By Micheal Hester
In the past decade or so, the Baltimore Ravens have been consistent when it comes to reaching the playoffs. In 2015, it was one of the few seasons they didn’t. The 2016 NFL season will present its own set of challenges for Charm City’s birds but these are a few bold reasons why the Ravens can reach the postseason and even make a run in 2016.
1. A Healthy Joe Flacco.
Throw out whether Joe Flacco is elite or not, now’s not the time for that debate. What he is, when he’s healthy, is dangerous. With additions to the offensive line, we could see the 2014 Flacco return (3,986 passing yards, 27 TDs, 91.0 passer rating) With a new (verbal) commitment to running the ball again, that will also relieve pressure from Joe and open up the play action game. The future of the Ravens’ offense could be a bright one.
2.Offensive line makeover/Passing game.
First round offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley will be tasked with being one of 5 to open up the rushing lanes for running backs Justin Forsett, Javarious Allen, and Kenneth Dixon. They’ll also have a even more important task of protecting their franchise quarterback. Alongside Marshal Yanda, this line could propel itself to being one of the top offensive lines in the NFL. In the passing game, you have the addition of deep threat wideout, Mike Wallace. Wallace’s speed and his (one-trick only) specialty is beating his defender on go-routes with his speed, a perfect receiver to match Flacco’s rocket arm. One bright spot of the Ravens’ offense in 2015 was the emergence of receiver, Kamar Aiken. Add in a healthy Steve Smith, Sr. coming back for his 16th NFL season and a hopeful debut season for 1st round draft pick, Breshad Perriman and the Ravens’ offense should have the weapons to put up points in bunches.
The Ravens have been famous for their defensive units the past decade plus, but the days of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are gone. That, however, doesn’t mean that the Ravens 2016 defensive unit shouldn’t be a force. With the return of Terrell Suggs, his veteran leadership will be key. Jimmy Smith had a poor 2015 season but will be looking to for a bounce back season. Add in the addition of former San Diego All-Pro safety Eric Weddle in the secondary and the Ravens’ defense should have a nice mixture of both youth and veteran presence in their unit.
9-7 or 10-6 are realistic predictions for this Ravens team if they stay healthy for the most part.