Good news, bad news. The good news is that Sports Illustrated's Peter King picks the Baltimore Ravens to win the AFC North. The bad news is that he also sees the Ravens losing to the Denver Broncos in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.
In SI's annual NFL preview issue, King sees Baltimore finishing with a 10-6 record, good enough to win the AFC North (?) but not enough to defeat Peyton Manning's new team. My question mark in the previous sentence is meant to debate the possibility of a ten-win season being good enough to claim the AFC North crown, when you have the Pittsburgh Steelers, much less the Cincinnati Bengals fighting for the division title.
According to the Sports Illustrated story, this is an excerpt on what they said about the Ravens chances to not only repeat as division champs, but to take that next step to play for the Lombardi Trophy in the Super Bowl:
"These Ravens are still built around defense, and this year it will be fresh faces as well as old war horses who will determine the fate of a team that’s been knocking on the door of its first Super Bowl appearance since 2001. The defense in Baltimore may be leaner, but for the Ravens to take the next step, it’ll need to be just as mean."