In August, This Pundit Said Ravens Would Be AFC's Top Seed


We've pointed out the many pundits with egg on their face this year. Yeah, we're looking at you Bill Polian. And you too, Booger.

But not everybody was on the wrong side of history. It's only fair that we also point out that Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe, host of "The Lefkoe Show" called it this season.

"The Ravens are going to not just be my AFC North prediction to win," Lefkoe said in August. "They're also going to be my No. 1 seed in the AFC."

Here were the factors that Lefkoe cited at the time for his confidence in Baltimore:

  • Deepest secondary in the NFL and depth on the defensive line
  • A pass rush that will generate pressure from many sources
  • Schedule got much easier than last year
  • Turnover margin will improve
  • Will fare better in one-score games
  • Strong run game vs. weak run defenses
  • Don't play Pittsburgh in primetime and have their bye before facing Patriots
  • Defenses dominates young quarterbacks
  • Have the best kicker and punter in the NFL
  • Have Head Coach John Harbaugh
  • Lamar Jackson going into Year 2

Pretty much all of those turned out to be true factors in the Ravens' success this year – except that schedule turned out to be a lot harder than it looked on paper.

We caught up with Lefkoe this week to let him gloat a little bit and pick his brain on how he saw it coming.

"Happy to be on the right side," Lefkoe said.

"In August, I'll sit down with all of the notes that I think are important. I'll look at Warren Sharpe's book, I'll look at Football Outsiders, and then I look at a few other statistics. I look at what was your turnover margin the year before, what was your record in one-score games and then strength of schedule according to Vegas. And the other thing I look at is your depth chart. Everything about the Ravens kept popping out to me."

The one thing that Lefkoe will admit is that he didn't envision Jackson winning the MVP. He thought he would make a big Year 2 jump, but not all the way to MVP.

"You all did a great job of capturing the energy in training camp. I don't think it was an exaggeration," Lefkoe said. "I think it's two years in a row now where you've had an article where it's like, 'Random defensive players are yelling on the sideline when Lamar breaks ankles in a random joint practice.' After a while, you can't hype up something unless it's actually happening."

Lefkoe already knew the value of Jackson having a full offseason of preparation in an offense suited for his skillset (as opposed to being thrown into the fire in the middle of last season). He also remembers Head Coach John Harbaugh saying this offseason that he was "blown away" by Jackson's improvement in his throwing accuracy.

"That's when I went, 'I have a lot of confidence in this kid,'" Lefkoe said. "I just didn't think MVP."

So, since he's so prophetic, what's Lefkoe's Super Bowl prediction?

"I did tweet out recently that the two teams that interacted with the Pope this year were Baltimore and New Orleans," he said. "Baltimore gave him a jersey and the Pope accidentally tweeted out to the Saints. So I do believe that both of those teams are destined to face off in Miami."

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