2011 Baltimore Ravens NFL Expert Predictions, Picks, 2012 Vegas Super Bowl Odds and Schedule – Baltimore Ravens NFL Football Season Preview:Despite going 12-4 during the regular season last year, the Baltimore Ravens inability to defeat a familiar foe proved to be their undoing. The Ravens lost the division title to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers and were then bounced from the playoffs by those same Steelers. The early playoff exit has been a theme for Baltimore in recent years. Despite winning at least one postseason game in three consecutive seasons, the Ravens have been unable to get over the hump and reach the Super Bowl. With a stout but aging defense, it could be now or never for Baltimore.
When you talk about Baltimore, Ray Lewis and the defensive unit immediately come to mind. Last season, the Ravens ranked in the top five in both rushing yards allowed and points allowed. Looking at this year’s group, those numbers could be even better. Defensive tackles Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody plug up the middle of the field as good as any tandem in the NFL, and Lewis and Terrell Suggs are both playmaking linebackers. In the secondary, Ed Reed is still the best ball hawk in football, and young cornerbacks Cary Redding and rookie Jimmy Smith have impressed throughout training. Throw in Sergio Kindles pass rushing skills, and the Ravens are going cause headaches for opposing offenses throughout the season.
On offense, all eyes will be on quarterback Joe Flacco. In many ways, he is a microcosm of the Ravens as a whole. He has won a road playoff game in every year he has been in the NFL, but he has never been able to take Baltimore to the next level. However, the offseason addition of receiver Lee Evans could be the missing piece to the puzzle. Evans is the speedy deep threat Baltimore has been lacking since Flacco has been under center. With Evans stretching the field, fellow receiver Anquan Boldin should be able to return to running routes over the middle that utilize his physical strength. With two legitimate targets, Flacco could be headed for a career year.
While Flacco’s development will be vital to the Ravens making a title run, the strength of this team should be the ground game. Running back Ray Rice is as versatile as any in the NFL, and he is always a threat to reach 2,000 total yards of offense. A retooled offensive line should help his numbers. Bryant McKinnie has been brought in as left tackle, and Michael Oher can move to his natural position at right tackle. Newly acquired fullback Vonta Leach will help open up some running lanes for Rice as well.
On paper, the Ravens are better on both sides of the ball than the team that went 12-4 a year ago. Flacco has never been in a better position to succeed, and the same can be said for Rice. After playing second fiddle to the defense for years, the Baltimore offense may finally be able to carry its own weight. With the defense loaded for at least one more year among the league’s best, the Ravens should be right back in the playoffs in 2011-12. Baltimore may even be able to best the Steelers for the AFC North title, but the team’s performance in the postseason will be the ultimate test.
Preseason 2011 Baltimore Ravens NFL Odds:
Odds to Win 2012 Super Bowl: +1500
Odds to Win 2011 AFC Championship: +700
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2011 Baltimore Ravens NFL Football Schedule
1 Sunday Sep. 11 1:00 PM Steelers – – Tickets
2 Sunday Sep. 18 1:00 PM at Titans – – Tickets
3 Sunday Sep. 25 4:05 PM at Rams – – Tickets
4 Sunday Oct. 2 8:20 PM Jets – – Tickets
5 Bye Week
6 Sunday Oct. 16 4:05 PM Texans – – Tickets
7 Monday Oct. 24 8:30 PM at Jaguars – – Tickets
8 Sunday Oct. 30 1:00 PM Cardinals – – Tickets
9 Sunday Nov. 6 8:20 PM at Steelers – – Tickets
10 Sunday Nov. 13 4:05 PM at Seahawks – – Tickets
11 Sunday Nov. 20 1:00 PM Bengals – – Tickets
12 Thursday Nov. 24 8:20 PM 49ers – – Tickets
13 Sunday Dec. 4 1:00 PM at Browns – – –
14 Sunday Dec. 11 1:00 PM Colts – – Tickets
15 Sunday Dec. 18 8:20 PM at Chargers – – Tickets
16 Saturday Dec. 24 1:00 PM Browns – – Tickets
17 Sunday Jan. 1 1:00 PM at Bengals – – Tickets
Check out NSAwins.com’s official 2011 NFL Over Under Team Wins Odds and Predictions and 2011 AFC North Odds and Predictions articles.
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