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SI: Ravens Favorite to Win North


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Favorite: Ravens



This may have gone to the Steelers before Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey broke a bone in his ankle against the Packers in Week 2 of the preseason. The offensive line was the fixture of Pittsburgh's improved offense in 2014, and without Pouncey for any serious length of time, the prospects are not so good. The Steelers have also not done enough to reinforce a defense that ranked 30th in Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted metrics in 2014, the lowest ranking in the history of FO's metrics, which go back to 1989. That's not a fluke, either. The 2013 Steelers ranked 19th, the second-lowest ranking in that same time period.The Ravens, on the other hand, seem to be the division's bastions of consistency, and that had a great deal to do with general manager Ozzie Newsome's personnel acumen. Few understand how to build depth and acquire players at the right time better than Newsome.

In 2014, the Ravens were ready for the Ray Rice fiasco with a quality rotation of backs, and in the new year, they're ready to replace defensive tackle Haloti Ngata with Brandon Williams and another group of talented role-players. Speed receiver Torrey Smith moves on to the 49ers? No problem—Baltimore took Central Florida burner Breshad Perriman and Minnesota tight end Max Williams in the first two rounds to bolster Joe Flacco's receiver corps. Multi-gap pass-rusher Pernell McPhee leaves for the Bears in free agency? Not to worry! Kentucky end Za'Darius Smith, taken in the fourth round, is already projected as the man in that same position.

There are occasional hiccups in the process, like the sprained PCL that has kept Perriman out of the process since the beginning of training camp, plus the secondary has issues. But overall, the Ravens remain the North's most consistent team. And sometimes, consistency is enough.http://www.si.com/nfl/2015/08/25/afc-north-preview-ravens-steelers-bengals-browns



If the Ravens win the division, and that is one of their stated goals, then it's going to be a one hell of a mountain to climb. They will have to best the teams in the toughest division in football and best one of the hardest schedules in team history. They are really up against it but that's the cards they have been dealt.

Going to be one hell of a long wild ride. :gorave:

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