Biggest Surprise: To say that the position of cornerback is thin for the Baltimore Ravens is about as insightful as saying ESPN slobbers over Johnny Manziel. Starters Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb have struggled to stay healthy and Chykie Brown is an inviting welcome matt for opposing QB’s. And then there’s Asa Jackson.
Jackson has shown during preseason games that he has solid ball skills, fluid hips and can break quickly on the ball. What he lacks is game experience. He’ll get that experience in 2014 and his play will help mitigate the loss of Corey Graham and then some.
Biggest Disappointment: Matt Elam is a solid player but isn’t a playmaker and he probably wasn’t worthy of his 2013 first round draft status. As a centerfielder Elam doesn’t have the recognition skills to make plays on the back end and while he has shown flashes of ability closer to the line of scrimmage his indecisiveness leaves him a step late too often. And that’s been the case throughout training camp and the preseason.
Breakout Season: Pernell McPhee had a solid rookie season in 2011 and some within the organization once said that had they known McPhee would be as good at the next level coming out of Mississippi State he would have been a third round pick instead of a fifth.
Injuries slowed McPhee down in 2012 and playing out of position probably cost him productivity in 2013. This season McPhee has been a consistent bright spot during camp and during preseason games. He’s shown versatility both with his hand in the dirt as an interior pass rusher and on the edge when standing up at OLB. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees seems comfortable with moving McPhee around the defensive front. That will give the fourth-year defender, playing for his next contract, a great opportunity to increase his market value. And he will…
Offensive MVP: Aided by an improved offensive line, a productive running game, unprecedented pass catching weaponry and the arrival of an offensive coordinator with a clue, Joe Flacco is primed for a career year. And he’ll deliver. Let’s call it 28 TD’s, 12 INT’s, 4,100 yards, a completion percentage of 62% and a passer rating of 95.9.
Defensive MVP: Jimmy Smith, when healthy, has arguably been the most dominant and consistent defender for the Ravens this summer. He has that swagger that you want to see in a shut down corner and he certainly brings the measurables. Add it up and we’re talking a Pro Bowl season. This will be Smith’s year to shine and cash in on a long-term deal during the offseason that will place him among the league’s top paid defenders.
Final Record (By Game): 10-6
- September 7: Ravens 27 v. Bengals 23 (1-0)
- September 11: Ravens 23 v. Steelers 20 (2-0)
- September 21: @ Browns 20, Ravens 17 (2-1)
- September 28: Ravens 24 v. Panthers 17 (3-1)
- October 5: @ Colts 31, Ravens 20 (3-2)
- October 12: Ravens 26 @ Bucs 24 (4-2)
- October 19: Ravens 34 v. Falcons 27 (5-2)
- October 26: @Bengals 27, Ravens 20 (5-3)
- November 2: @Steelers 23, Ravens 16 (5-4)
- November 9: Ravens 19 v. Titans 16 (6-4)
- November 16: BYE
- November 24: @Saints 34, Ravens 30 (6-5)
- November 30: Ravens 23 v. Chargers 20 (7-5)
- December 7: Ravens 20 v. Dolphins 16 (8-5)
- December 14: Ravens 37 v. Jaguars 13 (9-5)
- December 21: @Texans 27, Ravens 16 (9-6)
- December 28: Ravens 23 v. Browns 17 (10-6)
Ravens earn a wild card berth and they are eventually eliminated in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.