In preparation for tomorrows pre-season game against the Ravens, I contacted our regular Ravens fanatic, Editor Kyle Casey, to ask him a few questions about tomorrows game. Hope you enjoy!
1.) Alright, so I don’t exactly follow the Ravens at all but one of the biggest stories from Raven’s camp this offseason was the loss of both Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, to trade and retirement respectively, on the defensive side of the ball. How does the loss of two of the best players at their positions in the league affect the defense? Outside of leadership – which really only came from Lewis, not Reed – the Ravens will be just fine moving on from the two. Both players were in the twilight of their careers in 2012, and shells of their former selves. Both of the replacements – Michael Huff and Daryl Smith – are just as good as Lewis and Reed were in 2012, and possibly even better. Losing Reed and Lewis will hardly be an issue for the team this season.
2.) Another story from camp was Joe Flacco. So Kyle, straight up, is Flacco worth the six-year, 120.6 million dollar contract? It all depends on how one values a quarterback. Did Joe Flacco deserve to be the highest paid player in the NFL at the time of his contract? Absolutely not. But did he prove he has what it takes to lead the Ravens to a Super Bowl? Yes. If a quarterback can do that, a team has no choice but to dish out a lucrative deal. The market demand for quarterbacks led to Flacco’s contract, and it’s not as if the Ravens could just let the franchise’s best quarterback in the prime of his career sign with another team over money.
3.) So the Panthers have a few standout players in the preseason, namely David Gettis and Josh Norman, who have a huge chance to make an impact on the starting eleven. Is there any Raven backup who has a chance on making a similar impact on the Ravens starting lineup? On defense, the one non-starter who will stand out this year is rookie inside linebacker Arthur Brown, who is still technically a starter. He will be splitting time with Josh Bynes at weak-side linebacker, with Brown playing mainly in nickel packages. He is one of the most talented and fundamentally sound players the Ravens have, and he’ll step in and excel in his first year. Offensively, backup running back Bernard Pierce is primed to take on a much larger role this season. He had just 108 carries during the 2012 regular season, but averaged an astounding 4.9 yards per attempt. He proved to be a better between-the-tackle runner than Ray Rice, and should have around 150 carries or more this year.
4.) So I got to ask, do the Ravens have a chance on winning the Super Bowl again? Bias is a hundred percent ok! There’s no reason to believe the Ravens can’t repeat as champions. That’s not to go as far as to say they will, however. Repeating as champions is one of the hardest team accomplishments in the NFL, and while I do think Baltimore’s roster is better than last year, I can’t predict them to win it all, especially right now. The team that wins the Super Bowl is the one that is hottest in January, not the best team. That was the case with Baltimore last year, as they were far from the best team in the NFL based on the regular season. Expect the team to at least finish with a 10-6 record or better this season and make the playoffs, though.
5.) Alright, prediction time! Who do you think takes this one? How do you foresee this game going? It’s hard to predict the outcome of a preseason game, but the Ravens traditionally perform well in the preseason due to their depth, which is usually a key factor in the outcome of the games. Through two games, the starters for Baltimore – particularly offensively – have underwhelmed, and the Carolina defense should have plenty of success. I say it’ll be 14-13 Ravens when most of the starters for each team finish, with the final score being 24-16 in Baltimore’s favor.