Cleat Geeks

HOMER’S NFL ODYSSEY(3): Baltimore Ravens

Welcome to Homer’s NFL Odyssey! Like the original hero Odysseus we will journey from NFL shore to NFL shore. Casting a light on each NFL squad and their 2015 fortunes from the perspective of a “Homer”. An upbeat tale of NFL fandom illuminating the chances of the your favorite team in a completely favorable light. This is the ultimate guide to your favorite team told from the perspective of a “Homer”.



QB:  Big bodied and with a cannon for an arm Joe Flacco is one of the best young(still) QBs in the league. Combining an elite understanding of NFL defenses with an arm of that caliber is a recipe for success. Joe Flacco has all the requirements of a QB targeting a championship.

RB: Out of seemingly nowhere Justin Forsett set the world on fire in 2014. After some productive outings in brief stints around the league Forsett has finally found a role as the lead back in the Ravens rush offense. Forsett shows great vision, speed, lateral quickness and pop at the point of contact. An impressive receiver out of the backfield. A true 3 down RB. Supported by very good depth in Lorenzo Taliaferro and 2015 draft pick Buck Allen. The rushing offense can be relied upon for immense production again in 2015.

WR/TE: The receivers are led by Hall of Fame WR Steve Smith. Still as shifty and speedy as any WR in the league. The ultimate competitor. Joined by 2015 2nd round draft pick Breshad Perriman. Perriman has elite 4.2 speed and paired with Smith’s veteran savvy will provide for a great 1 – 2 punch.  Mix in 2015 2nd round pick Max Williams at TE. Add the depth of rising talents Kamar Allen and Marlon Brown. You have a core group of receivers poised to strike fear into the hearts of opposing defenses.

OL: Veteran LT Eugene Monroe anchors a strong offensive line. Guards Marshal Yanda and 2012 2nd round pick Kelechi Osemele provide consistent push from the interior. Jeremy Zutah and Rick Wagner round out a starting unit capable of creating vast running lanes and protection for the signal call. Strong, veteran and cohesive group looking to build on 2014 successes.


Defense: Filled from top to bottom with star power and upside youth the Raven defense in 2015 will cause many to beckon back to the dominant defense from the 2000 Championship Season. The 4-3 Defense begins and ends with the LBs. A deep and talented group that can rival any LB core in the NFL. Led in the middle by Pro-Bowlers Daryl Smith and 2nd year stud CJ Mosley. The outside spots filled with pass rushing nightmares Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. Depth provided by Courtney Upshaw and Arthur Brown. The defensive backfield consists of a CB trio as good as they come. Ladarius Webb, Jimmy Smith and Asa Jackson. Safeties have their own trio of playmakers in Will Hill, Kendrick Lewis and 2013 1st round pick Matt Elam. In his 3rd season i expect the highly talented Elam to find his niche. Assisting the Ravens defense in elevating to the top of NFL ranks. A sack happy, opportunistic and dominating defense that will make Ray Lewis gush.

Coaching: An elite group led by the good “twin” John Harbaugh. Supported by a grade A defensive coordinator in Dean Pees who has a special knack for 3-4 scheming. Given the pieces Pees has to work with expect even more defensive fireworks in 2015 as this unit builds on 2014 success. Mark Trestman is the offensive coordinator, a role he thrives in. Orchestrating a high volume RB orientated offense will fit perfectly with the roster with which he has to work. A perfect marriage.

Division Outlook:

Pittsburgh Steelers: Led by Big Ben are the most formidable division opponent and the division winner in 2014. It is hard to find holes in the Steeler O. Ben is getting older, has taken a lot of hits and has put on so much weight Ben looks like an extra offensive lineman in the huddle. The hits, the age and the apparent nutrition issue will reflect on productivity at some point.  2015 may very well be the declining year as all 3 issues come home to roost. Leveon Bell is coming off a fantastic overachieving 2014. That production will not be duplicated with a league wide awareness of his 2014 success. Bell will surprise nobody in 2015. The looming 3 game suspension does not help the Steelers chances of jumping out of the gate strong. DeAngelo Williams is on deck to cover but that talent drop off could spell an offensive stall to start 2014. The WRs are unproven but talented beyond glamorized possession WR Antonio Brown. Not impressive in stature nor speed Brown relies on heavy volume to create an illusion of WR star power. Martavis Bryant had a decent 2nd half in 2014 but far from a consistent force. Marcus Wheaton has yet to provide any real help. Heath Miller is an underwhelming talent at TE. Beyond center Maurkice Pouncey the offense line is average at best. Unproven and unremarkable would be an apt description. Prime for a Raven 3-4 attack.

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals finished 2014 1/2 game ahead of the Ravens at 10-5-1. That Bengal record was a misnomer at best. The Bengals face a variety of challenges in 2015 that will prevent them from recreating their 2014 success. Andy Dalton is showing his weaknesses on the field and it is holding the offense back. Dalton does not possess a big time arm and survives on awareness and timing in order to create offense. There are already rumblings about AJ McCarron pushing Dalton for the starting gig. The lack of faith can only further undermine Dalton’s confidence and affect his play negatively. Neither QB is capable of leading this suspect offensive roster to a winning record. The RB spot is manned by 2 very different backs. Jeremy Hill who runs but does not catch. Gio Bernard who has little success running but catches well out of the backfield. If one should slump or find injury the RB position will become very one dimensional. As it stands now this offense is predictable more so than others because depending on what RB is in the huddle illuminates the likely forthcoming play. AJ Green had a stellar rookie season but has been nagged by injury and inconsistent play since. I do not see these issues simply going away. beyond the hyped Green is a very unimpressive, unproven and under-talented group. Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones have both flashed briefly and then quickly disappeared again. Unreliable is not a trait you want to find in your 2nd and 3rd WRs. The TE position is an even scarier proposition with Tyler Eifert who has seen little action and when he has he showed nothing of the once hyped talent he was said to possess. An aging and middle of the road offensive line is not capable of filling the void of talent on this Bengal offense. The defense is loaded with aging and under-performing bodies. Hall, Jones and Nelson are all aging DBs beyond their primes. Susceptible to strong passing attacks like the Ravens boast. The star of the defense is head case Vontaze Burfict who is coming off a serious injury and may not even be ready for the start of the season. Without Burfict there is no other player capable of impacting the game to a great degree. This is a crumbling unit in for a shaky 2015.

Cleveland Browns: Their QB choice is between a guy who has journeyed from team to team and a guy who does not belong in the NFL. McCown nor Manziel stand a chance with this unit. The RB group is a mess with no declared starter among 2 2nd year unimpressive backs West and Crowell. Rookie Duke Johnson is a space player and will likely provide no help between the tackles. The receiving group is a mess. With Cleveland’s best WR suspended the team is relying on lazy Dwayne Bowe, lacking veterans Brian Hartline and Andrew Hawkins. This group will neither inspire fear or respect. TE is a non entity with Cameron leaving in free agency. The defense includes a top notch CB in Joe Haden. However Haden is surrounded by lesser talent and high draft picks that never matured into impact players. A beatable unit and the least dangerous defense in this division.



Knock down Big Ben and it is smooth sailing to the playoffs. That is exactly what the Ravens D will do in 2015. Cincinnati is declining on both sides of the ball. Cleveland is an atrocious NFL team. Split with Pittsburgh in the regular season and sweep the lesser two and Baltimore will be in the divisional driver’s seat. Once in the playoffs anything can happen. Baltimore should be considered a Super Bowl contender by all NFL teams and scouts. Be ready for a surprise run coming from the Ravens as they build on 2014’s revival.



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