14. Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens are no longer in the spotlight for the wrong reasons as Lamar Jackson finally got himself a long-term contract. That contract situation was a dark cloud lingering over this Ravens team for the longest time, but now that it’s in the rearview, I think this team becomes a legitimate threat in the AFC once again.
I’m not going to sit here and assume stuff, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Lamar Jackson was both injured and slightly holding out at the end of last season. His injury against Denver was supposed to just keep him out a couple of weeks, and he ended up sitting a couple of months. But his value to the team has been effectively proven.
The Ravens added Odell Beckham Jr. in a risk/reward move this offseason that I really liked, but does this team have enough in the pass rush to compete for the AFC North? Or are they just a Wild Card team?
13. Detroit Lions
I said I wasn’t going out on a limb for a few other teams, but the Detroit Lions are one of those squads I’m going out on a limb for.
If you’ve been reading this site for over a year, you know that I was all-in on the Lions well before this point in 2022. I am buying what Dan Campbell is selling, and I have been for quite some time. The Lions didn’t make the playoffs in 2022, but they came very close. Ending the Packers’ season and beating Aaron Rodgers in his final game in Green Bay had to feel really good for this team and certainly serves as some major momentum going into this coming season.
How will the Lions respond with some actual pressure heaped upon them? Last year, they were playing with house money a little bit. This year, there are a lot of people talking about this team. As long as those major investments they made defensively come through, I think they can contend for the NFC North.