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Late For Work 9/9: Ravens Are Super Bowl Favorites

Plus reaction to all the hype and Le’Ron McClain shuts down the trash talk.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Thursday, September 9th, 2010 at 9:04 am | Categories: Late For Work, Ryan Mink

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Ravens Are Super Bowl Favorites

We’ve been hearing that the Ravens are Super Bowl contenders throughout the entire offseason. Been there, done that.

But now with the regular season officially kicking off tonight, the Ravens are being dubbed as the favorites to win the Super Bowl – at least by ESPN.com.

ESPN went to its Pigskin Panel and eight of 25 members picked Baltimore to hoist the trophy in Dallas on Feb. 6. That’s that most championship nods of any team in the NFL with Indianapolis just behind with seven and the Green Bay Packers in third with five.

Another three voters said the Ravens would reach the Super Bowl but lose.

Here are the scribes who picked the Ravens, so you can start on your thank you cards: Eric Allen, Matthew Berry, Mel Kiper, Matt Mosley, Antonio Pierce, Aaron Schatz, Kevin Seifert and Bill Williamson.

Kiper: I know people will dog me because I live in Baltimore and say I’m being a homer, but the Ravens have a lot of strengths and worked really hard to target weaknesses this offseason.

Schatz: This team has a ton of talent and the offense should only get better, with a lot of maturing young players and the addition of Anquan Boldin. That should make up for the questions they have in the secondary.

Williamson: The Ravens have been an ascending team for a few years. Quarterback Joe Flacco is becoming a top player, running back Ray Rice is a beast and new receiver Anquan Boldin gives the Ravens a dimension they haven’t had in recent seasons.

Seifert: The Baltimore Ravens might have the most balanced trio of phases — offense, defense and special teams — in the NFL.

Peirce: Their pass defense is not the best, but I like what I see from them on offense. They can score 24 points a game. For their first Super Bowl win, they did it with defense. But this time, the offense will contribute much more.

Is The Hype A Good Thing?

Do you like the Super Bowl hype?

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While all the kind words are flattering, am I the only one who gets a knot in their stomach when reading them?

I feel a “woah, woah, woah” reaction coming on.

So did RonRavensFan, who Tweeted at AFC North blogger James Walker last night, saying, “As a Ravens fan, I hate that we’re getting SO MUCH hype. Everyone sees us (along w/ Indy, GBP, others) as THE team to beat.”

Baltimore Sun columnists Peter Schmuck and Kevin Cowherd gave their takes on the hype. While Schmuck pulls in the reins a bit, Cowherd said the team is embracing the pressure.

Said Schmuck: “I think the consensus of the experts at ESPN last year was the Pittsburgh Steelers. The year before, it was the Cowboys. My point being that predictions are always a tricky business, especially in a sport that puts such a premium on parity, so it might be a little early to buy those nonrefundable plane tickets to Dallas for the first week in February.”

Cowherd says it’s “Super Bowl or bust” in Baltimore this season, a mentality the players have embraced. “Just win, baby, win. Oh, and win it all, too,” Cowherd said.

What do you think of all the preseason predictions? Like ‘em or hate ‘em?

Coach of the Year Nod

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh doesn’t make waves or headlines too often. He wins.

Thus, it should be no surprise that not only are the Ravens players getting lots of pub, but so is their third-year head coach. CBSSports.com Senior Writer Clark Judge predicts Harbaugh will be the 2010 Coach of the Year.

“He’s been to the playoffs in each of his two years as head coach, and he made an impact there. In his first season he knocked off Tennessee, a club with the home-field advantage, then graduated to the conference championship game. In his second year, he became the first coach to beat Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in a playoff game in New England. So Harbaugh is ready for the next challenge, and getting to the Super Bowl qualifies.”

By the way, Judge has the Ravens facing the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.

Jets Are Pretty Confident

I know that headline isn’t a shocker, but NFL.com put together a nice montage of quotes from the Jets entering the season.

Needless to say, New York is feeling pretty good. The lastest quote is from cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

“We’re the Miami Heat of football,” he said.

Like the Heat, who brought in LeBron James and Chris Bosh while keeping Dwayne Wade, the Jets added wideout Santonio Holmes, running back LaDanian Tomlinson and Cromartie while retaining Darrelle Revis.

But the two teams also have something else in common – they haven’t won anything yet. Just sayin’.

McClain Squashes Trash Talk

Ravens fullback Le’Ron McClain opted to bow out of the pregame trash talk game Wednesday.

After saying the Jets would have “no excuses” with Revis playing Week 1, Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan predictably fired back saying, “We don’t make excuses. All we do is produce … And that’s what we’re planning to do Monday night.”

McClain laughed about the jawing in Wednesday’s locker room, according to MASN’s Dan Kolko.

“Nah, man, I hope he didn’t take that the wrong way,” McClain said. “I’m ready to play for Monday night. No trash talk. Me and Rex have a good relationship, so it’s nothing like that.”

Personally, I thought this was all pretty PG. I’m waiting for the big shots to come today when Ryan and former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott get on a conference call with Baltimore reporters.

Stay tuned for BaltimoreRavens.com’s Questioning the Enemy later today.

Ed Reed No. 88 All-Time

With Ed Reed now on the Physically Unable to Perform list, let’s stop and take a minute to realize just how amazing Reed really is.

What makes this NFL.com video – dedicated to the No. 88 player on NFL.com’s Top 100 Greatest Players list – especially cool is that Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward is doing the commentary. Reed and Ward have had their run-ins, so it’s quite a tribute. Trust me, watch it.

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