NEW ORLEANS -- The Ravens are Super Bowl champions, and Joe Flacco is the MVP. Everyone saw that one coming, right? Obviously not me. I'm the one writer at ESPN.com who didn't pick the Ravens to make the playoffs in our preseason predictions. But this week, I did pick the Ravens to win the Super Bowl, so that has to account for something (my score was 34-27).
Just to warn you, the blog will have a purple tint all day. The Ravens certainly earned to have another day. The Ravens blog will go back to being the AFC North blog after today. Of course, it will shift back after the Ravens' Super Bowl parade on Tuesday.
Click on the links for my piece on the Ravens silencing the doubters, Ashley Fox's column on Flacco, Dan Graziano's post on the Ravens' defensive stand and Jeffri Chadiha's article on Ray Lewis' great contribution. Here's your wake-up call for the rest of the division ...
BENGALS: Outside linebacker Thomas Howard, the leading tackler in 2011, is happy with the progress from a torn ACL. Howard only played one game last season. "The knee is doing absolutely fabulous," Howard told The Cincinnati Enquirer. "We’re right on pace and I’ll be back strong next year." It's uncertain whether Howard will be back with the Bengals next season. He's a free agent in March.
STEELERS: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette thinks wide receiver Antonio Brown went from being the team's MVP to its most disappointing player. "A Pro Bowl return man the previous season, he averaged just 6.8 yards on 27 punt returns and did not return a kickoff," Bouchette wrote. "He did finish second on the team with 66 receptions and scored five touchdowns, but his bobbles seemed more memorable."
BROWNS: The Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto believes former owner Art Modell isn't worthy of the Hall of Fame and it goes beyond the relocation of the Browns. "My contention has long been the job of an owner is the win games and run a solid business organization. Generally, Modell failed at both," Pluto wrote. "His work on the NFL television contracts and his bold move of making Ozzie Newsome the first minority NFL general manager doesn't change the fact that after 19970, his record was six games under .500 in two different cities. Obviously, a large chunk of the 46 Hall of Fame voters didn't buy into Modell as he failed to survive the first round."