The Baltimore Ravens face 14/1 odds to win the Super Bowl in 2021, and they’re the best odds within the AFC North. But do the Ravens remain a smart Super Bowl bet?
The real problem with the Ravens—believe it or not—remains at quarterback, where Lamar Jackson still cannot seem to top the league’s best teams.
Want proof? Under Jackson, the Baltimore Ravens ranked 32nd in passing offense in 2020, and Jackson falters when he’s asked to throw more than necessary. A phenomenal talent, Jackson has yet to remove criticism from experts who bash at his deep throw accuracy, and it has hurt the Ravens.
Sure, he’s an upgrade over his predecessor, Joe Flacco at this point in their careers, but even Flacco broke out and won a Super Bowl. Even if Flacco was never spectacular.
But Jackson isn’t the only issue surrounding the Ravens. Keep reading.
The Baltimore Ravens Offseason
If Jackson can improve his deep throw accuracy, then the Ravens will win a Super Bowl. To accomplish this, they added Sammy Watkins and drafted Rashod Bateman, betting Jackson’s lack of production through the air rests with lack of talent in the pass catching unit.
Sure, the team has a great tight end in Mark Andrews, but he took a drastic step back in 2020. Marquise Brown was the team’s top pass catcher in 2020. But at 5’9”, he’s not meant to split out wide and performs at his best in the slot.
The Ravens Nearly Signed Juju Smith-Schuster From the Pittsburgh Steelers
And if that became the case, the team could put third stringer Trace McSorley (another Jackson-like player) back there, and they’d produce well. Either way, perhaps Watkins and Bateman will send Jackson’s productivity north.
But they also added Alejandro Villanueva and Kevin Zeitler to beef up the offensive line. So, if Jackson continues to play like the old school quarterback who scrambled often and threw when necessary reminiscent of the old wishbone and flexbone offenses, he has some maulers on the line to help him.
You can say the same for Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins—especially Dobbins, who averaged 6.0 yards per carry and Edwards, who clocked in at 5.0. This trio of run-first players will probably keep the Ravens ranked #1 in the NFL in at least the rushing department.
But sooner or later, Jackson needs to stop relying on his legs so much and start throwing more often, even if he must do so on the move like Baker Mayfield (another average talent who succeeds in a system-based approach) for the division rival Cleveland Browns.
Baltimore Ravens Offense
If the lack of pass catchers over Lamar Jackson’s first three seasons in the league solves his middle and deep throw accuracy woes, then the Ravens will have the best offense in football. But Jackson’s lack of accuracy dates back to his college days when he never completed over 59% of his throws at Louisville.
However, recent history shows that a better pass catching unit will improve play at quarterback. Josh Allen, for his first two seasons, struggled with pass accuracy.
When the Bills traded for Stefon Diggs, Allen put together an MVP-like season, even if he lost to Aaron Rodgers in the votes.
So, this is the gamble you’re taking when you bet on the Ravens. It rests with Jackson. Not Edwards, not Dobbins, not the receiving unit or the improved offensive line.
If Jackson puts together a performance like Allen did in 2020 and beats teams with identical or better talent than the Ravens, then Jackson will be on a podium come February raising the Lombardi Trophy.
Yeah, this 2018 quarterback class—and you can include Sam Darnold in this clump of players that includes Jackson, Mayfield, and Allen—is perhaps the most complicated of them all. None of them throw well. But when given the right pieces and right system around them, they will rip defenses apart—even Sam Darnold.
And this blog isn’t intended to deter you from betting on the Ravens, nor is it saying that Jackson is not a proficient quarterback. But dual-threat quarterbacks don’t last in this league. Look at Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin, Tim Tebow, and others like them.
They all won games, they all took their teams to the playoffs, they were all skilled players. Know why Luck retired? Injuries related to scrambling. Know why Griffin’s a backup? Same issue. Why is Tebow now a tight end? His passing mechanics were always fringe, and he never bothered to improve them.
Jackson has the tools to become one of the league’s premier passers with his new receivers, plus the All-Pro in Andrews. Now, it’s time to preserve the body and accomplish what the names mentioned above could not.
Baltimore Ravens Defense
The Ravens put together a vigorous defense in 2020, finishing 7th. They ranked 6th in passing defense and 8th in rushing defense. Sure, it hurt to lose Matthew Judon. But they kept a solid number of players like the ageless wonder Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe, and Brandon Williams.
They also have proven products in Patrick Queen and Tyus Bowser. If Jaylon Ferguson and Malik Harrison can step up and fill the starting roles, the Ravens will once again quietly finish as one of the league’s best defenses.
Another reason the defense clicked came in the secondary, with Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey forming one of the most dynamic duos in the NFL at corner. They also have the aging but still productive Jimmy Smith as a nickel who can continue to bounce outside and play on an island.
Other players on defense to look out for include Justin Ellis and Broderick Washington on the defensive line. Chris Board is another solid option at linebacker, LJ Fort is a journeyman who continues to perform at a high level, and Pernell McPhee is another name to watch.
So, the Ravens aren’t just a highly talented football team; they’re also a highly talented football team that possesses solid depth on defense.
They will give Lamar Jackson and company plenty of chances to score on offense. And again, if Jackson’s passing mechanics improve in 2021 the Baltimore Ravens look like arguably the NFL’s most complete team.
But don’t forget about kicker Justin Tucker, who has become one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history. Also, Sam Koch remains one of the best punters in the league as he heads into his 16th season.
Expect the Ravens special teams units to hold up their end of the bargain when the games start in September.
Will the Baltimore Ravens Remain a Good Super Bowl Bet?
It hinges with Jackson, who through three seasons and even an MVP award is tough to remain sold on. We will continue to know him more for his scrambling ability, much like Tim Tebow, until he proves he can throw the football consistently and dig his way out of the NFL’s basement in the passing game.
Josh Allen did it in 2020, so there is a lot of hope for Jackson. Ditto for Baker Mayfield, whose offense in Cleveland also had the receivers throw-when-necessary approach to inflate his statistics.
Plus, the Browns and Bills came within a single possession of battling for the AFC Championship during the 2020-21 NFL Playoffs. So, if Sammy Watkins and Rashod Bateman help Jackson improve his deep throw accuracy and overall production through the air, no one will stop the Ravens offense.
Aside from that, their championship caliber defense performed well enough in several categories. Even if the Ravens offense further stagnates like it did in 2020 from the ungodly numbers they put up in 2019, still expect them to at least make the playoffs and threaten a Super Bowl win.
On paper, the Ravens look like a smart Super Bowl bet. If you believe the Kansas City Chiefs will suffer that infamous Super Bowl hangover, as the San Francisco 49ers did in 2020, the Ravens are one of a few contenders legitimately threatening the Chiefs.
They have competition, and given Jackson’s inability to beat the league’s best teams has kept him from establishing himself as an elite quarterback. But with two new receivers, he can perhaps join the cast of the league’s best at his position.
The Baltimore Ravens have made it to the AFC Divisional Playoffs twice in the last two seasons and have remained stellar under Lamar Jackson’s leadership. However, his lack of passing mechanics and inability to beat the league’s best may make you leery of betting on the Ravens at NFL betting sites.
But with two new receivers in town, the Lamar Jackson Show may finally burst onto the scene in the passing game. And it’s one powerful supplement to the dual threat quarterback and his dynamic duo at running back (not to mention the stellar defense giving them multiple opportunities to score). They’re a smart bet, especially if you feel Bateman and Watkins are the missing links on offense.
What are your thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens? Do they finally have the pieces in place to be worth the bet? Let us know in the comments.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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