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The Baltimore Ravens had a Super Bowl hangover that they never seemed to shake last year as they went from champions to missing the playoffs entirely.

And trying to right the ship is already off to a rocky start with running back Ray Rice’s offseason scandal and subsequent suspension creating waves.

To return to glory this season the Ravens need to get beyond both last year’s failures and Rice’s off-field distraction.

Baltimore Ravens Odds to Win AFC North: +275 at Bovada
Baltimore Ravens Odds to Win Super Bowl: 40/1 at Bovada
Baltimore Ravens Regular Season Win Total: 8.5 at Bovada
Baltimore Ravens Betting Props: Joe Flacco to Win NFL MVP 150/1 at Bovada

Joe Flacco got a big contract after leading Baltimore to a Super Bowl title, but failed to live up to it last season. Flacco passed for just over 3900 yards with 19 touchdowns and a career-high 22 interceptions. He also took a lot of punishment, getting sacked 48 times, second most of any QB in the NFL. To try and give Flacco some help the Ravens signed veteran receiver Steve Smith. He’ll line up with Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones and try to prove he still has something left in the tank. Also be on the lookout for tight end Dennis Pitta, who became one of Flacco’s favorite targets late in the season after missing the first 12 games due to injury.

While the passing game disappointed last season the running game was a nightmare. Rice regressed for the second straight season, rushing for only 660 yards with four touchdowns. He’ll be suspended for the first two games, leaving the ball in the hands of Bernard Pierce. The play-calling will also be changing hands, as former Houston head coach Gary Kubiak takes over as offensive coordinator.

The days of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed leading the Ravens defense may be long gone, but Baltimore actually wasn’t too bad without them last season. With notable names Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and Haloti Ngata still around the Ravens were a strong unit. Beware though, they’re all getting long in the tooth and without some young blood stepping up the Ravens' D could be headed for a decline.

AFC North Odds at Bovada as of August 5

Pittsburgh Steelers +190
Cincinnati Bengals +210
Baltimore Ravens +275
Cleveland Browns +500

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Last season, the Baltimore Ravens got hot at the right time and made an incredible run through the postseason to claim the Super Bowl title. In order to become the first team to defend its Super Bowl title since the New England Patriots did it in 2005, the Ravens will have to overcome a slew of personnel changes on both sides of the ball.

Odds to Win AFC North: +190 at Bovada
Regular Season Win Total: 8.5 at Bovada
Betting Props: Joe Flacco to win NFL MVP (50/1) at Bovada

The Baltimore Ravens entered the 2012 playoffs about as cold as could be, going just 1-4 SU and ATS over their last five games. But the return of Ray Lewis on defense seemed to give the team a spark, and it carried that spark to a win against Indianapolis and then upset wins over Denver, New England, and San Francisco to finish the postseason 4-0 SU and ATS and champions of the NFL.

Baltimore was just average on offense through the regular season, but we saw what the team could look like when it was clicking on all cylinders in the playoffs. The Ravens averaged 31 points per game over four postseason games, led by Joe Flacco’s sensational run of 11 touchdown passes with no interceptions. While Flacco and Ray Rice return to lead the offense in 2013, center Matt Birk (retired) and leading receiver Anquan Boldin (traded) do not.

For the first time in franchise history, Ray Lewis will not be patrolling the middle of the defense for the Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately for Baltimore, Lewis is just one of many key pieces to the defense that isn’t returning, as Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard, Cary Williams, Dannell Ellerbe, and Paul Kruger have all departed as well.

With this much turnover on defense, especially in emotional and performance leaders Lewis and Reed, it is difficult to anticipate the Baltimore defense not taking a step back. Baltimore will have the target on its back every Sunday that comes with being the champion, and two tough division rivals to fend off for the AFC North title in the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals. Will the Ravens fold or excel under the pressure?

AFC North Odds at Bovada as of July 26
Baltimore Ravens +190
Pittsburgh Steelers +190
Cincinnati Bengals +200
Cleveland Browns +700

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