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Five Reasons Why Ravens Will Be in Super Bowl Next Year

ILB Roquan Smith
ILB Roquan Smith

The Ravens won their first and second Super Bowls 12 years apart. Next year will be 12 years since their last.

Next year's Super Bowl is in New Orleans, where the Ravens won their last Lombardi Trophy.

Maybe the stars will align?

The Ravens are already thinking about next season, and as of Friday, Vegas oddsmakers rated Baltimore an early favorite to reach next year's Super Bowl.

It may be tough for Ravens fans to watch the Chiefs and 49ers battle in Sunday's showdown. But here are five reasons why the Ravens could reach the big game next year:

Their talent will keep them contenders.

Even with departures in free agency, the Ravens will remain one of the NFL's most talented teams. Their nucleus will still include league MVP Lamar Jackson, Roquan Smith, Kyle Hamilton, Mark Andrews, Zay Flowers, Tyler Linderbaum and others. They could retain top free agents, too.

General Manager Eric DeCosta has a proven track record in the draft and free agency. The Ravens won't be rebuilding, they'll be reloading. They've made the playoffs five of the last six years, and they just reached the conference championship for the first time since 2012.

Jackson is just 27 years old, and the Ravens' window to win a Super Bowl remains wide open.

The offense should evolve in Todd Monken's second season.

The Ravens improved from averaging 20.6 points in 2022 (19th in the NFL) to averaging 28.4 points in 2023 (fourth). During Jackson's final six starts during the regular season, the offense was even more potent, averaging 33.8 points.

That's a significant jump. Monken benefited from having Jackson healthy for a full season, and Jackson developed from playing in an offense with more playmakers in a system that he embraced. The passing game improved, and Baltimore led the league in rushing.

The offense was disappointed in its showing in the conference championship. But now the Ravens can spend the offseason building on Monken's system. The late-season emergence of tight end Isaiah Likely was a huge plus, offering the potential to cause more matchup problems if the Ravens use more two tight-end sets.

There are reasons to believe Baltimore could be better offensively next season, with Likely and Flowers a year more experienced. If the Ravens' offense improves, it could improve their chance to make a postseason run.

"This year, every day was a new day in the offense right on through the last part of the season," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Next year, it won't be a new day every single day. I'm looking forward to that process."

The defense should remain elite.

There may be an adjustment period under new Defensive Coordinator Zach Orr, but he's psyched for the job at age 31. There isn't a player or coach who doesn't expect Orr to flourish in his new role.

"One thing I always noticed and respected about Zach was how had he worked and the energy he brought to every practice and game," defensive tackle Michael Pierce said. "His motor never stopped."

Despite a change in defensive coordinator, the Ravens' expectations for their defense remain the same. Orr will still be coaching a talented group. Smith is one of the best defensive leaders in football and Hamilton has become an All-Pro in just two seasons. If Justin Madubuike returns, the defense will have an elite player at all three levels, setting the tone for a unit that can remain fast and furious.

They respond to being disrespected.

The Ravens won't be favored to win the AFC next season. They may not be favored to win the AFC North. Regardless of their seeding if they make the playoffs, the Ravens aren't likely to be favored to reach the Super Bowl, because they fell short in 2019 and 2023 when they were the No. 1 seed.

Having something to prove next season could work in the Ravens' favor. Often, it seems to bring out their best.

Losing in the AFC Championship will strengthen Jackson more than it discourages him.

Even great players experience crushing defeats, and Jackson won't forget falling just one game short of the Super Bowl. But if Jackson couldn't deal with doubters, he would have never won a Heisman Trophy, two MVP awards, or led the Ravens to the playoffs four times in his six seasons.

Going deeper in the playoffs than he ever had before isn't going to break Jackson's resolve, and he'll have a healthy offseason to work on getting better. Jackson believes in himself, and his teammates believe in him.

"I don't think Lamar cares – nor do I care – what other people have to say, outside of this building," Hamilton said. "So, they can say he's the best quarterback ever one week, and then the next week, say whatever they want to say. But that just comes with the territory.

"Heavy is the head that wears the crown. There are a lot of people out there hoping for people like Lamar to fail, but we all know that he's the best player in this league, and I'm glad to have him on our team."

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