Every morning, Monday through Friday, blogger Matt Vensel will hook you up with reading material -- mostly on the Ravens but with some other Baltimore sports stuff, too -- to skim through as you slug down coffee and slack off at the start of your workday. That way he’ll have an excuse to do the same to start his workday, too.
In between the preseason and the regular season is prediction season in the NFL. Many of the pigskin pundits are picking the Ravens to return to the playoffs and some -- including ESPN’s Bill Polian and Antonio Pierce -- have picked them to win the Super Bowl. But predictably, quarterback Joe Flacco is trying to tune them out.
“You hear about them, and you kind of would expect it after the years that we’ve been having around here the last few years that if you’re going to make a prediction, then there’s probably a couple of teams that you would have up there,” he said. “They really mean nothing. When it comes to Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, whenever it may be, you have to go out there and play, and you have to play really well to win in this league.”
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My official, sure-to-be-wrong predictions will be in the newspaper over the weekend. (I’ll give you a hint: you’re probably not going to like who picked to win it all.) But since this is the last Coffee Companion before the season really kicks off this weekend, I want you to make your predictions in the comments section below. It can the Super Bowl winner, the Defensive Rookie of the Year, maybe who Ndamukong Suh stomps first. Go nuts.
RUNNING IT BACK
The somber Ravens said goodbye to Art Modell on Thursday. … Modell’s death has intensified the calls for him to make it into the Hall of Fame. … There will be a public viewing for Modell at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday. … Quarterback Dennis Dixon is adjusting to life on the Ravens’ practice squad. … Ed Reed is tuning out his doubters. … Bobbie Williams is pumped to face his former team, the Cincinnati Bengals, on Monday night.
RAVENS STUFF, BUT NOT FROM US
Ravens coach John Harbaugh told Fox’s Brian Billick that he thinks the huddle is on its way out. … Here’s a solid AFC North preview from The New York Daily News. … This could be a breakout season for Joe Flacco. … Defensive end Pernell McPhee told The Carroll County Times that he thinks teammate Paul Kruger is going to have a breakout season, too. … Former Ravens safety Haruki Nakamura is a starter for the Carolina Panthers.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
The Bengals will unveil their new-look secondary against the Ravens. … Quarterback Andy Dalton is looking to take the next step this season. … Nearly half the Bengals players have never played a “Monday Night Football” game. … The Bengals are tied to the legacy of Art Modell.
SHAMELESS PLUG(S) OF THE DAY
These are the only 12 teams who can win the Super Bowl.
AWAY FROM THE GRIDIRON
The Orioles slugged six home runs to beat the Yankees and move back into first place in the A.L. East. … Cal Ripken got his statue. … Jake Arrieta recently saw a sports psychologist. … Amber Theoharis is leaving MASN.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
What are your predictions for the 2012 NFL season?