On the eve of the 2021 season, RSR staff give predictions for what lies in store for this iteration of the Ravens…
Tip of the cap to @UKRavens who posted this format for 2021 season predictions. As they say, imitation is the finest form of flattery so here goes, keeping in mind that we’re discussing BOLD Predictions. Consequently I’ll avoid the obvious picks…
Team Record: 12-5, good for a tie for the AFC North Crown. Ravens will win the title due to tie-breaker advantage over the Browns (head-to-head).
MVP: I’ll vote for the MVP runner-up, Gus Edwards who will be the best value on the roster.
OPOTY: Mark Andrews nearly cracks 1,000 yards and hauls in double digit TD’s. Steve Bisciotti prepares to back up Brinks Truck
DPOTY: There’s so much talent on the defensive side of the ball but I’ll go bold and assume that Calais Campbell will stay healthy the entire season and his menacing presence, regularly destroying play development will have Odafe Oweh in the mix for DROTY.
Best Rookie: Oweh will silence his draft day critics.
Sack leader: Oweh gets double digit sacks with Houston (8), Bowser (7) and Campbell (6 ½) following. Team total reaches 47.
Rush leader: The Bus churns up 1200 yards and 10 TD’s.
Receiving leader: Andrew with 72 catches for 975 yards
Postseason: Ravens lose in the AFC Championship Game. They are a good center and ball hawking safety away from their next Super Bowl title.
Quick predictions for the 2021 @Ravens:
➡️Jackson: 200+ passing yards/game, Top 5 in MVP
➡️Edwards: 1200 yards, 10 TD
➡️Oweh: 6 sacks, Top 5 in DROY
➡️5 #Ravens have 5+ sacks
➡️Defense: #1 in Points Against
⭐️Baltimore: 13-4 record; AFC playoff berth
— Matt Wise (@TheMattWise) September 7, 2021
Team Record: 12-5, one game ahead of Cleveland Browns (11-6) for the AFC North title.
MVP: Lamar Jackson: Entering year four, Jackson is poised for a huge season and is throwing the ball exceptionally.
OPOTY: Marquise Brown: The young wideout is playing for his fifth-year option. He should be fresh after missing much of training camp and will get plenty of targets downfield.
DPOTY: Linebacker Patrick Queen had a full offseason under his belt and looks ready to dominate. His coverage skills have gotten better.
Best Rookie: When Rashod Batemen gets back on the field, he should be able to dominate. He is a smooth route runner and can catch the ball in traffic.
Sack leader: Justin Houston makes his presence felt with nine sacks.
Rush leader: Gus Edwards will break 1,000 yards with eight+ touchdowns.
Receiving leader: Brown: More than 100 targets, 60+ receptions, 800+ yards.
Postseason: The Ravens and Bills will meet for the AFC championship.
The rash of injuries that indiscriminately swept through the Ravens offense this summer has left a lot of moving parts on both the offensive line and receiving room, leaving the prevailing wisdom to be that this team will look better toward the end of the season than the start. That’s fool’s gold, as nobody knows how the injury bug will hit once the real games start. For this exercise, let’s assume health. It’s just bad juju to pontificate on injuries, right?
Here are some predictions you can destroy me on later:
- Lamar Jackson will total 43 touchdowns between his arm and legs, along with more than 4,300 yards of offense.
- Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington will both show substantial growth this season, staking their claims as the future of the defensive line.
- Marquise Brown will generate 1,000-plus yards, including two games over 150 yards.
- Ty’Son Williams shows that he is not just a “warm body,” and will carve out a future for himself this season.
- The Ravens will finish the season with a 12-5 record, with the defense pacing the league in fewest points allowed.
Team Record: 11-6 to finish first in the AFC North with a tie breaker over the Browns in head-to-head records (BAL 2-0 vs CLE). The AFC is much tighter this year than most expect, as the Ravens finish 3rd in the AFC, just behind Buffalo (13-4) and KC (12-5).
MVP: Lamar seems like the slam dunk here, basically every year.
OPOTY: Again, LJ is the easy money, but let’s switch it up and go with Gus Edwards here. Thrust into an RB1 role for the first time in his career & he’ll easily break the 1k threshold to go with 10 TDs as a key part of this Ravens offensive success.
DPOTY: Again, you have a ‘duh’ option here with Marlon Humphrey… but let’s shake it up and go with Justin Madubuike. The ascending talent gave us little hints last year but he’ll fulfill that potential this year to earn the title with an interior pressure we’ve missed for quite some time in Baltimore.
Best Rookie: Oweh is a freak, but Daelin Hayes is a much more natural and refined pass rusher at this point in my eyes. I think he’ll earn his snaps and find a handful of sacks for the rookie of the year in Baltimore. Oweh won’t be far behind.
Sack leader: With the way the Ravens rotate up front, I’m not sure we’ll see a 10+ sack guy this year, so let’s set the benchmark at 9 and give it to Justin Houston who will maintain a solid snap count while the rookies get slowly worked in (as will Ferg).
Rush leader: Augustus Edwards for 1,300yds and 10 scores to boot (I think he also has a pair of receiving touchdowns in his back pocket this season too!).
Receiving leader: Let’s look at this 3 ways, and I’ll preface that I believe Lamar has a new favorite #2 toy (behind Mandrews) that will surprise folks this season, much like the Mike Wallace in 2016 surprised folks when he had Pitta and Smitty drawing focus.
Rec yards leader: Sammy Watkins with 900 yards.
Receptions leader: Sammy Watkins 70 receptions.
Reception TDs leader: Mark Andrews with 9.
*BONUS* Comeback Player of the Year: Tavon Young suits up for a full 17 games and gets national accolades for a return to the field and to form as a top tier slot cornerback.
Postseason: Ravens finally get past those pesky Chiefs, but eventually lose in the AFCC to the Bills, as the pass rush proves to be too much for the Ravens O-Line that’s severely lacking at Right Tackle and Left Guard (Center isn’t exactly spectacular, either), as the offense comes up short in a shoot out game.
Here are my bold (pessimistic unfortunately) predictions…
Maybe it’s the way this preseason has unfolded, but something has just rubbed me the wrong way about this upcoming season. Here are my bold predictions…
– Lamar plays only 10 games. Lamar has been phenomenal through his two full seasons, but with his play style, he’s one hit away from missing significant time. This is the season where it bites the Ravens. Tyler Huntley steps in and performs well and is still able to guide the Ravens to a wildcard berth. Barely.
-Team Record: 11-6. The Ravens finish in second place in the AFC North, but ultimately claim a wildcard spot in the playoffs.
-MVP: Gus the Bus. With my “Lamar getting hurt” prediction, the offense will lean heavily on Edwards who will lead this team into the playoffs.
OPOTY: With Gus winning MVP, he also wins OPOTY while rushing for 1300 yards and double-digit touchdowns.
DPOTY: Patrick Queen does his best Ray Lewis impersonation and leads the team in tackles while racking up multiple game-changing turnovers to help the Ravens sneak into the playoffs.
Best Rookie: This may be super bold, but I just have a really good feeling about Daelin Hayes. He makes the biggest impact amongst thw rookies on the defensive side of the ball and is a consistent contributor by the middle of the season.
Postseason: The Ravens lose in the first round of the playoffs against either the Chiefs or Browns and the “is Lamar the right guy” argument consumes the off-season.
Nothing would make me happier than being completely wrong here. Something is just telling me that this season is going to go off the rails and there will be more questions than answers heading into the 2022 off-season.
Record: 13-4 winning the AFC North with the Browns only one game behind.
Team MVP: Lamar Jackson, I know shocking right? He will pass for 3,500 yards, rush for over 1,000 yards with 33 passing touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He will add another 6 rushing touchdowns.
Defensive MVP: Marlon Humphrey, another shocker. He will have 5 interceptions and 4 forced fumbles.
Offensive MVP: Gus Edwards rushing for 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Defensive Breakout Player: Justin Madubuike with 4 sacks, 4 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.
Offensive Breakout Player: Ty’Son Williams will rush for 700 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Passing Leaders: Mark Andrews will lead in receptions with 55, Hollywood Brown will lead in yards with 1,000 and Sammy Watkins will lead in touchdowns with 9.
Sack Leader: Justin Houston with 7.
The Ravens will make it to the AFC Championship game and what happens from there remains up in the air. I’m not going to jinx anything but it’s hard not to be optimistic about this team on paper and the sample size we have seen so far in preseason. Here’s hoping for a great season.
Bonus prediction unrelated to the Ravens: The Steelers will have their first losing season with Mike Tomlin thanks to the new 17 game schedule with a record of 8-9. Steelers fans will whine it was because of the 17th game.
1: Justin Madubuike becomes a Pro Bowler in year two as an aging defensive line begins to rely on him more. Coming off an impressive camp following a promising rookie season, Madubuike finishes with nearly double digit sacks, is a force in the run game and gets recognized with a Pro Bowl nod.
2: Gus Edwards takes advantage of the opportunity presented and establishes himself as a household name and one of the NFL’s best running backs. Edwards is already in elite company, ranking 5th in yards per carry since 2018 and is one of only six backs to rush for at least 700 yards in each of the last three seasons. Maybe the efficiency slows down a little with a full workload, but Edwards will still finish clear over the 1,000 yard mark to go along with double digit touchdowns.
3: Marquise Brown tops 1,000 receiving yards for the first time. All signs point to a big year three, with the rumored and anticipated growth and expansion of the passing offense under Greg Roman and the additions and emergence of other wide receivers around him helping to take some pressure and focus off of Brown. By season’s end, Brown will be thought of as a top 15-20 wide receiver league wide.
– Lamar’s numbers get back toward his MVP form, and he records 32 TDs to just 7 picks.
– The Flock’s frequent pleas of “Feed Gus” are finally answered, and Gus puts the league in notice. The Bus rolls for 1,150 yards, 11 TDs on the ground and at least two through the air.
– Justin Houston and Odafe Oweh become a lethal pair off the edges and combine for 18 sacks. Throw Tyus Bowser into the mix and you hit 25 sacks, or at least close to it.
– Marlon Humphrey cracks the top 5 in DPOY votes.
And maybe boldest of all:
–Justin Tucker hits a kick of 60+ yards… twice.
Record: 14-3, 2nd seed in the AFC – The Ravens lose to the Chiefs, Chargers, and Packers, but win all of their in-division games to claim the AFC North Crown. Since Jackson took over at QB, the Ravens have done a good job of not losing to inferior opponents. No matter what the ‘experts’ say, I don’t trust the Steelers offense, and I don’t trust the Browns…at all.
Team MVP: Jackson is too obvious, so I’d like to throw this to Marlon Humphrey on the defensive side of the ball, who puts together a DPOY-worthy year with 20 forced turnovers. Players with Humphrey’s work ethic and attention to detail improve every year, and with a full season playing on the outside, he’ll be better than ever.
OPOY: Is it crazy to say Hollywood Brown here? He may start slow, but if his slot snaps increase after Bateman’s return, he could look like the game-breaker he did at Oklahoma. He put up great numbers for a receiver in such a run-heavy offense, and I’ve a feeling the Ravens are going to throw the ball a bit more this year.
DPOY: Don’t want to repeat Humphrey here, so I’ll go with Patrick Queen. He’s repeatedly talked about how the game has slowed down for him after a full offseason. His improved vision and blazing speed is going to be a deadly combination, especially when Wink sends him on blitzes.
Best Rookie: Three rookies will each own one-third of the season. Hayes will surprise opponents with his bend and dip to start the year, Oweh will settle in and be unleashed by midseason, and Bateman will finish the year strong with a string of touchdowns in consecutive games.
Offensive Breakout: I’d love to say one of the young WRs–Devin Duvernay, James Proche or Tylan Wallace–but I’m not sure they’ll get enough opportunities to truly ‘break out.’ But with Nick Boyle likely limited to start the year, Josh Oliver could really carve out a role for himself early in the year as a ‘third-down’ tight end: a willing blocker who’s a legitimate downfield receiving threat.
Defensive Breakout: Malik Harrison is going to seriously step up after L.J. Fort‘s injury. I think he improved enough in the offseason that he’ll learn on the job as the Ravens starting Will linebacker. With more eyes on Queen than himself, Harrison will build confidence as the season goes on, and the pair will emerge as the NFL’s best ILB duo.
Receiving Leaders: Jackson spreads the love this year; Hollywood has the most yards, Watkins has the most receptions, and Andrews has the most touchdowns. Bateman comes on a bit later in the year, but still turns in a solid rookie effort.
Rushing Leaders: I’ll pretend like I’m playing Madden here and say that the best rusher is the fastest guy: Lamar Jackson. Before Dobbins’ injury, I’d probably say him, but I think Jackson will be ready to answer the bell after another offseason of doubt and criticism. Plus, I think the committee approach limits the RBs’ total yardage.
Sack Leader: Justin Houston in a blitz-happy defense that gives him frequent one-on-one matchups? Yes, please! He’ll get at least 12.0 sacks, good for second-best in his career.
Comeback Player of the Year: Gotta agree with Adam here. Much has been made about the Ravens’ young defensive backs, but if Tavon Young stays healthy, he can be one of the best slot corners in the NFL.
Postseason: I’m going to go against the grain and say this is the Ravens’ year to win it all. Baltimore has historically done better when no one believes in them, and I don’t think anyone is giving the number-one scoring offense and defense over the past two seasons enough credit. I feel like we’re bound to win one at some point, so why not this year? Any Given Sunday!