2016 Ravens Over/Under, Either/Or
It’s steamy outside. Some Ravens players fail the first conditioning test (Mike Wallace). Another player tweaks a knee in on the first day (Kenneth Dixon). It can only mean one thing. Training camp is here and the 2016 NFL season is officially ramping up. In under two weeks from now actual football will be played at M&T Bank Stadium when the Ravens host the Super Bowl runner-up, Carolina Panthers, for their first friendly of the year.
All summer long, BSL contributors have looked forward to training camp.
Biggest Questions Heading Into Camp
Thoughts on Training Camp: Offense
Thoughts on Training Camp: Defense
Previewing the 2016 Ravens, with guests Pete Gilbert (WBAL) and Jeff Zrebiec (The Sun)
The time is now and the goal is simple. Make it to Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills unscathed. A 100% healthy roster. You don’t want to be filling gaps with back up guys right from the start. Joe Flacco is active with the first team offense. Dennis Pitta is looking like he’s in game shape. Kenneth Dixon tweaked a knee on day one but it’s said be a “…slight thing” and could return today. Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Steve Smith Sr., Brehsad Perriman and Lorenzo Taliferro are all starting camp on the PUP list and can return at any time.
Storylines will be fast and furious as camp rolls along. Until more of those emerge, I’ll take a look at the upcoming season and make up some mock prop bets. A game of over/under and either/or that you can participate in over on our message board.
Before we get to the players, let’s start with the most polarizing and probably toughest to predict.
Over/Under: Regular season wins: 9.5
Pretty simple. Will the Ravens win 10 games, or not?
Joe Flacco pass attempts: 600
Flacco TDs and INTs: 25 and 13
Flacco QBR: 55.0
Joe Flacco was on pace to throw a staggering 660 passes last season before his season ended six games short with injury. The year before under Gary Kubiak, he threw a more realistic 554. Trailing in football games as much as they did in 2015 leads to an uptick in attempts, but play call also plays a role. He’s thrown 25 or more TDs twice and over 13 INTs once. But has thrown 12, five times. A QBR of 55.0 puts him just above average, which is at minimum what is expected. In the last four seasons he’s been in the 40s, three times. But hit a high mark of 67.02 in 2014.
Justin Forsett yards per carry: 4.9
Forsett had averaged over 5.0 YPC in the three years from 2012-2014. Small sample size in one case. Last year the 2014 Pro Bowler regressed to 4.2 YPC before a broken forearm ended his season.
More touches: Forsett, or the other RB combined?
The question is, will Forsett unquestionably be the bell cow? Or will Forsett, against his wishes, split touches with the the other backs. Forsett isn’t a strength in the receiving game, while rookie Kenneth Dixon could be exactly that. Keeping in mind that Marc Trestman had Matt Forte catch 100 passes in 2014.
Steve Smith Sr. debuts during which week of the regular season: 1.5
Smith Sr. receptions: 78.5
Will Smith Sr. be ready for week 1, at age 37 and returning from an Achilles tear? He was on pace for 95 catches before his 2015 season was cut short. Had 79 in his first year as a Raven. Consider there are more options at Joe Flacco’s disposal this year and Smith Sr. isn’t getting younger.
More receptions over 20 yards: Breshad Perriman, or Chris Moore
Both are downfield threats. Moore is a rookie while Perriman is theoretically still rookie in experience while not on paper. By completing day one of camp yesterday, Moore has already seen more action than Perriman did last year.
Michael Campanaro games played: 7.5
The young slot receiver from Silver Spring has been an injury risk dating back to his time at Wake Forest. He’s dressed for four games, each of the last two seasons. Can he double that in 2016?
Does Dennis Pitta finish the season, yes or no?
I sure hope so. He’s worked so hard and defied the doctor’s recommendations. He’s risking a lot to keep playing the game he loves, in an era when some guys are retiring awfully young, given the risks people are more aware of now. I’d love to see Dennis Pitta have a 2012 season repeat. Like to see the whole team re-create 2012 for that matter.
Which tight end will lead the position in TD’s: Pitta, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Ben Watson?
There is a case to be made for all of them. Pitta if he is back to his old self. Gillmore flashed as a physical beast at times last year and could be aggressive in the red zone. Maxx Williams was drafted for one reason. To catch passes. John Harbaugh made that very clear early last year when some questioned his blocking ability. Ben Watson may have been signed as an insurance policy for Pitta. But the seasoned veteran has just as much chance of topping the depth chart as the young men do.
Ronnie Stanley considered stud, or dud at seasons end?
Expectations are high for first round picks, especially top-10 ones. Stanley will be given every opportunity to earn a starting role, and highly ranked offensive lineman are some of the safest bets to live up to the hype of their draft status. Will Stanley live up to it, or will pundits be left saying, the Ravens should have drafted “player X” instead?
Lardarius Webb INTs: 2.5
Webby is in line to start next to veteran free safety Eric Weddle. Webb has picked off one pass in three of the last four seasons, and nabbed two in 2013. Moving to safety might allow Webb some more opportunities. The move comes as he’s struggled as a cover corner approaching age 30, now coming into his age 31 season. But if he struggles as a safety he could lose some playing time to Terrence Brooks and Matt Elam. Two men who maybe on the hot seat and looking to show their absolute best in what could be their last best shot. Kendrick Lewis could be in the mix as well.
Does Jimmy Smith make the Pro Bowl, yes or no?
He’s out there at camp and lingering injuries should be no concern. When at 100%, he’s looked like a talented cover corner. The Ravens had the second best pass defense in the latter portion of the 2015 season when lingering injury issues around Smith seemed to subside.
Combined sacks by Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil: 19.5
When both men are on the field together, they are capable of reaching at least 25 sacks together. But Dumervil seems to rely on Suggs drawing attention opposite him. The duo combined for 29.0 sacks in 2014, but without Suggs, Doom managed just 6.0 alone in 2016. Suggs and Dumervill will be 34 and 32-years old respectively. Not to mention rookie Kamalei Correa will try to work into the rotation if he doesn’t convert to inside linebacker. Second year edge rusher Za’Darius Smith will try to break out, and another rookie in Matt Judon will be playing with that chip on his shoulder, already being second guessed through the draft, coming from D-II Grand Valley State.
Team sacks in 2016: 43.5
42.0 sacks would have put the Ravens in the top-10 last year. The 2015 Ravens notched 37 sacks, tied for 17th. Denver led the league at 52. Ravens were third in sacks in 2014 at 49.0
Justin Tucker FG% from 50+ yards: 75%
Tucker became the highest paid kicker a couple weeks back. He began his career kicking 90.9% from 50+ in his first two seasons (10 of 11). Since then he is 42.1% from that range in his last two seasons (8 of 19). 65% was league average from 50+ yards in 2015. Tucker’s contract suggests he isn’t league average. Hitting three of every four attempts from 50+ shouldn’t be out of the question.