Odds Ravens Make It To Super Bowl LI
The Ravens were a trendy pick to make the Super Bowl going into the 2015 season.
But the oddsmakers aren't giving them much love right now.
With Super Bowl 50 less than two weeks away, the Vegas sportsbooks have released the futures odds for next year's championship and the Ravens are right in the middle of the pack.
The Ravens are currently 15-1 odds to make the Super Bowl, and they are 40-1 odds to win it. They are tied for the seventh-best odds to win the AFC championship and 15th-best to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
The worst part of looking at the futures odds is that Baltimore's three biggest rivals – New England (7-2), Pittsburgh (7-2) and Cincinnati (5-1) – are the top three favorites to win the AFC championship. The better news is that the Browns are clearly viewed as the league's biggest longshot going into next season at 200-1 to win it all.
In the NFC, the oddsmakers have the Seattle Seahawks (4-1) as the favorites to win the conference.
Here's the full list of odds to win Super Bowl LI:
Steve Smith Talks Cam Newton, Super Bowl Prediction
Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. certainly knows the Carolina Panthers well after spending 13 seasons with that organization. Smith went to a Super Bowl with the Panthers in 2005, and he believes his old team will bring home this year's championship.
"I'm favored to say that I think the Carolina Panthers are going to win," Smith said during an interview on the Dan Patrick Show. "Every game the Carolina Panthers have played in the playoffs, they have blown out their opponent. And nobody saw that coming."
His time in Carolina overlapped for three seasons with Cam Newton, so he had a chance to see first-hand the quarterback's early development.
"When you look at Cam Newton, you see that he is a new-age quarterback," Smith said. "He throws the ball, he runs the ball. And kind of like [Colin] Kaepernick was in the Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens vs. the 49ers, he brings an element that you cannot account for.
"Really I think the underlying story of this Super Bowl is the old, traditional gunslinger vs. one of the new-age gunslingers, who brings another element that genetically – I hate to say it this way – but Peyton Manning has never had. He is changing the quarterback play as we know it."
Newton has become a bit of a polarizing figure in the league, and Smith said he believes race is part of the reason for that. Smith pointed to the reaction Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman received for his emotional post-game interview two years ago as an example of how black athletes can be labeled as thugs.
"Automatically people started calling him a thug," Smith said. "They don't call Aaron Rodgers thug. They don't call other guys of other colors thugs, but as soon as an African American athlete does it, they say, 'thug.'"
Watch the full interview below.
Brian Billick's Advice To Super Bowl Coaches
Brian Billick knows what it takes to win a championship, and he has some advice for Broncos Head Coach Gary Kubiak and Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera as they prepare to square off in the Super Bowl.
Billick outlined what he learned in leading the Ravens to a championship in 2000, and one of his tips was to dial back the physical intensity of practices in the two weeks leading up to the game.
Billick also shared a great story about when he knew the Ravens were going to bring home the Lombardi Trophy. His rule during that week in Tampa was that players had to travel to and from practices on the team buses, rather than catching rides from friends or family, and the Ravens had the kind of veteran leaders to make sure that happened.
"After our first practice in Tampa, I was heading out to the buses. In front of me were Shannon Sharpe and one of our rookies. I was behind them, so they did not know I was there," he wrote. "The rookie looked at Shannon and said, 'My mom and dad are here in a motor home. You think coach would let me go back to the hotel with them?' Without hesitation, Shannon said, 'Coach said we are going to and from practice on the buses. Get your ass on the bus.'
"I knew right then and there that the message had taken hold with my leader, and that the Giants didn't stand a chance."
Forsett Will Be 100 Percent Soon
Justin Forsett is almost back to full strength.
The Ravens starting running back had his season end on Nov. 22 because of a broken arm he suffered against the Rams, and the recovery is going as planned.
"Everything is going well," Forsett told The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec. "I should be 100 percent in a couple of weeks."
Forsett still has to get X-rays within the next few weeks to make sure the injury is fully healed, but Zrebiec noted that the running back got a good test last weekend.
"Like many other Baltimoreans, Forsett spent hours over the past couple of days trying to dig out after the massive snowstorm hit Maryland," Zrebiec wrote. "As taxing it was, he came through just fine physically."
Off the football field, Forsett is staying plenty busy. He tweeted that he's teaming up with former Raven Torrey Smith to help people in Flint, Mich. during their water crisis.
Forsett also had the chance to meet President Barack Obama Thursday evening. Obama was in Baltimore to address House Democrats at a three-day conference in downtown Baltimore.