By Matt Vensel
8:30 AM EST, January 1, 2014
Before the season started, as part of our Ravens season preview for the newspaper, I made 10 predictions for the season that were sure to go wrong. The thought process was that it was a different way to preview the season more than it was a way for me to show our readers how bad I am at making predictions.
Looking back now that the season is over, I think I accomplished both with my 10 bold predictions.
Some of them were spot on. Some were close but no cigar. And some are now totally laughable.
Let’s run through them one by one.
No. 1: Joe Flacco will set career highs in passing yards and touchdowns -- and interceptions
I deserve partial credit for this one. My thought process was that the Ravens would rely on the reigning Super Bowl MVP more than ever and that it might take some time for him to adjust without Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta. I was right. He threw more passes (614) than he ever had in a season, in the process setting new career highs in passing yards (3,912) and interceptions (22). The part I got wrong was the touchdowns. Flacco tossed just 19 of them, his fewest since his rookie year.
No. 2: Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil will team up to record 25 sacks
This one looked really good at the midway point of the season. But Suggs fizzled in the second half of the season, recording just one sack in his final eight games. And Dumervil injured his ankle in late November, rendering him mostly ineffective late in the season. Those two ended up combining for just 19.5 sacks.
No. 3: Justin Tucker will make a field goal from beyond 60 yards
Nailed it. Tucker not only drilled one from 60-plus yards, he did it with the game on the line in that thrilling Monday night win over the Detroit Lions in Week 15.
No. 4: The Ravens defense will start slow but finish in the top 10 in total defense
The Ravens defense did start slow, getting torched by the Denver Broncos in the season opener, but it didn’t take them long to ascend into the top 10 in total defense. Unfortunately, they could not stay there, finishing 12th in the NFL in yards allowed. The difference between eighth and 12th place was just 3.2 yards, though.
No. 5: Ed Dickson will play well enough to earn a nice contract elsewhere
Big whiff on this one. Dickson failed to capitalize on a big opportunity after Pitta went down and veteran Dallas Clark ended up getting most of the snaps on passing downs. Dickson finished with 25 catches for 273 yards and a touchdown. The athletic tight end will wind up somewhere, but I doubt he will arrive in a Brinks truck.
No. 6: Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce will rush for 2,000 yards combined
No. 7: Matt Elam and Arthur Brown will start on defense eventually
Elam, the team’s first-round draft pick, became the starting free safety in Week 2. However, Brown, a second-rounder, was a situational player and did not start a game.
No. 8: Bryant McKinnie will wear down before season's end
McKinnie wasn't here long enough to wear down. He quickly wore out his welcome with poor play and a lackadaisical effort. The Ravens traded for left tackle Eugene Monroe in late October and benched McKinnie before trading him to the Miami Dolphins. McKinnie was one of Pro Football Focus’ lowest-graded offensive tackles.
No. 9: Sam Koch will finally get selected to the Pro Bowl
Koch rebounded after a midseason swoon that he called the most frustrating stretch of his career, but he finished just 22nd in net punting average, hardly the stuff of Pro Bowls.
No. 10: The Ravens will make the playoffs for a sixth straight season
The Ravens had it all right there in front of them. They controlled their ability to make the playoffs with two weeks left and a win in either of their final two games would have been enough to get them in. But the Ravens lost their final two games, finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the first time under John Harbaugh.
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