The 3 NFL teams in our neck of the woods are all playoff contenders. The Pre-season gets started for the Ravens, Steelers and Eagles tomorrow evening. All 3 teams return almost intact from last season.
The Steelers look like a favorite to go back to the Super Bowl with little changes on both sides of the ball from last year. The biggest question, many are asking, is can the off-field distractions involving QB Ben Roethlisberger derail the Steelers. I don't think so because it is looking more and more like the woman who has leveled the sexual assault charges lacks credibility.
The Ravens will be riding the same ingredients they have in the past. Great defense and an offense that scores enough for the W. I think Joe Flacco will continue to mature. Remember in his 2nd year Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a Super Bowl. I'm not predicting that for the Ravens but wouldn't be surprised if they are in their 2nd straight AFC Title game.
The Eagles are the biggest question mark in my mind. They have had some major developments since the opening of training camp a few weeks ago. Longtime Defensive Coordintor Jim Johnson died of cancer. His replacement Sean McDermott is running a defense for the first time in his career. In addition the defense suffered another loss when Linebacker Stewart Bradley tore up his knee and was lost for the season. The middle backer was the signal caller for the defense and had a team high 151 tackles last season. I think the Eagles offense will put up points but the status of Brian Westbrook early on means the club will have to rely on Rookie LeSean McCoy to fill in. Put that with a VERY tough division and the Eagles could be on the outside looking in.