Jackson, Ravens figure to contend again in tough AFC

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BALTIMORE RAVENS (12-6)

New faces: WR Sammy Watkins, T Alejandro Villanueva, G Kevin Zeitler, WE Rashod Bateman, G Ben Cleveland, LB Justin Houston, LB Odafe Oweh, T Ja’Wuan James, TE Josh Oliver, S Geno Stone, LB Daelin Hayes, DB Brandon Stephens, WR Tylan Wallace, S Ar'Darius Washington, CB Chris Westry, DT Xavier Kelly.

Key losses: T Orlando Brown Jr., LB Matthew Judon, C Matt Skura, WR Willie Snead, G/T D.J. Fluker, RB Mark Ingram II, WR Dez Bryant, QB Robert Griffin III, DE Yannick Ngakoue.

Strengths: The Ravens led the NFL in rushing the past two seasons and finished second in 2018 — a direct result of having one of the game's greatest running quarterbacks. Lamar Jackson, the MVP in 2019, has run for over 1,000 yards each of the past two seasons, and Baltimore may lean on him even more this year after running back J.K. Dobbins was lost for the season to a knee injury. Baltimore finished seventh in total defense a season ago.

Weaknesses: The Ravens ranked dead last in passing in 2020 and took steps to change that, acquiring Watkins and drafting Bateman in the first round. But Bateman has been out with a groin injury, and receiver Marquise Brown has also missed time during the preseason. Dobbins' injury in the final preseason game leaves the team without its top returning running back.

Camp Development: Aside from the injuries to Dobbins and the receivers, the Ravens were also without Jackson at the start of training camp following a positive COVID-19 test. Tyler Huntley emerged as the top backup to Jackson.

Fantasy Player To Watch: Gus Edwards ran for 723 yards and six touchdowns last season, and that was while splitting carries with Dobbins. It's not clear how much his workload will go up now, but he's the most accomplished running back on the team with Dobbins out.

FanDuel Says: Win Super Bowl: 14-1. Over/under wins: 11.

Expectations: The Ravens have gone 25-7 over the past two regular seasons, and after winning a playoff game last season for the first time with Jackson, the next step up would be to put together a Super Bowl run. It won't be easy in a tough AFC, however — and injuries have already been a problem.

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

The Associated Press

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