The Baltimore Ravens are ready to start their comeback year following a disappointing 2021 season. Despite a strong 8-3 start, the team finished last in the AFC North after losing six straight games to miss the postseason for the first time since the 2017 season.
However, the Ravens had a very injury-plagued season. They finished with 19 players on the injured reserve list, including star quarterback Lamar Jackson, and will now hope to have better injury luck in 2022.
Baltimore hosts the Tennessee Titans on Thursday for its preseason opener. Although the final result is not important, what fans see on the field could be meaningful when looking ahead to the regular season.
So, here are some bold Ravens predictions for their preseason opener against the Titans on Thursday night.
Ravens Preseason Week 1 Predictions
4. This game will be key to determine the quarterback depth chart
Head coach John Harbaugh recently announced that the team will sit out multiple veterans for the preseason opener. This includes quarterback Lamar Jackson.
"We won't be playing Lamar… Mark's not going to play."
Coach Harbaugh with updates on Thursday's preseason game status pic.twitter.com/YPNGfgXLKP
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 6, 2022
The former MVP missed the last four games of the 2021 season, with tyler huntley taking over the starting spot. With Jackson out for the game as his contract situation drags on, the preseason opener versus the Titans can help determine the backup quarterback battle.
Huntley is still listed as the second-stringer on the team’s first depth chart, with Brett Hundley being third and rookie Anthony Brown as the fourth.
Without Jackson, all three quarterbacks should have significant snaps in Thursday’s game, giving them a chance at a strong first impression in preseason. As the only returner, Huntley should have an advantage, so Hundley and Brown will battle to make the 53-man roster. It should be interesting to see how they react to what could be the best opportunity they will have this summer.
3. Rashod Bateman will play and shine
Expectations were high for Rashod Bateman’s first year in the NFL. However, he was also a victim of the injury bug. He missed the first five games of the season after a groin injury.
When healthy, Baltimore’s first-round pick in 2021 had 46 catches for 515 yards and one touchdown. He had over 100 yards for the first time in his career against the Cleveland Browns in Week 14.
After the Ravens traded Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals, the WR1 spot seems to be up for grabs. Bateman should start a season healthy for the first time, and he should be one of the main targets during the preseason. As the team will play the backups under center against Tennessee, the receivers should also be tested.
If his draft selection means something, the Ravens organization would like to see Bateman shine, and the preseason opener seems like a safe place to start.
2. Rookie Kyle Hamilton creates a question in Harbaugh’s head
The Ravens decided to go with a safety in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, selecting Kyle Hamilton. The rookie was a Consensus All-American in his final year at Notre Dame.
On the team’s first depth chart, he is listed as the second-stringer behind Marcus Williams, who is out of Thursday’s game. The veteran comes on a big five-year contract worth $70 million, making Hamilton’s job more challenging.
However, many listed Hamilton as one of the best prospects of this year’s draft, even being one of the most ready players. The former Fighting Irish star will likely see some significant time in the preseason. Because of that, Harbaugh will have a big decision to make by the end of the preseason, which would be a good time to test Hamilton as a strong safety to play alongside Williams.
1. Nick Boyle goes back to his best form
One of the keys to Lamar Jackson’s success with the Ravens is Nick Boyle. The tight end is one of the best blockers in the league, helping Jackson’s running game in the process. Jackson has more than 1,000 rushing yards in two seasons so far, including 1,206 in his MVP year, a record for quarterbacks.
The tight end helped the Ravens boast the top rushing offense in back-to-back years. Boyle only appeared in five games last season, which hurt the team’s offense. He also missed multiple games in 2020.
As Jackson is also returning from an injury, having his top blocker could be more important than ever. In a press conference on Saturday, Boyle said he “needs” to play in the preseason in order to get back to his form as one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL, so look for him to start rounding back into form.