This is the second article in a weekly series that will attempt to reset expectations for the Ravens’ final win total after each game. For an explanation of the assumptions, read the introductory article.
In and of itself, the Week 1 loss was minor for expectations. However, the injuries paint a bleak picture of the season yet to come.
The biggest adjustments in expectation should come after Week 1. Why? Because 15 games remain and for a number of players week 1 the first chance to see them in the Ravens’ scheme or against NFL starters who are actually trying. As the season rolls forward, injuries happen, but changes due to player expectation are muted by the reduced number of games remaining.
Change in expectation due to prior week’s W/L result:
The Ravens went to Denver as 4.5 point underdogs. In last week’s piece I estimated a 35% chance to win. Sunday’s result reduces the expected season wins by .35 all by itself.
Change in expectation due to emerging talent or scheme:
Obviously results were mixed here. The offensive line had a poor game as a unit against a talented defensive front (-.3), but I have to believe some of it was due to heat, altitude, wind, or sun fractals, because they can’t have fallen off that much, even against an outstanding and fresh Ware and Miller. Flacco had so little time to throw (ample time and space on just 5 of 34 drop backs!), that a lack of a deep threat actually made little difference.
The Ravens secondary played well (+.3), which is a big relief given last year’s fiasco and Kendrick Lewis’ embarrassing preseason.
Carl Davis and Brandon Williams dominated the line of scrimmage (+.3) which figures to be one of the top interior lines when Jernigan returns. Davis, in particular provided several welcome pass rush contributions in his first NFL game and would be the logical choice at this point for the 4th spot in the 4-man pass rush front.
I have already built in significant improvement for Mosley, so I’m not yet ready to adjust upwards for ILB play. However, another week of similar play from this pair would encourage me to do so.
Something else that I’ll be watching closely in the coming weeks is Pees’ ability to adjust. He did an outstanding job in Denver adapting to unusual circumstances and with the injury to Suggs, success of this defense is going to require outstanding coaching and scheme. There are two other adjustments that bear focus in the coming weeks, each dealing with the injuries that occurred. We’ll wait to see how the offensive line is reshuffled and pass rush needs are addressed.
Net adjustment: +0.3 wins
Change in expectation due to injuries:
The loss of Suggs overshadows anything good that happened (-1.2) and will likely have a pervasive impact across every level of the defense. The pass rush will suffer, of course, but the Ravens will be forced to make other adjustments to stop the run and are more exposed than ever to the no-huddle offense, because Suggs was their only good 2-way OLB.
I’m working with incomplete information on Monroe’s injury, but any time missed is serious. I’m going to assume he misses two weeks and adjust as such until more accurate information is available (-.1). If Monroe misses a longer period, I expect the team will reshuffle if Hurst’s play does not improve markedly. His game Sunday was the 2nd worst I have ever scored for a Ravens lineman with his outing against J.J. Watt in Houston last December the only lower score. The number would be bigger if my baseline expectation for Monroe was higher.
Net Adjustment: -1.3 wins
Change in expectation due to opponent events:
Looking primarily at the divisional games, I don’t see a reason for a net adjustment just yet. The Browns lost a bad starting QB for an unspecified period and replaced him with someone who is even worse. The Steelers look like they have some serious offensive firepower with the emergence of DeAngelo Williams, but no reliable pass rush and an awful secondary. I’m most concerned about the Bengals, who throttled Oakland on the road while allowing Dalton to be hit just once. As a positive offset, the Ravens go to Oakland to find a team with a number of injuries.
Net adjustment: 0 wins
Ravens expected win total after Week 1: 8.15
Looking ahead to Oakland:
Both teams will be desperate, but the Ravens fall far down the rabbit hole if they return home 0-2. The Ravens still have a corps of veteran leadership, are well coached, and are away from the distractions of home as they focus on this game. As of this writing, there is no spread or money line yet available on Sunday’s game, but I expect the Ravens will be favorites by perhaps 4.5 points. I have built in a win probability of 65%, which is consistent with that spread.