Baltimore Ravens 2014 Season Preview and Predictions

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Nov 28, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back LeVeon Bell (26) has his helmet knocked off by Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith (22) uring a NFL football game on Thanksgiving at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Predictions Analysis

The Ravens had a down year last season, and made many changes intended to plug the holes that plagued them in 2013. This is a team that is better on paper, and that should translate to better on field performance.  Gary Kubiak brings a refreshing offensive strategy with him to Baltimore that better suits the Raven’s current personnel.  The offensive line will benefit from the zone read scheme, and should immediately improve upon last year’s woeful performance.

Joe Flacco will likewise benefit from an offense that revolves around three step drops and getting rid of the ball quickly. After taking a literal beating last year while trying to continuously throw deep, Flacco should rebound in a big way while expanding his skill set under Kubiak, who has made lesser quarterbacks such as Matt Schaub into Pro Bowl signal callers.

The run game is primed for a huge rebound as well.  The offensive line will be working together to open holes for a healthy Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, the latter of which is a one cut runner who perfectly fits the mold of a Gary Kubiak running back.  Similar players who became superstars under his coaching include Arian Foster and Terrell Davis.

The defense also stands to take a big step forward with an injections of talented youngsters and the steady coaching of Dean Pees.  This is a unit that has gotten better despite a couple of key losses in Arthur Jones and Corey Graham.  The emergence of new nose tackle Brandon Williams, playing alongside the always dominant Haloti Ngata, will anchor the center of this defense and allow the talented linebackers to flow to the ball.

So we know that this is a better team, with better players, that is employing a scheme that better fits the strength of its personnel.  What about the most important thing, the competition they must face?  According to ESPN, the Ravens have the fifth easiest strength of schedule in 2014 based on an opponent’s win percentage of .461 in 2013.

This is a significantly easier schedule than what the Ravens faced in 2013 based on 2012’s opponent win percentage.  Last season, the Raven’s opponents had a win percentage of .535, which was ironically the 5th hardest of any team.  Now granted, teams obviously change a lot from year to year, but these are interesting statistics regardless.

Next: 2014 Predictions