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ASA's Pick to Win the Super Bowl

   by ASA - 08/20/2005

After giving you our pick to win the College Football National Championship last week, we decided to let you in on our “longshotâ€쳌 to win this year’s Super Bowl. Rather than simply picking the favorites every year (see New England and Philadelphia), we always look for a sleeper type team that has a bit longer odds. This year that team is the Baltimore Ravens at +1250 (or 12.5/1).

The Baltimore Ravens are a team that you can count on to win games. Baltimore went a quiet 9-7 last year but lost 4 of their final 6 games and just missed the playoffs. Much of their late season downfall can be attributed to key injuries including their best offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden and Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap. The Ravens are a team that relies on their defense and will once again have a great stop unit in 2005, but it’s the offense that needs to improve for Baltimore to have a shot at winning it all this season. We believe it will.

This season the Ravens and new offensive coordinator Jim Fassel are expecting much better production out of 3rd year starter QB Kyle Boller. Boller has the luxury of having a great running back in Jamal Lewis at full strength to start the 2005 season after putting behind his legal issues that plagued him last season. Fassel will look for Boller to utilize his new wide receiver Derrick Mason who came over from the Tennessee Oilers via free agency. Mason is a key target that the Ravens can use to spread the field and keep defenses honest so they can’t stack 8 men in the box in an effort to stop the run with Lewis. Only one player in the entire NFL caught more balls the last two seasons than Mason and that was the Rams Torry Holt. The Raven staff has also been very impressed with rookie WR Mark Clayton from Oklahoma and they expect him to be a difference maker this season. Fassel knows the passing game has struggled in the past (finished 27th or lower in the last 3 seasons) but with some key acquisitions and having everyone at full strength that should change for the better this season. Kyle Boller worked extremely hard in the off-season with new coordinator Jim Fassel and the Ravens coaching staff is confident this will be a breakout year for the young QB. With Lewis at full strength and Mason added as a deep threat the Ravens will improve offensively in 2005-06.

The Baltimore defense finished 4th overall in the AFC despite a number of injuries. Baltimore allowed just 16.8 points per game last year while giving up just under 300 yards per game. With the addition of defensive back Samari Rolle from the Titans the secondary will only improve upon the 200 yards per game passing that they gave up last year. When teamed with Chris McAlister, they Raven CB duo might be the best in the NFL. The defense will again be among the best in the NFL.

As far as scheduling goes, the Ravens caught a break as their NFC stint goes through the North. The fairly weak NFC North that is. Baltimore hosts the two toughest teams in the NFC North in Green Bay and Minnesota and they travel to Chicago and Detroit. Those are all winnable games. This team is always tough at home sporting a 13-4 record the last two seasons. Their road schedule is very manageable with potential wins @ Tennessee, @ Detroit, @ Chicago, @ Jacksonville, @ Cincinnati and @ Cleveland. The only games that will be very tough to win on the road will be @ Pittsburgh and @ Denver, although those are not out of the question.

With a great defense, an up and coming offense and a favorable schedule, the Baltimore Ravens have a great shot at getting to the Super Bowl this season and could win it all in 2005-06.

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