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Old 04-26-2010, 12:17 AM   #1
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Default Ravens go from good to favorites to win AFC North

Ravens go from good to favorites to win AFC North
Buzz up!By Mike Preston, THE BALTIMORE SUN
Monday, April 26, 2010



Training camp still is a couple of months away, but there's reason for the Baltimore Ravens to be very optimistic about next season.

Since January, the Ravens have made enough upgrades to become serious contenders.

We're not just talking about the results of the NFL Draft this weekend, but the entire offseason.

The Ravens have improved in the areas where they had major weaknesses, from the addition of several wide receivers to getting younger on defense to finding another pass rusher.

It's still early, and the additions are only on paper, which prompts some skepticism. The Ravens still have needs at cornerback and fullback, and they haven't received a definitive answer from Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed about retirement.

But, overall, if you asked yourself whether the Ravens are better now than they were last season, the answer would have to be a resounding yes.

As of today, they are clearly the favorites to win the AFC North.

The Steelers have imploded, the Browns are rebuilding and the defending champion Bengals have had problems putting together two good halves of a season much less two consecutive good years.

The key for the Ravens will be the development of quarterback Joe Flacco and how well the team incorporates new receivers Anquan Boldin and Donte' Stallworth into the passing game.

The Ravens have made some good moves since last season, but none was better than signing Boldin as a free agent. He's big, tough, makes yards after the catch and can dominate the middle of the field an area in which the Ravens needed drastic improvement. If Stallworth can become a vertical threat, all the bases will be covered in the passing game.

Because of Boldin, the Ravens really had a good draft.

He has to be worked into the equation because the Ravens surrendered picks to Arizona in this year's draft to complete the deal. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome was criticized Friday night for trading down in the first round and recouping some of those picks, but it was a bold and successful move.

It would have been nice if the Ravens had drafted wide receiver Dez Bryant, cornerback Kyle Wilson or defensive tackle Dan Williams, but they still managed to get more picks, fill needs and come away with a proven receiver like Boldin.

That's a key. Unlike every player who was drafted over the weekend, Boldin is a proven commodity.

So, if Boldin was the equivalent of a first-round pick, then the Ravens made out well in the second with the additions of Texas outside linebacker Sergio Kindle and Alabama defensive tackle Terrence Cody.

Kindle has some drawbacks and apparently has some growing up to do, but he's tenacious and could be the pass rusher the Ravens desperately missed last season. His athleticism and explosion on the snap of the ball clearly were evident on film.

As for Cody, the Ravens still need a change of philosophy in selecting defensive tackles. It's time for more lean and athletic ones, tackles who can stop the run and pressure the quarterback.

But with the 57th pick in the second round, there are limitations, and the Ravens made a good choice in Cody. He can back up starters Kelly Gregg and Haloti Ngata, and Cody and Kindle have a year to sit and learn instead of being forced to play right away.

The knock on Cody always has been his weight (360 pounds) and that he takes plays off, but there isn't a defensive tackle in the league who doesn't do that.

The Ravens also drafted two tight ends, Oregon's Ed Dickson in the third round and Brigham Young's Dennis Pitta in the fourth, to back up starter Todd Heap, who has missed extensive time two of the past three seasons because of injuries.

As the draft ended Saturday, you still had to wonder why the Ravens didn't select a cornerback, especially with Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb trying to rebound from major knee surgery during the offseason. They also could use a backup fullback behind Le'Ron McClain.

But the 2010 season still is three months away, and the Ravens usually do a fine job of signing some good undrafted rookie free agents.

In two years under coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens have gone to the playoffs, but this is definitely their strongest team.
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Old 04-26-2010, 04:59 AM   #2
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Default Re: Ravens go from good to favorites to win AFC North

I will take the wait and see approach.
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:34 AM   #3
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Default Re: Ravens go from good to favorites to win AFC North

on paper they are definatly the favorite but it dosnt always work out the way people think. week 8 last season we were predicted to go all the way and look how quickly things turned around from our 6-2
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Old 04-26-2010, 11:15 AM   #4
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Default Re: Ravens go from good to favorites to win AFC North

(Sigh)

Aren't they the favorites EVERY year?

And don't they always fail to meet expectations?
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Old 04-26-2010, 11:20 AM   #5
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Default Re: Ravens go from good to favorites to win AFC North

I'm not sure that the improvements on the field won't be mitigated by off-filed problems with Stallworth, and to a much larger degree, Boldin.

I also think Flacco is overrated. What happens if Boldin doesn't get thrown to enough?

If they lose Reed, I'm sorry, well, Steelers fans should know better than anyone what happens when you lose the lynchpin of your defensive backfield. I think their defense will continue to slide....
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Old 04-26-2010, 11:51 AM   #6
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Default Re: Ravens go from good to favorites to win AFC North

Flacco seems like an okay guy, but he is WAAAAAY overrated. His performance in the playoffs last year was the most pathetic effort by a post-season QB I've ever seen and was proof that they would have been nothing more than an 8 win team in the regular season had they not had a superior running game.
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Old 04-26-2010, 12:49 PM   #7
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Default Re: Ravens go from good to favorites to win AFC North

The Ravens could end up being very good this year.

Boldin can be a dominant receiver.

They have a three headed monster at RB. Do they really need to throw the ball that much?

Sergio Kindle might end up being a terror in the pass rush.

Cody could be that lynchpin in the middle of the 3-4.

Or this could all blow up in their faces and they could go 8-8 and miss the playoffs. I would be PERFECTLY fine with that result!
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Old 04-26-2010, 12:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: Ravens go from good to favorites to win AFC North




here is there off-season trophy
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Old 04-26-2010, 12:53 PM   #9
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Default Re: Ravens go from good to favorites to win AFC North

LOL!

From good to Favorite...I agree with a few above who correctly pointed out, they were already called the "favorite" for the AFC North. Seriously LMFAO!
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Old 04-26-2010, 01:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: Ravens go from good to favorites to win AFC North

Boldin can be dominant when healthy. Unfortunately, he hasn't been 100% the past few years.

Rice is good, McGahee is getting past his prime. McClain is underused.

Secondary needs help but if Ed Reed retires, that is a major hole.

Still too early to tell for all of this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RoethlisBURGHer View Post
The Ravens could end up being very good this year.

Boldin can be a dominant receiver.

They have a three headed monster at RB. Do they really need to throw the ball that much?

Sergio Kindle might end up being a terror in the pass rush.

Cody could be that lynchpin in the middle of the 3-4.

Or this could all blow up in their faces and they could go 8-8 and miss the playoffs. I would be PERFECTLY fine with that result!
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