The Baltimore Ravens season depends on one single player. Lamar Jackson. He provides immense value to both the offense and the defense for this team. With Jackson, Baltimore is a contender to win the AFC North. Without him, they’re not a playoff team.
As the Ravens’ 2023 season gets underway, Jackson’s ability to be under center is paramount for their success, especially late in the season. Not only that but this year, Jackson will be in a brand-new performance environment.
His passing skills have been the subject of endless conversation among fans and commentators alike. This year, fans — and the NFL — will get to see the Ravens put to the test like we haven’t seen in years. As far as NFL predictions go, the best and worst-case scenarios for the Ravens all lead to one man.
Predicting the Best-Case Scenario for the Baltimore Ravens’ 2023 NFL Season
The Ravens’ best-case scenario for 2023 is that Jackson plays in the months of December and January. Jackson has failed to be healthy enough for the most crucial part of the NFL season for the Ravens in the last two years, and it’s derailed Baltimore’s seasons.
In 2021, Jackson missed the final five games of the regular season due to injury. Prior to that, the Ravens were 8-4 and well on their way to the postseason. However, Baltimore would go on to lose each of the final five games without him and miss the playoffs altogether.
With Jackson in those first 12 games, they would score more than three touchdowns three times, surpassing 30 points in six of them. In the games without him, Baltimore failed to score more than three touchdowns on four occasions.
In 2022, an almost identical situation unfolded. At the time of his injury, the Ravens were 7-4 and again headed to the postseason. Jackson suffered a knee injury against the Broncos in Week 13 and would go on to miss the rest of the season, including Baltimore’s Wild Card round playoff game against the Bengals.
Unlike 2021, however, when the Ravens lost every game Jackson missed to close the season, Baltimore was able to go 3-3 without him in 2022. However, it trended poorly. They won the first two, but then lost the next four out of five, inclusive of the playoff game.
In 2023, the Ravens cannot afford to go for the three-peat. All hopes rest upon Jackson remaining healthy when it matters most. His ability to do so was a lingering issue in his contract negotiations with the team.
Now, Baltimore’s committed major dollars to him for the long term. If his health concerns late in the season are over, not only would that be the best-case scenario for 2023, but for the future as well.
Predicting the Worst-Case Scenario for the Ravens’ 2023 NFL Season
The Ravens are moving on from Greg Roman’s power-run offensive philosophy.
During his time as offensive coordinator, Baltimore had employed a run-first approach to offense. In 2019 and 2020, the Ravens led the NFL in rushing attempts. They finished third in 2021 and then seventh last season. No doubt, each of those years was impacted by Jackson’s injury and what he brings to the offense.
This approach to offense has led to much debate among fans and media regarding Jackson’s ability as a passer. On one hand, some would argue that this offense doesn’t allow him to showcase his skills enough as a passer and that in a more modern passing offense, he would flourish, as well as the team.
Others would argue due to Jackson’s inability as a passer, the Ravens have to use that style of offense to be effective and take advantage of his playmaking ability as a runner.
In a 2023 worst-case scenario for the Ravens, the latter group is right.
With Todd Monken coming in to replace Roman, Baltimore’s offense will incorporate a more spread-style system. This means more passing and more pressure on Jackson to perform with his arm.
Additionally, the Ravens have invested resources into their WR room this year, giving Jackson both the talent and the system to perform as a passer.
In his career, Jackson has never thrown for more than 3,100 yards. That was his MVP year. In 2022, through 12 games, he only had 2,900 yards. In 2022, when he only played in 12 games again, he had even less at only 2,200 yards.
In 2023, the Ravens will be asking Jackson to do something he frankly doesn’t have a ton of experience doing at the pro level. For Baltimore, Lamar failing to showcase that he can be effective in a passing-first offense not only would be a worst-case scenario for the narrative around him, but it would also likely mean the Ravens’ offense is ineffective, which would likely cause them to miss the playoffs.