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Super Bowl 50 Prediction: Dallas Cowboys vs. Baltimore Ravens

Find out who may be the early favorites to win Super Bowl 50.

John Owning

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The 2014-2015 NFL season just came to a thrilling end as the New England Patriots edged out the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in one of the most exciting Super Bowls in the history of football. Now that the offseason has begun, every team reverts back to 0-0 with equal shots at gaining the ever-elusive Super Bowl ring.

The goal of each team this offseason is to improve and strengthen their team so that they can make a run at the Vince Lombardi Trophy at some point and time in the near future.

The two teams who may be best equipped to meet up in Santa Clara on February 7, 2016 may not be who you expect. The trendy pick after a Super Bowl has culminated is to pick the two teams who were just in the Super Bowl to meet up again; however, that rarely happens. With that in mind, the two teams who have the best chance to meet up in Super Bowl 50 are the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens.

Let’s start first with the Baltimore Ravens. They have been known for their defense since the days of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Even though this defense isn’t that talented, they do have the best starting linebacker quartet in the NFL as Elvis Dumervil, Terrell Suggs, Daryl Smith and rookie C.J. Mosley all should have been Pro Bowlers this year. It is hard enough for a team to get one or two linebackers with that type of impact and production; the Ravens have four.

On top of that, they have a very good defensive line. Haloti Ngata will be entering his tenth year in the NFL, but he is still an extremely effective defensive lineman who is one of the most well rounded players in the NFL. Brandon Williams really exploded onto the scene this year as he became a dominant run-defender who controlled and often reset the line of scrimmage with ease last season. If he can become more effective as a pass-rusher, he will become a top-tier defensive lineman in the NFL. To go along with Ngata and Williams, the Ravens have Timmy Jernigan, who played very well considering he was only a rookie and he should only improve. With the way the Ravens rotate their defensive linemen, it would be great if they could add one or two more effective reserves in the draft, but it is not a necessity for them to make a deep playoff run.

Where things get a little shaky and a place where the Ravens need to improve this offseason is in the secondary. Ladarius Webb and Will Hill aren’t bad pieces, but they aren’t the type of players who can carry a unit by themselves. Matt Elam was pitiful against the pass last year and Darian Stewart was about average. Jimmy Smith played extremely well, but his season-ending foot injury is something that should give them some pause. If there is one place on the defense that could prevent the Ravens from making a playoff run it would be the secondary as it needs to be upgraded this offseason.

On offense, everything begins and ends with Joe Flacco. When he is hitting on all cylinders, they are almost impossible to beat. When he is playing poorly, it is impossible to imagine them beating any competent football squad. The Ravens need to bring Justin Forsett back this year to continue to build upon their effective running game. They have a very good offensive line with the best guard combination in the NFL with Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele.

As has been the case for years, the Ravens need to improve their weapons around Flacco. Torrey Smith is a free agent and Steve Smith Sr. isn’t getting any younger. The biggest priority for the Ravens should be to get a prolific receiving tight end and maybe a wide receiver to go along with Steve and Torrey Smith.

If the Ravens can improve their secondary and add a couple weapons to the offense, they would be a smart pick to make the Super Bowl next year.

Coming out of the NFC gauntlet next year, may very well be the Dallas Cowboys for no other reason then it may be their last opportunity for a while. Tony Romo is the lynchpin to all of their success and he only has two or three years at the most of high-level quarterback play.

To go along with Romo, the Cowboys have built one of the most prolific offenses in football. Dez Bryant (he may be a free agent, but he’s not going anywhere) is one of, if not, the best wide receiver in football. Jason Witten is one of the few well-rounded tight ends in the league and he always makes the big plays when the Cowboys need them. DeMarco Murray may not return, but the reason why that doesn’t cripple the Cowboys is because they have the best offensive line in the NFL. The fact of the matter is, no matter which running back you put behind that offensive line; he will be productive.

On defense, the Cowboys have a lot of room for improvement, but even with that in mind they are an above-average defense. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is a genius and always gets the most out of any players he has on his squad. The biggest problem with the Cowboys defense last year was that they failed to generate much pressure on opposing quarterbacks. If they an fix that, their defense may move from above-average to very good as they will be getting Sean Lee back and the secondary will improve if the opposing quarterbacks are under duress.

Luckily for the Cowboys, they have a lot of options in the draft and free agency to fill that need. They could sign a player like Pernell McPhee or Brandon Graham. They can also couple that with a draft selection like Eli Harold, Preston Smith, Owamagbe Odighizuwa or Trey Flowers.

With an improved pass rush and a healthy Tony Romo, there is no reason the Cowboys shouldn’t be making a deep playoff run.

Now, any team that makes the Super Bowl needs some luck with injuries, calls and the bounce of the ball. Nevertheless, the two teams who will have the luck and talent going their way next year are the Ravens and Cowboys as they should be the early favorites to make Super Bowl 50.

 

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and DraftBreakdown.com

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