We’re barely three days past the Super Bowl and hype is already building around the 2020 Ravens.
The oddsmakers are certainly bullish on the team’s prospects.
Moments after the Chiefs hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, the Ravens were established as one of the favorites to win next year’s Super Bowl.
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has the Chiefs as 6-1 favorites to repeat as champions with the Ravens right behind them at 7-1. This year’s runner-up, the San Francisco 49ers, are third at 8-1.
There is still a lot of heavy lifting ahead for every NFL team before training camp opens in late July.
The Ravens are no exception.
The team needs to add an effective outside linebacker/pass rusher, a wide receiver and offensive line depth. So far, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta has done an astute job filling the team’s holes, underscored by the midseason trade for cornerback Marcus Peters that coincided with a 12-game winning streak.
It was also DeCosta’s first full-year as the full-time GM. While he fully expected to compete, a run to the Super Bowl would have been a stretch with the salary-cap limitations.
The Ravens did overachieve in the regular season, but they were disappointing in the playoffs.
This off-season will be dramatically different.
Regardless of how the off-season goes — barring injuries — the Ravens won’t lose their spot as Super Bowl favorites after the success of 2019 and with the core of their young roster still intact.
John Harbaugh expects to bring back his entire coaching staff after coordinators Greg Roman and Don Martindale were not offered the head-coaching positions for Cleveland Browns and New York Giants, respectively. Quarterbacks coach James Urban and tight ends coach Bobby Engram are also back in the fold after being courted by other NFL teams.
How will the players handle the hype?
Harbaugh does a remarkable job keeping the team focused. That won’t change this upcoming season. We’re also going to see an even better Jackson after he puts in another full off-season of work.
While the Cleveland Browns were the darlings of the NFL entering last season, the Ravens will get plenty of attention in 2020.
In addition to the AFC North opponents, Baltimore has home games against the Jaguars, Titans, Cowboys, Giants and Chiefs. The Ravens take the road against the Redskins, Eagles, Colts, Texans and Patriots.
There are countless scenarios for prime-time games and fans should expect several matchups under the lights at M&T Bank Stadium.
The most hyped game of the entire NFL season might be Kansas City at Baltimore, which will likely be headed to Sunday night, which generally attracts the biggest audience.
The Chiefs and Ravens have a growing rivalry and have played in each of the past two seasons at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won the 2018 matchup 27-24 in overtime and also edged the Ravens 33-28 this past year.
Patrick Mahomes and Jackson also represent the new guard of the NFL — mobile, athletic quarterbacks that can also throw downfield. Jackson is the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player, while Mahomes was named the MVP of the Super Bowl after taking home the top league honors last year.
“It’s not just these two quarterbacks, but it’s the new era of quarterback,” Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale said earlier this season. “We’re preparing for more mobile quarterbacks this year than the old school, stay-in-the-pocket-and-play quarterback from the pocket. So, that’s where I’m talking about the history of the game is changing.”
The hype will begin on the game between the Chiefs and Ravens as soon as the schedule is officially announced in April.
The new league year doesn’t even begin until March 18 when the unrestricted free agents can officially negotiate with other teams. The Ravens will have already been well under way with plans for the 2020 season.
The local fans will be equally excited.
A pair of one-and-done performances in the playoffs have been disappointing, but has not seemed to temper the enthusiasm.
The countdown has begun for the Ravens’ Super Bowl march.