The best of the four NFL preseason games on Thursday is the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens. Both of these teams have been near the top of the league in recent years. The Ravens, of course, are coming off of their first Super Bowl win since 2001. They look to get back there this year once again. It will be no easy task, however, with many of their key players being gone.
The biggest departure was the retiring of linebacker Ray Lewis, who was the face of the franchise for more than a decade. Lewis’ defensive mate Ed Reed also left to go play for the Houston Texans. These two probable Hall of Famers leave big gaps in the Ravens’ defense.
The Ravens offense also suffered some big losses during the offseason. Veteran wideout Anquan Boldin signed to play with the San Francisco 49ers. Now that one of quarterback Joe Flacco‘s favorite targets is gone, it is likely that he will rely more on tight end Dennis Pitta … if Pitta wasn’t likely lost for the season due to a hip injury, anyway.
The Falcons, on the other hand, have had a great offseason. They signed veteran running back Steven Jackson to put in the backfield. This move makes the Falcons’ offense even more potent.
It is only the preseason, which means we likely will only see the starters for a series or two, but these are two teams that are still exciting to watch. We could be looking at a preview of the big game in February.