Baltimore Ravens (11-5, 3-3 Div.)
Good News – Justin Forsett is back.
The Ravens rushing attack, which was a big question mark heading into 2014 due to the suspension of Ray Rice, looked better than ever last season. Justin Forsett came out of nowhere and made Ravens fans forget Ray Rice was ever a Raven, running for 1,266 yards and 8 touchdowns. He also ran for 56 first downs and, on 235 attempts, fumbled only once. He was supposed to be a big time free agent this year. No one expected him to stay with Baltimore, but that is exactly what he did, signing a three-year $9 million deal in March. Forsett will look to once again carry the Ravens to the post season in 2015 and prove that 2014 was no fluke.
Bad News – Haloti Ngata is gone.
This is still the AFC North right? Defense is a sure thing in this division. It always has been. But times are just a tad different now. This offseason the Ravens traded away the anchor of their defensive line in Haloti Ngata. This was part of an action-packed start to the offseason. The Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh to fill a void in their defensive line. The Lions traded for Haloti Ngata to fill the void left by Ndamukong Suh. Now the Ravens have a void left by Haloti Ngata that needs to be filled. Whew! That was exhausting. Coach John Harbaugh has faith that defensive tackles Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams can step up and fill that void.
These two guys are young, combining for just 3 years of experience between the two, as well as an uninspiring 5.5 sacks. These guys have huge shoes to fill in replacing Haloti Ngata.
The Ravens are shaping up to be just as bizarre as the Steelers are right now. Their offense may need to carry their defense. Joe Flacco now has Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman for targets as well as a Justin Forsett’s carries. Don’t sleep on tight end Crockett Gillmore either. Defensively, outside of Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs (who turns 33 in October), there is nothing that is intimidating in that group. Certainly nothing like the Ray Lewis and Ed Reed years where no one could score on them. This team gave up two 14 point leads to the Patriots last year. Two! The Ravens are putting a lot of faith in Joe Flacco to lead this team, and while he turns it on in the playoffs, he is mediocre at best in the regular season.