The Ravens have been down this road before.
When last they won a Super Bowl, in 2000, everyone pointed for them the following year. How could they not? Ray Lewis became a national superstar thanks partially to his unusual problems off the field and the way he rebounded on the field. It was no secret that a lot of people didn't like him, and the fact that he led the Super Bowl champs got more opponents fired up.
It's a different story this time around. The Ravens won the Super Bowl again, but it's a much quieter situation. But opponents still are going to target the Ravens. Championship teams always have that big circle on their backs the following season because teams want to beat them. Everyone wants to beat the champs.
The Ravens lost Lewis to retirement and Ed Reed to free agency, but coach John Harbaugh's team still will be a very good one, and teams will be waiting. Good teams are going to play better. Weak teams will look better. The Ravens are going to get everyone's best efforts.
And they're fine with that. The Ravens rebuilt parts of their team this off-season and will have a different look this year. They're younger, faster and stronger, especially on defense. They'll be ready to go.
Joe Flacco got his big contract in the off-season, and that's going to fire up opponents. He'll be pushed this year. That's the way of life in the NFL. He led the Ravens to a championship last season, and teams that win titles get their opponents very fired up. Who wouldn't want to beat the best team?