The Ravens finished as the top team in the NFL with a 14-2 record. However, the season ended on a sour note as they lost 28-to-12 at home against the Titans in the divisional round.
Baltimore finished 1st in points scored and 3rd in points allowed. It doesn’t get any better than this!
Their running game was historically great! They racked up 206 rushing yards per game on average, while the second-best in the NFL was San Francisco at “just” 144…
Can they replicate last year’s success?
2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown
2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs)
Lamar Jackson was nothing short of spectacular. He was a lot of fun to watch. He was only the second unanimous MVP winner ever.
He ran for 1,206 yards, but he surprised many with his arm. He threw 36 TD passes versus just 6 picks.
While those numbers are jaw-dropping, I find it hard to believe he can be as good in 2020. Maybe teams will figure him out better and find ways to contain him. You cannot ask Baltimore’s quarterback position to do better in 2020 than they did in 2019.
Note that Robert Griffin III remains the Ravens’ backup QB this year.
2.2 Running Backs (RBs)
Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards were a very good one-two punch (on top of having Lamar Jackson running like crazy). They will be 30 and 25 years old, respectively, so there shouldn’t be too much of a dropoff.
At first, it was believed that Justice Hill might push Gus Edwards for the number two role in 2020. The fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma State had a good rookie season.
However, Baltimore’s backfield is pretty stacked with the addition of rookie J.K. Dobbins. He is very likely to pass Edwards and Hill on the depth chart. It won’t be easy to unseat Ingram, though.
Dobbins rushed for over 2,000 yards last year, while also punching the ball in the end zone 21 times! He can also catch the ball well out of the backfield. He has the tools to become a three-down back in the NFL.
2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs)
Not much change at this position either, except for the loss of Seth Roberts who caught 21 passes for 271 yards and 2 TDs. Not a big deal.
The top two targets will be back in 2020: Marquise Brown and Willie Snead.
Brown’ rookie season was a success as he caught 46 passes for 584 yards. He finished third among rookies with 7 receiving TDs. However, his college career ended with a foot injury and he says it hampered him at times during the 2019 season. He faded down the stretch, despite nice numbers in the lone playoff game. Indeed, he scored just one touchdown over the last six meetings.
Snead wasn’t particularly good. He ranked 101st out of 122 wide receivers by PFF. During the regular season, he cleared 50 receiving yards just two times. He caught 4 passes in one game, and hauled in 3 passes or less in the remaining 15 matchups.
Overall, this is a bit of a shaky group. Given his history, Marquise Brown is a likely candidate for injuries and if that happens, they will be in trouble at the wideout position. As mentioned above, Snead isn’t very strong. Seth Roberts is gone. And Miles Boykin isn’t scaring anyone either. Depth was clearly an issue here.
Most observers believed the Ravens would address the position in the draft. However, Baltimore waited until late in the 3rd round to pick a WR: Devin Duvernay out of Texas. He’s a slot weapon who caught 106 passes for 1,386 yards and 9 TDs last year. Obviously, the 106 receptions are impressive, but keep in mind that he benefited from 42 screen plays going his way.
2.4 Tight Ends (TEs)
The team was loaded at this position with Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst. These guys finished 2nd, 12th, and 14th out of 66 tight ends! Having three of the top 14 TEs in the league within the same team is unbelievable!
Unfortunately, Hurst left for Atlanta. As good as he was, it won’t be a huge blow to the Ravens considering the depth they had.
2.5 Offensive Line (OL)
All guys on the offensive line finished above-average according to PFF. Unreal!
The bad news is Marshal Yanda announced his retirement, which leaves a glaring hole at right guard. Yanda played 88% of the offensive snaps and finished as the 4th-best guard in the league (out of 81 guys). His replacement will have big shoes to fill.
One of the main candidates to replace him is free agent D.J. Fluker, who is coming over from Seattle. The 29-year-old’s play has fairly dipped over the past three seasons after four promising years with the Chargers. Fluker graded out as the number 48 guard out of 81 players in 2019.
Still, this is a very strong group, but expect a dropoff compared to last year.
2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE
How can you not expect this unit to decrease its production? They were unbelievably effective last year. They are probably going to regress towards the mean.
They didn’t add any key players on offense (except maybe rookie J.K. Dobbins?), while losing Hayden Hurst, Marshal Yanda and Seth Roberts. Teams have had several months to find ways to slow down Lamar Jackson and company. It’s highly unlikely that his numbers improve over the 2019 campaign.
Also notice how the Ravens’ offense didn’t suffer any big injury all season long to key players. It may not be the case once again in 2020. Injuries occur on a regular basis in the NFL.
Final call (2020 vs 2019): Moderate downgrade
3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown
3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs)
The Ravens had three guys on the interior of the defensive line: Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce and Chris Wormley. Each of them received “ok” ratings from PFF, as they finished 67th, 45th and 63rd respectively (out of 114 inside defenders).
Pierce and Wormley are gone. However, the team acquired Derek Wolfe from the Broncos. He recorded 7 sacks in 12 games last year and he ranked as the 46th-best inside defender.
Justin Madubuike was taken early in the 3rd round of this year’s draft. He seems like a boom-or-bust player. He’s athletic, but he is a bit short and light. He’s more likely to become a backup in the NFL.
3.2 Defensive Ends (DEs) / Edge Rushers (ED)
Matthew Judon led the way with 9.5 sacks and Tyus Bowser got a career-high 5 sacks in 2019. Both are above-average rushers.
As for Jaylon Ferguson and Jihad Ward, they received fairly bad marks from PFF.
The Ravens made a big splash by acquiring Calais Campbell from the Jaguars. The 33-year old may slow down in 2020, but his numbers have been impressive. He has averaged 8 sacks per season over an 11-year period!
He’s also been extremely durable; he has not missed a game since 2014. As a matter of fact, he’s played at least 13 games in each of his 12 years in the NFL! He finished the 2019 season as the #2 edge defender according to PFF (only behind T.J. Watt from the Steelers).
3.3 Linebackers (LBs)
Patrick Onwuasor and Josh Bynes received a good share of playing time. However, both are gone. Onwuasor was the #73 linebacker while Bynes got a surprisingly high 6th spot out of 89 linebackers.
The only inside LB left with playing experience is L.J. Fort. He’s a 30-year old veteran who has played for five teams. He doesn’t look to be the long-term answer.
The good news is the Ravens selected Patrick Queen from LSU with the 28th overall pick last April. The main knock on him is clearly is lack of experience since he’s was a one-year starter in college.
However, his game film is impressive. He is very fast and he diagnoses plays quickly. He may be the only NFL-caliber linebacker the team has on their roster. It’s not as bad as it looks since Baltimore often plays with six DBs and one LB. Malik Harrison, who was picked late in the third round out of Ohio State, might get some limited playing time.
3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs)
The Ravens have a strong group here, even though Brandon Carr was let go.
The team still has Marlon Humphrey (37th-best CB), Marcus Peters (4th-best CB) and Jimmy Smith (42nd-best CB). Baltimore has a lot of ammunition and don’t need to worry about this position.
3.5 Safeties (S)
Earl Thomas is a safe value. He’s been consistently good throughout his career and at 31 years old he still has a few good years left.
Chuck Clark just signed a three-year contract and he deserved it. He really flourished in 2019 and finished 36th out of 87 safeties according to PFF. He is the main reason the team let Tony Jefferson go.
2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE
Baltimore’s defense allowed the third fewest points in the league in 2019. They are still going to be difficult to score against.
Calais Campbell was a great free agent acquisition. To a lesser degree, Derek Wolfe too.
However, losing Michael Pierce, Chris Wormley, Patrick Onwuasor, Josh Bynes, Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson will hurt. Most of these guys played about 50% of the snaps and will need to be replaced.
The team has little to no depth at linebacker. Patrick Queen has a lot of pressure on his shoulders to step in and perform right away in his rookie season.
Overall, I believe the Ravens defense will see a slight decrease in its effectiveness to stop opposing offenses.
Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade
4. Regular Season Wins
According to sportsbooks, the Baltimore Ravens are expected to win 11.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”?
Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question:
Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games.
Convert those point spreads into win probabilities.
Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software.
Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons).
Count the proportion of seasons where the Ravens won more or less than 11.5 games.
Here are the results:
|OVER 11.5 WINS||52.3%||FanDuel||+105||+7.2%|
|UNDER 11.5 WINS||47.7%||bwin||+100||-4.6%|
Tip: Bet OVER 11.5 wins
Return On Investment (ROI): +7.2%
Rank: 27th-highest ROI out of 32 teams
Minimum odds required to bet (i.e. ROI = 0%): -110
Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Ravens’ 16 regular season games:
HOME: -14 vs CIN, -8.5 vs CLE, -7 vs DAL, -16.5 vs JAX, -2 vs KC, -12.5 vs NYG, -7 vs PIT, -8.5 vs TEN.
ROAD: -9 @ CIN, -3.5 @ CLE, -5 @ HOU, -2.5 @ IND, -2.5 @ NE, -2 @ PHI, 0 @ PIT, -10 @ WAS
Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020.
Tomorrow, I’ll discuss the team whose ROI is 26th in the NFL.
Thanks for reading, I hope you appreciated this write-up!