Fox Sports Pundit Doubles Down on Ravens As His Pick to Win Super Bowl
The Ravens were Fox Sports Radio host Rob Parker's preseason pick to win the Super Bowl, and he said yesterday that he feels even stronger now that Baltimore will take home the Lombardi Trophy.
"I'm convinced now more than ever that the Baltimore Ravens are the real deal, and I feel way, way, 10 times better about my pick that they will win the Super Bowl," Parker said on "The Odd Couple” podcast. "I really, really believe that they're going to win the Super Bowl when I look at the team, especially because they can win in so many ways. That, to me, is what you need as a team, because everything doesn't always work.
"Sometimes you need the defense to make a stop and make a play. Sometimes you need somebody to rush and get the big first down and keep the clock moving. Sometimes you need somebody to throw a touchdown late in the game, or you need a field goal, or whatever it is. And they have it, including the coach, who I have confidence in."
Parker is not alone in his belief in the Ravens.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith didn't reveal which team he thinks will win the Super Bowl, but he firmly believes the Ravens (9-3), currently the No. 1 seed in the AFC, are the best team in the conference. He gave them the nod over the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs (8-3), who are the No. 2 seed.
"When I look at the Kansas City Chiefs, I know Patrick Mahomes is a stud, I know Travis Kelce is a stud. I do not believe in their receivers, and the bigger the moment, the less faith I have in them," Smith said on “First Take.” "I have no doubt that Patrick Mahomes can do what he does, but it's the team itself. And that's why I'm flowing with Kansas City as my choice.
"I'm gonna flow with the Ravens, because of Zay Flowers, because of Lamar Jackson, and because of that defense. I'm looking at the personnel and the pieces that they have in place. They can run the football; they can pass the football; they certainly have an electrifying running back at the quarterback position, who happens to be a damn good quarterback as well; and their defense is ripe with a bunch of rough riders. I think when you look at the Baltimore Ravens they have all the ingredients to say, 'Yo, we're that team to beat.'"
Smith noted that the Chiefs have never played a postseason game on the road since Mahomes became their starter, which they would have to do if the Ravens are the No. 1 seed and they meet.
"If [Mahomes] has to go to Baltimore, I know what he'll do, but I'd be really interested in seeing what those receivers can do in that Baltimore climate," Smith said.
Fox Sports' Michael Irvin also gave the nod to the Ravens over the Chiefs as the best team in the AFC.
"I still have Baltimore right now a little bit ahead of Kansas City because I know they're naturally a physical football team, and that will come into play when these two get together," Irvin said on “Undisputed.” "I think they can dethrone the Kansas City Chiefs because they got a run game, they got a defense, and Lamar Jackson, I love the way he's staying in the pocket."
NFL.com’s Jeffri Chadiha looked at the seven AFC teams currently in a playoff position and rated their chances of capturing the top seed. He gave the Ravens and Chiefs both a confidence rating of eight on a one-to-10 scale.
"The Ravens have been the most complete team in the AFC all season," Chadiha wrote. "They have a top-tier offense, an extremely stingy defense and an MVP-caliber quarterback in Lamar Jackson, a player who's become more dangerous in an offense designed to feature his passing skills. This is also a team that is built for football in December. Baltimore runs the ball effectively, harasses quarterbacks routinely and has an elite special teams unit (even though kicker Justin Tucker missed a huge field goal late in Sunday's win over the Los Angeles Chargers). This is a team that can dominate when it's on point. Just as it did against Detroit and Seattle, who lost to Baltimore by a combined score of 75-9.'"
Regarding the Chiefs, Chadiha wrote: "This is all about recency bias. The Chiefs have hosted the last five AFC Championship Games and been the top seed in three of those seasons (2018, 2020, 2022). They have a habit of gaining steam at this time of year, even though upcoming games against Green Bay and Buffalo suddenly look more daunting."
Jadeveon Clowney Was One of the NFL's Best Offseason Additions
When the Ravens signed Jadeveon Clowney in August, there was some skepticism regarding how much of an impact the veteran outside linebacker would make. The Ravens are Clowney's fifth team in six years and the former No. 1-overall pick was coming off a two-sack season in Cleveland.
However, the 30-year-old is having one of the best seasons of his career, as he has been a major contributor on the league's No. 2 defense.
"Entering the season with some wondering if he was in the twilight of his football career, Jadeveon has reminded everyone that he's still one of the best at his position," Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Lyon wrote. "Through Week 12 of the NFL season, out of all the pass rushers aged 30 or older, Clowney ranks fourth in sacks with 7.5."
Clowney's performance in Sunday night's 20-10 win over the Los Angeles Chargers was the latest example of his strong play. The three-time Pro Bowler's strip-sack of Justin Herbert and recovery in the red zone early in the fourth quarter was the turning point of the game, Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
"That rush, that sack, that recovery — the whole thing — was just a Hall of Fame-type play," Harbaugh said.
It wasn't Clowney's only impactful play Sunday night.
"The outside linebacker was around the ball when inside linebacker Roquan Smith, another standout Sunday, ripped the ball away from Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen late in the second quarter," The Baltimore Banner's Jonas Shaffer wrote. "Clowney was around the ball on the Chargers' final doomed play, too, coming in unblocked on fourth-and-19 and forcing Herbert to throw up a prayer to Allen that never reached him. It was his sixth quarterback pressure of the night, according to the NFL's Next Gen Stats. It was just another day at the office for Clowney."
Clowney needs two sacks to equal his career-high, which he established with the Houston Texans in 2017. His 17 quarterback hits are second on the team to Justin Madubuike (21).
Two Ravens Named to ESPN's All*-*Youngster Team
Safety Kyle Hamilton and center Tyler Linderbaum made ESPN's NFL All-Youngster Team, which recognized the top under-24 players at each position.
Both players were named to the first team. Here's what ESPN's Matt Miller and Matt Bowen wrote about Hamilton and Linderbaum, both of whom were 2022 first-round picks.
"Hamilton is a multi-dimensional player in the Ravens' defensive system, with the traits to play as nickel safety, create pressure or use his split-field range to drive on the ball. And we are seeing his impact this season, as the 6-foot-4 safety returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown. He also has 62 tackles, three sacks and six pass breakups over 12 games."
"An All-American and Rimington Award winner at Iowa, Linderbaum has hit the ground running in the NFL, starting every game in 2022 and 2023 so far. He is one of the best centers in the game regardless of age, ranking sixth at the position in pass block win rate at 96.3%. He's the perfect center to build a team around."