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Late for Work 9/7: Three Pundits Pick Ravens to Win the Super Bowl

QB Lamar Jackson
QB Lamar Jackson

Sports Illustrated Analysts Say Lamar Jackson Will Lead Ravens Over Packers in Super Bowl

Circle Sunday, Feb. 13 on your calendar and start booking your flights to Glendale, Ariz., Ravens fans.

On that night, the Ravens will hoist the Lombardi Trophy for the third time in franchise history and Lamar Jackson will be named Super Bowl 57 MVP after outdueling Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers.

Can you envision it? Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr and Mitch Goldich can. In their Super Bowl predictions, Orr and Goldich picked the Ravens to defeat the Packers by scores of 28-24 and 36-31, respectively. Both went with Jackson as the game's MVP.

"Say it with me: Super Bowl champion Lamar Jackson," Orr wrote.

Sounds good, doesn't it?

"I've been excited all summer to pick the Ravens as my Super Bowl champs, and I'll never forgive Conor for stealing my pick. But yes: the Ravens," Goldich wrote. "They are well coached and in the hunt every year. With better health a near statistical certainty, they are a no-brainer for a bounce-back season. Lamar Jackson poses unique problems for defenses, John Harbaugh will keep dialing up two-point conversion attempts whenever possible, Mark Andrews is chasing the career octopus record. Win it for Poe. All that."

Goldich also picked Harbaugh to win Coach of the Year.

The Ravens know they have the makings of a special season. Veteran outside linebacker Justin Houston said Monday that he feels it's his best shot yet to win a Super Bowl.

Robert Griffin III: Ravens' 'Revenge Tour' Will Result in Lombardi Trophy

Former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III knows the Ravens organization and the type of competitor former teammate Jackson is.

Griffin was a backup quarterback with the Ravens from 2018-2020. They made the playoffs all three of those seasons before a plethora of injuries to key players on both sides of the ball, including Jackson derailed their once-promising 2021 season.

Now an NFL and college football analyst for ESPN, Griffin believes the Ravens are going to use the disappointment of last season to fuel them to a Super Bowl victory this season.

"I believe they are on a revenge tour," Griffin said on "The Rich Eisen Show." "Not just Lamar Jackson. He wants to remind everybody just in case they forgot that he's the most dynamic offensive weapon in the league. That's running, throwing, whatever you want, he's going to remind the guys of that.

"But their defense also struggled last year. They were 32nd in the league against the pass. I think that's going to have them have a chip on their shoulder. They're healthy now. They missed the playoffs last year after 26 guys went on [Injured Reserve]. I think they're going to come out with a vengeance and actually get it done in the playoffs this year." analyst David Carr also believes Jackson and the Ravens are on a mission after last year's last-place finish.

"The 2019 league MVP looks ready for REVENGE SZN, and it all starts with having his All-Pro left tackle [Ronnie Stanley] back," Carr wrote. "The sand in the contract hourglass is running out, but whether or not a deal gets done, Jackson should be back to making highlight-reel plays with his legs and arm. Sunday can't come soon enough."

Carr has Jackson at No. 14 in his Offensive Player Rankings, which are based on player accomplishments from last season and weekly performances, factoring in strength of opponent.

Here's What Has to Happen for the Ravens to Win It All

Unlike Orr, Goldich and Griffin, ESPN's Bill Barnwell isn't predicting that the Ravens will win the Super Bowl. However, he did look at how they could win it all.

Barnwell analyzed how each of the 32 teams can win the Super Bowl. For the Ravens, the formula is a familiar one: a dominant defense, strong running game, and Jackson leading the way.

"After finishing 28th in defensive DVOA last season, it seems inevitable the Ravens will regress toward their own personal mean, having finished in the top 10 in each of their five prior seasons," Barnwell wrote. "The offense seems set to retreat toward a more run-heavy approach in neutral situations, a decision that bore fruit in 2019 and 2020.

"This team is only two years removed from a 14-2 season; their Super Bowl case looks much like that regular season, but with more success in January. If you think Jackson can't push the Ravens into a championship game, remember that Joe Flacco posted one of the best postseasons in league history during his contract year in 2012."

Predicting the Ravens' Individual Awards Winners

Russell Street Report’s Darin McCann made his predictions for the Ravens' individual awards winners this season.

You can probably guess who he picked to be the team's MVP. Here's a look at three if his other selections:

Offensive Player of the Year: TE Mark Andrews

"This is kind of a silly award, as the MVP almost always comes from the offensive side of the ball. But let's play along and go with the guy who has arguably been the best player at camp this season and was the Ravens' best player in 2021 who does not kick a ball for a living. Mark Andrews has shined throughout the summer, getting open despite feverish attention from the defense and winning contested catches on those reps that found him in tight coverage."

Defensive Player of the Year: CB Marlon Humphrey

"I so wanted to put Odafe Oweh here, as I expect the second-year linebacker to take a significant step this season. But Marlon Humphrey is a proud guy and coming off an up-and-down season. He has been an active player in camp, jumping in to take reps against Andrews and Rashod Bateman and being a vocal leader on the field. I think Humphrey plays a part in eight turnovers this season, via interception or his vaunted 'Fruit Punch.'"

Comeback Player of the Year: CB Marcus Peters

"Oh, boy. The list of eligible candidates for this one is substantial, as injuries swept through this organization like a tsunami last year. I'm going with Marcus Peters for two reasons: he's been practicing fairly regularly the past few weeks, which is a good sign; and he's a turnover machine. That alone turns heads, and wins games."

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