Last year: 8-8, third place in AFC North

Acquisitions: Steve Smith, C.J. Mosley, Owen Daniels

Departures: Michael Oher, Ed Dickson, Jameel McClain

Vegas 2014 win total over/under: 8.5 wins.

Verdict: OVER

Ray Rice Press Conference

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Five off-season arrests for the Ravens

- Jah Reid: assaulting a man and two security guards at a strip club.

- Deonte Thompson: marijuana possession (maybe don’t carry around more than an ounce in Florida).

- Lorenzo Taliaferro: destruction of property and public intoxication.

- Jimmy Smith: not letting police into the bathroom to assist his coked out lady friend.

- Ray R[HUH NO NOTHING JANAY PALMER SAYS SHE'S REALLY SORRY FOR THIS BULLET POINT SAYS RAVENS PR]

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Fan forecast, by Perpetual Joe:

The Ravens finished the 2013-2014 season with an 8-8 record, highlighted by an opening game curb-stomping IN Denver (Super-Bowl winner opens on the road??!! Another Baltimore slight!!), an offense that couldn’t stay on the field, and a defense that couldn’t get off. An autopsy revealed that losing 8 starters to retirement, free agency, and salary cap concerns was too much of a talent drain, even for the “Wizard of OZ”. Throw in the usual injuries, sprinkle in an underachieving rookie class, and the toughest schedule in the NFL, and you know exactly what a Super-Bowl hangover looks like. It looks like 8-8. The mighty have been humbled.

So how did we Baltimorons, and our much-beloved Ravens, spend the off-season? Contrary to popular opinion, the town depicted in the accursed (yet entertaining) series “The Wire” doesn’t much resemble the B’more in which I live, so I can’t say for sure what Omar ,

McNulty, Kima, or Avon did. The rest of us spent the off-season looking at the police blotter and wondering who the “next man up” would be. The Ravens definitely won the off-season, if the criterion for victory was number of mug shots. Valentine’s Day ended with a bang for Ray and Janay, and then lesser offenses trickled in throughout the course of the spring and summer.

We Ravens fans are used to some controversy about our team, but the Rice affair left us dazed and confused (probably just like Janay, the moment before she passed out) . Most of us have been to Atlantic City and partied too hard. Hell, I’ve been to AC with my wife, and both of us partied too hard. Had Ray and Janay followed our example and wound up groping each other in the jacuzzi, the B’More football vibe would have been a lot more humorous. It’s easy to poke fun at Jah Reid’s possession charge- “Ha! That’s the first notable thing he’s done in 3 years”. Jimmy Smith attending to a drunken damsel in distress in the lady’s bathroom at The Green Turtle? Sheee-iit! All the bros in Towson have been there and done that. Cold-cocking your fiancee? Whoa! Universally unacceptable, and therefore not funny. A few chuckles came out of it- most having to do with Rice’s inability to drag anyone more than 3 yards. My favorite: “The Ravens would be better off had Sergio Kindle taken the elevator, and Ray Rice the stairs”. Beyond that, most of us spent the summer speculating about the length of Rice’s pending suspension. After the Ginger Hammer handed down a 2 game suspension, there was a brief, absurd, discussion about “how bad would your girl have to beat you before you hit back”, followed by an eerie silence in Smalltimore. I guess we’ll have to retire the “they’re out to get us” argument for a while.

Now we can return to more familiar discussions: Is Flacco elite? It depends on which Flacco shows up, the Joe Montana-esque Flacco of 2012, or the neo-SexCannon of 2013 (1 TD, 9 interceptions on pass plays over 30 yards). Based on last year’s performance, I’d consider him elitely mediocre. Will the running game get back on track with Gary Kubiak as the third OC in three years? Depends on the O-line. Will the O-line get their shit together? Hey! We replaced the worst center in the league with the 17th best! That’s some elite mediocrity there!

How’s the defense shaping up? Fine! Ozzie drafted another ‘Bama linebacker, so we’re set. The linebacking corps look like it will be beastly. They’re trying to patch holes in the secondary with an assortment of mid-round draft picks and roster castoffs from other squads. The D-line, having suffered the loss of Arthur Jones, hopes to rebound with the injection of younger, but unproven talent.

You would expect special teams to be a strength, given John Harbaugh’s experience as a special teams coach. I would elaborate, but when the place kicker is the team’s MVP, you generally don’t brag.

My prognostication skills conjure up a picture of a blindfolded adolescent and a dart board. My prediction for the upcoming season is that they’ll be better than last year, if only for the fact that they have the fourth easiest schedule in the NFL, and not the hardest. Cincinnati can play Denver and New England this year, and we’ll take on San Diego and Miami, thanks. Sign me up for 10-6, a return to the playoffs, and a season-long narrative about the redemption of Ray Rice. I’ll be watching, but the mute button will be on.