A 2011 prediction plus plans for Foxworth

If you’re a sucker for power rankings, predictions and projections, here’s something for you to chew on for a little bit.

Sports Illustrated has released its 2011 NFL season preview, and in it, SI writer Peter King gives his playoff predictions.

Where do the Ravens factor in? Well, according to King, John Harbaugh’s squad will finish with a 10-6 record, tying the Steelers for first place in the AFC North. King has the Steelers earning the division title via a tiebreaker, and Baltimore taking the top Wild Card spot.

In the postseason, King projects the Ravens to beat the Colts in the Wild Card Round, and he has them taking down the top-seeded Patriots in the Divisional Round before falling to the Chargers in the AFC Championship Game.

Agree? Disagree? Let me hear your thoughts.

For what it’s worth, King has the Steelers losing to the Chargers in the Divisional Round and the Falcons - yes, the Falcons - winning it all. That’s an outside-the-box Super Bowl Champion, alright.

Meanwhile, although Domonique Foxworth started last Thursday’s preseason game for the Ravens, the veteran cornerback still doesn’t appear ready to take hold of a starting job when the regular season begins next weekend.

Foxworth, who is recovering from ACL surgery last year, looks like he still lacks the recovery speed that he possessed prior to the injury, and the seven-year veteran hasn’t looked as sharp in his cuts as he did back in 2009, his first season in Baltimore.

The Ravens are still playing things safe with Foxworth, limiting his reps both in practices and preseason games. They’ll likely continue to do so over the next few weeks, as well, as they look to ease Foxworth back into action.

“The time away was, obviously, a major detriment to ‘Fox,’” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said this week. “He had to go through an offseason surgery and rehab. That set him back. He’s just got to keep his nose to the grindstone and keep pushing.

“We’ve got to be smart with him as far as how we use him right now and how many reps we give him. But hopefully, that will start to come around and he’ll eventually be 100 percent.”

Luckily for the Ravens, third-year cornerback Cary Williams and rookie Jimmy Smith have stepped up and played well with Foxworth and Chris Carr (hamstring) limited during camp. The question is, if Foxworth is able to return to full strength, how will he slot in on the Ravens’ depth chart?

We do know this: if the regular season started tomorrow, it’d be hard to imagine Foxworth getting reps over either Williams or Smith. He just doesn’t appear close enough to his pre-injury form at this point.

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