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Power Rankings: Ravens finish No. 1, but they won't stay there


You can talk about Ray Lewis and Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh and many others in the Baltimore Ravens organization, but the MVP of that team is the player-turned general manager Ozzie Newsome.

Newsome, always considered one of the best talent evaluators in the league, now has two Super Bowl-winning teams under his tenure in Baltimore, coming in a 12-year span. He did it with two different coaches, two different starting quarterbacks and one player -- Ray Lewis -- from the first team that won in 2001.

That's simply amazing.

As one member of the organization said last week: "I don't know that he gets enough credit for that. He's in the Hall (of Fame) as player, but he's a Hall GM too."

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Newsome, the former star tight end for the Cleveland Browns, made the move to Baltimore when the Browns went and became the Ravens. In the time since, he has earned the right to be called one of the NFL's best football evaluators.

I don't think the Ravens team that won Super Bowl XLVII is the most talented of the Newsome teams. In fact, I will say right now that repeating their title won't happen.

But Newsome did a great job of adding supposedly bit players who played major roles in this run to a title.

Take Jacoby Jones. They signed him as a free agent to be a return man and add some speed to the offense. All he did was have a 108-yard kickoff return for a score and catch a 56-yard touchdown pass.

Take Corey Graham. He was mostly signed for special teams, but injuries forced him into a role as a starting corner and he played well in the second half of the season.

Take guard-tackle Kelechi Osemele. He struggled at right tackle early this season as a rookie, but looked like a Pro Bowl guard when he moved inside.

Newsome is good at finding talent. Now he has some decisions to make on some key free agents.

Here's what I think happens with those players:

Safety Ed Reed will go.

Corner Carey Williams will go.

Outside linebacker Paul Kruger will go.

Inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe will be the top priority to stay -- if his contract doesn't get crazy.

But fret not, Ravens fans. Newsome will do his usual stuff and find the replacements. For now, the Ravens top this batch of the CBSSports.com Power Rankings after winning Sunday night.

Enjoy it, Ravens fans. They won't be there in the next batch.

I just don't see the staying power, even if Joe Flacco showed Sunday night that he is a postseason killer.

Then again, who am I to doubt Ozzie Newsome? That's tough to do.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.

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