The Baltimore Ravens shocked a lot of people last year in winning Super Bowl 47 against the heavily favoured San Francisco 49ers in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome back in February.
For a lot of the team it was one of the last chances they had to win themselves a Championship, Ed Reed for one, and a fairytale ending to the career of inspirational team captain Ray Lewis.
No fewer than six key members of the Super Bowl winning squad have moved on to new teams; Aquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers, Ed Reed joined the Houston Texans and Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe took his services to South Florida and the Miami Dolphins. However the loss of Ray Lewis will be surely be the most damaging, a player that has been the focal point their squad for over a decade. In the last couple of seasons Lewis wasn't quite the player he was, age and injuries took a toll on his body.
Now no one can say this is ideal preparation for a championship defence, they will be a marked team from the start and any team would love to knock of the defending champions like in any sport. In the recent past it has been very difficult to win back-to-back Super Bowls, the last to do so was the New England Patriots in 2004 and 2005. But who will count them out? No one predicted what they did last season, it may be a long shot but stranger things have happened.
The team still has its game changers, Joe Flacco at QB, Ray Rice at running back. Despite the losses there is still no shortage of talent on the roster, young players will step to take the workload. It's definitely not going to be a write off season, you always no facing Baltimore will not be an easy ride by any means.
When they start the season on the 5th September against the Denver Broncos they will be the first Super Bowl Champions ever to start the season on the road, the traditional home opener was cancelled because of scheduling conflict with the Baltimore Orioles baseball team.
The Ravens will have to overcome many things in the upcoming season to be successful but there is no better team that is better equipped to do so, only last year they showed they can overcome injuries and doubters to win it all in New Orleans.
image: © aukirk