Offseason talk has begun. What are the Baltimore Ravens’ biggest needs? Who might they pick up on the free agent market, who might they lose to free agency?
For the diehard football fan, the season never really ends. That’s why we are already here talking about next year’s Super Bowl. Most people were unaware that the very same night that the New England Patriots bested the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII, one top online sportsbook along with Superbook in Vegas, dropped odds on Super Bowl LIV.
So who are the favorites and where do the Ravens stand among their NFL peers heading into 2019?
Super Bowl LIV Favorites
New England +650
I’m not sure what to think about the New England Patriots opening as Super Bowl favorites yet again. I guess it makes some kind of sense since they had just beaten the odds and Father Time once more. But, they got by off pure fundamentals and well-oiled mechanics this season. They are definitely slowing down so will smart play and execution be enough next season? I don’t think so.
Kansas City +675
The Chiefs are just behind the Pats on the odds-boards. Patrick Fantastic and the Chiefs should be at the top of this list. They are young and loaded with talent. Sure, they didn’t make the Super Bowl, but they got deep playoff experience this season that they will take with them into the playoffs in 2019/2020.
New Orleans and Los Angeles Rams +800
I’m not sure if Drew Brees can pull out another amazing season like 2018’s at his advanced (for NFL football) age. But if he can, they could end up in Super Bowl LIV. Not being a fan of either the Saints or the Rams, I can safely say that the Rams should not have been in the Super Bowl. The Saints got robbed by the NFL and fans in New Orleans have every right to be pissed about it. The Saints were the best team in the League 2018 and it’s a shame that we didn’t get to see Brees and Brady go head to head.
As for the Rams, they have a lot of talent and started really strong. That said, through the last third of the season it seemed like teams started to figure them out and play more competitively against them. I don’t think the Rams will be as dominant in the NFC next season. Sure they will still be good and make the playoffs, but they won’t roll as they did in 2018.
In the Hunt
Odds vary from book to book, which is why it is so important to do some shopping for the best prices, but here are some median odds.
Minnesota, Dallas, Green Bay +1600
This is interesting because they have the Cowboys ahead of the Eagles on the Super Bowl odds, but the Eagles are in fact the favorites to win the NFC East if you look at the season wins odds. The Dallas Cowboys are expected to be one of the teams that fall off in the 2019 regular season. They also have one of the most brutal schedules in the league. So, I find this to be a sucker bet.
If any team could make the Super Bowl from these three, it would be the Vikings. As talented as Aaron Rodgers is, he just doesn’t have a cohesive team at the moment. Kirk Cousins has some offensive weapons, a solid defense and great coaching on his side.
Baltimore, Eagles, Colts, Browns, Texans, Seahawks +2000
The Ravens started a little slow. Then rookie Lamar Jackson from Louisville entered and everything changed. The Black Birds of 1101 Russell Street went six of seven (darn near seven of seven) and made the playoffs. It was one of those freak seasons… the Ravens won the AFC North, yet ended up playing a team with a better record in the Wild Card Round. If the Ravens don’t lose too much on defense, with the pick up of a guy like Mark Ingram, the Baltimore run-heavy offense should be even better.
But what about Terrell Suggs? Will he still be around to help the Ravens have one of the best defenses in the league? Hopefully, but one thing is for sure: Lamar Jackson will bring free agent interest to Baltimore. Unfortunately, Za’Darius Smith, C.J. Mosley, and Suggs are all unrestricted…so it is doubtful that Baltimore will keep that core one hundred percent intact. That said, if the Ravens play close to a good as they did in the back end of last season, they should have no problem snatching the North from the Steelers once more.
The Eagles are actually a good bet to win the NFC East, as we alluded to above. The futures odds have the Cowboys as favorites for the Super Bowl and the Division, but the Eagles have better season wins total odds. This is one of those valuable oversights where people will still be pounding the Cowboys because they are favorites, but the true value is on Philly.
The Browns have shown great improvement but they are not a Super Bowl team yet. The Colts could end up a thorn in the Ravens’ side if they play as well as they did late in the season from the get-go in 2019. And the Texans and Seahawks will both be cusp teams again.
Everyone else in the league is in super longshot territory. They are just the cannon fodder for these fourteen teams to blast through.