By Peter Schmuck
The Baltimore Sun
8:02 AM PST, February 7, 2012
Depending on which online betting site you visit while you're supposed to be working, the posted odds on the Ravens winning the 2013 Super Bowl are anywhere from 12-1 to 20-1, which has some of the message-board maniacs all up in arms.
Actually, 12-1 isn't bad. That means the oddsmakers expect the Ravens to be a playoff team again and will have an uphill battle getting enough home playoff games to be a strong favorite to reach the NFL title game. The other end of the spectrum, however, has to leave you scratching your head a bit.
The Ravens figure to have almost all of the key players coming back from a team that was a dropped pass away from playing the Giants on Sunday. The idea that they could have higher odds than some of the teams ahead of them on the list should be galling to Ravens fans, but there are reasons for that which have less to do with how good the Ravens are in relation to, say, the San Diego Chargers, than what division they play in and the difficulty of their schedule.
The Chargers, frankly, have a better chance of getting to the playoffs than the Ravens, because they play in a division that may require only 10 victories to win the division championship. The Ravens play in a division with the Steelers and up-and-coming Bengals, and they have to play a bunch of 2011 division winners because of last year's first-place finish in the AFC North. It's just a tougher climb, though I believe the Ravens will get back to the playoffs and I would quickly go broke trying to predict what the Chargers will do in any given year. They lost the AFC West to the Broncos, for God's sake.
So, it's really not a sign of disrespect as much as one oddsmaker's take on the NFL landscape next season. If I were a betting man (and, of course, I would never place a wager on a sporting event) I would love to get 20-1 on the Ravens to win it all next year. Those are some sweet odds.