Inside the Patriots 15 yard line with 28 seconds left in the AFC Championship, Joe Flacco threw a perfectly placed ball into the hands of Lee Evans in the corner of the endzone. Evans would not be able to secure the ball, and two plays later, Billy Cundiff would miss the game tying field goal from 32 yards. The Ravens would fall short of a Super Bowl berth.
With the Ravens’ 2012 season fast approaching, the question remains whether or not the team can build on its success from a year ago and finally make it to the Super Bowl. Here’s a look at five bold predictions for the Ravens’ 2012 season.
1. Joe Flacco will make the Pro Bowl in 2012
Many believe that Flacco had his worst season in 2011. And statistically, that statement is accurate. Flacco finished the season with a completion percentage below 60% (57.6%) and a QB rating under his career average (80.9). But Flacco displayed something that most successful NFL quarterbacks have In 2011: poise!
Poise under the pressure that was placed upon every starting NFL quarterback. Poise under the pressure of the consistent pass rush against an average-at-best offensive line. And poise under the scrutiny of the national media. This underrated characteristic coupled with the outstanding offseason Joe has had leads one to believe that Flacco will have a Pro Bowl season.
2. Terrell Suggs will play in 2012
When Suggs tore his Achilles tendon this offseason, many feared the Ravens’ Super Bowl hopes were dashed. How could the Ravens muster up a legitimate pass rush without the reigning defensive player of the year? Fortunately, the Ravens shouldn’t have to find out. Suggs has a tall hill to climb, but barring a major setback, it appears as though T-Sizzle should return to the Ravens’ lineup during the second half of the Ravens’ regular season campaign. The only question that remains is whether or not he will be at 100%.
3. The Ravens will split with Pittsburgh this year
Last season, the Ravens dominated Pittsburgh at Baltimore. Then a few weeks later, Joe Flacco orchestrated a 92-yard, game-winning drive capped off with a touchdown pass to Torrey Smith that completed the season sweep.
That won’t be the case this year.
The Steelers will be out for revenge after the Ravens embarrassed them in the season opener. And the Ravens will be out to prove that the sweep of the black and gold was not a fluke. If the Ravens are able to defeat the Steelers in Pittsburgh, they get to meet them again 14 days later in Baltimore––that’s a lot of big hits in a two week span. A second season sweep of their division rival is possible, but improbable.
4. This will be Ray Lewis’ last season
Ray Lewis has dominated the NFL since joining the league in 1996. He is the standard in which all linebackers have been measured. He is a future Hall of Famer. And most important, he is 37 years old. How anyone is able to perform at the level Ray Lewis has performed at his age is unbelievable, but the 17-year rollercoaster ride ends in 2012.
5. Ravens will reach the Super Bowl in 2012
The Ravens enter the season as one of the best teams in the NFL, and though they have been close to reaching the big dance before, this year seems different. For the first time in over a decade, the Ravens field a team with arguably a better offense than defense. Flacco seems to finally be turning into the quarterback the Ravens envisioned him being when they drafted him in 2008. If the defense can find a way to generate a pass rush consistently, this team will be dangerous in 2012. Expect the Ravens to make it over the hump in 2012 and reach the Super Bowl.
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Samuel Njoku is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He has been an avid blogger and writer for over five years. With his extensive knowledge on the Baltimore Ravens, Samuel is able to give an educated analysis on the Ravens performance on the field and in the Ravens front office. His work can be found on Examiner.com.