Remember last offseason? When the birds were chirping, and Joe Flacco was healthy, and the Ravens were a sexy Super Bowl pick? It was a pleasant, simpler time.
Because to be a Ravens fan in February 2016 — a Ravens fan who consumes every last morsel of coverage of the coming 2016 season — you have to be fully prepared to feel insulted.
Take, for instance, one of the following way-too-early power rankings. The Ravens range from as high as No. 12 to as low as No. 28. But in one of them, the team is behind — gasp! — the Cleveland Browns. How the mighty have fallen ... or how the lowly have risen. Or something.
"The Ravens had so many injuries in 2015, it was ridiculous. They instantly had no chance because they had no depth as a result of Joe Flacco's contract. I'd like to say things will work out differently for them in 2016, but unless Flacco stops being selfish and makes things easier for his team, depth issues will continue to arise. However, if the Ravens stay healthy, they can certainly make another deep playoff push."
"The Ravens were nowhere near No. 13 at the end of this past season. But it's hard to think they'll be down too long. They're a rock solid organization that was simply battered by injuries last year. There are still some questions, including how quarterback Joe Flacco comes back from an ACL tear and who he'll be throwing the ball to. Steve Smith will be 37 and returning from a torn Achilles tendon and we have no idea if 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman can stay healthy. But it's best to bet that the Ravens will not be bad again."
"Why they're here: Voters didn't completely forget that Baltimore won just five games, but they also didn't forget that this is a John Harbaugh-coached team that was simply decimated by injuries in 2015 and will have Joe Flacco back for training camp.
"What could change: Ozzie Newsome could be shopping (and drafting) secondary help after the Ravens picked off just six passes in 2015, a shockingly low figure even in an era when INTs are down. Not only is Flacco back, the wide receiving corps could look much different than the way they did in Week 17, as 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman will finally debut and Steve Smith, Sr. has vowed to be back as well, though he'll be coming back from an Achilles tear at age 37."
"It's hard to bet against a franchise that has advanced to the postseason in six of the eight seasons since drafting franchise quarterback Joe Flacco. It's also hard to imagine the injury bug biting the Ravens again as hard as it did in 2015."
"The Ravens lost a lot of major players to injury, too, but that doesn't fully explain how far they fell. They have to rebuild in a lot of areas, get much younger and hope recent picks (Breshad Perriman, Matt Elam, Terrence Brooks) can get on the field and produce. Oh, and they could use a fast recovery by Joe Flacco, really badly."