Lofty Expectations

Street Talk Lofty Expectations

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The hype around this year’s Ravens is already reaching a fever pitch.

All of the slots for open practice at the Under Performance Center were scooped up in just minutes. In addition, the 37,000 free passes for the July 31 practice at M&T Bank Stadium were claimed in less than 24 hours. 

“We are very excited about our fans’ enthusiasm for the release of training camp passes this morning,” the Ravens said in a statement. “All passes to the 12 open practices at the Under Armour Performance Center were claimed in minutes, and we look forward to hosting nearly 1,000 members of the Ravens Flock each day. Free passes to the July 31 stadium practice remain available, and we’re eager to welcome our fans back to M&T Bank Stadium for a fun night of football, family activities and fireworks.”

The Ravens are loaded on both sides of the ball and have Super Bowl aspirations this season.

Lamar Jackson leads an offense that has led the NFL in rushing over the past two seasons, but has struggled to make more explosive plays in the passing game. Baltimore boosted that passing attack by signing Sammy Watkins in free agency and adding Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace in the draft. 

The Ravens expect to have a dominant rushing game again led by J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, who are one of the best running back duos in the NFL. 

Despite losing Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue, the defense still should be solid with a mix of young talent and grizzled veterans. 

​​The Ravens will capture the AFC North crown with 11 wins, just ahead of the Cleveland Browns (10.5), Pittsburgh Steelers (8.5) and Cincinnati Bengals (6), according to Sports Illustrated’s Roy Larking.

“Baltimore won the AFC North the previous two seasons and the Ravens added new weapons on offense for QB Lamar Jackson,” Larking wrote. “After finishing last overall, with just 182.4 pass yards per game, Baltimore stocked up on wide receivers during the offseason. Cleveland, one of just four teams that have never played in the Super Bowl, is looking to win the AFC North for the first time in franchise history. 

“The Browns’ last regular-season championship was way back in 1989 when they played in the AFC Central Division. The Browns were focused on adding pieces to their defense during the offseason.”

The Ravens are an early 16/1 favorite to win Super LVI, the fifth-best odds among all teams, according to BetOnline. The Kansas City Chiefs are the favorite at 5/1, followed by the Super Bowl champions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (9/1), Buffalo Bills (12/1), Green Bay Packers (12/1), Los Angeles Rams (12/1) and San Francisco 49ers (14/1).  

The Ravens made the playoffs this past season for the third consecutive year despite dealing with numerous challenges with COVID-19. 

The NFL and the Ravens hope the challenges with the pandemic are behind them. The goal is that the team can focus on playing football.

The Ravens certainly are bullish on their season. 

The fans are optimistic too. 

“We are thrilled with the response we received from our fans, who are clearly enthusiastic about the upcoming season,” Ravens senior vice president of marketing Brad Downs said. “The excitement surrounding training camp is palpable, and we can’t wait to host the Ravens Flock at M&T Bank Stadium as our team prepares for what will surely be another memorable year.”

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About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich

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