The Baltimore Ravens are coming off a 10-7 season in which they could count on Lamar Jackson for the final five games of the year. Only the Cincinnati Bengals beat them in the AFC North standings by winning two more games.
The Ravens Flock has also made it all the way to the postseason in four of the last five seasons, including winning the division title in two of those occassions, one under the quarterbacking of Joe Flacco (yes) and the next one already under Lamar and his 2019 MVP season.
None of that seems to be enough for the folks running algorithms at ESPN, though, as they projected Baltimore to finish the 2023 campaign winning between 7 and 12 games.
Jamison Hensley, the Ravens beat reporter of ESPN, highlighted Todd Monken as the "Biggest X Factor" on the team ahead of the 2023 season.
"In his first year as the Ravens' new playcaller, Monken is in charge of getting Lamar Jackson and this once-dominant offense back on track. Since 2019, Baltimore is 27-5 (.844) when scoring more than 25 points. But the Ravens have been held to 20 points or less in 13 of their past 26 games, which is a problem. Monken is giving the Baltimore offense a different look -- more passing and more audibles -- in an attempt to provide a much-needed spark."- Jamison Hensley, ESPN
Just for context, ESPN used their propietary Football Power Index (FPI) to run some simulations and come up with the win totals for every team in the league, which are based on "20,000 simulations of the entire season."
Just for context, the Bengals have a ceiling of 13 wins and a floor of 8 victories, while both the Steelers and Browns share ceilings of 11 wins and floors of 6 victories.
You might not think the projections are "disrespectful," per se, but if you look at the whole picture of teams in the league things are looking that way.
ESPN handed out ceilings of at least 13 wins to five teams (Bengals, 49ers, Eagles, Bills, Chiefs) and floors of at least 8 wins of those same five franchises. The Ravens, according to ESPN, are a second-tier team judging by their PFI projections.
The Ravens, mind you, made it all the way to the playoffs without Lamar available for five games. They lost to the Bengals in just the last quarter of their WC matchup, again without Jackson. But somehow, the lads and the algorithm run by ESPN doesn't think that's any good.
It's time to prove projections wrong and win 13 games, if not more. The last time the Ravens won 14 games was in 2019 with MVP Jackson commanding the Flock. What about an encore?