2013-14 NFL Futures: Can the Baltimore Ravens Repeat?

joe-flaccoWhen the 2012-13 NFL season began, most people thought that the Baltimore Ravens would be a competitive team. However, few experts predicted them to be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy last February, especially given the strong seasons that Denver, New England, San Francisco and Atlanta had.

Nevertheless, the aging Wild Card Ravens stormed through the playoffs and on towards the Super Bowl XLVII title. Now the big question remains whether Baltimore can experience Super Bowl success two years in a row.

At this point, most experts aren’t convinced that they’ll become the eighth team in NFL history to repeat as champions. The big reason why is roster turnover since Baltimore has lost a number of key players from last year’s championship squad.

For starters, the team’s best possession receiver, Anquan Boldin, went to the San Francisco 49ers. The offense will also miss starting center Matt Birk, who went out on top by retiring this offseason.

ed-reedLosses on the other side of the ball are even more noteworthy because starting safeties Ed Reed (Houston) and Bernard Pollard (Tennessee Titans) both departed via free agency. Other key players moving on to other teams include linebackers Paul Kruger (Cleveland) and Dannell Ellerbe (Miami Dolphins) as well as cornerback Cary Williams (Philadelphia).

As if all of this isn’t enough, Baltimore lost the heart and soul of their team when franchise legend Ray Lewis retired. No. 52 only played six regular season games and recorded 57 tackles due to a triceps injury. However, he came back for the playoffs and was an inspirational force, helping guide his team to a Super Bowl win. So the question now is what’s left for the Ravens going into this year.

Everything begins with starting quarterback Joe Flacco, who signed a six-year, $120.6 million deal this past offseason. Flacco has always been consistent for the Ravens and put up solid numbers. However, he took things to the next level in last season’s playoffs after throwing for 1,140 yards, 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions in four games. Flacco was so clutch that he out-dueled more heralded QB’s throughout the playoffs like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

ray-rice-ravensAnother big piece that’ll be returning for Baltimore is running back Ray Rice. The sixth-year man out of Rutgers has consistently been one of the best rushers in the NFL, and this doesn’t look to change in 2013. He once again turned in a solid regular season after compiling 1,143 rushing yards, 478 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns.

The receiving corp will be somewhat of a mystery going into the season. Torrey Smith has served as a solid deep threat, having caught 49 balls for 855 yards and 8 TD’s last year. Jacoby Jones is another veteran who’ll be hoping to make an impact on the Ravens’ passing game. He caught 30 passes for 406 yards last year with the Houston Texans.

Recent additions Brandon Stokely (via Denver) and Dallas Clark could also be seeing some passes thrown their way. The latter was signed in an effort to replace injured tight ends Dennis Pitta (hip) and Ed Dickson (hamstring). As for Stokely, the 37-year-old proved to be ageless after catching 45 passes for 544 yards and 5 touchdowns in his lone Denver season.

Elvis Dumervil, John Harbaugh, Don MartindaleMoving to the defensive side, Baltimore has picked up a large number of key additions to replace their losses. Elvis Dumervil landed with the Ravens after his agent made a fax machine error during contract proceedings with the Broncos. Dumervil brings his 11.0 sacks from last season to Baltimore and should once again be a force on the edge.

Other new faces include Chris Canty (New York Giants), Marcus Spears (Cowboys), linebacker Daryl Smith (Jacksonville), safety Michael Huff (Oakland) in addition to draft picks like K-State linebacker (Arthur Brown) and Florida safety Matt Elam.

One more point worth making about the Ravens D is that Terrell Suggs will be healthy this year. Suggs missed a large majority of 2012 with a torn Achilles tendon, but did manage to return for the latter part of the season. Now healthy and playing opposite Dumervil, he should have a fantastic 2013.

Baltimore could feature as many as seven new starters on defense, which is scary when you’re trying to repeat as Super Bowl champions. However, many people think that this team has gotten younger and faster on D.

Last year’s aging core didn’t exactly tear it up in the regular season after finishing 12th in scoring defense (21.5), 15th in sacks (37) and 17th in YPG allowed (350.9). With the diminishment of Reed and Lewis’ athletic ability, it wasn’t going to be long anyways before Baltimore needed to upgrade on defense.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is one guy who’s definitely excited about the younger defense that his club will feature. “You have to face the fact the game is changing from an offensive standpoint, with more spread offenses and more read-option,” he said. “You have to become more athletic and you have to have people who can change direction and move and accelerate. I think our moves allow us to play that style of game on defense. And also, with some of our new guys in the secondary, with Matt (Elam), Dig and Michael Huff, we’ve got guys who can match up and play man to man, and that means you don’t have to be substituting all the time.”

There’s definitely been a lot of change and turnover in Baltimore this offseason. However, the team appears confident that they can contend for another Super Bowl title. Of course, pulling off another magical postseason run like last year won’t be an easy task for this club.

Aaron Rodgers is a Terrible Bettor

aaron-rodgers-bet-2If you’ve been following the 2014 NFL futures at GTBets.eu, you may know that the Green Bay Packers are being given fairly solid odds to win the Super Bowl next year. Currently, the Packers are being spotted 15-to-1 odds of capturing the Lombardi Trophy.

It’s certainly a good thing that Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn’t allowed to bet on his own team. After all, the three-time Pro Bowler has proven to be a terrible bettor recently. And what’s worse is that he doesn’t pay up on his debts either!

The latest failed wager by the Packers signal caller involved his friend, Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun. The left fielder has dominated MLB news lately for his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drugs scandal. Braun was one of 20 players listed on documents linking him to the Miami-based clinic.

Undeterred, Rodgers made a very large and unconfirmed bet with a fan named Todd Sutton over Braun’s innocence. Their twitter exchange went like this:

aaron-rodgers-bet

As many people now know, Braun recently admitted to using steroids provided by the Biogenesis clinic. Now he’ll serve a well-deserved 65-game suspension after making his buddy Rodgers look like an idiot.

So how much is the 2011 NFL MVP supposedly on the hook for after losing this twitter wager/boast? Well back in April, Rodgers signed a big contract extension that includes a $35 million signing bonus. With his $4.5 million base salary, that means he’ll be earning almost $40 million next season.

Of course, we could probably take Rodgers’ twitter comment to mean that he was only “wagering” his $4.5 million. Either way, it’s highly doubtful that Sutton will ever see anything out of this quasi-bet, other than the 15 minutes of fame he’s gotten lately.

He did recently told USA Today that he’d accept one of Rodgers’ game checks, rather than the entire base salary. NFL players get paid every week for the 17-week season. So doing the math ($4,500,000/17 games), that would be a $264,706 check.

aaron-rodgers-bet-3Even still, so we can reasonably assume that Rodgers isn’t really going to give Sutton the $264.7k either. This is especially the case when you figure that the California product once lost a less expensive wager to Boyz II Men and refused to ante up.

Rodgers, who’s a big fan of the R&B group, asked them to sing the national anthem before Green Bay’s season opener last year. In exchange, they made a bet that if Rodgers lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the opener, he’d have to wear a 49ers jersey for an entire week.

This turned out to be another losing bet for him as San Francisco went on to win 30-22. So was Rodgers donning an Alex Smith jersey in the aftermath of the loss? Not quite. In fact, he seemed pretty annoyed when TMZ did a story on the matter later.

“There’s nothing to that. That got blown way out of proportion,” said Rodgers. “It was at best a joke between friends, and, unfortunately, the great reporting of TMZ blew another one.”

Apparently, this thought wasn’t shared by all parties involved. In fact, Boyz II Men was celebrating shortly after the game with the following tweet:

aaron-rodgers-bet-1

We can understand not paying up on the 2013 base salary wager with Todd Sutton. But how about at least humoring the football world by wearing the Niners jersey for a few days.

2014 NFL Futures and Chad Johnson blazing on a Treadmill

peyton-manningWe’ve still got a couple of months until the 2013-14 NFL Season kicks off. However, that hasn’t stopped GTBets.eu from releasing lines on NFL futures and prop bets.

Among the most intriguing bets are odds on which team will win the 2014 Super Bowl. All 32 teams have been given odds on winning next year’s Super Bowl, and there’s quite a wide range from top to bottom. You can see this by looking at the best 5 and worst 5 clubs in terms of odds below. Also, be sure to read about free agent wide receiver Chad Johnson’s insane treadmill run.

Top 5 Teams (2014 Super Bowl Champion Odds)
1. Denver Broncos – 9-to-2
2. San Francisco 49ers – 13-to-2
3. New England Patriots – 15-to-2
4. Seattle Seahawks – 8-to-1
5. Houston Texans – 10-to-1

Bottom 5 Teams
T1. Arizona Cardinals – 150-to-1
T1. Jacksonville Jaguars – 150-to-1
3. Oakland Raiders – 125-to-1
T4. Buffalo Bills – 100-to-1
T4. Cleveland Browns – 100-to-1
T4. Tennessee Titans – 100-to-1

Interestingly enough, the defending champion Baltimore Ravens don’t rank in the top five among teams with the best odds to win the title. But their 25-to-1 odds of winning the 2014 Super Bowl do rank within the top half at least.

colin-kaepernickAnother noteworthy point is how the Denver Broncos are currently being given the top chance to win next year by GTBets. Of course this makes sense because they had the NFL’s best regular season record at 13-3. But they lost a narrow double-overtime game (38-35) to the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional round of the playoffs. Ending the year in such a disappointing fashion will no doubt have the Broncos fired up for the upcoming season.

Aside from the 2014 Super Bowl futures, GTBets has a number of other interesting options. People can bet on the over/under wins for each team, who’ll win the AFC Championship, who’ll take the NFC Championship, and which teams will win each division.

If you’re excited about the NFL and can’t wait until the preseason to start betting, make sure to check out the futures and prop wagers at GTBets.eu.

Chad Johnson runs Blazing 24 MPH on Treadmill

chad-johnson-dolphinsChad Johnson hasn’t played in the NFL since 2011, when he managed a disappointing 15 catches for 276 yards and one TD. Plus he recently spent 30 days in jail for head-butting his ex-wife, reality TV star Evelyn Lozada. That said, you might think he’s ready to quit this football thing and start exploring other possibilities.

However, retirement is the furthest thing from Johnson’s mind since he’s been working hard in hopes of making an NFL roster. And he showed this hard work off by running at a pace of 24 MPH on a treadmill. Have a look at the video:

Johnson is a little ways off the world record of 27.49 MPH, which was set by Usain Bolt when he broke the 100 meters record with a time of 9.58 seconds. Plus, as you can see from the video, he only ran at 24 MPH for a few seconds.

But in his defense, the treadmill was at a 2.5% elevation, and this is after all, a treadmill. Not too many people are willing to risk running their fastest on a rubberized belt going at a dangerously high speed.

Crazy treadmill stunts aside, Johnson will be hoping to land on an NFL team again this season. He got cut by the Miami Dolphins in the 2012 preseason following his arrest for the aforementioned head-butting incident. This was televised on HBO’s Hard Knocks, and you can see the footage below: