Are Ravens a contender or pretender?
The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl six years ago and still have the same head coach/quarterback combination. But is Baltimore still among the teams contending for a Super Bowl title or has their window officially closed?
According to oddsmakers, the Ravens have 40-1 odds to win the Super Bowl for the upcoming season. That puts them in the middle of the pack among NFL teams. The favorite to win the Super Bowl is the Patriots (6-1), while the defending champion Eagles (8-1) are next in line. They are followed by the Rams and Steelers, both with 10-1 odds. Take a look at our NFL Future Odds Page for a full list of teams and odds to win both a conference title and the Super Bowl.
Ravens add WR help
A lack of quality wide receivers for quarterback Joe Flacco to look for has been a big problem in recent years. Baltimore attempted to address the issue this offseason with the additions of Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead. Former first round draft pick Breshad Perriman is still on the roster and the hope is that he can finally stay healthy and become a consistent contributor to add depth to the WR corps. Crabtree caught 58 passes for 658 yards and eight touchdowns in his final year in Oakland. He will be 31 in September and has never been an explosive threat, but he is a consistent possession receiver and has always been good in the red zone. Brown was limited to 21 catches for 299 yards and three TDs last year and only played in 10 games due to injury. His best season came in 201 when he caught 65 passes for 1,003 yards and seven scores. Snead was also a disappointment last season as he missed time due to suspension and injury. He finished the season with only eight receptions for 92 yards and no touchdowns. In the previous two years combined, he had racked up 141 receptions for 1,879 yards and seven TDs. If the Ravens get bounceback years from Brown and Snead plus a typical season out of Crabtree, their receiving group should improve immensely.
Defense still in solid shape
Baltimore has long been known for having outstanding defenses and it still has a quality group that was hurt plenty last season by an offense that failed to move the football consistently. The Ravens will have a new defensive coordinator in Don Martindale, who will replace Dean Pees after he departed for the same role with the Tennessee Titans. Baltimore defensive players reportedly are looking forward to the additional freedom they will have on the field under Martindale.
Linebacker C.J. Mosley led the charge in 2017 as he accounted for 132 tackles plus a sack, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions. Veteran Terrell Suggs will turn 36 in October, but plans on returning after leading the team in sacks with 11 last season. Another exciting talent is linebacker Matthew Judon, who tallied eight sacks plus 60 total tackles last season and will look to make another jump in his third year in the NFL. While there are some Baltimore defensive players who are toward the end of their career, there is a solid mix of guys in their prime and savvy veterans to ensure another strong defense in 2018 under a new coordinator.
I can't call Baltimore a Super Bowl contender, but the odds at 20-1 to win the AFC are a little more reasonable. If the Patriots were to rack up a few injuries, it's fairly wide open after that especially considering the rivalry with the Steelers leaves outcomes always in doubt. I'd hesitate to pull the trigger on any Ravens futures bets unless you are a fan of the team, but this is the NFL and Baltimore did make moves to get better and is a well-coached team. If you think enough was done to become a contender, more power to you in placing a bet you feel strongly about or OK with as a longshot.