Mink: The Ravens' goal for the 2023 season is to win the Super Bowl. Simple as that. Of course, there are other goals that must be achieved en route to the ultimate goal. The Ravens set their sights on their opponent each week. Then, they want to win the AFC North and block the Bengals from being three-time champs.
The Ravens have a lot of fuel from the way last year ended. They had a very good team last season, but with Lamar Jackson injured and after a flukey game-reversing touchdown on a goal-line fumble, Baltimore fell short. Speaking with Patrick Queen on The Lounge podcast this week, it's clear there's still a fire burning from that loss.
Baltimore's upgraded offensive weapons and Todd Monken's new offense has the Ravens feeling very good about their ability to score points this season. The defense has more question marks entering the year, but is also loaded with talent at key positions. This is a Ravens defense that could finish ranked among the league leaders.
Put it all together, and the Ravens feel they have a legitimate shot at hoisting the Lombardi Trophy this year. They'll have plenty of competition in arguably the toughest division in the NFL, plus a conference loaded with powerhouse title contenders that aren't slipping anytime soon (such as the Chiefs and Bills). Baltimore's first task is getting into the playoffs for a second straight year, and from there, anything can happen.
Downing:The cornerback lineup is one of the big questions going into this week's game given the foot injury to top cornerback Marlon Humphrey. It seems unlikely that Humphrey will play, unless he gets back on the practice field at some point this week. If Humphrey is out, I expect Rock Ya-Sin and Brandon Stephens to be the two starting outside cornerbacks, with Arthur Maulet as the top candidate in the slot. The Ravens could also use safeties Kyle Hamilton and Ar'Darius Washington as other nickel candidates based on matchups.
Another possibility at outside cornerback is veteran Ronald Darby. The Ravens signed him late in the process and he has plenty of starting experience under his belt. Based on the team’s Week 1 depth chart, Darby and Ya-Sin are both listed as starting options opposite Humphrey. Stephens is listed as Humphrey's backup on the depth chart. Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald tends to build his defense to suit his players' strengths just look at how he used Hamilton in the slot last year) and I expect that to be the case again this season as the secondary finds its footing early in the year.
Mink: I do expect Jackson to wear a wristband when the Ravens kick off the regular season. He's worn it at practices for quite some time now. I think the whole wristband conversation is a little overblown. Tons of quarterbacks wear wristbands during games and it's not an indication of how well they know the offense. Tom Brady wore a wristband. Monken just felt that not having the wristband to call plays from would help Jackson learn the offense quicker and more in-depth. He took away that crutch, so to say. Now that Jackson knows the offense quite well, Monken wants to give him every advantage possible come gameday.
Downing: I'm sure Harbaugh sees some value in DVOA as a statistic. If he's referencing where the Texans rank in that regard, he's placing enough value on it to bring it up in a press conference setting. Harbaugh and the Ravens have historically valued analytics, and DVOA is one element of that. The Ravens have a robust group that focuses on analytics both from a coaching and personnel standpoint, and they look at nuanced analytics beyond the straightforward numbers of points and yards. It's all a piece of the puzzle, and it seems like Harbaugh has DVOA as one of those pieces.