Let’s size up a few big signings that happened this past Friday. We saw both the Bears and the Ravens make significant additions to their club in the forms of a veteran wide receiver and a veteran defensive end. Both fill a need, but is one hole filled enough for each team to earn more of an eye from sports gamblers in the off-season?
Let’s start with Baltimore, picking up Anquan Bolden. When healthy, this guy is a stud. He was the Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona before Larry Fitzgerald. He can make plays and break out as a deep threat for Leinart, Warner or whomever was throwing him the ball for the Cardinals. Now he has breath-of-fresh-air Joe Flacco (hey, compared to Boller, anyone looks good), who managed to resurrect an offense playing second fiddle to Ray Lewis for years. With Bolden on the wing and a full year under Ray Rice’s belt, are the Ravens ready to made a run? Here’s your answer: Yes, if. Yes, if Bolden stays healthy. Also, it gets cold in Baltimore…so yes, if Bolden can stay healthy, and warm. Seriously, this is a good pickup. And Baltimore should get to the second round if they put it all together.
Now to Chicago, where the fans haven’t been this excited about an acquisition since, well, last year when they welcomed Jay Cutler. Does a similar rocky season lay in wait for Julius Peppers? Not likely, I think all the shakeups in coaching will inject some sense of urgency back into the team. Plus, Urlacher will be back, and although he’s another year older, he can still get the job done. Peppers will fit in nicely and make this a feared defense again. Playoffs? You still gotta show me who Cutler is going to throw to. I love the Chester Taylor pickup. This guy should be starting somewhere, mine as well be in Chicago. But it’ll all come down to how well the team can spread the offense. And Cutler has to cut down on the interceptions. Bears can go as far as the Ravens, maybe further if teams like Minnesota fall back (if – IF – Favre leaves – again – finally).