How Many Wins Will Ravens Have?
The Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII without much – if any – love from the oddsmakers.
They were consistent underdogs throughout the playoffs, and went through heavy favorites Denver, New England and San Francisco on the road to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
Looking ahead to next season, the Ravens still aren't getting much respect in Vegas.
A number of sportsbooks recently released their projected win totals for each team for the 2013 season, and the Ravens are in the middle of the pack. The Atlantis and Las Vegas Hilton, two of the larger Nevada sportsbooks, have the over/under for the Ravens' win total set at between 8.5-9 games.
The sportsbooks have the Ravens as underdogs to the Steelers in the AFC North, and tied with the Bengals for the projected wins. The favorites for next season are the Patriots (11.5 wins), Broncos (11.5), 49ers (11.5), Texans (11), Seahawks (10.5), Packers (10) and Falcons (10.).
"The trick is, at this point in the yearlong football season -- after the draft, after free agency, before the injuries that ruin a team's season in training camp -- figuring out which teams those will be," wrote ESPN.com's Chad Millman in a breakdown of the win totals.
Here's a look at the top-10 teams and the projected win totals going into next season:
San Francisco 49ers: 11.5 wins
New England Patriots: 11.5 wins
Denver Broncos: 11.5 wins
Houston Texans: 11 wins
Seattle Seahawks: 10.5 wins
Green Bay Packers: 10 wins
Atlanta Falcons: 10 wins
New Orleans Saints: 9 wins
Pittsburgh Steelers: 9 wins
Cincinnati Bengals: 8.5 wins
Baltimore Ravens: 8.5 wins
While the defending Super Bowl champs aren't getting much respect in Vegas, some handicapping experts think the 8.5 wins is still too high. Millman referenced research from the algorithm-based handicapping expert SportsBoss, who said that the Ravens are benefitting from their reputation as a consistent contender.
"It's no secret that totals, like anything else in betting, is skewed by public perception," Millman wrote. "The Ravens won the Super Bowl and historically are a very good team. To set a line with them winning fewer than eight games in a year would draw as much attention as Kanye running into a pole. Yet, that is where the value might lie.
"'I have them as the eighth-worst team this year when I played out the schedule, at 6.97 wins, which is a full two wins below where their number is set at nine. They lost personnel and they have a tougher schedule. Plus their stats last year were only OK; in my model I had them as the 13th-best team statistically last year -- 15th in offense and 13th on defense. I didn't have them as a top-10 team in any offensive stat I track except for interceptions.'"
So the oddsmakers and statistical experts are still down on the Ravens. They'll be the underdogs again this year.
But as we saw last season, that's right where they like to be.
Big Question As OTAs Begin
The Ravens begin their first week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) Tuesday, and that gives the coaching staff the chance to put their new crop of players to work.
The most pressing question as OTAs open, according to CSNBaltimore.com, is how the new additions will mix with the old.
"Right now, the big question is going to be how the guys that GM Ozzie Newsome brought in can do under coach John Harbaugh's system and how well they can fit in to a new team," wrote Jeff Seidel of CSNBaltimore.com.
The Ravens brought in veterans like Elvis Dumervil, Michael Huff, Chris Canty and Marcus Spears to help rebuild the defense. The rookie class also features players like safety Matt Elam and linebacker Arthur Brown who are expected to make key contributions this season.
Those veterans and rookies will be in the classroom and on the field together this week.
"Now it falls to Harbaugh and his staff to get everyone on the same page and trying to find the same level of success as last year and in years past," Seidel wrote.
Will Jones Stand Out On Defensive Line?
The Ravens have made a clear effort this offseason to upgrade their defensive line.
They've added versatile linemen in Canty and Spears, and also drafted nose tackle Brandon Williams in the third round. All three of those players are expected to compete for starting jobs.
But even with the infusion of new talent to the line, The Baltimore Sun's Matt Vensel wonders if the familiar face of Arthur Jones will stand out in the group.
"Jones, who weighs 315 pounds, might be the best run defender out of the bunch," Vensel wrote. "He was usually on the field in early downs, when there was a greater chance that teams would run the football."
The only lineman to get more snaps than Jones last season was Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata. Jones came on strong at the end of the season and played a key role in the postseason, but now the fourth-year defender is once again in competition for a starting job.
"As is often the case in the NFL, Jones will have to carve out a role all over again in offseason workouts and training camp," Vensel wrote. "Canty, Spears and [Pernell] McPhee will be his main contenders, but from the Ravens' perspective, quality options are a good thing to have, especially after finishing 20th in rushing defense last season."
Rice's Home Gets Robbed
The Reisterstown home of Ravens running back Ray Rice was burglarized over the weekend, Baltimore County police confirmed to The Baltimore Sun.
Surveillance video showed a man enter Rice's home through a back window, then steal two guns and $2,000 cash from the house.
Rice was not home at the time of the robbery, which occurred between 8:30 p.m. Friday and 12:50 a.m. Saturday.
"First of all, my family is OK, which is most important," Rice told The Sun in a statement. "I'll be dealing with this through the proper legal channels."
- @TheRealJacoby12: "I kno we not gonna let the judges hold us down........... Lets make history and let the votes from my people decide....... #TeamKaroby" [Twitter]
- @BryantMcKinnie: "Y'all seen Jacoby add that Ray Lewis dance in there lol #DWTS" [Twitter]
- @TorreySmithWR: "First day of OTAs!! Finally get to play football a little...running drills was getting old." [Twitter]
- The NFL is going to announce the host cities for Super Bowls L and LI today at 2 p.m. on the NFL Network. [NFL.com]
- A new study from USA Football and NFL Evolution showed that the concussion rate in youth football is at about 4 percent. The study was done as part of the NFL's overall effort to make the game safer starting at the youth level. [NFL.com]
- @BryanHall: "Before you go to bed tonight say a prayer for all the families in Oklahoma... I know I am." [Twitter]
- @ChrisCanty99: "#PrayForOklahoma" [Twitter]