Baltimore looks set to dominate its division in 2010 and that’s got Al Dannity in a poetic mood.
A message for the rest of the AFC “And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;” – The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe.
The Baltimore defense clearly took these words to heart over the past few seasons, wreaking havoc upon all comers. Now in 2010 the Ravens’ offense looks equally set to fill opponents with ‘fantastic terrors’. The addition of Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth in 2010 means Baltimore now has the weapons required to best exploit Joe Flacco’s phenomenal arm. With such an arsenal of talent in Baltimore it’s hard to see the rest of the AFC, never mind just the AFC North, keeping up with the Ravens.
NFL betting fans should pay particular attention when the Ravens take on Cleveland. Baltimore will be expected to beat the Browns in both their games this year but I like the Ravens to run up the score, in a bid to send a chilling message to its conference rivals.
Bengals need as much moxie as talent Think of guts, gumption, moxie, and whatever other intangible you can name. The Cincinnati Bengals need to repeat their heroic display of 2009 if they are serious at making at second straight trip to the post-season. Cincinnati has done plenty to ensure it has the talent required to compete for a place in the playoffs. Carson Palmer has the receiving corps necessary to take some of the weight off Cincinnati’s running game but all eyes will be on the Bengals’ defense.
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Last year this unit was one of the surprise packages of the entire NFL. Few would have looked to Dhani Jones ahead of 2009. Now the linebacker, who doubles up as a budding TV star on the Travel Channel, is the heart and soul of Cincinnati’s defense.
The final shake-up With Pittsburgh struggling following a scandal-filled off-season and Cleveland still in rebuilding mode, the AFC North should become a two-horse race. I like Cincinnati to stay close to Baltimore early but as the season wears on, the Ravens talent should prove decisive. Cincinnati has a shot at a wild card spot but I just can’t see the Bengals hanging with the Ravens for the long haul. Baltimore should have control of the division by the end of November, by which stage the Ravens can start thinking about preparing for the post-season. Bet on the Ravens, at -139 to win the AFC North.
XXXV: Gabriel Morency previews the NFL season