The Comeback is previewing all 32 NFL teams from worst to first leading up to the start of the 2018 regular season on Sept. 6. Up next in our preseason rankings are the boring Baltimore Ravens.
2017 in a nutshell: Despite once again performing well on defense and finally getting something out of the running game, they fail to win double-digit games or make the playoffs for the third consecutive season. It’s the first time they’ve missed the postseason in three straight years since doing so in their first four seasons as a franchise (1996-1999).
What’s different: They’ve revamped the oft-maligned wide receive position with the additions of Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead. Quarterback Joe Flacco is healthy and coming off a strong offseason.
Why they could be awesome: The defense remains stout, and Flacco once got hot enough to lead this team to a championship. Plus, Lamar Jackson could shock the league.
Why they could suck: That was six years ago, and Flacco has been a mediocre starting quarterback ever since. Plus, Jackson probably isn’t ready.
Major additions: Crabtree, Brown, Snead, Jackson
Major losses: Center Ryan Jensen, tight end Benjamin Watson, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, defensive back Lardarius Webb, running back Danny Woodhead. The latter three were released and are not super-major departures.
Breakout watch: Wide receiver Chris Moore caught 12 of his 18 targets for 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns during the final six weeks of his sophomore season, which could have him ready to take a leap after a strong offseason. The 25-year-old former fourth-round pick will have plenty of opportunities in that offense.
Position to watch: Keep an eye on the entire offensive line. They’re trying out regular 2017 right guard Matt Skura in place of the departed Jensen at center, six-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda is trying to get/stay healthy, and right tackle James Hurst was garbage last season. Even if left tackle Ronnie Stanley continues to rise, there are plenty of questions there.
Prediction: I don’t trust Flacco or Jackson, and neither should you. Even if Alex Collins is the real deal in the backfield, that offense will again have issues in 2018. And while the defense is solid, that unit can’t carry them deep into the playoffs. I don’t even think they’ll get there.
6-10, 2nd place in the AFC North