Prediction Friday: Ravens-Saints and the Orioles' 2011 closer

Before we get into this week's Prediction Friday, I want to know which one of you ripped the mounted TV off the wall and threw it through the mirror behind the bar after the Houston Texans converted that two-point conversion to take the Ravens to overtime Monday.

I'm still picking up glass out of the tumblers behind the bar.


Hey, all is well that ends well, right? No matter how you slice it (or shred it, if we're talking about the Ravens' gasping defense in last Monday's fourth quarter), a win is a win. And despite the near-epic collapse, the Ravens still beat the Texans 34-28 in overtime to get to 9-4.

The bar, as a whole, didn't have a whole lot of success calling that game. No one predicted overtime. Most of us assumed it wouldn't be so close. Open bar tabs go to GBanks and Mike, who both said the Ravens would win 31-24. I'll toss a free drink chip Barry's way for his 34-20 prediction, but he's not getting an open tab. Barry's been so good this year, he's gonna drain this joint dry.


As for this week, well, I just don't know about the Ravens' secondary versus good quarterbacks. And Drew Brees is about as good as they come. I know the Ravens are at home, and the weather will be to their advantage as well.

I just can't shake the image of Drew Brees throwing for five TDs. So I am going with the New Orleans Saints to win, 35-31, in a track meet (or maybe speed-skating event). Brees will be my pick for player of the game.

Now I need your thoughts. Predict the winner, the score and the player of the game. The closest will be lauded next week.

We'll also offer up a 2-for-1 today since we are smack dab in the middle of hot-stove action. The Orioles re-signed Koji Uehara for a one-year deal that vests for 2012 if he appears in 55 games or finishes 25 in 2011.

So there is a solid possibility Uehara, who saved 13 of 15 games last season, will be the Orioles closer. But the team is also interested in free agent Kevin Gregg, who saved 37 games for the Toronto Blue Jays last year.

Also on the roster is lefty Michael Gonzalez, who signed a two-year, $12 million deal last offseason to be the club's closer; Jim Johnson, who closed at the end the Orioles' 2009 season; Jeremy Accardo, who saved 30 games for the Blue Jays in 2007 and was that organization's Triple-A closer the past two seasons; and Alfredo Simon, who saved 17 games for the Orioles last year (I initially forgot about Alfredo. Oops).

The Orioles have five relievers on their roster who have saved at least 10 games in a big-league season. And they could add a sixth.

So now that there are more options, I'll ask the same question I asked weeks ago. You can add in Gregg or any other reliever that is still a free agent.


Daily Think Special: Prediction Friday: Ravens-Saints

Bonus Think Special: Who do you want to see close for the Orioles in 2011?