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Late For Work 6/21: Mason: Flacco Will Win Super Bowl Before Ryan

Plus early Vegas spreads for Ravens games and could FB Vickers fill McClain’s shoes?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 at 9:21 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Mason: Flacco Will Win Super Bowl Before Ryan

Why does Matt Ryan seemingly get more praise than fellow 2008 draftee Joe Flacco?

Ravens receiver Derrick Mason says he’s baffled by the phenomenon, and emphatically predicted that his teammate will lift the Lombardi Trophy before the Falcons quarterback does.

“[I can't fathom] why Matt Ryan continuously gets all the credit and all the hype,” Mason said on ESPN’s First and Ten. “Maybe because he was the first quarterback chosen [in the draft]. And Matt is good. I played against him and we lost and he’s a very good quarterback.

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“But if you look at what each one has done, I think Joe has proven that he will win a Super Bowl before Matt Ryan.”

Mason made two main arguments to back his prediction: first, Flacco has a better playoff record than Ryan, and second, Flacco’s growth resembles that of other elite quarterbacks.

Flacco owns a 4-3 record in the postseason, advancing as far as the AFC Championship in his rookie year. Meanwhile Ryan is 0-2, still looking for his first playoff victory. Mason says at the end of the day, the playoff win/loss column is the only stat that really matters when judging a quarterback’s career.

The 15-year veteran understands that Flacco hasn’t been perfect in the playoffs, but said that even four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning stumbled in the postseason before finally getting his Super Bowl ring in the ninth year of his career.

In addition to his already impressive playoff record (Flacco is the third starting quarterback since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to reach the playoffs in his first three seasons), Mason says the young signal-caller’s development provides hope that he will lead his team to the promise land.

“If you look at his career, his three-year going on four-year career, I mean the guy has gotten better each and every year,” Mason explained. “When we have gotten into the playoffs [and lost], it’s not solely his fault so you can’t pin it on him.

“But what he has done, he has made those steps that I think every elite quarterback has made in their career from Year 1 to Year 3. And he’s shown improvement to everybody that he’s capable of leading a team to the Super Bowl.”

Mason Leftovers: 80s Baby Syndrome, Plaxico And Retirement

Mason was on the ESPN campus for most of the day yesterday and had the opportunity to share his opinion on a smorgasbord of other topics:

  • Mason believes LaMarr Woodley’s comments about Flacco shows he suffers from ‘80s Baby Syndrome.’  His explanation is as follows: “It baffles me how a player can get on and bash another player. You never saw this in the 80s, early 90s, late 70s, where guys, especially in the offseason, got on air and bashed the other guys. And that’s just a lack of respect. I’ve given [them] the ‘80s baby syndrome’ because some of them really don’t respect the sport that they play because they didn’t grow up knowing the history of the game. And I think Woodley is one of those examples of disrespecting your opponent, especially in the offseason. You just don’t do it.”
  • Mason told Skip Bayless that former Giants receiver Plaxico Burress, who will return to the game after 21 months in prison, will most likely be a No. 3 receiver and try to move up to a No. 2.
  • Asked how many more years he will play, Mason said he is taking it one year at a time. “For me, when I stop having fun, I’m done.” Mason admitted he wasn’t having fun when he contemplated retirement in July of 2009.

Could FB Vickers Fill McClain’s Shoes?

If Ravens fullback and pending free agent Le’Ron McClain is able to test the market and find more money and more carries with another team, the Ravens will be left looking for a replacement.

ESPN’s James Walker says fullback Lawrence Vickers is expected to part ways with the Cleveland Browns after the team decided not to extend a tender and drafted Stanford fullback Owen Marecic.

Should the Ravens consider Vickers as a possible replacement for McClain if he leaves Baltimore?

“[McClain] wants more carries and probably has to leave Baltimore to get them,” wrote Walker. “Vickers, who doesn’t need to carry the football, would be a great option to replace McClain and open holes for tailback Ray Rice. Adding Vickers also could bring more consistency to Baltimore’s running game, which was lacking last season.”

Walker believes Vickers is “one of the best run-blocking fullbacks in the NFL” and would play with a chip on his shoulder.

“Not only would he play for a division rival, but Vickers would get a chance to punish the Browns twice a year for not re-signing him,” wrote Walker.

Early Vegas Spreads For Ravens Games

Nevada sportsbook operator, Cantor Gaming, released early point spreads on the NFL’s 256 games this season.

As for the Ravens, Cantor believes they are favorites in 14 of their 16 games. With home-field advantage, only the Steelers (Nov. 6) and the Chargers (Dec. 18) are favored to beat the Ravens.

The oddsmakers see Baltimore winning all eight of its home games.

Here is an early spread of the Ravens’ 2011 schedule, per Cantor (hat tip to CSNBaltimore.com):

Sept. 11 – Steelers (+2.5) at Ravens
Sept. 18 – Ravens (-4) at Titans
Sept. 25 – Ravens (-5) at Rams
Oct. 2 – Jets (+3) at Ravens
Oct. 16 – Texans (+7) at Ravens
Oct. 24 – Ravens (-4) at Jaguars
Oct. 30 – Cardinals (+11) at Ravens
Nov. 6 – Ravens (+3.5) at Steelers
Nov. 13 – Ravens (-3.5) at Seahawks
Nov. 20 – Bengals (+8) at Ravens
Nov. 24 – 49ers (+8.5) at Ravens
Dec. 4 – Ravens (-4) at Browns
Dec. 11 – Colts (+4) at Ravens
Dec. 18 – Ravens (+1.5) at Chargers
Dec. 24 – Browns (+7.5) at Ravens
Jan. 1 – Ravens (-3) at Bengals

Quick Hits

  • USA Today ranked Terrell Suggs as the fourth-best outside linebacker in the NFL today. DeMarcus Ware, James Harrison and Clay Matthews made up the top 3. [USA Today]
  • You can vote for who you think will be the AFC North surprise rookie of the year. With 3,600 votes so far, Ravens offensive tackle Jah Reid is in third place with 18 percent of the votes. SportsNation believes Browns wide receiver Greg Little will be the biggest surprise (38 percent of votes), followed by Steelers cornerback Curtis Brown (29 percent). [ESPN]
  • If you think the Ravens will pursue free-agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, please stand up. Oh, hello Mr. Peter King. Baltimore is one of three teams King thinks will go after the coveted corner. “Everything says no — the Ravens need to sign Haloti Ngata long-term, and how many megabuck defensive players can you have in a cap era? But Ozzie Newsome knows the only thing his defense lacks is a shutdown corner.” [Sports Illustrated]

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