By: Jordan Cope, Staff Writer
With week one of the National Football League pre-season in the books, it is time for fans to start getting excited for the upcoming season.
For Baltimore Ravens fans, the excitement is building, as the team looks poised to have a special year.
Defensively, Baltimore looks as good, if not better than the 2000 team that won Super Bowl XXXV against the New York Giants.
Up front, the Ravens will be able to shut down their opponents running game with a strong defensive line anchored by 11-year veteran Chris Canty, and second year defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan.
In the middle, Baltimore has arguably the best core in all of football with outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, as well as inside linebackers Daryl Smith and C.J. Mosley.
To top it all off, the Ravens will have an easier time shutting down their opponents passing game this year as the secondary consists of a healthy Jimmy Smith, and veteran Lardarius Webb at the corner position.
On offense, the Ravens are going through another change at offensive coordinator with Gary Kubiak’s departure this offseason. However, new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman has made it clear that he will run a similar offensive scheme to the one Kubiak ran last season.
Along with the help of Trestman, eight-year veteran Joe Flacco, who has the most wins of any NFL starting quarterback since 2008, will lead the Ravens offense.
A lot depends on how well the receiving core will come together for Flacco. Rookies Breshad Perriman and Maxx Williams will need to learn quickly.
It also helps when the team has one of the best kickers in the league. Justin Tucker has been a dominant force for the Ravens and has made many fans forget about Billy Cundiff (too soon?).
Special teams has been great for the Ravens, but they will have to find a replacement for Jacoby Jones. This will give Michael Campanaro a chance to show off his speed in the return game, as well as a chance at slot receiver on offense.
Although Baltimore looks set to have another special year, it won’t be handed to them as they have the 11th toughest schedule in the league.
With this difficult schedule in the NFL comes the AFC West featuring the Denver Broncos, the NFC West featuring NFC Champion the Seattle Seahawks. Not to mention the four division games between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Overall, the Ravens should be able to come away with an 11-5 record, an AFC North title and a spectacular run in the playoffs.