The Baltimore Ravens were a so-so futures bet in 2020, and they still may surprise us if they win the AFC and even the Super Bowl. The chance is there, now that the Ravens appear to be back on track. But the Ravens also disappointed this season.
And that’s true even if you may win some regarding the prediction on an AFC Championship and Super Bowl appearance. So, how do the Ravens keep up the trend if they hoist the Lombardi in February? Today’s post provides the blueprint.
Re-Revolutionize the Offense
The Ravens supposedly had an offense in 2019 that was going to continue to take over the league and run wild in 2019. Instead, it took a step back and, in some cases, teams knocked them flat. Tell me why I’m not surprised.
So-called “revolutionary” offenses are often fads. And while it’s no surprise that the league is looking for quarterbacks who can run as well as they can throw, quarterback Lamar Jackson needs to learn how to throw as well as he can run. But we’ll discuss more about that later on this page.
Teams caught onto the Ravens’ revolutionary offense and doing so stalled the team’s progress and supposed dominance in the regular season. And you can make a surefire bet the same will happen in 2021 if coach John Harbaugh doesn’t do something fast.
The Ravens will continue to regress if he leaves things as is.
Teach Lamar Jackson How to Throw
Something the Ravens continue to be the best in the league at is running the football, and they have a committee of capable backs plus a quarterback who is all too happy to run rather than throw. And the somewhat old-school style of play has worked wonders for the Ravens.
But here’s the problem: Lamar Jackson won’t last at quarterback if he continues to play the game like a running back throwing toss passes. Sure, it worked wonders in 2019. It worked most of the time in 2020. And it will work some of the time in 2021.
Jackson isn’t Kyler Murray, who is the league’s leading expert at avoiding contact even when on the run. But even Murray gets banged up. He’s not Russell Wilson, who throws every bit as well as he can run. And he’s not Patrick Mahomes, who can run but is otherwise a pocket passer.
Jackson puts up pretty numbers, but it’s because teams must key on his ability to run. And that’s not a bad thing. But the problem is, Jackson gets far too reliant on his ability to run, and the Ravens can’t beat teams on their level.
They lost to Pittsburgh twice (though Jackson sat out of the second tilt). They lost to the Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, and the New England Patriots.
For the Ravens to become a decent NFL futures bet in anything beyond winning the AFC North, they need to learn how to beat teams at their own caliber. And it starts with overhauling Jackson’s horrific throwing mechanics and that Jake Delhomme-esque release.
Keep Pace With the AFC North
The Ravens are one of those lucky teams playing in the same division as some of the NFL’s best franchises. The Pittsburgh Steelers have their number and the Cleveland Browns gave them a game in the second outing here in 2020.
And while the Steelers will continue to win so long as Ben Roethlisberger is in town, or at least so long as the defense remains hard-nosed, the Browns have become one of the NFL’s hottest commodities.
Like Pittsburgh, Cleveland finally discovered an identity of their own reminiscent of the blue collar identity the city holds as a hard-nosed smashmouth football team after about two decades. Even the Cincinnati Bengals are a lineman or two away from winning a few more games per season, and it should put the Ravens on high alert.
For the Ravens to remain a viable over/under and divisional futures bet, they need to improve their own team. It’s clear that the Ravens still have a long way to go, considering their blatant ineptitude when facing the NFL’s greatest franchises.
Now that the AFC North can easily become a four-horse race in 2021, it can put the Ravens in danger of landing in the division’s cellar—especially if they don’t re-revolutionize the offense as outlined in the top subheading.
What do they need to do?
- First of all, they need to turn Jackson into a pass-first, run-second quarterback. The more predictable Jackson gets, the lesser firepower the offense has.
- Second, they need a legit #1 receiver. And while they have a talented pass catching unit, finding a #1 will help Jackson like nothing else. Even a decent running game and defense.
Third, they need their defense to hone in on the pass rush. While their defense is stingy, the AFC North features three more than capable quarterbacks. Baker Mayfield and Joe Burrow have become proven commodities who should anchor their team’s quarterback position for the next decade.
And you know Ben’s successor (not on the roster at the moment) may pick up right where he left off, much like Philip Rivers did with Drew Brees, or Andrew Luck with Peyton Manning. But in terms of the 2021 season, expect Ben to remain and put up gaudy numbers.
With that said, the Ravens must disrupt the opposing passing game in the AFC North besides the first two points outlined here.
If the team gains the desired talent and executes well, they may once again threaten to win the AFC North and remain a popular futures bet in 2021.
Fit the Team’s Persona
Want to know why the Pittsburgh Steelers are a great futures bet every year, even if you won’t always win the bet?
The same goes with the New England Patriots, despite an off year in 2020. But hey, sometimes, you win and sometimes, you lose.
Far too often, you see teams sign talent and try to mold them to fit their respective persona. The Steelers and Patriots will sign castoffs, who already fit the persona, and it turns them into relevant football players.
If they fit the system, chances are the teams will sign them. The Ravens need to do the same thing. They know their identity on offense. They know their identity on defense.
Now, they need to bring it all together through free agency and the NFL Draft and find players who fit the team’s mold.
Even if it means signing a few castoffs, most fair weather fans have never heard of, or if it means reaching or trading back in the NFL Draft.
The upside with the Ravens is that they’re already a good football team and a solid futures-based team to bet on in just about any avenue. So this strategy becomes important in case any of their players fall victim to an injury bug.
Hold Onto That Coaching Staff
It’s a little-known fact, but perhaps the coaching staff experiences more turnover than the rosters themselves. Look at any NFL preview magazine, and it’ll show you that even long-tenured head coaches like John Harbaugh have flip-flopped their coaching staff often.
For the Ravens to continue their status as a viable futures bet for 2021, Harbaugh must hold onto as many from the staff as he can.
Sure, the same goes for the players, but let’s keep the team’s identity in place with the coaches that have forged it.
And if they do so, you will see the team once again threaten to take the AFC North, hit their over/under mark, and make a deep playoff run.
The Baltimore Ravens are one of those teams who are already a viable futures-based bet at any of the best online sportsbooks. However, they have fallen vulnerable. They can’t beat teams with equal or greater talent. And they can’t continue to allow quarterback Lamar Jackson to function as a fourth running back.
Instead, teach Jackson proper quarterback mechanics and let him develop into a pass-first quarterback who can beat you with his legs, not a run-first quarterback who may beat you with his arm.
The Ravens must also mold their defense to stop AFC North offenses, especially as Cleveland develops into one of the NFL’s elite and the Bengals threaten to join them. It creates a logjam and an uncertain future, especially since their rivals each have franchise quarterbacks.
Do you like the Ravens as a futures bet in 2021? Let us know in the comments.