Question: Based on moves made in the offseason, what team within the AFCN do you think has the best chance to win the division, and why?
Answer: I like what Cleveland did to address their front-seven, but more specifically the front-three. Cleveland's run defense was poor last season but the additions of DLs Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers should help in that area along with getting a better pass rush up front. And the addition of ILB Beau Bell should help their run defense as well.
Question: Which team do you think will struggle the most in the AFCN, and based on the schedule layout, which team do you perceive will have the toughest stretch of games?
Answer: Cincinnati's defense is still nothing special despite a few acquisitions and despite a lot of talent on offense, its offensive line is a mere shadow of its former self.
As for scheduling, Cleveland's beginning to the season is a challenge with games at home against Dallas and Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh has a nice challenge in the middle of their schedule with games home against the Giants, Redskins, Colts, and Chargers (all playoff teams from last year).
Baltimore has a tough four-game stretch in the first half of the season against the Browns, Steelers, Titans, and Colts.
Question: Which two games amongst the 12 division battles for the AFC North crown will be on your "must watch" list?
Answer: Probably both Cleveland-Pittsburgh games. The first one last year was a blowout but the second one was pretty interesting and both those teams are the favorites to win that division.
Question: How do you rank the AFCN teams in terms of pass rushing ability?
Answer: I'd rate Baltimore probably first with Pittsburgh a close second. Cleveland's pass rush, which was poor last year, should be improved with the additions they've made this year.
Question: Which Ravens' rookie do you think will have the biggest impact, and why?
Answer: Ray Rice could because he offers a nice change of pace element to their running game. Joe Flacco would be next if he starts. He could bring the deep pass back to their passing game.
Question: What do you think Trevor Pryce has left in the tank, after an injury plagued 2007?
Answer: He might be more of a rotational player at this point in his career but he can still play at a decent level if healthy.
Question: How do you think Fabian Washington will do in this Baltimore secondary? And how do you think their secondary will do, as a whole (if they stay healthy)??
Answer: In a nickel role, he should do just fine. And he's still pretty young and should start by 2009. If Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle are healthy, the secondary should be very good.
Question: Anything new on Joe Flacco's contract talks or other Ravens rookie draft picks?
Answer: His agent told us he expects to meet with the team this coming Monday or Tuesday. I'd expect a deal done next week. His agent, Joe Linta, is the kind of guy who understands the importance of getting his players signed on time--especially at the quarterback position. I could see Linta staying more than a day in Baltimore if need be.
Question: How big a question mark is offensive tackle for the Ravens and do you think that they should have signed a veteran?
Answer: Both tackle spots are questions, more though with Jared Gaither on the left side. Some question whether he's really ready to start.
Question: If healthy what type of impact could Dan Cody have?
Answer: He's as healthy has he's been in a long time. The hope is that he can provide an outside pass rush in a situational role.
Question: Who is your pick to make the playoffs after posting a losing record in the 2007 season?
Answer: Probably Philadelphia and Arizona (they were 8-8 though). Both teams should be greatly improved. I see Washington missing out in the NFC after making it last year.
Question: Can the Browns overcome their weakness in the secondary and make a strong run in the postseason? DA obviously is the starter in C-Town, how short is his rope to Quinn?
Answer: That's obviously the weakest link, more specifically at cornerback. They have no depth and two second-year players starting there. The safety play also must be more consistent. Although I've picked them in a few pre-season magazines I may change that pick to Pittsburgh after watching training camp and pre-season games.
As for Quinn, they feel good about his progress in learning their offensive scheme and feel he could do well if he has to play. But the coaches also feel good about Anderson who has a long leash.
Question: The Steelers biggest weakness in 2007 was their oline, which they did nothing to rectify. What steps have the Steelers made internally to better this position in 2008?
Answer: They have some optimism with veteran Justin Hartwig who can play guard or center but he was benched last season and has had his share of injuries. They also have little depth at various positions on the offensive line. No question that the offensive line is going to be an ongoing issue but they still will have a strong pass and run game as they did last season.
Question: What effects, if any, will the spouting off of 85 have on the Bengals? Is Rudi 100% for the start of camp?
Answer: Johnson seems to understand he has no leverage in getting a new deal or getting traded so the feeling is that he won't be a distraction. Johnson seems to be over the hamstring injury which plagued him for most of last season.
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