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50 Words or Less: The Old-School Ravens Defense Is Back. Just Ask Travis Kelce.

ILB Roquan Smith tackling Chiefs TE Travis Kelce.
ILB Roquan Smith tackling Chiefs TE Travis Kelce.

The NFL is on vacation, but we don't stop giving you our thoughts, all in 50 words or less:

On "Bussin’ With The Boys," Travis Kelce talked about the thrill of winning on the road in the playoffs – especially at M&T Bank Stadium. "They are the bully. That was a [freaking] physical team. No. 1 defense in the league. They have the old-school Ravens [mentality] we grew up on."

Kelce elaborated on how he felt he had to take his intensity and trash talk up a level going against the Ravens. Much of that percolates from linebacker Roquan Smith. Baltimore's defense has a reputation that has been restored, and it will live up to it again in 2024.

Yes, the Ravens had some key losses this offseason. But anyone expecting them to falter may be forgetting just how good Baltimore was last season. The Ravens were one of the best teams in NFL history, with a league-high 203-point differential. Even a slight step back would keep them elite.

The Ravens still have the league’s third-best roster, per ESPN. That puts them in championship territory and doesn't factor in all the Ravens' other advantages in coaching, etc.

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With the way Baltimore builds a team, as long as you have a healthy Lamar Jackson, you're going to be in the playoffs. He's that good. The Ravens still have great depth because of how well they draft and develop, but star power is real.

The Ravens' offensive line is going to make or break this season. The defense under Zach Orr isn't going to change much. But right now, there are still a lot of question marks on that line, and if Jackson isn't protected, it can short-circuit their offensive plans.

Zay Flowers needs more big plays in Year 2 if the Ravens are going to open up the offense. Flowers' 858 receiving yards ranked 39th in the NFL last season, but his 11.1 yards per catch was tied for 68th. He has the speed and shiftiness to do it.

Devontez Walker was drafted to be a big-bodied downfield threat. I expect he'll make a handful of splash plays, but expecting a fourth-round rookie to dramatically change the offense is asking a lot. This year, he mostly develops behind Nelson Agholor before taking over in the slot in 2025.

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Don't get worked up by the scads of offseason rankings released this time of year, but Daniel Jeremiah putting the Ravens’ secondary at the bottom of the AFC North is baffling. The Bengals signed Geno Stone but had one of the worst pass defenses in the league last year.

Jackson has been on the move and savoring his star power more this offseason. He took a trip to Germany to visit FC Bayern and then went to Paris for fashion week. It's a different era, but Jackson is a bigger international star than Ray Lewis ever was.

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