Baltimore Ravens, Def, Ravens
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2015 Outlook: Solid/Safe PickLast updated on Aug-20-2015 by Shawn Childs
Baltimore has four tough matchups against the run – the Seahawks, the 49ers and two games against the Bengals. Their best matchups are expected to be against Oakland, Arizona, and San Diego. They have the third easiest matchups in passing yards with 10 teams offering below NFL average passing games. The Ravens have three tough passing matchups -- one against the Broncos and two against the Steelers.
The strength of the Ravens defense in 2014 was their ability to stop the run. They allowed the fourth-lowest amount of rushing yards (1,412) while allowing 3.6 yards per rush and eight rushing TDs. Their best run stopper was NT Brandon Williams with LB Terrell Suggs and LB C.J. Mosley offering upside against the run. Mosley is recovering from minor wrist surgery.
Baltimore is hoping DE Timmy Jernigan can fill the void created by the loss of DT Haloti Ngata. In limited playing time as a rookie, Jernigan was just above the league average against the run while delivering four sacks.
The Ravens attacked the QB last year (49 sacks – second in the league). They allowed only 22 passing TDs (23rd), but they struggled to intercept the ball (11). LB Elvis Dumervil led the team in sacks (19) with Suggs added 14 sacks.
LB Daryl Smith and LB Courtney Shaw were above averaged defenders at their positions. Smith has the most downside risk due to age (33) plus they need to find an upgrade for the loss of LB Pernell McPhee.
Baltimore's biggest weakness was their secondary, which was somewhat masked by their pass rush. CB Jimmy Smith was playing well in pass coverage (20/39 for 163 yards with no TDs allowed and one Ints) over the first seven weeks of the year. His season ended after spraining his left foot mid-season, which required surgery. Smith was drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
CB Lardarius Webb regressed in pass coverage (65.2 percent completion rate), but he only allowed three TDs with one INT. S Will Hill offers solid value in pass coverage for his position while chipping in run support.
The Ravens are an aggressive defense with solid value against the run and a high volume of sacks. They lost two strong players from last year's team, but Jernigan has enough talent to at least fill the gap against the run. Baltimore did add a couple of players in the draft that will help in run support. A healthy Smith will improve the pass defense. The only thing lacking is secondary playmakers to create turnovers. The Ravens have top-ten talent on defense with a favorable pass schedule.
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