Ravens to rule
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As is true every year, the last one standing for the upcoming 2011 season should be the reigning champion New Orleans Saints. They did not lose anyone irreplaceable and their strength of schedule is 27th in the league. This is true unless they run into the famed 'Super Bowl Hangover' that has plagued the last two Steelers post-championship seasons. In the event this becomes a reality, the other team with the strongest chance this year is the Baltimore Ravens.
The top teams in the NFC are Green Bay, Minnesota and New Orleans.
Green Bay's offense is solid, but their defensive secondary is older (Al Harris, 35 and Charles Woodson, 33) and unproven. Their defense dismantled Arizona in the final regular-season game, allowing only seven points, but allowed 51 points in the Wild Card game when it mattered most. The fate of Minnesota rests on Brett Favre's decision on whether or not to test his 40 year-old body and surgically repaired ankle.
The AFC is open for more discussion. The Jets, Colts, Bengals, Chargers and Ravens are all in the hunt.
Rex Ryan additions to the Jets are impressive but their future lies in the hands of second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez who could be poised for a Matt Ryan-like sophomore year. The Colts are hungry for revenge, but they have the 10th toughest schedule, they ranked 24th against the run and are average against the pass. The Bengals' addition of Terrell Owens can be promising, but adding another personality to the locker room can disrupt team chemistry. San Diego's offense will be without L.T. this year, they have choked in the playoffs and their defense is in the middle of the league in the air and on the ground.
The Baltimore Ravens are in the best position to win this season because of their strong foundation and their off-season acquisitions. Their overall defense was ranked in the top five last season, Ray Rice exploded last year and they added two more weapons for Flacco in Donte' Stallworth and Anquan Boldin.
Preseason Prognostication: Ravens 31, Saints 24.
July 28, 2010; 12:50 AM ET
New Orleans Saints
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