Poor John Harbaugh.
This dude essentially returns the most important components on the offensive side of the ball, the defense will be an improvement from last year's 11-win campaign, and yet I don't see them getting past 10 wins this season.
The Ravens, who boasted the league's worst pass production in yards per game and attempts, won 11 games after facing the easiest schedule. I can't imagine - improvement or not - what this team is poised for against what some have deemed one of the toughest schedules this season.
First of all, they have six games in one of the hardest divisions in football. Second, they're facing what should be an improved and tougher AFC West, and will also tackle the NFC North. Toss in the improved Football Team from D.C. and the dangerous L.A. Rams, and I'm not sure how Lamar Jackson escapes without getting dinged up.
He's the target on that offense, and everyone knows it. And when you have a lethargic passing game, and have no choice but to run your dual-threat quarterback for what turns into a run-first offense, it can pose a problem. Tackle Orlando Brown is gone, running back Mark Ingram II is sayonara, and center Matt Skura has moved on. I said the offense has personnel back, yes. But only six starters are back.
The defense was commendable last season, but it suffered a big hit with the departure of linebacker Matthew Judon, who is now with the New England Patriots. Also gone is Yannick Ngakoue, who is now in Las Vegas, which hosts the Ravens in the season-opener. The Ravens have 10 starters back, but again, this is going to be a tougher than you'd think schedule for the Ravens to endure.
Let's take a look.
The Ravens will open in Las Vegas with a Monday night loss to the Raiders, and then return home to take their lumps from two-time AFC champion Kansas City. They catch a break by playing in Detroit in Week 3, so should be 1-2 before heading to Denver. That's a game I need to think on, and will leave as a question mark.
At 1-2-?, the Ravens are back on Monday night, this time at home against the Colts. It'll be the start of three straight at home before a bye, and I believe they'll take two of three, beating Indy, losing to the Chargers, and topping Cincinnati.
After a week off, and sitting at 3-3-?, the Ravens will be refreshes for a visit from Minnesota, improving to what should be 4-3-?.
Then things get tough.
On a short week, the Ravens go to Minnesota for a Thursday game, let their guard down and I think they lose. Then they goto Soldier Field, where I think they lose again. Reeling, at 4-5-?, the Ravens next host the division-rival Browns, and I have another question mark because they hit the road for Pittsburgh and Cleveland next both losses.
That puts the Ravens at 4-7-?
Green Bay comes to town, and we don't know if Aaron Rodgers will be there, or not, and even if he is, what will the chemistry be like by then? I'm granting the Ravens a win here. A trip to the Cincy has the Bengals seeking revenge, and I'll give it to them. Now we're at 5-8-? with those two games outstanding.
The Ravens close at home with the Rams and Steelers. I'll give them the split here, making them 6-9-? Back to the Broncos and Browns games. Let's give them both to Baltimore, it makes its final mark 8-9. And let's say I'm wrong on two of the games overall, now the Ravens are 10-7.
That's still under 11 wins.
I like Baltimore to stay low in its season-win total.