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Late for Work 7/14: ESPN's Ryan Clark Picks Ravens to Win the Super Bowl


ESPN's Ryan Clark Picks Ravens to Win the Super Bowl

ESPN analyst and former NFL safety Ryan Clark said the biggest storyline entering the season involves the Ravens, and he believes it will have a storybook ending.

"I would say the biggest storyline going into the NFL, this season, is what the Baltimore Ravens are going to do," Clark told SB Nation's Debbie Emery at the ESPY Awards Wednesday night, via Baltimore Beatdown. "You add Odell Beckham Jr. You go out and you get Zay Flowers in the first round. You give Lamar Jackson $185 million, guaranteed. That has to equal wins, and if it doesn't equal wins, and this team's not contending for a Super Bowl, they're going to say it's a waste. But I also think it falls at the feet of Lamar Jackson, so people will be paying attention to that."

Clark went on to say that he thinks this will be the Ravens' year.

"My actual bold prediction is that the Baltimore Ravens will win the Super Bowl," Clark said. "I just think it's about who Lamar Jackson has been, without having help. So now you give him help. You give him a new offensive coordinator [in Todd Monken], and along with that, you have a defense that improves the entire season. I think they're going to be a scary team."

CBS Sports Pundit Says Ravens Aren't Getting Enough Respect

CBS Sports’ Tyler Sullivan didn't predict the Ravens to win the Super Bowl, but he does think they are being slept on as contenders for the Lombardi Trophy.

Sullivan divided the AFC teams into tiers, and he placed the Ravens in Tier 2, just below the big three of the Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, and Buffalo Bills.

"The Baltimore Ravens are a team that I don't feel is getting enough respect when we talk about possible contenders," Sullivan wrote. "They were able to straighten out Lamar Jackson's contract situation and it wouldn't be surprising at all to see him get back to his MVP form, especially with a new offensive coordinator and a refreshed staple of receivers, including Odell Beckham Jr. and first-round rookie Zay Flowers.

"For all their issues last season and Jackson limited to 12 games, they still went 10-7 (a testament to how good a coach John Harbaugh is) and had a defense that ranked seventh in the league in DVOA. So long as Jackson stays healthy, they'll be a threat."

Looking at Some of the Most Intriguing People on the 2023 Ravens

The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker named the 10 most intriguing people on the 2023 Ravens. Unsurprisingly, Jackson was at the top of his list. Here's a look at three others who were included:

RB J.K. Dobbins

"Dobbins put a bull's-eye on himself by complaining about his role in the Ravens' playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, musing about his uncertain future in Baltimore and then not participating in mandatory minicamp for reasons that remain unclear. Of course he's frustrated that he lost a whole season and part of another to the terrible knee injury he suffered in a preseason game. Of course he'd like financial security and recognizes how elusive that is for running backs, even ones who average 5.7 yards per carry. But the hard truth for Dobbins is that his only real recourse is to be durable and excellent as the Ravens' No. 1 back this year. He has no other means to create leverage as he seeks a second contract."

CB Rock Ya-Sin

"This is more about the Ravens' approach to a vital position than about Ya-Sin, a young veteran who has been solid in coverage over the last two seasons and slots comfortably across from Marlon Humphrey. The Ravens could have used a first-round pick on a potential starting cornerback. They could have brought back Marcus Peters, who did not play up to his previous standard in 2022 after returning from a serious knee injury but still carries big-play potential. Instead, they chose a quieter route with Ya-Sin, and for now, at least, they'll hope a starting nickel back and a few credible backups emerge from the collection of young defensive backs they've drafted over the next three years."

OLB Coach Chuck Smith

"The outside linebackers coach does not typically make this list, but Smith took an atypical path to his role with the Ravens, and he will face atypical scrutiny this year as fans look for the team's young edge rushers, Odafe Oweh and David Ojabo, to break out. … He sacked quarterbacks 58 1/2 times in nine NFL seasons, and from there built a career as a respected private coach to stars such as Aaron Donald and Carlos Dunlap. Talk to him for five minutes and you'll be taken with his passion for and detailed knowledge of the art of pass rushing. He has promised that when we watch his Ravens pupils this year, they will each have a signature move, whether it be rip, spin or bull. Will Smith's devotion to craft translate to greater sack production from the Ravens? No aspect of the defense will be more interesting to watch in 2023."

Todd Monken Makes Pro Football Focus' 10 Top Offensive Coordinator Rankings

Monken has yet to call a play in a game for the Ravens, but his reputation earned him a spot in Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson’s top 10 offensive coordinator rankings.

Monken, whose last NFL stint as an OC was with the Cleveland Browns in 2019, landed at No. 7.

"He was also in charge when Ryan Fitzpatrick played some of his best football in Tampa Bay," Monson wrote. "The Georgia Bulldogs' offense had also been cooking under his tutelage. This is a huge season for Monken, given Jackson's unique abilities."

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