Latest Preseason Guide Picks (Jim) Harbaugh's Team For SB
NOTEBOOK: REPLACEMENT REFS; GOOD CALL ON OCHOCINCO
By Joe Platania
The third preseason magazine about how the 2012 NFL season will play out has hit the newsstands.
The USA Today "NFL Preview" -- not to be confused with the same publication's "Forecast" supplement, which did not offer a Super Bowl pick -- is out, and it says the same thing that the Lindy's and Pro Football Weekly guides did regarding Super Bowl XLVII.
A Harbaugh-coached team will advance to the big game Feb. 3, 2013.
But all three guides list the Jim Harbaugh-coached San Francisco 49ers as one of the teams that will run onto the Mercedes Benz Superdome field in New Orleans. The "NFL Preview" writers picked the 49ers to lose to the New England Patriots.
All three publications predicted the Ravens would win the AFC North Division for a second straight year, something the team has never done in its 16-year history.
That is no real surprise, considering how Baltimore has been a consistent contender during the John Harbaugh era. But the picks for teams considered also-rans are a bit eyebrow-raising.
The San Diego Chargers, who made the playoffs from 2006-09, and New York Jets, who played in the AFC Championship Game two of the last three years, are picked to finish last in the AFC West and East. Not only that, the Oakland Raiders, who haven't had a winning season since 2002, are picked to be one of the two AFC wild-card teams.
In the NFC, USA Today's picks are a bit more conventional, with the only real questionable selection being that of both wild-card teams -- Detroit and Chicago -- coming out of the NFC North. We can agree with the former, but not the latter, at least at this point.
As for our own picks, we'll have them right here on Ravens Report in mid-August, toward the end of the Ravens' training-camp phase.
Here is a summary of the newspaper's picks, along with that of some of the other noteworthy preseason guides you may have missed:
DIVISION WINNERS: New England, Baltimore, Houston, Denver, Philadelphia, Green Bay, Atlanta, San Francisco
WILD CARDS: Cincinnati, Oakland, Chicago, Detroit
SUPER BOWL XLVII: New England wins against San Francisco
DIVISION WINNERS: New England, Baltimore, Houston, Denver, Philadephia, Green Bay, New Orleans, San Francisco
WILD CARDS: Pittsburgh, Tennessee, NY Giants, Chicago
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Houston wins against Baltimore
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP: San Francisco wins against Philadelphia
SUPER BOWL XLVII: Houston wins against San Francisco
PRO FOOTBALL WEEKLY
DIVISION WINNERS: New England, Baltimore, Houston, Denver, Philadelphia, Green Bay, New Orleans, San Francisco
WILD CARDS: Pittsburgh, Kansas City, NY Giants, Chicago
SUPER BOWL XLVII: San Francisco wins against New England
REPLACEMENT REFS?: In 2001, the NFL Referees Association staged a work stoppage, which extended through the first weekend of regular-season play.
That year, the Ravens opened their season at home against the Chicago Bears, a game that featured an officiating crew with five of the seven members having attended college in Illinois, according to the sheet distributed to the media before the game.
That raised a few eyebrows, but there weren't any controversial calls discussed at length after the Ravens' win. Plus, with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks having wiped out the next weekend's games, there was some extra time for the NFLRA and the league to resolve its differences.
This year, league executives have, in effect, locked out the league's referees, because of unresolved differences in contract negotiations, and are on the lookout to again replace them with officials from the semipro-, college- and indoor-football ranks.
Earlier this month, the NFL Players' Association issued a statement about the league-vs.-officials standoff.
"The NFL Players Association is concerned about the NFL's decision to lock out professional referees and recruit scabs to serve as referees in NFL games for the 2012 season," the NFLPA said in the statement. "In 2011, the NFL tasked officials with increased responsibilities in protecting player health and safety, and its search for scabs undermines that important function.
"Professional athletes require professional referees, and we believe in the NFL Referees Association’s trained first responders. The NFLPA will continue to monitor the league's actions in this situation."
FOR THE BETTOR: Naturally, it doesn't do any good for someone wagering on football-oriented propositions to be told the odds after an event has happened.
But we just wanted to point out that our longtime friends at Bovada had it right when, upon the release of wideout Chad Ochocinco from the New England Patriots, they installed the Miami Dolphins as the 3-1 favorites to land him.
Indeed, Ochocinco -- who had more than a few good games against the Ravens while with the Cincinnati Bengals -- signed a one-year contract with the Dolphins earlier this month.
The Ravens were 8-1 shots to sign Ochocinco, tied with the Houston Texans. Bovada thought there was a 15-1 chance Ochocinco would change his name before June 11, but that did not occur.
WELCOME ABOARD: Even though the Ravens' training camp doesn't begin until July 21 (rookies, quarterbacks, injured veterans) and accelerate until July 26 (full team), we'd like to welcome a new member to the PressBox "Ravens Report" team.
Freelance writer Stephen London will be assisting us with our coverage of the team at least through the camp, and possibly beyond.
London, who has become familiar to PressBox readers as the writer of the NHL Report, is well-known to lacrosse audiences for his work at BaltimoreLacrosseNews.com and PhillyLacrosseNews.com.
Here at Ravens Report, we've always managed to get just as much, if not more, information about the NFL in general -- and your favorite purple-clad football team in particular -- even while being outmanned by deeper staffs at other publications.
Adding an asset such as London can only make us better. You could say -- with an upcoming Olympiad in London this summer -- that we'll be the "gold" standard.
Posted June 20, 2012