The Baltimore Ravens are the "trendy" pick to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLV.
Not mine though.
Yes, the Ravens have A LOT of talent on their team. During the off season, they made some great improvements to their offense. They upgraded the position fans desired for years, receiver.
Joe Flacco, entering his third year in the league, needs to take the next step. He culd have taken that step last year against the Colts in the playoffs, had he not suffered a serious hip injury.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome did what needed to be done. He brought in great weapons in Anquan Boldin and Donte' Stallworth so Flacco can take that next step.
With so many receiving weapons on the team now, a major problem arises. How is that going to affect the running game? If Flacco starts passing the ball an additional 10-15 times a game, that is 10-15 less running plays for Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain.
The less running plays, the less time of possession, the longer the defense has to be on the field.
Five years ago, Ravens fans would have no problem with that at all. Baltimore prides itself on it's dominant defense led by linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed.
Problem is, they are not the players they were five years ago.
Ray Lewis is still one of the best in the game. If you are being honest though, you have to ask yourself, how much gas does he really have left in the tank?
Entering his 15th season at the age of 35, it is only a matter of time before Ray Ray declines from the level that made him one of the most feared linebackers in NFL history .
That brings us to Ed Reed. Reed will turn 32 prior to the start of the 2010 NFL season. More importantly, he has suffered serious injuries over the last few years.
Reed will be considered one of the best ever at his position. He will be in the Hall of Fame five years after he retires, which he considered after last season due to injuries. With his health concerns you have to wonder if he will survive the season.
With their depleted secondary, losing Reed for even a short amount of time could be enough to doom the Ravens' season and Super Bowl aspirations.
For years, the Ravens boasted the defense to be a dynasty despite an offense that just could not cut it. Now, they finally have the offense. But now the defense is too old to hold up their end of the deal.
My prediction: Ravens finish 11-5, second in the AFC North. Wild Card birth.