Will the Ravens repeat as AFC North champs, or take a step backwards? Will Lamar Jackson continue to ascend to NFL stardom? Will the losses on defense be too much to overcome, or will the secondary truly be the league’s best and make up for them? How will the new era of Ravens football under Eric DeCosta begin?
RSR staff give predictions for 2019 below…
The outlook for the Ravens is all over the board. Some believe that the team will tank behind Lamar Jackson. Others are more optimistic and project the Ravens as division champs. Most sit somewhere in between, hence the over/under line on the team’s win total hovering around 8 to 8 ½ wins. But the object of Bold Predictions IS to be BOLD, so here goes…
Lamar Jackson is the easy pick here but I lean the way of Earl Thomas. He has an axe to grind and when a special athlete with gas in the tank is discarded like Earl believes the Seahawks did to him, his legacy lies in the balance. He will deliver the BOOM in Baltimore with an All Pro season.
Mark Andrews has developed a rapport with Lamar akin to that of Joe Flacco and Dennis Pitta. Look for the sophomore tight end to haul in 70 catches for 775 yards and 8 TDs. On defense, Patrick Onwuasor will show the world why Eric DeCosta chose not to spend $17M/season to bring CJ Mosley back. He’ll be a Pro Bowler and he will be responsible for 8 turnovers – 4 INT’s and 4 forced fumbles.
Lamar Jackson’s stat line will look like this:
420 attempts/255 completions/3,200 yards/23 TD/11 INT/Passer Rating 92.3
The Ravens will run for a league leading 2,800 yards split as follows:
- Mark Ingram: 1,200
- Lamar Jackson: 700
- Gus Edwards: 450
- Justice Hill: 350
- Marquise Brown: 100
Ball distribution will be fairly even. Andrews is the leader while two other receivers will eclipse the 50 catch mark: Willie Snead and Mark Ingram.
The Ravens still lack a dominant pass rusher (they were tied for 11th with 43 sacks in 2018) but they will create more pressure in the coming season. They will bump their total to 50 sacks in 2019 without a double-digit sack leader. Matt Judon leads the way with 9, followed by Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams with 7 each and Jaylon Ferguson and Pernell McPhee with 6 each.
As mentioned, Peanut gets 4 INT’s while the leader will be Earl Thomas with 6 followed by Marlon Humphrey with 3. In total the Ravens will steal 18 passes from opposing QB’s.
The Ravens will make it back-to-back AFC North crowns, finishing with an 11-5 record. They will host the Chargers for a second consecutive postseason but this time the outcome will be different. The Ravens will advance to the Division Round but then they will run into a buzz saw at Arrowhead Stadium where their season will end.
But the 2019 season will be a great building block for the future. And the Ravens future will be bright.
You better wear shades.
Ravens 2019 Predictions:
Overall record: 10-6, tied for second in AFC North
QB Lamar Jackson: 2,900 passing yards, 17 TD, 10 Int; 770 yards rushing
RB Mark Ingram: 850 yards rushing, six TDs
LB Matthew Judon: 8 sacks
Biggest surprise: Hayden Hurst
Biggest disappointment: Jimmy Smith
Finish: Wildcard 2 (loss in WC round)
Team MVP: Lamar Jackson
OPOY: Lamar Jackson
DPOY: Earl Thomas
Most Improved: Chris Board
ROY: Justice Hill
My expectation of this 2019 Ravens team comes with a low-set bar. That bar has nothing to do with the caliber of players on the roster, and much more to do with a youth movement, fresh coaching and a process of building that doesn’t necessarily warrant insta-contender results.
Personally I think 9-7 comes with an air of confidence for a 2020 Ravens team that has ample cap space to keep key components and add a few needed pieces while using the draft to put finishing touches on what will be a true Super Bowl contender, but we’ll save that for another day…
For 2019, my expectation starts with a retooled defense. Many outside of Baltimore (some inside) expect the defense to regress; however my expectation is fairly similar to 2018. I think Earl Thomas is doing what ET does and flying under the radar in his quiet manner. He’ll be a huge addition for the secondary that’ll top the NFL. The run stuff will be relatively the same and the pass rush will primarily come from disguises and blitzes from all over the place. I don’t see Tim Williams stepping up the way I want him to, nor do I think Judon takes the next step. This will be priority #1 for the Ravens next offseason. The biggest change from 2018 to 2019 defense for Baltimore? More much needed turnovers this year.
Offensively, the Ravens will be a whole new animal. Jackson has shown so much improvement and dedication to honing his craft as a passer that it’s impossible not to expect an uptick in success. Having more experience and health at TE will help Lamar too, as will the new wideout group this year. I don’t think we’ll be seeing droves of snaps for 1st rounder Hollywood Brown until midseason as they slowly incorporate him, but Miles Boykin could be a Week One starter (deservedly so). The run game will boast a few fresh faces and more diversity in Ingram and Hill. I expect 35+/- rushes per game with a 50-35-15 split between Ingram-Gus-Hill, respectively (mix in a 5 LJ carries too).
Ultimately a better team in the 2019 Ravens, but a tougher schedule keeps them at 9-7 and an early exit in the playoffs. Nothing to fret about however, as the Ravens are on the cusp of a return to greatness!
Record: 9-7; 2nd in AFC North, miss playoffs
MVP: Lamar Jackson, who proves that he can get it done with his arm as well as with his legs. Jackson throws for 3000 yards, with 22 TD and 9 INT…and just three fumbles lost. His passer rating is over 90, and he adds 10 scores on the ground.
DPOY: Marlon Humphrey
Breakout: Tim Williams
Biggest Disappointment: Marquise Brown (but give him a year)
The Ravens will be exciting to watch – as exciting as they’ve been since the Vinny Testaverde days. But there will be growing pains with a young squad. Mental mistakes, dropped balls, costly penalties, and plenty more, that will cost them games.
However, despite taking a step back in 2019, they are well-positioned for a return to dominance heading into 2020.
No matter what happens at the end of the season, the Ravens will be one of the most interesting and entertaining teams in the NFL this season. The Lamar/DeCosta era will go through its growing pains, but I think we will see the team take shape as the season progresses.
I am not sure if the Ravens offense will be as revolutionary as the team is insinuating, but it will be one of the top 15 in the league regardless. The depth at running back is the best in the league, pairing that with Lamar’s running ability and a solid offensive line should wear out defenses. I don’t foresee the team improving through the air until later in the season. If the team is aiming for the post season, it would be foolish to showcase all the tricks Greg Roman has in store. Lamar didn’t show too much growth in the preseason, but it’s the preseason – no one takes it seriously anymore.
Even with the loss of Tavon Young, in addition to the free agent loses, the defense has top ten potential. Earl Thomas will add a dynamic that Eric Weddle was never able to provide, eliminating the back third of field, thus making Jimmy and Marlon’s jobs a lot easier. This will hopefully be the year we see Tim Williams show us who he really is. I think he has the potential to be an elite edge rusher, but he needs to remain healthy and consistent. The run defense will still be strong with Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce, but Daylon Mack will be a welcomed addition to the rotation.
Season prediction – 9-7 , second in the north
MVP – Mark Andrews
Most improved – Orlando Brown
Best Rookie – Daylon Mack
Biggest disappointment – Tony Jefferson
The 2019 season is the dawning of a new era of Ravens football, which has left most fans giddy with excitement. Me however, I am only mildly excited. With the season just three days away, I still have a ton of questions about this team:
Who is the starting LG?
Will this line, which has not played together all preseason be able to give Lamar time to pass?
What will this new ‘revolutionary’ offense really look like?
Who steps up to be the number 1 WR?
Where is the pass rush coming from?
Plus, the schedule is pretty tough and that is really the reason I think the Ravens miss the playoffs this year. The team will start off 2-0 with victories over Miami and Arizona, but then enter the bye week with a 3-4 record. After the bye, it doesn’t get any easier, with games against the Pats, Texans, and Rams in the three of the next four weeks, with the Ravens losing all three of those games leaving them at 4-7 before the stretch run. Entering December with a 4-7 record, the Ravens win the next two out of three, splitting the last two games, winning at Cleveland before falling to the Steelers at home in the last week, who with the win lock up the AFC North. Final record 7-9.
Though it is not all bad for the future. Mark Andrews leads the team rec, yds and TDs. Miles Boykin will flash this year scoring 4 TDs. Hollywood Brown will start off slow as he recovers from off season surgery, but finishes the year with over 700 scrimmage yards. Justice Hill will become the number 2 back by mid-October, as Gus Edwards will get the Alex Collins treatment this season. On the defensive side of the ball, Marlon Humphrey, has another huge year, and solidifies himself as a true shutdown corner and becomes one of the best in the whole NFL. The defense will fall from the top ranked defense to number 13 in the league which will lead to the Ravens being involved in some high scoring games.
The future is bright and some of the younger players step up this season to set up 2020 and beyond. But I would not expect a return trip to the playoffs, just too many questions on both sides of the ball.
With all of the losses on defense, there seems to be a reasonable amount of doubt among the national media. It’s a fair assessment considering the extensive experience those defensive leaders brough. I also expect some early-season communication breakdowns and some crucial errors with some of the younger players. As the season progresses I think the defense has the potential to be an even better unit than last year in certain aspects. Earl Thomas might not know the defensive scheme as well as Eric Weddle did last year but he will make up for it in the turnover department and not missing the tackles that Weddle seemed to do more of as the season went on. Marlon Humphrey looks primed for a pro-bowl season and the secondary in general should be the best or very close to it again this season. The pass rush is probably the biggest concern but with an elite secondary and manufactured pressure with exotic blitz packages from Wink Martindale those concerns should be eased a bit. The Ravens defense probably won’t rank first this year but they will be a top-5 unit and will create more turnovers than last year. Marlon Humphrey is my defensive MVP prediction with Earl Thomas being a close second.
The offense is the great unknown with a scheme that we haven’t been able to see yet along with so many new young pieces. I think Eric DeCosta has done a superb job of drafting and bringing in talent in his first year as the GM. This is possibly the best young receiving corps the Ravens have ever had. We know the Ravens will be able to run the ball and I expect them to lead the league and attempts and in total rushing yards. With Lamar making strides in his development as a passer that should translate to at least an adequate passing game. The biggest beneficiary of a more productive passing game will be Mark Andrews and also my prediction for offensive MVP. Lamar is the driver as he allows for the running game to be so effective also keeps the defense fresh by controlling the clock. If Lamar stays healthy all year the Ravens will have an offense that defensive coordinators would rather not face.
My prediction for the season is 11-5 and winning the division.
With what many consider a lot of turnover, i don’t see it as being as big an issue as many. Reality is the Ravens let an aging pass rusher and safety go, while not overpaying for C.J. Mosley or Za’Darius Smith. While the leadership lost in these players cannot be measured, on the field the team didn’t lose as much as many think. I still see a top-7 defense that will allow the offense to remain in games. Yes, the pass rush is a bit concerning but just like most years, the defense is looking for someone to step up. Is this much different than needing Za’Darius Smith and Matthew Judon to step up last year?
Offensively the team got a lot younger and has new pieces across the board. The addition of Mark ingram is going to prove to be fruitful for the young offense, in addition to the size and speed with Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin and Jaleel Scott. Don’t forget about Chris Moore either, who’s seemingly continuing his progression as a play maker in this offense. They have chain-movers in Mark Andrews and Willie Snead IV, and perhaps in addition to Andrews one of the best tight end groups in the league.
I see this team being more than capable of a 10-6 season, fighting with the Browns and Steelers for the crown of the AFC North.
– Lamar Jackson’s hard work will pay off, and the Ravens offense continues to improve under his command. By no means will he be a dominant passer this year, but he’ll be good enough to take pressure off the rushing attack and open up holes for himself, Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill.
– One of the beneficiaries of Jackson’s improvement will be Jaleel Scott, who will continue to flash early before solidifying himself as a legitimate red-zone threat. Scott will catch five or more TDs this year. He’ll take over snaps from Seth Roberts, who will disappoint in his first and only season in Baltimore.
– Defensively, the pass rush will have a tough time getting off the ground, forcing Wink Martindale to dial-up aggressive blitzes to get after the QB. Luckily, the secondary will have a fantastic season, with Earl Thomas bursting back onto the scene by intercepting 8 passes and taking home Comeback Player of the Year.
– Overall, the Ravens will enjoy a 10-6 season, but the AFC North will be a dogfight until the end. The last two games against Cleveland and Pittsburgh will define the year. With that record, though, the Ravens should be good enough to get into the postseason, one way or another. Once they’re there, I could see a run to the AFC Championship, but it’s far too early to really know.