Late For Work 11/4: AFC Musical Chairs. Do Ravens Get a Seat?

Also talking about the Miami match-up and why Flacco is better then Henne.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, November 4th, 2010 at 9:09 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

AFC Musical Chairs. Do Ravens Get a Seat?

With eight weeks remaining in the season, just about anything can happen.

But we’re also eight weeks into the season and the playoff picture is coming into focus. 

At this point, the 2010 AFC conference already features more quality teams than playoff berths. Plus, history has shown very good AFC teams failing to advance with a solid 10-6 record. In fact, two years ago, the Patriots didn’t qualify at 11-5.

According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio and Gregg Rosenthal, eight strong teams are vying for five spots (assuming only one team comes out of the AFC West). Here are the eight:

AFC South: The Titans, Colts and Texans
AFC North: The Ravens and Steelers
AFC East: The Jets, Patriots and Dolphins

Trying to a draw a line among the AFC elite is like a game of musical chairs, but the boys at PFT took a stab at naming the three teams that will be left on the outside looking in.

The Texans were the first of the three to be named. The other two will faceoff this weekend at M&T Bank Stadium: the Dolphins and Ravens. Rosenthal suggests the loser’s playoff chances will be damaged.

"I think this is a dangerous game this week, it’s not an elimination game, but the Dolphins can put a hurting on Baltimore," Rosenthal said.

"When I’m looking for a third team … it wouldn’t surprise me if the Ravens don’t wind up making the playoffs. … They’re kind of getting by on those preseason predictions. But, when I look at Tennessee, Indianapolis, and the Jets and the Patriots – I think those are more solid teams than Baltimore. I think this is a dangerous week for them that they could fall back."

Something’s Got to Give

Now that Rosenthal has put the "dangerous" label on Sunday’s game, who is favored to win?

Miami is perfect on the road and Baltimore is undefeated at home – so something’s got to give.

The Ravens are 66 percent favorites, according to ESPN’s AccuScore, in part because Miami is failing to convert red zone opportunities into touchdowns. If the Ravens run defense keeps Miami’s running backs under three yards per carry, Baltimore’s winning probability increases to 72 percent.

But the Dolphins can swing the game in their favor (60 percent) if they sack quarterback Joe Flacco at least three times.

Cowherd: Flacco Is Better Than Henne

Quarterbacks Chad Henne and Joe Flacco were both drafted three years ago in the 2008 draft.  Flacco was the 18th pick in the first round and Henne was the 57th overall pick, late in the second round.

Both quarterbacks were considered viable picks, both are now starting for their respective teams and both have a legitimate chance of leading their squads to the postseason.

But the Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Cowherd believes there is "no disputing" that Flacco is the better quarterback at this stage of their careers. 

Here’s Cowherd’s proof:

  • Last year, Flacco became the fourth starting quarterback since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to reach the playoffs in his first two years in the league (Ben Roethisberger, Bernie Kosar and Dan Marino are the other three).
  • Flacco is third on the list for most wins by a starting quarterback (28) since 2008, trailing only the Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning (33) and Drew Brees (29) of the New Orleans Saints. Impressive company.
  • Flacco is currently the hottest NFL quarterback. Since the Ravens’ 15-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 19, when he threw four picks, Flacco has the league’s highest quarterback rating at 105.0. He’s also thrown 102 straight passes without an interception.

There’s more, including a work ethic that had Flacco practicing in the dark and a genuine likability factor, so check out the video.

Individual Awards, Rankings

Flacco was listed No. 9 on ESPN’s Mike Sando’s MVP watch. Other names included Manning, Tom Brady, and Brees.

With his unit averaging 29.3 points per game over the last three contests, Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron is currently the best coordinator in the AFC North, says ESPN.

After Sporting News polled 100 NFL players, both Lewis and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata ranked among the top 10 for possible defensive MVP at the halfway point of the season.

Receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh came in No. 6 on FoxSports.com’s list of the league’s biggest crybabies.

Quick Hits

 

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