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Things should be looking up for the 2014 Ravens.

It’s that time. The temperatures are getting cooler and the air is getting… crispier. The leaves are changing color and will soon be crunching beneath our feet. Football season is here. The NFL is back in full force. Over at Grantland, Bill Barnwell has been meticoulously chronicling the eight teams that probably won’t do to hot, as well as the eight teams that will probably drop off. But then there’s the eight teams that can expect a turnaround this season. Let’s take the time to look at one of them in depth. Topping Barnwell’s list of “The Rising” is the Baltimore Ravens. Needless to say, unless you were a diehard Steelers fan, last season’s outing was a complete let down. This was a team stripped of veterans Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Anquan Boldin. Dennis Pitta was injured, leaving Tight End duties to Ed Dickson and an aging Dallas Clark. Torrey Smith was the go to whenever Flacco aired it out, and his only relief in pressure came from the emergence of Marlon Browne. And then there was that running attack, or lack thereof. Let’s just not go there. Really, these guys just could not move the ball at all, and their schedule wasn’t even particularly difficult. It’s really saying something when your team names the Kicker most valuable player. But there are some glints of hope to come with this 2014 squad. For one, Gary Kubiak is implementing his new offensive system. Now before you start clamoring about the Texans’ abysmal record last year, just remember how dominant they were in the AFC South in the four years prior to 2013- that’s right, they led in scoring. Also take into account that a terrible coach does not necessarily make for a terrible coordinator. The Texas thrived on play action, and last year Joe Flacco was at his best on the PA. It’s like a match made in heaven. Yes, Flacco had some serious accuracy issues last year, throwing the most interceptions in franchise history, but you have to think about the double team. Ed Dickson was barely reliable at best, and Marlon Brown, though he showed promise, was still a rookie getting his groove. That left Torrey Smith, and every defense in the league knew that on any given pass attempt, the ball was going to him. Double team away. But the addition of Steve Smith, Sr. and the return of a healthy Dennis Pitta will definitely make this 2014 squad something to watch out for.