By Greg DePalma, OFN Executive Producer
NFL Futures (Week 3)
Since the 1990 season when the NFL began a 12-team playoff format, at least four teams have qualified for the post-season that were not in the post-season the year before.
The three teams which appear to have the inside track on continuing to that streak are Baltimore, Carolina and Denver. Of the three, the Ravens are the only team we’ve invested in so far.
The team received a huge blow to their playoff chances though when All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda fractured his ankle against Cleveland last Sunday.
So the big question on Sunday morning here in the states – when Baltimore travels to England to take on Jacksonville – will be whether the Ravens turn to 31-year-old journeyman Tony Bergstrom or rookie fifth-round pick and England native Jermaine Eluemunor to replace the injured Yanda.
Bergstrom, whom many believed would get the first crack at replacing Yanda, was acquired from Arizona by G.M. Ozzie Newsome for a seventh-round pick just before the season started as an insurance policy along the line. But Bergstrom has only started four of 42 career games for a reason and he was never expected to be anything else but a short-term answer. And since this is more than a short-term situation, the player with the highest long-term upside is the inexperienced Eluemunor.
Eluemunor has taken the unusual route to the NFL by growing up in England and eventually taking of American football as late as high school. His experience is so limited that he was only a full-time FBS starter for one season at Texas A&M before being selected by the Ravens in April.
The hope would be for Eluemunor to mature over the long season so that by time the big games begin in December and January he’ll no longer be playing like a rookie.
One possibility that Newsome and the Ravens are incapable of taking advantage of is the trade deadline.
With the third-worst cap space left in the league, the Ravens have little chance to swing a deal for a quality player.
So unless Newsome can get creative, it looks like the kid from Britain who grew up 10 miles from Wembley Stadium, might just get the opportunity of a lifetime in front of his friends, family and the entire country he calls home, to prove a kid from the United Kingdom has what it takes to play and start in the NFL.
NFL Futures (Week 3)
Investments…Teams we’ve invested in to win the Super Bowl.
Under advisement…Teams we’re still vetting based on the value of their futures…
Point system…Since everyone has their own individual budget, we decided to use a straight-forward 100-point system for every investment we make. This should make it easier to follow our progress.
Playoff Projections…Taking futures out of the equation, here are our current picks for the NFL Playoffs including our Super Bowl winner…
New England…AFC Champion
Atlanta…Super Bowl Champion