A defending Super Bowl champion has not successfully defended the title in nearly a decade. The last team to do it was the New England Patriots who won Super Bowls XXXVIII (38) and XXXIX (39) in consecutive seasons. Next up to try to end the back-to-back drought are the Baltimore Ravens, who are facing high expectations despite losing some key players over the offseason.
Still, the core of the Ravens is still mostly intact. The Ravens will pound the running game and Joe Flacco, despite some flaws, has never had a problem pushing the ball downfield. In addition, the Ravens should still be fielding one of the better defensive units in the league.
The big difference beyond personnel this season will be the added fanfare that comes each week with being the defending Super Bowl champions. Even with the added hype, Joe Flacco will be trying to block out the added noise.
“All we can do is go out there and keep winning, just like we have every year we've been here and not really worry about what people say and what the expectations are,” Flacco said via ESPN. “Who really cares?”
“I can't really complain at this point. We won last year, I have a lot of money — or I'm going to get a lot of money — and we're going to win football games. That's the way it is around here,” Flacco said at a short practice. “We're not going to apologize for acting like a good football team. Yeah, our expectations are high, and we don't care if that comes with pressure. We expect to win.”
Although there will be a lot more media attention this time around, the Ravens have one big advantage that many teams, the Texans, Broncos, Falcons, and more, don’t have — experience. The Ravens have been there. Yeah, some of the teams I listed have a few players that have been to the promise land, but the Ravens are full of players with successful playoff experience.
So yes, there will be fanfare, added hype, and worst of all, every team that sees the Ravens will be gunning for them, but don’t expect the extra pressure to weigh to heavily on a veteran team like the Ravens. The Ravens will be confident, maybe even arrogant, but that’s always been their style.
The Ravens might not be as good of a team as they were a season ago, but don’t chalk that up to the added expectations. Chalk that up to better competition and less talent.