Readers pick apart my latest conference predictions
Posted: Tuesday June 7, 2005 4:11PM; Updated: Tuesday June 7, 2005 4:55PM
Kyle Boller's development is key to the Ravens' chances of making the playoffs.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Peter King will answer your questions each week in Monday Morning Quarterback: Tuesday Edition.
In the wake of my AFC picks on Monday (Jacksonville over Indy in the AFC South, the Jets and Ravens and Chiefs out of the playoffs, San Diego over everyone in the AFC West, New England over San Diego in the title game), the e-mail bag is full of people thinking I'm full of it.
So let's take the medicine.
YOU WILL RUE THE DAY YOU DIDN'T PICK BALTIMORE FOR THE PLAYOFFS. From Julie of Baltimore: "Why no love for the Ravens? The offense is better with Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason. The defense is better with Samari Rolle and Dan Cody. They only finished a game out of the playoffs last year with a weaker team, and you don't think they're going to make the playoffs this year? What gives? Still not sold on Kyle Boller?''
I don't know how anyone can be sold on Boller yet. He hasn't achieved anything, though I still think he'll be OK. Not great, but a good NFL starter. You know why I didn't pick the Ravens -- or the Bengals, for that matter? Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati are going to beat each other up this year, and only one of them is going to make the playoffs. I think the Steelers are the best of the three, though it wouldn't stun me if the Ravens or Bengals beat them out.
AND WHILE YOU'RE AT IT, YOU'RE WAY OFF ON THE COLTS. From Deepa Mukherjee of Troy, N.Y.: "I love your column. However, I am wondering how you managed to give the Jaguars the division title for 2005. The Colts defense played well towards the end of the season and their offense is incredible. The Jags defense is pretty darn good, but their offense needs help. They've changed their offensive coordinator, and it takes time for a team to get used to a new system. Their red-zone percentage traditionally has been low. They've allowed a lot more sacks than the Colts have. Besides, both teams this year have equally tough schedules. Jacksonville might make it to the wild-card spot, but winning the division seems a bit far-fetched at this point in time.''
Everything you say is true, Deepa. What I'm doing is trying to pick a team or two or three that has a chance to rise, and similarly teams that have a chance to fall. Did you think Pittsburgh would improve by nine wins last year? San Diego by eight? Atlanta by six? Or that Dallas would regress by four wins, Miami by six? This is a fluid league, a fluid game, and the easiest thing to do would be to pick Indianapolis and Philadelphia to stay right where they were last year, or maybe rise a little higher. Hey, they might meet in the Super Bowl. I like what the Jags did last year; I like how they improved in the offseason. I like the pass-rush pickup of Reggie Hayward from Denver in free agency. I like the chances rookie Khalif Barnes will play and excel sometime this year at tackle. I like former Arkansas QB Matt Jones, if he can stay on the field and be a matchup problem for opposing defenses at WR or TE. I am worried about running back Fred Taylor. As for Indy, I love what Tony Dungy and Bill Polian have tried to do on defense, but I'm still not convinced the linebackers and secondary are Super Bowl-ready. That's why I made this call.