Other than their Wildcard showdown with the Indianapolis Colts, the Baltimore Ravens were heavy underdogs in every postseason game they played this past season; however, they were the team hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and enjoying the confetti at the end of it all as Super Bowl XLVII Champions. Luckily, the Ravens seemed to thrive on being the underdog because odds makers have Baltimore as long shots to even make the playoffs, nonetheless repeat as champs.
The Atlantis and Las Vegas Hilton, two of the larger Nevada sportsbooks, have the over/under for the Ravens’ win total set at between 8.5-9 games, and some even have them lower than that.
The sportsbooks have the Ravens as underdogs to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North, and projected to be tied with the Cincinnati Bengals in projected wins. The overall favorites in the NFL for next season are the New England Patriots (11.5 wins), Denver Broncos (11.5), San Francisco 49ers (11.5), Houston Texans (11), Seattle Seahawks (10.5), Green Bay Packers (10) and Atlanta Falcons (10.).
Baltimore does have several lingering issues and questions that may project a down year in their future, such as 'How do you replace Ray Lewis? Or Ed Reed?', 'Who can take the place of Anquan Boldin?', 'Can Joe Flacco perform the way he did in the playoffs for an entire season?'. These are all very legitimate questions, but with the Ravens track record as the only team to have made the playoffs each of the last five seasons, perhaps the odds makers are not paying close enough attention.
Another influence of the Ravens that could be affecting their 2013 win projection is their tough schedule this season, which includes seven games against teams that made the playoffs last season and does not include the two games against the Steelers.
It is no secret that Baltimore lost several key players from last season's Championship team, but in all honesty, the 2013 Ravens defense is likely to be leaps and bounds better than it was in 2012. The offense will be performing its first full season under offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, which is huge when reflecting on the Baltimore offense in the postseason, just three weeks after Caldwell replaced Cam Cameron.
Odds makers can set the line at whatever they wish in order to draw interest as training camp injuries and trades will sway the projections, but one thing is for certain — Baltimore will be playing the role of underdog once again in 2013.
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