Well I did it for the Bengals, I guess I'll do it for the Ravens.
Tony Grossi called the Cincinnati Bengals playoff contenders, but he calls the Ravens Super Bowl contenders. While I agree that the Ravens are good, if you compare improvements of the Ravens and the Bengals, the Bengals seem to have done more, IMO. If it weren't for history, which shouldn't have anything to do with how good a team is considered to be, I believe that the Bengals would be listed as a Super Bowl contender this year over the Ravens.
Tony Grossi's starts out with this:
Baltimore Ravens are "all in" this season. They don't have to state their Super Bowl expectations. Their actions speak clearly to them.
After falling short offensively in the playoffs in two straight seasons behind rising quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens made two substantial investments to put the team over the top.
What investments does Grossi consider enough to put the Ravens over the top and into Super Bowl contention?
•They traded two draft picks to Arizona for prolific wide receiver Anquan Boldin, and then signed him to a four-year contract with $10 million in guaranteed money.
While Anquan Boldin is a great receiver, over in Arizona he played opposite Larry Fitzgerald who took quite a bit of the coverage away from Boldin. Coming to Baltimore, he is going to be the No. 1 receiver and will have to deal with that coverage himself. He may prove that he can do this, however the verdict is still out. Also, out of his 7 years in the NFL he has only played in all 16 games twice due to injuries. The transition to No 1 receiver and the additional coverage that comes with it could possibly lead to more injuries.
• They signed veteran free-agent quarterback Marc Bulger to a one-year deal that is worth, reportedly, at least $3.8 million and potentially as much as $5.3 million.
While signing a veteran QB in case your starter goes down is sound judgment, it seems in this case that it may cause some friction with the locker room. Flacco, Lewis, Suggs and Reed have all spoken negatively about this move. That doesn't bode well for team chemistry.
Next Grossi goes on to point out Baltimore's biggest weaknes:
That said, the major weakness of the team heading into camp remains its defensive secondary. They do have some prospects to work with, but the Ravens did not rush for help there. They must feel if the offense is more explosive and forces opponents to play catch-up, the secondary will be good enough.
The Ravens secondary... well lets see, Ed Reed likely will miss at least the first 6 games of the season. He stated months ago that he was at about 35% after his hip surgery. Well just this past week, Ed Reed has said he is still at 35%. The Baltimore Sun also reports 3 other players who could be listed on PUP at least for training camp if not at the start of the season. They are: CB Lardarius Webb, CB Fabian Washington, and LB Brendon Ayanbadejo.
Gossi's summary on the Ravens:
Full camp opens: July 28, McDaniel College, Westminster, Md.
2009 result: 10-8, lost to Colts in divisional playoff.
2009 vs. Browns: 2-0; 34-3 in Baltimore, 16-0 in Cleveland.
2010 outlook: Super Bowl contender.
2010 uncommon opponents: Denver and Houston.
Rookie to watch: DT Terrence Cody. The 360-pound-plus defensive tackle from Alabama was taken in the second round to stuff the run on first and second downs and free up Haloti Ngata to pressure the quarterback.
Veteran to watch: WR Anquan Boldin. In seven seasons in Arizona, Boldin averaged 84 catches for 1,074 yards and six touchdowns playing second fiddle to Larry Fitzgerald. Now he's "the man."
Training camp issues: Is second-year tackle Michael Oher ready to take over as Joe Flacco's blind-side protector on the left side? Will safety Ed Reed miss most of training camp and part of the season after undergoing hip surgery in the off-season? Will young cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams develop quickly enough to fill the only void on defense?
If they can't answer the secondary questions, then they will really have to hope that the moves on offense are enough to outscore other teams because those opponents will exploit that weakness and tear what secondary is there apart.
The Ravens could do it, however IMO the Bengals have a better chance comparing the improvements of both teams.