope that quarterback Lamar Jackson improves; if that’s even possible given his MVP performance from last season. In addition, replacing newly-retired guard Marshall Yanda with comparable talent must remain a high priority. Either of the Ravens fourth-round picks, guards Ben Powers or Ben Bredeson, should address that. However, in-home improvements might not be sufficient enough to maintain the gap between the Ravens and the rest of the AFC North division.

The return of a healthy Ben Roethlisberger to the Steelers and the addition of first-overall pick Joe Burrow to the Bengals should result in a more competitive division. In response, the Ravens have continued bolstering their defense with the addition of defensive end Calais Campbell who was acquired in an off-season trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

And yet the gifts keep coming. The Ravens' 2020 NFL schedule is favorable, particularly down the stretch with their final five games against teams that didn’t make the playoffs last season. Talk about finishing in stride!

All things considered, King predicts the Ravens finishing the 2020 regular season at 13-3, and that is good enough to land them at number two on his 2020 Power Rankings.

We are now only two months and a handful of days from the Baltimore Ravens pre-season home-opener on August 14th against the Buffalo Bills.

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE RAVENS NEWS:

Quick Links

Ravens training camp preview: How effective of a season can Matthew Judon have?

Ravens training camp preview: How effective of a season can Matthew Judon have?

Rostered outside linebackers: Matthew Judon, Jaylon Ferguson, Tyus Bowser, Aaron Adoeye, Chauncey Rivers, Marcus Willoughby, John Daka.

If there was one position of “need” the Ravens didn’t address this offseason, it was outside linebacker.

The Ravens instead added to their interior defensive line and inside linebacking corps, but didn’t add a notable free agent or draft pick at outside linebacker. Instead, they’re set to run back the group from a year ago. 

The team ranked 21st in the NFL a year ago in sacks with 37, but second in quarterback knockdowns. Essentially, the team dialed up pressure more than anyone else in the league but didn’t get home enough. Now, they're hopeful they've fixed that problem.

And if there is a trickle-down benefit to the outside linebackers of those additions elsewhere, it’s that the Ravens’ outside linebackers should have more one-on-one matchups on the outside. Notably, that includes Matthew Judon. 

He finished the year with 9.5 sacks a season ago and had 33 quarterback hits — more than three times the second-place finisher on the roster. And now, he’ll play on the franchise tag in his fifth season in the league. As the team’s top pass-rusher, he’s got a lot of pressure on his back entering the 2020 season. 

RELATED: HOW MUCH WILL THE ROOKIE LB's MAKE AN IMPACT ON THE DEFENSE?

If Judon is able to become an upper-tier pass-rusher this season, he’ll not only boost the Ravens’ defense, he’ll cement his monster contract that appears on the horizon, whether that comes from the Ravens or another team. 

But while Judon is the headliner of the Ravens’ edge rushers, in terms of success of the team this season, he might not be the most important part of the front seven. It might end up being whoever lines up across from him. 

Judon has shown the ability to be a No. 1 pass-rusher in the NFL, and with the benefit of an improved defense around him, it’s reasonable to assume he can repeat his 9.5 sack performance — or better it — in 2020. That shouldn't be the worry.

Where the true test will come, however, is who lines up as the second outside linebacker on the depth chart. 

Pernell McPhee had three sacks last season, but missed a majority of the season with a torn triceps. The team used rookie Jaylon Ferguson, who had 2.5 sacks, and Tyus Bowser, who had five sacks, in his absence.

With Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams and Derek Wolfe on the defensive line, it’s reasonable to assume that the Ravens’ outside linebackers will get more favorable matchups. 

And if Judon and the host of other outside linebackers are able to get more one-on-one matchups, the Ravens’ could wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks in 2020. 

So while the Ravens didn’t address their outside linebacker position this offseason, the additions elsewhere on the roster should provide the benefit that position group needed.

Stay connected to the Ravens with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE RAVENS NEWS:

Quick Links

Report: NFL to cut preseason in half, taking away Ravens first and fourth preseason games against the Bills and Redskins

Report: NFL to cut preseason in half, taking away Ravens first and fourth preseason games against the Bills and Redskins

According to a report from ProFootballTalk, the NFL has scrapped its first and fourth preseason games this season and cut the preseason in half. 

The Ravens were scheduled to play the Bills at home on Aug. 14 to open the season, then end the preseason on Sept. 3 against the Redskins. 

RELATED: TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: INSIDE LINEBACKER

Now, the Ravens’ tentative preseason schedule will have one road game, at the Cowboys on Aug. 22, and home against the Panthers on Aug. 30. 

According to the report, the move was spurred on by two factors: Firstly, that road teams would have trouble moving that many bodies and risk spreading COVID-19. Secondly, that no team has had on-field workouts this summer. Now, with training camps scheduled to start on July 28, teams will have more time to prepare for the season. 

The move came with coronavirus cases continually rising in the United States a day after Dr. Anthony Fauci said new cases could reach 100,000 per day if more preventative measures were not taken. On June 30, the U.S. had 46,042 new cases, the second-highest total since the pandemic began.

Baltimore is still set to report to camp at the end of the month, as is the rest of the NFL. With the new preseason schedule, they’ll have about three weeks to prepare for the first on-field game action of the season. 

The Ravens haven’t lost in the preseason since Sept. 3, 2015, when they lost 20-19 to the Falcons. 

Stay connected to the Ravens with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE RAVENS NEWS: