Three reasons Ravens will win Super Bowl LV: Recent history says this is Baltimore’s season

The Baltimore Ravens are coming off of a special season, but they are hoping 2020 is even better. While Lamar Jackson won the MVP award by leading the NFL’s most explosive offense and the Ravens went a league-best 14-2 in the regular season, they fell to the Tennessee Titans in their first playoff game — which naturally left a sour taste in their mouth after such a magical year. If anything, the Ravens learned that nothing is given to you in the postseason, and that they will have to follow through if they truly want to win a championship.

Baltimore’s offense and the defense are both returning plenty of starters, and one could even argue that the Ravens got better on paper this offseason. While Baltimore did trade for Calais Campbell to boost the defensive line, the Ravens also put together one of the more underrated draft classes. They picked up several intriguing offensive weapons that could help Jackson move the ball down the field in his third season, and also selected two linebackers who should come in and start right away. So, the question has to be asked: Could the Ravens be even better in 2020?

It will be hard for Baltimore to match its 14-2 record in 2020, but they do have a great chance to clinch the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC. Even more importantly, I think this team has a better shot this year to win the Super Bowl. Let’s take a look at three reasons why the Ravens will be the next team to hoist the Lombardi trophy.

1. The best rushing attack in the league has improved

The Ravens rushing attack played a key factor in making them the best team in the regular season last year. They averaged 206 rushing yards per game and rushed for a total of 3,296 yards — both of which ranked first in the NFL — and they had two rushers go over 1,000 yards. Jackson racked up 1,206 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns while Mark Ingram recorded his first-ever 1,000-yard season — rushing for 1,018 yards and adding 10 touchdowns. They weren’t the only rushers Baltimore relied on, however. Gus Edwards rushed for 711 yards and five touchdowns and rookie Justice Hill did his part as well, rushing for 225 yards and two touchdowns. With Hill being only 22, I expect him to play more of a role in the offense in his second season, plus the Ravens added yet another running back this year who could end up being the best on roster.

Baltimore selected J.K. Dobbins in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and he was considered one of the top running backs in this class. He rushed for 2,003 yards and 21 touchdowns in his junior season at Ohio State, and racked up a total of 4,459 rushing yards and 38 touchdowns during his time in Columbus. Put simply, the most dynamic backfield got even more dynamic this offseason, and it’s something that is again going to benefit this team.

Just because the NFL is becoming more of a passing league doesn’t mean that abiding by the new norm will automatically bring success. The Ravens’ established tempo with their run game and were also unstoppable when running out the clock with a big lead. It’s pretty incredible that Jackson and the Ravens’ top three running backs all averaged 3.9 yards per carry or more. The pistol formation they so often used in 2019 gave running backs the ability to run downfield and also made the option even harder to stop. John Harbaugh saw how well misdirection, jet motion and screens worked in this offense, and you should expect to see even more in 2020. The Ravens will again have the best rushing offense in the NFL, and it will be a reason they finish the job with a Super Bowl victory this upcoming season.

2. Schedule and new playoff format

Earlier this offseason, CBS Sports NFL writer John Breech broke down the 2020 strength of schedule for all 32 NFL teams based on combined opponent winning percentage in 2019. Using that method, the Ravens will supposedly face the easiest strength of schedule in 2020. Even when basing the strength of schedule on the over/under win totals for each team’s opponents during the 2020 season at William Hill Sportsbook, the Ravens go from facing the easiest schedule in the league to facing the third-easiest schedule. To put it simply, the Ravens’ schedule is not incredibly difficult this year.

Out of Baltimore’s 13 opponents, only five of them made the playoffs last season. One of those teams is the New England Patriots, who no longer have Tom Brady, and another is the Titans, who you know the Ravens are more motivated than ever to beat after last year’s loss. This sets up the Ravens to have a great chance not only to win their division, but to also secure the top seed in the AFC. That has now become more important than ever with the league’s new playoff format.

In 2020, each conference will add another wildcard spot, which means a total of 14 teams will make the postseason. In order to compensate for this, only two teams (one from each conference) will secure a first-round bye. That bye didn’t exactly help the Ravens last season, but acquiring it should be more important than ever in 2020, and the Ravens have a great shot at repeating as the best regular-season team in the AFC.

3. History repeats itself

I know Ravens fans don’t want to hear comparisons to the other AFC juggernaut in the Kansas City Chiefs, but there is something that’s hard to overlook heading into this season. In Patrick Mahomes’ first full year as the starting quarterback of the Chiefs, he won MVP. The Chiefs did lose to the Patriots in the playoffs, but it was still a pretty magical season. The following year, the Chiefs went all the way and Mahomes won Super Bowl MVP. In Jackson’s first full year as a starter (2019), he won MVP. The Ravens lost to the Titans in the playoffs, but it was still a pretty magical season. You see where I’m going with this?

I predict that history will repeat itself and Jackson will take the Ravens to the Super Bowl and win Super Bowl MVP. In fact, the last two regular-season MVP’s before Jackson won the Super Bowl the following year. Mahomes and Jackson are two of the most talented players in the NFL, and while they may specialize in different areas, there are plenty of similarities between the two. Jackson will follow Mahomes’ lead and take Baltimore all the way in 2020. 

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