In their last game, the Baltimore Ravens were beaten by the team which eventually won the Super Bowl—the New England Patriots—and Head Coach John Harbaugh will have his squad—25/1 to win it all—ready to make a run this season.
The odds for Super Bowl 50 have been out for out for some time now, and there has been little real significant line movement in most marketplaces but that’s to be expected with the game still over 11 months away (Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016) and the NFL Scouting Combine wrapping up today (Feb. 23) in Indianapolis, Free Agency about to heat up (March 10) and the NFL Draft (April 30-May 2) in Chicago still to come in next two months or so and more real shape to the NFL’s 32 teams to be revealed. But now may be the perfect time to find a team which still has some real Perceived Value with a realistic chance of making a run and actually winning the NFL championship this coming season. The last time a team won back-to-back Super Bowls was way back in 2004 and 2005 when those Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVIII and Super Bowl XXXIIX and when X’s were still the rage. Although not headed for Extinction, X’s are sort of going the way of the Plesiosaurs and the Elasmosaurus—hanging out where they can These Strange Days in Lochs and Lakes—with the coming Super Bowls being named Super Bowl 50 (Santa Clara), Super Bowl LI (Houston) and Super Bowl LII (Minneapolis). Doomed. No mas X’s. We loved you Mr. X, don’t even let them tell you anything different. But this is a story about Birds (Ravens) and their ability to potentially get to and win the Super Bowl and hopefully make us a little scrilla and not about Lake Monsters so our much-anticipated Loch Ness Monster Handicap will have to just wait for a later date, Bubba. They win again. Of course.
Ravens Need to Re-sign WR Torrey Smith
One of the many things that makes the Baltimore Ravens (10-6 SU, 7-8-1 ATS in 2014) such a quality NFL pick in both regular season games and Futures markets is their wonderful balance. And with RB Justin Forsett (235 carries, 1,266 yards, 8 TDs) having a breakout season and making everyone forget about Ray Rice last season, the Ravens now have a solid Rushing attack (162.2 ypg, #8 in NFL) which should open up the team’s Passing game (238.7 ypg, 13th). So, the fans, coaching staff, Defense, Special Teams and OL are good enough to make a run at the Super Bowl, and with veteran WR Steve Smith Sr., WR Torrey Smith and TE Owen Daniels, the Ravens had a decent Receiving Corps and passing attack last season. But now Torrey Smith (49 receptions, 767 yards, 11 TDs) could become a Free Agent and if this franchise is wise, it will re-up with the 6-foot-0-inch, 205-pound 4th-year man out of Maryland. Before the 2014 regular season ended, Smith said he had a “horrible feeling” to think it might be his last game playing for the Ravens, meaning that the man really likes his current employer. And few NFL teams starting 1-2 WRs are/were as dangerous as Baltimore’s with The Two Smiths. Keeping it that way and making the receiving unit even stronger would be smart at this particular point in Time and if I were Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Jr., re-signing University of Maryland-product Torrey Smith would be Act 1 for me. Smith the Elder will soon retire, and replacing him with Smith the Younger makes perfect sense and Torrey Smith can easily evolve into an 80-catch, 1,000-yard guy if targeted a little bit more (he was targeted 93 times last season).
Baltimore Should Improve Offensively In NFL Draft
Should Torrey Smith stay or go, Baltimore would still be prudent to try to bolster its WR depth as Steve Smith Sr. is Old (35) by NFL standards and will leave a void when he retires. Two guys the Ravens should and probably are already taking a look at are Missouri’s Dorial Green-Beckham (6-5, 237 pounds, 4.49 40-yard dash at Combine) and Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong (6-2, 217 pounds, 4.44 40-yard dash, 42-inch vertical leap at Combine). And to bolster its already solid Rushing attack and maybe put Baltimore over the top, the team could use a RB like Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon (4.52 40-yard dash at Combine), Indiana’s Tevin Coleman (22 bench reps at combine) or Miami’s Duke Johnson (4.55 40-yard dash at Combine). Knowing that the pass-happy New England may again have to be the team they have to try to get by in 2015 to get to the Professional Gridiron Promised Land (The Super Bowl), expect the Ravens to continue to try to improve some at the Skill Positions.
Favorable Schedule For Baltimore?
The Ravens (2014 season Team Win Total: 8½; Over, 10-6) and fellow members of the AFC North have to play the AFC West and the NFC West this season and we projected their Season Team Win Totals to somewhat easily go Over the Season Team Win Total of 9 (Over -120) with a projected 12-4 record after analyzing the Ravens Strength of Schedule in an earlier exercise here at Sportsbook Review. As written about, Baltimore gets the Bengals, Browns and rival Steelers twice, as per usual; hosts the Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, and QB Russell Wilson and NFC champion Seattle Seahawks; and, the Ravens will travel to play the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins. So, although it looks like 2015 could be a challenging season, it does actually look like a schedule on which Baltimore can possibly thrive. The two Steelers games, the Seahawks at Home and the Broncos and 49ers on the Road should be the Ravens only big tests this coming season and out of all of the perceived Good Teams in the NFL, Baltimore’s 2015 schedule looks the least frightening from this safe, late-February distance. But then again, being in the AFC North is brutal in its own way and the AFC and NFC West are both formidable divisions these days. Maybe The Fear will help these big black birds.
One key here in backing the Ravens is the memories of their loss to the New England Patriots (35-31) in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. Still in the forefront of this Baltimore team’s minds, it could serve as a real achievable goal—toppling Tom Brady and New England—and should fuel this team’s fire. The Ravens are a team that knows what it’s actually like to get to and win a Super Bowl and Baltimore is one of the few teams in the NFL which can realistically knock off the defending champion Patriots as well as a potential likely NFC participants in the game like the Seattle Seahawks or the Green Bay Packers.
The Ravens Passing Defense will have to be a bit better as Baltimore ranked #23 in the league, allowing an average of 248.7 yards per game on the ground. Against the Run, the Ravens seem to have no problem and ranked an impressive #4 (88.3 ypg) in the NFL. So, #8 Rushing and #4 Against the Rush proves this team is pretty balanced and if Baltimore can get some more Passing yards and stop the opponent from doing so a little more in 2015, then maybe it all comes together again for this team that really does know what it’s doing out there and isn’t afraid of anyone, at Home or on the Road and could care less if you consider their QB “elite.” They certainly do. The tackling Edgar Allan Poes may have a little work to do still, but at 10/1 to win the AFC (Ladbrokes, William Hill) and still 25/1 in some places (Sky Bet, Ladbrokes, William Hill, Paddy Power) to win Super Bowl 50, this team actually may have some value now and in my mind is the most underrated NFL team in these two current Futures marketplaces (AFC, Super Bowl 50).
Best Current NFL Odds to Win Super Bowl 50: Ravens 25/1 (Sky Bet, Ladbrokes, William Hill, Paddy Power)
Best Current NFL Odds to win AFC: Ravens 10/1 (Ladbrokes, Coral, William Hill)