Late For Work 7/20: What’s The Best Division In The NFL?

Agent shoots down 75 percent chance for Flacco deal? Harbaugh defends Reed.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Friday, July 20th, 2012 at 9:16 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

What’s The Best Division In The NFL?

With three teams advancing to the playoffs last season, the AFC North was widely considered the toughest division in the NFL.

But heading into the 2012 season, two other divisions are considered to be even tougher, says a panel of analysts.

Gregg Rosenthal, Dan Hanzus, Marc Sessler and Brian McIntyre each ranked the NFL’s eight divisions from best (1 point) to worst (8 points).

The numbers were tallied, and the AFC North came up third behind the NFC South (Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and the NFC North (Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and Minnesota Vikings).

The Ravens’ division is considered best in the AFC, but three of the four toughest came from the NFC.

If the Ravens, Steelers and Bengals all advance to the postseason again, it would be hard to argue that the AFC North doesn’t remain the toughest.

Below are the panel’s final list and reasons for their rankings:

NFC South 8 Cam Newton’s emergence creates a trio of contenders.
NFC North 10 Best quarterback division and potentially three playoff teams.
AFC North 11 Best defensive division. Revitalized Bengals helps.
NFC East 14 Division with the most drama and last year’s champion.
AFC East 17 Top-heavy division in 2011. Jets, Bills have a lot to prove.
AFC West 26 Competitive, but mediocre, despite the presence of Manning.
NFC West 28 Lot of young talent despite ranking, but still has a ways to go.
AFC South 30 Colts and Jaguars are bottom feeders, but Texans are scary.

75 Percent Chance For Flacco Deal? Agent: That’s News To Me

What did agent Joe Linta think when he first heard the report that there’s a 75 percent chance that his client, quarterback Joe Flacco, will get a long-term deal done by the time training camp starts next week?

“That was news to me,” he told WNST.

“You just laugh that people would do that, but I also understand the media. You guys have a job to do. … There’s no truth to it, but [writer Daniel Jeremiah] is doing his job, so I understand. I’m not upset, I just kind of chuckle at it.”

When asked how important it would be to get a deal done before training camp, Linta responded, “I should probably consult our buddy from the website [Jeremiah] with the percentages. I’m not a statistics guy like he is, but I would say the chance or the percent importance is 0.”

Linta repeatedly said that an agreement could be struck this afternoon or three years from now. He insists his client doesn’t care either way. After losing in the final seconds of the AFC championship last season, all that matters to Flacco is that he helps his team take another step up and win the Super Bowl.

The five-year veteran is entering the final year of his rookie contract, reportedly worth $6.76 million in base salary, and Flacco would be fine with finishing out the terms of that deal.

“Money is secondary to him to the winning and the success with the team,” Linta said. “Nobody can really understand that, but he is unique in that respect. … He’s a rare breed, where he’s says, ‘I’m under contract, I signed a contract four years ago, or whatever it was, and I’m happy to play for it.’”

As for the status of the negotiations, Linta admitted that coming to an agreement on a big-time deal like this can be tough, but the Ravens are “pros” and the process has been pleasant, without getting personal or contentious.

At the beginning of the offseason, Linta was forthcoming with his opinion that Flacco is one of the top 5 quarterbacks in the league today. The agent was subsequently ripped in the media, but he stands by his assertion.

Linta takes pride in the fact that he’s a film-watcher and an ex-coach, who has seen every tape of every game with every throw Flacco has ever made.

“I’m in a unique position to be able to assess what he does and what he doesn’t do and he’s one of the best,” Linta said. “I’m not going to sit here and say he’s the best. But when I said six months ago that he is in the top 5, he’s clearly in the top 5.”

Linta admitted that if one were to analyze Flacco solely by the statistics, which took a dip last season and can be inconsistent game to game, then his client is clearly not the best. But Linta emphasizes his quarterback’s overall win record and what he shows on film.

“Anybody that watches film would say that [he’s in the top 5],” Linta said. “Anybody that doesn’t watch film could say, ‘Ah, come on, he’s crazy. That’s nice, but statistically …’ It doesn’t matter. What matters is what does he do on the field, and does he make correct, proper decisions.”

Harbaugh Defends, Stands By Reed

Head Coach John Harbaugh took the time to check in with 105.7 The Fan from his family vacation in North Carolina.

The fifth-year Ravens coach is trying to get in some last-minute relaxation with his wife and daughter before the craziness of training camp kicks in next week.

Hosts Ed Norris and Steve Davis asked Harbaugh for his reaction to safety Ed Reed’s latest interview with Comcast SportsNet. Reed said he always planned on playing this year, but that he “retired” from football this offseason.


Reed Works Out At Team Facility

Some people thought the statements were contradictory, but Harbaugh didn’t read it that way. He believes Reed was making a “nuance point” and that he only retired, or took a break, from thinking about football once the season ended.

I’m going to defend Ed and I’m going to stand by him because he’s one of my players,” Harbaugh said. “I personally like him. I respect him. I think he’s a good person with a good heart. And that’s what you do as a coach. You stand by your guys.”

Even though this was the first time all offseason that Reed confirmed that he indeed will play in 2012, Harbaugh said he always believed the future Hall of Famer would.

And to further bring peace to Ravens fans’ minds on the situation, Reed was at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills yesterday working out (shown to the right). The 33-year-old veteran looked sharp and seems to have kept in shape all offseason.

“The fact that Reed was at the facility is a significant development,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Matt Vensel.

“I’ve said all along that I believe he’s going to play this year and will be here and it looks like that’s the case,” added Harbaugh, referring to Reed’s stated commitment to play.

Quick Hits

  • @MaakeKemoeatu: pray for my sister inlaw Eda Iosua she is fighting Cancer. [Twitter] 
  • @nfl: Report: [Former Raven] Jim Leonhard, @nyjets will go separate ways [Twitter] 
  • Receiver Torrey Smith called out the numbers at the first ever Purple Bingo Night, an event for the Ravens’ club for women. Part of the proceeds went to his foundation. … @TorreySmithWR: The bingo event is sold out!!!…looking forward to calling out numbers and interacting with our lovely “Purple” ladies [Twitter] 
  • @KOsevendeuce [Kelechi Osemele]: Batman….best movie I’ve ever [seen] …… #night [Twitter] 
  • @Ravens: The #Ravens All Community Team Foundation (RACTF) has awarded nearly $100,000 in grants to 24 nonprofit organizations in the Baltimore area. [Twitter]


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