Coming off an 11-5 record and a second-round playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills in 2020, the Ravens will look to take the next step and compete for a spot in the AFC Championship game in 2021.
In order to take that next step, quarterback Lamar Jackson will have to work hard to get better in the passing game as teams started to figure out his running ability in 2020. The Ravens would address the need for depth at wide receiver by acquiring Sammy Watkins from the Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens need Watkins to produce in a big way as the passing game looks to improve from the 2020 season when they ranked last in the league in passing yards. The Ravens also drafted wide receiver, Rashad Bateman, from the University of Minnesota with the 27th overall pick. Batemen joins a receiving core that includes Mark Andrews, Marquise Brown, and Miles Boykin.
The Ravens’ offensive line underwent changes as Center Kevin Zeitlier was acquired in the offseason from the New York Giants. Offensive tackle Orlando Brown would leave in free agency after three seasons with the team. The Ravens replaced Brown with right tackle Alejandro Vilanueva who came over in free agency from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Raven’s strong point of the offense is the running game which is led by Gus Edwards, and second-year running back JK Dobbins. With Edwards and Dobbins, the Ravens will look to have the best rushing attack for the second straight season. The Ravens’ defense suffered a huge loss as linebacker Matthew Judon left in free agency to join the New England Patriots.
The Ravens also lost defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in free agency as he left to join the Las Vegas Raiders. Without two of the Raven’s top three sacks leaders in 2020, players like linebacker Patrick Queen and newly drafted linebacker Zaven Collins will need to step it up in order for the Ravens to be a top defense in the NFL.
2021 record prediction- I predict the Baltimore Ravens will finish with a 12-5 record in 2021. The Ravens schedule includes matchups against improved teams like the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams as well as tough matchups within their division vs. the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Seven of Raven’s last eight games are against teams who made the playoffs in 2020. If the Ravens struggle in those games, they could be fighting for their playoff lives when they face the Steelers at home in Week 18. I am predicting an 8-2 start for the Ravens as a fast start is crucial before getting to the toughest eight games of the year.
Lamar Jackson needs to step up in the playoffs but once again, I predict the Ravens will exit the playoffs with a loss in the second round to the New England Patriots. The Ravens open up the season on the road as they take on the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday, September 13th.