The 2008 Season was a thing of beauty for the Ravens as they went 11-5 last year and were one game away from the Super Bowl. So when one looks at the Over/Under Win total for this team this year 8.5 looks like a Lock to take the Over. Well before you get suckered into that bet let me show you why Baltimore doesn't get to 9 wins this year.
Let's start right off at the Top as Baltimore had a new Head Coach last year as John Harbaugh got his first Head Coaching job. First time Head Coaches have an advantage in their first year as opposing coaches don't know how to truly game plan for them as they have no film to break down so knowing a new head coach's tendency's is virtually impossible. That gave Baltimore a huge advantage last year. This year opposing coaches will be better prepared when facing the Ravens.
Next let's look at starting QB Joe Flacco, can he really repeat last years performance? Fact is Flacco was thrown into the fire by default and really wasn't expected to do what he did. It may sound weird but he will have have more pressure on him this year as last year was a free ride and he over achieved but now this year he will be expected to repeat last years performance and the fans will want the next step as they just came up one game short of the Super Bowl. Flacco also was new to the league so there wasn't a lot of film on him either and defensive coordinators didn't know the best way to defend against him. This year the surprise factor is gone and Flacco will have to over come the sophomore jinx. I expect to Flacco to have a major regression this year.
Lastly let's talk scheduling as the Ravens were a last place team in 2007 with a 5-11 record which gave them a very soft schedule in 2008 which aided in their 11-5 season. Since they were a second place team last year they get a second place schedule in 2009 which means they have to play New England and Indianapolis. They will have to face the Steelers twice which they were 0-3 against them last year. Baltimore has to travel to San Diego and to Lambeau field in December which isn't a easy task. That's 6 games that they could lose 5 of them easily.
One final point to remember, this defense is getting old so they will have to rely more on the offense than before and if Flacco regresses as I expect look for the flaws in the defense to show even more.
I see Baltimore as an 8-8 team at best this year so I am Betting the Under 8.5 Wins on the Ravens.