What They're Saying About The 2013 Season: TSN
RAVENS RANK HIGH LEAGUEWIDE, BUT TABBED TO FALL SHORT
By Joe Platania
For many years -- when print journalism had more relevance and impact -- one of the must-have periodicals to read was The Sporting News.
Based in St. Louis, TSN was one of the best sources for news about baseball and other sports, complete with stories that lent insightful perspective into just about any topic you could name.
And, as with any other outlet, TSN is still offering its yearly opinions as to what is going to happen in the various seasons to come.
What makes this particular preseason magazine stand out is that it is not afraid to go out on a limb. That's why TSN's summer glossy is, so far, our favorite of those we have reviewed so far.
As regular Ravens Report readers are well aware, one of our favorite times of year is the late May-early June period when the preseason prediction magazines hit the stands.
There are usually about a half-dozen glossy periodicals that appear -- usually with regional covers that include a Ravens player, a Redskin and/or an Eagle -- that trumpet the various division and Super Bowl predictions of one organization or another.
The predictions are usually in the ballpark, but not entirely accurate. That's no surprise, given the mercurial nature of the parity-driven league that is the NFL.
Not even this blog, which doesn't issue predictions until mid-August, is immune to error. But at least in 2012, we did have the San Francisco 49ers reaching the Super Bowl and losing. Trouble was, we had them losing to the Houston Texans, not the Ravens.
But despite the mistakes, blogs and magazines -- knowing full well how hungry fans are for football information year-round -- are going to continue pressing forward with predictions, opinions and brash declarations.
We think it's fun to see where people's mindsets are this time of year, with free agency winding down and training camps getting set to open.
In the third of an occasional series here on Ravens Report, we're going to take another look at what some of the national periodicals are saying about the upcoming league season in general and the Baltimore fortunes in particular.
Surprisingly, TSN's regional preseason cover does not include a photo of a Raven, or even a mention of the Super Bowl champions. Their cover subjects are Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy and Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Also, TSN has a feature about recycled quarterbacks that is interesting reading, as well as looks at the all-time statistical leaders. Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs' 84.5 career sacks are seventh among active players, while former Ravens safety Ed Reed's 61 interceptions are 10th all-time.
A look at the 10 best games of the year include the Ravens' Week One game at Denver and their Week Three home matchup against Reed and his new Houston Texans teammates.
Here are a few more highlights from The Sporting News' preseason magazine:
As aforementioned, TSN isn't afraid to go out on a limb.
Even though the magazine, in its power rankings, listed the Ravens as the fifth-best team in the entire NFL, it picks Baltimore to be eliminated during the Divisional Playoff round by Denver, a reversal of the Ravens' elimination of the Broncos during the 2012 Divisional Playoff round.
But the periodical does have Baltimore winning its third straight AFC North title -- something no team has done since the 2002 realignment -- followed by Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Cleveland, the consensus order of finish that most have agreed upon so far.
The magazine also predicted that Denver would get past New England during the AFC title game, with the up-and-coming Seattle Seahawks knocking out Green Bay for the NFC crown.
Two eye-opening predictions: TSN predicted that San Francisco would finish behind Seattle in the ultra-tough NFC West, with the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl against the Broncos.
The Seahawks, with future Ravens assistant Jim Zorn at quarterback, were born in 1976 and have appeared in just one Super Bowl, losing Super Bowl XL to Pittsburgh in Detroit eight seasons ago.
Each position unit is given a school-type letter grade, with the Ravens' running backs getting an A and the special teams units -- ranked third leaguewide in the Dallas Morning News' annual well-quoted survey -- receiving an A-.
The lowest grade among the Baltimore units was the C+ assigned to the linebackers, but the magazine's deadline came before the Rolando McClain debacle was completed.
Each team also had one player selected to be broken down by an anonymous scout, and the Ravens' Elvis Dumervil was the choice. Among other comments was this: "There isn't anything negative about his game."
Also, one assistant coach per team is judged to be on the rise, and it's no surprise that offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, who has head-coaching experience in Indianapolis, got the Baltimore spotlight.
TSN was slightly less generous than Athlon's in its assessment of the Ravens' 10-man draft class.
Athlon's gave Baltimore a grade of A for the group, led by safety Matt Elam and linebacker Arthur Brown. TSN went with a B+ instead..
The magazine certainly recognized the Ravens' desire to get younger, faster and deeper on defense, what with six of the team's 10 picks coming from the defensive side of the ball.
We saved this for last, given how much Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco shuns the spotlight.
But Flacco is the subject of a inside-back feature, which former The Baltimore Sun columnist David Steele penned. The piece didn't break much new ground for fans who live in Baltimore and know Flacco's story, but it could serve as a good primer as to how Flacco is approaching the limelight and his generous new contract.
The usual "10 best storylines of the year" story also appears, with the Ravens' repeat chances ranking fourth. The top storyline? Whether Peyton Manning can take Denver further than he did last year. Hmmmm ...
Also, the magazine looked at which free-agent transactions could make the most impact. Three of those mentioned were the departures from Baltimore of Reed and Dannell Ellerbe, and the arrival of Dumervil.
This year's possible impact rookies are listed, a group that includes Baltimore's Brown, and the top 2014 draft picks are also provided, with Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd among that list. South Carolina's Jadaveon Clowney is placed at the top.
As for cheerleaders, TSN is the only one of the three magazines reviewed so far that displayed no pictures of them.
Posted June 18, 2013