Baltimore Ravens: 4 bold predictions for the 2021 NFL season
The Baltimore Ravens have found quite a bit of regular season success over the last several years. But come the NFL Playoffs, the Ravens have continually found themselves back on the couch and gearing up for next season much quicker than expected.
Despite the aforementioned storyline unfortunately following the Ravens into the upcoming 2021-22 campaign, an MVP-caliber quarterback in Lamar Jackson paired with a stout defense once again gives them as good of a chance at a successful season as any team in the league. The Ravens have already encountered a few injury woes with Week 1 looming large, but they still possess a talented and deep roster led by veteran coach John Harbaugh.
The Ravens play in arguably the toughest division in all of football as the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cincinnati Bengals are all expected to compete at a high level. Even so, expect the Ravens to reach the postseason while serving as one of the AFC’s best all-around teams from start to finish.
Bold predictions for the Ravens this season:
4. Will defeat defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2
The Ravens will open the 2021-22 season with two prime-time games. With the Las Vegas Raiders up first in Week 1, a game that the Ravens should win easily, Baltimore’s first true test of the season will come the following week upon hosting two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs.
With the September 19 clash slated to take place on Sunday Night Football, the Ravens will battle Patrick Mahomes and company as the AFC North franchise could make an early statement with a victory. With the game taking place in Baltimore and the Chiefs slated to lose at some point this season, especially with an extra game on the docket, the Ravens will indeed pull off the Week 2 upset.
3. Lamar Jackson will lead team in rushing
With the Ravens down two of the team’s top three running backs with the tandem of JK Dobbins and Justice Hill each suffering season-ending injuries late in the offseason, it will be up to veteran rusher Gus Edwards to lead the way from out of the backfield. The Ravens have landed the services of free agent running back Le’Veon Bell as well, a player that has served as an impactful starter for the Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New York Jets over the years. But it remains to be seen how the Bell will fit in with the Ravens.
As a result, look for starting quarterback Jackson to serve as the team’s leading rusher this season. The former MVP has already put up incredible numbers both through the air and with his legs in his colorful career, but the prolific signal-caller might have to do the latter a bit more this time around.
3. Mark Andrews will lead team in receptions and receiving yards
The Ravens just signed Andrews, a Pro Bowl tight end, to a massive multi-year extension. The veteran pass-catcher will once again show the NFL why he’s one of the best in the game in 2021-22. Not only is Andrews a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses with Jackson thoroughly enjoying finding him all over the field, but the Ravens are quite depleted at the wide receiver position. This means more opportunities for Andrews.
With the WR spot not really the team’s stronger position heading into the 2021-22 campaign, Andrews should see a ton of targets en route to leading the squad in receptions and receiving yards this season. As it stands today, the Ravens have Sammy Watkins, Marquise Brown, and Devin Duvernay leading the way as wide receivers with the tandem of Rashod Bateman and Miles Boykin on the injured list.
4. Ravens will win AFC North division
On one hand, as long as the heralded Steelers continue to exist, it seems as though the uber-popular organization will always be at least somewhat of a threat in the AFC North. The Cleveland Browns, meanwhile, are one of the fastest-rising teams in the league and will likely enter the upcoming campaign as the favorite to come away with this year’s AFC North crown. Lastly, the Cincinnati Bengals, led by second-year quarterback Joe Burrow—who is expected to make a rousing return after his knee injuries—alongside a Pro Bowl running back and a young receiving crew, should also serve as quite the thorn in the side of many NFL teams throughout the new season.
But despite all of those, it will ultimately be Jackson and the rest of the gritty Ravens who will rule the AFC North in 2021-22.