The Baltimore Ravens will try to win the AFC North for the third consecutive year in 2020, a feat no team has accomplished since the NFL reconfigured its divisions ahead of the 2002 season.
If history is any indication, the upcoming season bodes well for either the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers or the Cincinnati Bengals.
However, NFL Network reporter James Palmer said he still considers the Ravens the favorites to win the division this season during a recent appearance on 92.3 The Fan’s “Bull and Fox” show.
“I don’t see how you can go against the way the Ravens have played, but I did a lot of their games, but I do think there’s going to be a shift in the way things happen,” Palmer said. “I do think there’s been this entire offseason for teams to go and study what they changed in Baltimore.
“There’s always that time where you do something revolutionary, you do something different, and then the rest of the league sees what you do and now you have to counteract and adjust once again.”
Last season, the Ravens set the NFL’s team rushing record with 3,296 yards, which broke the 1978 New England Patriots’ record of 3,165 yards.
The historic rushing output will be difficult to replicate in 2020.
The Ravens must account for the retirement of eight-time Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda.
Center Matt Skura also tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL in Week 12.
Skura hopes to return to the field for training camp.
As of Tuesday morning, oddsmakers still consider the Ravens the favorite to win the AFC North at -190.
The Steelers are listed at +350, the Browns at +475 and the Bengals at +2,000.
Oddsmakers initially set the Ravens’ win total at 12 games, but have since lowered that number to 11.5.
The Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs are considered the co-favorites to win Super Bowl LV at +600.
“I just think it’s really gonna be tough for the way the Ravens played and kind of the way Lamar [Jackson] plays and the way he’s gonna have that group motivated,” Palmer said. “He’s one of the cooler guys I’ve covered in this league, and he is beyond upset by the way the season ended and I just think they’re really primed and set to win the division.”
Palmer said he “loves” what the Ravens did in April’s NFL Draft, which includes selecting LSU linebacker Patrick Queen with the 28th overall pick, Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins with the 55th overall pick and Texas A&M defensive tackle Justin Madubuike with the 71st overall pick.
“They’re one of those teams when they pick players, you just kind of go, ‘Yeah, yeah that makes a lot of sense. Yep, that’s a great pick,’” Palmer said. “I mean them getting Dobbins is like…it’s like geez… like that’s a perfect pick.”
“This is an opportunity to try to find other ways to learn and an opportunity that you kind of can’t miss,” Palmer said. “I mean guys can’t go do a lot of things, so why not continue to work? And, why not Baker [Mayfied] continue to work on his mechanics and continue to send it in and then continue to evaluate it when you really can’t do a whole lot?
“Most of the league has been how much can we get in — within the rules obviously — and try to find different ways to teach and learn? It’s been successful in actually in a lot of places. And [there are] some parts and some teams that have thought, ‘well, we might implement some parts of this moving forward even after we’re not going through what we’re going through right now.'”