The Baltimore Ravens were one of the more exciting teams to watch in 2019. Lamar Jackson and his backfield led by Mark Ingram rushed their way to history on a number of levels and he was able to secure league MVP honors during his first full season as the club's starting quarterback. Not only that, but the Ravens were able to have a dominant defense especially after the addition of Marcus Peters to further help them secure the No. 1 seed in the conference after going 14-2 on the year.
While Baltimore enjoyed an awe-inspiring regular-season, they did run into a bowling ball named Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans in the Divisional Round, which cut their magical season surprisingly short. Jackson again struggled in the postseason and the Ravens had no answer for Henry, who rushed for 195 yards. That all resulted in them heading into the offseason a bit earlier than expected, but their prospects for 2020 have them bouncing back quite nicely.
The club was able to add a number of impact pieces to both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball this offseason and are once again in a position to make waves in the AFC and right a few of the things that went wrong in 2019. As we look towards 2020 with the start of the regular season just weeks away, we're going to tackle a trio bold predictions that we see Baltimore achieving over the next few months.
Break the single-season rushing record again
The Ravens were able to run their way into the record books in 2019, rushing for an all-time team record of 3,296 yards on the ground. The previous record stood for 41 years and was held by the 1978 New England Patriots, but this time around the record will not have as much staying power. Earlier this offseason, Ravens running back Gus Edwards, who was third on the team in rushing last year with 711 yards, told reporters that he believes his team can top their record-breaking totals from 2019 and he's not wrong.
Lamar Jackson may not break the quarterback rushing record again in 2020, but he's more than capable of going over a thousand yards on the ground. As for true running backs in the backfield, Baltimore has a pretty strong stable. Mark Ingram, who topped a thousand yards rushing last year, is still slotted in as the starter and the club still has other contributors from last season's record-breaking unit like Edwards and Justice Hill. They also drafted J.K. Dobbins in the second round of the 2020 draft and the Ohio State product runs extremely well out of the shotgun formation, which is how Baltimore does most of its rushing damage.
The Ravens have the personnel, the talent, and buy-in from the coaching staff to run the football early and often, so they are extremely well-positioned to break their own record this year.
Lamar Jackson wins a playoff game
Lamar Jackson has already accomplished a lot in his young NFL career. He's won an MVP, led the league in passing touchdowns, broke Michael Vick's single-season rushing record for a quarterback, and was named to a Pro Bowl. The one blemish that is currently on the young signal-caller, however, is his 0-2 record in the playoffs. In those two losses, Jackson hasn't played particularly well, completing just around 51% of his passes for 559 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. He's also lost a fumble in each of those two contests. For him to truly become one of the best quarterbacks in the game, he'll need to get this monkey off of his back, which we predict he'll do in 2020.
The Ravens have the easiest regular season schedule heading in 2020, which should line them up to secure the No. 1 seed in the conference. That is especially important going forward as the NFL's new playoff rules stipulate that only the top seed in both conferences will gain a first-round bye along with home-field advantage. All that should help Jackson have an easier path to his first playoff win as a starter.
On top of us predicting that Jackson will simply play better in the postseason, the supporting cast is also improved around him. Hollywood Brown (more on him below) should be better in Year 2, the club added J.K. Dobbins to an already lethal backfield, and the defense should be even better to boot. Baltimore added Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison to its linebacking corps and brought in Calais Campell to bolster the defensive line.
Baltimore is in as good of a position as they can to go on a deep playoff run and it should start with Jackson getting his first postseason victory.
Marquise Brown goes over 1,000 yards receiving
Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is a popular pick to enjoy a leap in production as he enters his second year in the league and we're firmly on that bandwagon.
He says he's gained about 23 pounds this offseason to round him out at 180 pounds as he enters 2020, which should help him handle the abuse of an NFL season better. Brown is also said to be fully recovered from a foot injury that did slow him down some during his rookie campaign. Still, the former first-round pick was able to lead Ravens wide receivers in receiving last season with 584 yards, which was second-best on the team. He also added 46 receptions and seven touchdowns to his name.
Now that he's fully healthy, Brown should easily double his receiving totals to top a thousand yards in 2020. He's the clear-cut top receiver in this potent offense and Lamar Jackson will likely look his way early and often when he drops back to pass.