Baltimore Ravens 2024 Season Odds and Preview: Team Breakdown and Best Futures Bet

BetSided's Wade Snow takes a look at the disappointing end to the Baltimore Ravens season and what fans should expect from the team next season.

AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens
AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens / Kara Durrette/GettyImages
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The better your team is, the harder it is to talk about when they come up short of expectations. That couldn't be more true for Baltimore Ravens fans.

Now that the dust has settled on Super Bowl LVIII, the Kansas City Chiefs are once again the pride of the AFC and the champions of the entire league. While the repetitiveness of that fact may have lessened the pain that some teams feel about the Chiefs' dominance, the Ravens and their fans will find no consolation.

As with any team as successful as the 2023 Ravens, changes are inevitable. It is impossible to reach the levels that Baltimore did, at least in the regular season, without some turnover in the form of players, coaches, and front office.

The first casualty of the Ravens' success came in the form of director of player personnel Joe Hortiz, who is now the general manager for Jim Harbaugh's Los Angeles Chargers. Hortiz had been with the Ravens since 1998 and in his current role since 2019. He was long overdue for a GM position, so Baltimore was prepared for his departure.

Former defensive coordinator and new Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald was the second pillar to fall. Along with Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, Macdonald was the hottest name in this year's coaching carousel. He is now the youngest head coach in the league.

We will take a look at the impact of the staff turnover Baltimore is facing, as well as potential exits on the player side. By examining the changes Baltimore has already undergone, as well as the many highs and one unfortunate low to end the season, we will have an idea of what Ravens fans can expect from their team next season.

And while fans are still formulating their expectations for next season, Vegas has already started its calculations.

Currently, the Ravens are +900 to win the 2025 Super Bowl. That is good for third behind this year's Super Bowl participants, San Francisco (+550) and Kansas City (+650).

Am I confident the Ravens are good enough to win it all next year? Yes. But if confidence were the basis for my picks, I would be out of a job by now.

We will look at both sides of the ball from both a player and coach standpoint and, as always, come to a well-researched but still-exciting pick for the 2024-25 Baltimore Ravens.


The pick in question may surprise you. But, as you will see, the bottom line is simple: the Baltimore Ravens will be firmly in the discussion once again next season.

That's enough introduction; it is time to get down to the brass tacks. Without further ado, I present to you: The Way Too Early 2024 Baltimore Ravens Preview.

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Offense

It is only possible to discuss the future of this Baltimore offense by first acknowledging the implosion that occurred in the AFC Championship.

The offense reached new heights under first-year offensive coordinator Todd Monken. His pairing with quarterback Lamar Jackson was a match made in heaven, so it is even more frustrating looking at the Ravens' offensive collapse.

Many things changed with the addition of Monken, but ground dominance was not one of them. Since Lamar Jackson took over in 2019, the Ravens have run the ball better than anyone in the league.

In his five years as a starter, the Ravens have been top five in rushing yards every season and been the top rushing team three times (including this season).

In fact, since 2019, the Ravens have out-rushed the rest of the league by nearly 3,000 yards. So, why did they only run the ball eight times against the Chiefs?

First, Kansas City made it very difficult, loading the box on practically every first and ten situation, as well as other "typical" rushing down and distances.

But when you are the No. 1 rushing team in the league coming up against the 19th-ranked rushing defense, should you really be scared of additional linebackers? Especially considering the fact that Kansas City had just allowed 182 rushing yards to the Buffalo Bills? Absolutely not.

Next, the Ravens were trailing for the large majority of the game. It makes sense to ditch the run when you are down 10 in the fourth quarter, but why not attempt to impose your will until you physically don't have time to do so? The Ravens had practically abandoned any efforts on the ground by halftime when they were only down one score.

Lastly, it is essential to note that most of the Ravens' offense is built around run-pass options where the QB reads the defense and decides to run the ball himself, hand it off, or pass it. Once the Ravens went down, Lamar Jackson chose to force passes rather than take what the defense was giving him.

I say all of this because I want to give you a more profound analysis than simply "the Ravens should have run the ball more," and as a Georgia alumnus, I still have a bias towards Monken after the two national championships he brought me.

However, my opinion of the Ravens' offensive game plan is simple: if you are the best in the league at something, there is no defense in existence that should cause you to abandon it in the most important game of your season.

Still, as painful as the loss was for the Ravens and their fans, it does not eliminate the offense's strides this season.

We've already discussed their success on the ground, but how good was the offensive unit as a whole? You have to go back to Jackson's first season as a starter to see anything close to the success that the Ravens saw offensively this year.

They ranked in the top 10 of every major offensive category, finishing first in rushing, sixth in total yards per game, and fourth in points per game. Point differential is an entire team stat, but it is vital to understand that the Ravens led the NFL in point differential at +203.

How did the offense improve under Monken, and will it see continued growth next season?

That is a two-part answer.

First, Baltimore added more offensive weapons to surround its franchise quarterback in the form of veteran receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor and rookie wideout Zay Flowers. While Beckham and Agholor are free agents, Flowers more than lived up to expectations and looks to be a staple of the offense moving forward.

Even if the Ravens choose to pursue other options to Beckham and Agholor, they will have tight end (and Jackson's favorite target) Mark Andrews, who missed the final seven games of the regular season, back to full health.

Continued growth from Flowers and improved health from Andrews should see similar results from Jackson and the offense next season.

Secondly, and arguably more importantly, Monken implemented a spread-style offense in his first year as offensive coordinator. That means that the unit featured far more 11 personnel, or schemes with only one running back and one tight end with multiple receivers out wide.

Monken's 11 personnel created a more spread-out field, and Jackson thrived with the opportunity to better see routes develop.

But where Monken's spread offense really impressed me was the ability to run the ball at an even higher level while running fewer schemes with 12 personnel. 12 personnel consists of sets with multiple tight ends and backs and fewer receivers, which is what you typically see from run-first teams.

But for Baltimore, the spread offense created wider running lanes for the backs and Jackson, which they took full advantage of.

Let's not forget: Lamar Jackson was one vote away from becoming the first player ever to win two unanimous MVPs this season. It is safe to assume that he will only continue his torrid run as he gets more comfortable in Monken's offense.

There is no question whether the 2024-25 Ravens will have a "good" offense. I am confident that Lamar Jackson will be the front-runner of next season's MVP race and that the Ravens will once again win a loaded AFC North. But, at this point, that simply will not cut it. 

Jackson is saying all the right things about bouncing back next season, but time will tell if this Ravens offense can make it happen with the season on the line. Unfortunately, we will be waiting a while to see if anything changes.

Defense

Previewing Baltimore's 2024-25 defense is a much more difficult task than the offensive side of the ball.

We have mentioned Macdonald's departure from the Ravens, but what does it mean moving forward? To answer that question, we must first understand how dominant his defense was this season.

Under the wunderkind Macdonald, Baltimore fielded one of the best defensive units in the history of the NFL last season. It became the first defense in the modern NFL to lead the league in sacks (60), takeaways (31), and points allowed per game (16.1). These areas were vital in the Ravens' league-best point differential.

In two seasons with Macdonald at the helm, Baltimore’s defense ranked in the top five in scoring, total yards, rushing yards, red zone touchdown rate, and third-down conversion rate.

Obviously, the stats are both gaudy and important to understand. But another thing to keep in mind when evaluating what Macdonald's departure means for the defense is how much the Ravens players like and respect him. It is one thing to replace a schematic genius. It is entirely different to replace a pillar of your locker room.

While he will be a near-impossible act to follow, the Ravens selected the closest person to Macdonald possible to fill his vacant role. Or, at the very least, they picked a guy on a similar rocket trajectory in Zach Orr.

Orr has spent the last two years on the Ravens staff as inside linebackers coach and has impressed enough in his brief stint to be named the second youngest defensive coordinator in all of football at 31.

You may remember Orr from his days playing linebacker with the Ravens, which ended prematurely in 2017 following the discovery of a congenital spine condition.

He immediately jumped into coaching, spending two seasons as an analyst before joining Urban Meyer's staff in Jacksonville as outside linebackers coach. Once the Meyer experiment ended, Orr joined Macdonald's staff as inside linebackers coach.

Indeed, having a middle linebacker group of Patrick Queen and All-Pro Roquan Smith makes life easier for an inside linebacker coach. But what sticks out to me about Orr's time with his linebackers, specifically Smith, is the amount of growth that has occurred in such a short period.

Since joining the Ravens at the trade deadline of the 2022 season, Smith has gone on to win back-to-back Butkus Awards and has been named an All-Pro in consecutive seasons.

And while Smith has rightfully earned all the credit he receives, Patrick Queen also plays a vital role at the inside linebacker position for Orr and the Ravens. The issue now facing the defense is whether or not they can afford to bring back Queen after making Smith the highest-paid inside linebacker in the history of the NFL with a five-year, $100 million extension following the 2022 season.

Breakout defensive tackle Justin Madubuike is also at the end of his contract. With only $14 million in available cap space, it is unlikely that Baltimore will be able to return both Queen and Madubuike.

We will see if Orr's time spent with Queen influences the Ravens' decision, but Orr is already facing his first challenge as Baltimore's defensive coordinator.

Either way, I am confident that the Ravens will still have one of the best defensive units in the league next season. While there will surely be an adjustment period after losing one of the most highly-touted defensive coordinators in recent memory, Baltimore is confident that it has found its man in Orr.

There is always risk associated with such a young coach, but given both the Ravens' and Orr's track record, there is a higher chance than not that he will prove to be a home-run hire.

Orr also has the benefit of inheriting the best defense in the entire league. Even if Baltimore's defense does regress in his first year as defensive coordinator, it will still likely be a top-five unit in the NFL next season.

And given the continued improvements I expect to see from the offense, that should be plenty to get the Ravens where they want to go.

Best Ravens' Futures Bet for 2024 Season

So, we have covered Baltimore's offense and defense in near-nauseating detail. You know about the offensive growth and collapse that followed. You are aware of Mike Macdonald's departure and Zach Orr's appointment to defensive coordinator.

But, as always, we are left with one burning question: How can you profit from it?

As I mentioned in my article about the Detroit Lions, I don't feel confident enough in any AFC team to take a Super Bowl future, especially one this expensive, given how competitive the conference is currently.

The Chiefs will be on the chase for their third consecutive title, the Buffalo Bills will be right in the mix again, and the Cincinnati Bengals will return a healthy and hungry Joe Burrow.

Honestly, I am not sure I will be confident enough to take the Ravens to win the AFC North when those lines are released. With a division as talented as this one, any injury or fluke play can change the entire trajectory of the season.

"But Wade, if you are not taking Ravens' Super Bowl and you don't plan on taking them to win the division, why did you even write about them?"

Fear not, my friends. You have lost your mind if you thought I didn't have a pick for you. This is BetSided, after all.

I have already discussed the improvements the Ravens and Jackson saw in their first season under Monken and how confident I am that they will only continue in Monken's second year.

Jackson ran away with the MVP in the 2023 season.

Currently, he is the fifth most likely to do so next season at +1200. While it is always bad business to bet against Patrick Mahomes, and there is always a chance of voter fatigue when a player is pursuing back-to-back MVPs, I am still taken aback that Jackson is available at that price.

Crazy things happen throughout the season, so no season-long bet is ever a "safe" play. But the day I stop hunting value is the day I stop writing.

And I sure as hell see value at +1200.

I am taking Lamar Jackson to win the 2024-25 NFL MVP at +1200.


Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.