Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Nearly every season preview of the Baltimore Ravens mentions that the bottom line is that the Ravens must get over the Pittsburgh Steelers hump. That is false. They must overcome a slow team that lost significant pieces to even make the playoffs.
The offensive line is horrific. A healthy Matt Birk at center will not be enough. Before trading for Lee Evans, the Ravens only had one wide receiver on the roster with a NFL reception. Evans is a vertical threat, but he already has a bum wheel. It was a good move by a desperate team to pick up the former Bills standout, but he does not have the elite lateral speed that will change games for the Ravens.
The defense will be sluggish this season. Kelly Gregg was a constant leading force on that defensive line and Terrance Cody is not ready to be a dominant starter at defensive tackle. Terrell Suggs, who is an absolute force, is the only player that can get to the quarterback on a regular basic. Holiuta Ngata is an All-Pro, but Ray Lewis is a shell of his former self. The defense will be good, but not great.
Joe Flacco is not good enough to win games by himself. Expect the Cleveland Browns to be improved, especially with Colt McCoy running the west coast offense. The Ravens will win between 7-9 games in 2011, as will the Cleveland Browns. Neither will make the playoffs.
The future is now in the NFC South. Here is a bold statement for all the bleacher report readers. Tampa Bay's trio (Josh Freeman, LeGarrette Blount, Mike Williams) will be more explosive and productive than the Falcon's trio (Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Roddy White).
Running back Mike Turner's season will be extremely disappointing. He turned the dreaded 29 years of age which is never good for backs and looked old the last quarter of last season.
The passing game will be tremendous, but that alone will not be good enough. Matt Ryan has been impressive and many think he is on the brink of super stardom, but he is nowhere near the level of his division rival Drew Brees.
Their defense added Ray Edwards, but the defense is pretty much the same from the 16th ranked group of 2010. They should be decent, but do not expect an encore performance from the likes of Brent Grimes. The Ravens defense still possess enough play makers to possibly win games on their own, but the Falcons do not.
The latter prediction also has just as much to do with the division they play in. The Tampa Bay Bucs are ready to take the next step into the playoffs. The Saints will win the division. The Lions and Falcons have similar offenses, but Detroit has a better defense.
The Ravens and Falcons will both win a good amount of games, but will not reach double digits and their golfing plans will come earlier than most expect this year.
Follow me on twitter @2firstnames88