This is the most popular prediction for the defending Super Bowl champions this year: The Baltimore Ravens will not reach the playoffs after losing Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin. But that is focusing on what the Ravens have lost and not what they have added. The Ravens are not a rebuilding team. They are still very much a playoff team. Other than Boldin, you can make the argument that Ravens have either adequately filled all of their voids or improved in those spots from last season.
The defense, which ranked 17th last season, upgraded its pass rush with Elvis Dumervil and its front seven with defensive lineman Chris Canty and inside linebacker Daryl Smith. There are more concerns with the offense, especially after losing tight end Dennis Pitta to a dislocated hip. Baltimore, though, still has quarterback Joe Flacco and playmakers such as running back Ray Rice and wide receiver Torrey Smith.
The Ravens have been the surest bet when it comes to the playoffs. No other team has been to the postseason the past five seasons, and the Ravens have done enough this offseason to keep them as the favorites to win a third straight AFC North title. It is difficult to imagine the Ravens capturing the same magic from last season's playoff run, but they are talented and experienced enough to reach the AFC Championship Game again.
Predicted finish in AFC North: First