Tag Archive | "afc north"

Steelers Poised to Take Advantage if the Ravens Trip Up

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Steelers Poised to Take Advantage if the Ravens Trip Up

Posted on 04 December 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

 

Throughout the disappointing parts (which have constituted most) of the Ravens season, there has been one consistent reason to remain hopeful. That reason has virtually nothing to do with the Ravens themselves, or anything that they’ve shown us on the field so far; the best reason for Ravens fans to have remained hopeful throughout an otherwise trying season has been the mediocrity of their competition. Actually, calling the “competition” for the 6th and final playoff spot in the AFC mediocre might be giving the field too much credit; the longer the competition wears on, the more evident it becomes that no one seems capable of simply stepping up to claim the post-season berth.

While the Ravens have played better of late, they haven’t exactly played well. Nine field goals and two touchdowns in their two most recent wins has been enough to get the job done, but still far from confidence inspiring. And while the “must win” scenarios that the Ravens have faced and succeeded against, is mildly encouraging, those scenarios, fortunately for the team, have occurred during the “lay-up” portion of the schedule.

Sunday against the Vikings isn’t so much a “must win” as it is a “better win”. The Ravens could probably survive a loss to the Vikings from a mathematical standpoint, but let’s face it…if the Ravens can’t muster a win this week, at home, against a bad team, with their backs all but against the wall, there’d be little reason to believe that they could rise to the challenge that is the 3-game gauntlet of @DET, vs. NE & @CIN to finish out the season.

Moreover, the Vikings should present the Ravens with not only a chance to continue winning, but also with a chance to get their offensive act together, as the Minnesota defense has been one of the league’s worst against both the pass and the run.

Every year, football tends to change with the onset of cold weather, which usually benefits the Ravens and teams like them (i.e. the rest of the AFC North). This year the Ravens haven’t played a brand of ball that’s likely to get better with the dropping temperatures. Unless the Ravens find ways to run the ball effectively, and even more importantly to perform well on the road, the 3-game home stand they’re set to finish on Sunday will have been little more than a late season tease, a hook to keep us interested and hopeful before the Ravens shortcomings ultimately catch up to them.

The Ravens may not have to win out, and if we’re being honest about what we’ve seen so far, they probably won’t (or can’t). Still, the Dolphins resurgence has been improbable at best and nothing about the Titans, Chargers or Jets looks scary at all. That would leave the Steelers.

We wrote them off for dead after an 0-4 start, but the Steelers are still very much alive for the 6th seed, and maybe in better shape than even the Ravens right now. Pittsburgh has home games against Miami, Cincinnati and Cleveland remaining, along with a week 16 trip to Green Bay. They’re only ½ game down to the Ravens in division record (2-2 to the Ravens 3-2), which would be the first tiebreaker in any scenario involving both teams. The worse the record needed to claim that AFC 6th seed winds up being, the greater the chances that a tie would have to be broken. Divisional ties (like one between the Ravens and Steelers) have to be settled before the winners would be compared to teams from other divisions. And if Baltimore and Pittsburgh wind up with equal records both overall and in the division, the Steelers would win the tiebreaker by virtue of common opponents.

*Despite the Ravens superior record in conference, divisional ties go from head-to head match-ups (1-1) to divisional records and then to record vs. common opponents. The Ravens and Steelers each have 2 uncommon opponents; the Ravens lost to Denver and beat Houston, the Steelers lost to Oakland and Tennessee. That’d give the Steelers a better record vs. the 10 common opponents each has faced in the 12 other games.

There’s still hope, I suppose that a “Trip-gate” suspension could await Mike Tomlin, which could have a real impact on the race between the two. More likely though, barring the Ravens simply winning out, it’ll remain a battle between the NFL’s most bitter rivals until the end of the season for the playoff spot that no one seemingly wants to claim.

The Ravens’ work is far from done, and unfortunately the Steelers are far from done too.

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The 15-7-0 is so good you’d forfeit every draft pick to get it

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The 15-7-0 is so good you’d forfeit every draft pick to get it

Posted on 02 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

15 positive observations from the weekend of football, seven not so positive observations and we acknowledge a “zero” from outside the world of football. A reminder, there’s never any Ravens game analysis here. We do plenty of that elsewhere. It’s a trip through the weekend of football via videos, GIFs, memes, pictures, links, Tweets and shtick.

This is the 13th full edition of The 15-7-0 this season. Similarly, if you walk to your car right now and spend an hour listening to your favorite Christmas music radio station, you’ll hear “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey 13 times.

15 Positive Observations…

1. Thanks for your help, kind Cincinnati Bengals! Also, thanks for nothing you stupid Cincinnati Bengal jerks!

Here’s a GIF to prove the game happened.

Now here’s one of those new Amazon drones because they’re WAAAAY more interesting.

2. A lot of people are calling the end of Auburn-Alabama the greatest finish in the history of football, but that’s only because they missed my family’s annual Thanksgiving game where the old guys called the “Double-reverse-fake-the-handoff-to-grandpa-then-stop-the-game-for-a-minute-so-the-young-guys-can-help-grandpa-back-up-because-he-hurt-his-hip-then-start-the-game-back-up-without-telling-the-kids-anything-and-bounce-the-ball-off-the-four-year-old’s-head-and-play-monkey-in-the-middle-for-a-few-minutes-to-try-to-tire-the-kids-out-so-that-they-don’t-break-everything-in-the-house-after-dinner-in-a-crazed-rage-then-throw-the-ball-forward-three-straight-times-and-tell-the-kids-there’s-a-new-rule-that-allows-you-to-do-that-despite-how-much-they-protest-and-the-fact-that-you know-they’ve-played-so-much-Madden-football-that-they-know-the-rules-both-better-than-you-and-hell-they-probably-know-the-rules-better-than-John-Madden-then-halfway-through-the-play-tell-your-nine-year-old-niece-she’s-switching-sides-and-is-on-the-old-guys’-team-now-so-that-she-can-catch-the-ball-and-after-you-go-pick-her-up-and-run-her-the-length-of-the-field-the-other-way-on-your-back-because-she-ran-the-wrong-way-but-then-you-celebrate-her-scoring-the-winning-touchdown-and-let-her-rub-it-in-the-faces-of-the-boys-until-Christmas-and-then-you-have-to-do-the-whole-thing-over-again-because-Aunt-Joan-didn’t-have-her-camera-on-Split-Y-Banana” and ran it to perfection to win the game. Our play was WAY better.

There is so much awesome to share from Chris Davis’ magical return, but I don’t think anything will be better than this.

How amazing was this game? A 99 yard TD might not have made the Top 3 plays.

Did someone freaking hug these guys?

This picture remains mesmerizing.

I hope no one in Auburn needs to wipe this week.

Some of the celebrations were a bit…ummm…strange.

Here’s a note from Takeo Spikes.

3. While I understand Maryland’s excitement in beating NC State in their final ever ACC game, was it COMPLETELY necessary for them to fax over pictures of Gary Williams’ ass to Debbie Yow’s office as a parting gift?

My thoughts on the finale?

Now here’s a video because I’ve got nothing else to say.

4. After someone loses Monday night’s game, I will almost certainly be moving the Carolina Panthers to #2 in my weekly power rankings. What a crazy year. I’d suggest things were so crazy that the next thing we’d see is the Orioles signing a good player-but I realize there are limits to the insanity.

I don’t think one of these nicknames is going to stick for Ron Rivera.

I assume Mike Glennon gets credited with a forced fumble for this, right?

Wrong superhero, Cam.

5. Nick Foles has now thrown 19 touchdowns this season without an interception. For some reason I don’t think “The November Flacco” is going to catch on as a nickname as well as it should.

Sweet play, football teams.

Riley Cooper, however.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens loss in Chicago hurts more than any other so far in ’13

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Ravens loss in Chicago hurts more than any other so far in ’13

Posted on 18 November 2013 by Drew Forrester

Of the six losses so far in 2013, Sunday’s defeat in Chicago was the toughest.

It was the only one of the defeats where they had a chance to win at the buzzer…and failed.

Against Denver, a 17-14 halftime lead turned into a blowout when Peyton Manning and Company went nuts in the 3rd quarter.

In Buffalo, a last minute drive ended at midfield when Dallas Clark deflected a throw that was intercepted by Kiko Alonso of the Bills.

Green Bay salted the game-away with their own late-game drive and the Ravens never really even had a chance to go on the offensive down the stretch.

Pittsburgh parlayed a late kickoff return into a last second field goal to beat the Ravens.

And, in Cleveland, the Ravens trailed throughout and didn’t have much of a chance late in the 4th quarter.

That was not the case in Chicago on Sunday, though, as the Ravens drove the length of the field — aided by a huge personal foul penalty against the Bears — and moved the ball to the 5-yard with less than a minute to play.  Down by three, a Baltimore touchdown would have given John Harbaugh’s team a huge road win and put them in glorious position for an AFC wild card berth.

Three downs to get five yards.

Three downs to pick up fifteen friggin’ feet.

They couldn’t do it.

And that, more than anything else, is why the Ravens are a 4-6 team.

Yes, yes, yes, the Baltimore defense got gashed in overtime and gave up a huge 3rd down pitch-and-catch to Alshon Jeffery and a 43-yard game-breaker to Martellus Bennett on the next play to set-up the winning field goal.

That, though, was only made possible because the Baltimore offense couldn’t move the ball fifteen feet in three plays.

On first down at the five, the Ravens tried running the ball with Ray Rice.  He picked up three yards.

Now, you need just six feet — two yards — to win.

On second down, Rice tried going to his left and was bumped back a yard to the three.

And then, on third down, Gino Gradkowski’s bad snap fouled things up from the start and Flacco’s throw to Torrey Smith in the end zone was too high.

That’s how you turn winning into losing.

There were lots of bright spots on Sunday in Chicago.  The Ravens’ running game came back to life after a season-in-a-coma, taking advantage of a horrible Bears run defense to pile up 174 yards on the ground.  Gradkowski and A.Q. Shipley both had their best days of the season at center and guard, respectively.  Chris Canty and Art Jones were studs defensively.  Dallas Clark made a couple of terrific catches, including a game-saver – potentially – on 4th and 4 on the final drive in regulation.

Unfortunately, the negatives narrowly outnumberd the positives, which is how the Ravens wound up losing 23-20.  Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil were both no-shows on Sunday, although Dumervil finally did get his name mentioned late in the game when he picked up a personal foul penalty in the 4th quarter that helped extend a Chicago drive and keep the clock running for the home team.  Joe Flacco and Rice teamed up for a horrific 2nd quarter interception-for-return by the Bears, as the running back whiffed on a high-school level blocking assignment and Flacco then didn’t get the ball up and over Chicago’s David Bass, who did the tip-and-catch thing to perfection and scampered into the end zone for a 24-yard TD.  And, early in the fourth quarter, the Ravens inexplicably challenged an Alshon Jeffery catch that cost them a valuable time-out after the play was – not surprisingly – upheld after video review.

When you have a couple of more negatives than positives, that’s how you lose.

Honestly, the Ravens would have won this game a year ago.  Not because of heart or effort or anything like that.  You certainly can’t fault the team’s fight on Sunday in Chicago.  They battled like a defending champion is expected to battle.  But, a season ago, the Ravens would have reached the end-zone with twenty seconds left in the game.  How?  I don’t know.  They just would have.

This team is 4-6 for a reason.

They don’t do anything particularly well is probably the most logical reason, but the truth is they’re 4-6 because they can’t beat teams like the Bills, Browns and Bears.

The funniest part?  The Ravens are still very much in the AFC playoff race, along with about seven other teams.  At this point, a two game win streak over the next eleven days would put them at 6-6 and give them a legit shot at finishing the season on a strong note and securing a 6th straight playoff berth.

That said, there’s no guarantee the Ravens win two more games TOTAL, let alone two in a row at home over New York and Pittsburgh.

As we’ve seen over the first ten games, there’s no telling what this Ravens team is going to do from game-to-game, half-to-half, quarter-to-quarter and series-to-series.

They couldn’t even pick up five yards on Sunday when doing so would have won the game for them.

 

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Who helped the Jets more Sunday: Ed Reed or the 15-7-0?

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Who helped the Jets more Sunday: Ed Reed or the 15-7-0?

Posted on 18 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

15 positive observations from the weekend of football, seven not so positive observations and we acknowledge a “zero” from outside the world of football. A reminder, there’s never any Ravens game analysis here. We do plenty of that elsewhere. It’s a trip through the weekend of football via videos, GIFs, memes, pictures, links, Tweets and shtick. This isn’t where we do Ravens stuff. You can find plenty of that…like…everywhere else on the site.

The 15-7-0 is happy to congratulate Jimmie Johnson on his 6th NASCAR title. I say that as a fellow six time NASCAR champ myself. What’s that, you don’t believe me? Then prove me wrong. Name ONE other NASCAR champion besides Jimmie Johnson.

That’s what I thought.

15 Positive Observations…

1. The Bengals are running away with the AFC North again. This would probably be a more exciting development in Cincinnati but, you know, history and all.

But don’t try to tell Cincy’s finest they shouldn’t be amped up about a big win!

2. Hey there, Terps football fan. Remember how everyone in the office was bragging about their Holiday vacations last year? Mike in finance went to St. Thomas and Jill in accounts payable went to Barbados while you just sat around and ate fruitcake? Well this year you’re going to be the talk of the water cooler because CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’RE HEADED TO BEAUTIFUL SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA! (Or Annapolis). So long, suckers!

Could someone check in to see if Randy Edsall is excited about bowl eligibility?

Elsewhere in the ACC, Florida State’s game against Syracuse was not competitive, but there WAS some competition at the game!

3. When Ed Orgeron replaces Charlie Weis at Kansas this offseason, do you think he’ll bring his sword with him? Like to take it around on recruiting trips? “Hi, I’m Ed Orgeron and this is my sword.” Damn that sounds awesome. If you haven’t picked out a wedding gift for me yet, please make it a sword.

Lee Corso kinda hopes the answer is “no”.

Another question is whether or not he’ll bring his own Doctor.

And also, will he bring his Marqise Lee?

Kansas actually won a game Saturday. This guy got to keep a piece of the goalpost everyone else threw in the lake.

4. In the span of seven days and two wins, Ben Roethlisberger went from a declaration that he’s a “Pittsburgher” to being dressed exactly like a Hamburglar.

I like Jim Schwartz. I do not like this call.

Why did the Lions lose? Because this guy showed up to the game wearing THIS.

5. Denver is the best team in the AFC West. In a related story, a bear was seen relieving himself in an area filled mostly with trees.

There were like 16 people that showed up at the game with this exact sign. I was right about everything I said about you, Denver.

Your reaction, Denver mascot?

Also…this is a thing? Although I’m not surprised Andy Reid would care so much about his postgame spreads.

There’s a big game coming up next week and Tom Brady is apparently a Batman movie villain now.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Bovada lists Ravens’ AFC North odds at 5/1

Posted on 14 November 2013 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).

 

Odds to win the 2014 Super Bowl XLVIII Odds to win the 2014 Super Bowl XLVIII (Teams in red have longer odds from last week, teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same)      

                  Week 10           Current

Denver Broncos                        10/3                  10/3

Seattle Seahawks                      5/1                    4/1

New Orleans Saints                   9/1                    15/2

New England Patriots                9/1                    9/1

San Francisco 49ers                  15/2                  10/1

Kansas City Chiefs                    12/1                  12/1

Carolina Panthers                      28/1                  14/1

Indianapolis Colts                      12/1                  18/1

Detroit Lions                             33/1                  20/1

Cincinnati Bengals                     18/1                  25/1

Green Bay Packers                    14/1                  25/1

Dallas Cowboys                        25/1                  33/1

Philadelphia Eagles                   66/1                  33/1

Chicago Bears                          33/1                  50/1

New York Giants                       75/1                  50/1

Baltimore Ravens                      100/1                66/1

New York Jets                           100/1                75/1

Arizona Cardinals                      200/1                100/1

Pittsburgh Steelers                    250/1                100/1

San Diego Chargers                  75/1                  100/1

Cleveland Browns                      200/1                150/1

Miami Dolphins                         75/1                  150/1

Tennessee Titans                       100/1                150/1

Washington Redskins                100/1                150/1

Houston Texans                        150/1                500/1

St. Louis Rams                         1000/1              500/1

Atlanta Falcons                         500/1                750/1

Minnesota Vikings                     1000/1              750/1

Oakland Raiders                        500/1                750/1

Buffalo Bills                              750/1                1000/1

Jacksonville Jaguars                 Off the Board    Off the Board

Tampa Bay Buccaneers             Off the Board    Off the Board

Odds to win the 2014 AFC Conference 

Denver Broncos                        7/5

New England Patriots                4/1

Kansas City Chiefs                    9/2

Indianapolis Colts                      7/1

Cincinnati Bengals                     8/1

Baltimore Ravens                      25/1

New York Jets                           33/1

Pittsburgh Steelers                    50/1

San Diego Chargers                  50/1

Cleveland Browns                      66/1

Miami Dolphins                         66/1

Tennessee Titans                       66/1

Houston Texans                        200/1

Oakland Raiders                        350/1

Buffalo Bills                              500/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 NFC Conference 

Seattle Seahawks                      2/1

New Orleans Saints                   15/4

San Francisco 49ers                  11/2

Carolina Panthers                      7/1

Detroit Lions                             11/1

Green Bay Packers                    12/1

Dallas Cowboys                        18/1

Philadelphia Eagles                   18/1

Chicago Bears                          25/1

New York Giants                       25/1

Arizona Cardinals                      50/1

Washington Redskins                75/1

St. Louis Rams                         250/1

Atlanta Falcons                         350/1

Minnesota Vikings                     350/1

 

Playoff Chances

Will the Arizona Cardinals make the playoffs?

Yes                  +250     (5/2)

No                    -400     (1/4)

 

Will the Chicago Bears make the playoffs?      

Yes                  +250     (5/2)

No                    -400     (1/4)

 

Will the Detroit Lions make the playoffs?        

Yes                  -300     (1/3)

No                    +200     (2/1)

 

Will the Green Bay Packers make the playoffs?           

Yes                  +175     (7/4)

No                    -250     (5/2)

 

Will the San Francisco 49ers make the playoffs?         

Yes                  -400     (1/4)

No                    +300     (3/1)

 

Team and Coach Props

NFL WEEK 11 SPECIALS – Who will be a member of the Miami Dolphins Week 1 of the 2014 Regular Season?           

Joe Philbin only            3/1

Jeff Ireland only            2/1

Both                             7/1       

Neither                          1/1

 

Will Greg Schiano be the head Coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for game 1 of the 2014 Season?

Yes      +300     (3/1)

No        -500     (1/5)

 

Will Joe Philbin be the head Coach for the Miami Dolphins for game 1 of the 2014 Season?

Yes      +300     (3/1)

No        -500     (1/5)

 

Will Leslie Frazier be the head Coach for the Minnesota Vikings for game 1 of the 2014 Season?

Yes      +200     (2/1)

No        -300     (1/3)

 

Will Dennis Allen be the head Coach for the Oakland Raiders for game 1 of the 2014 Season?

Yes      +150     (3/2)

No        -200     (1/2)

 

Will Jason Garrett be the head Coach for the Dallas Cowboys for game 1 of the 2014 Season?

Yes      EVEN   (1/1)

No        -140     (5/7)

 

Will Mike Munchak be the head Coach for the Tennessee Titans for game 1 of the 2014 Season?

Yes      EVEN   (1/1)

No        -140     (5/7)

 

Will Rex Ryan be the head Coach for the New York Jets for game 1 of the 2014 Season?

Yes       -140     (5/7)

No        EVEN   (1/1)

 

Will Gary Kubiak be the head Coach for the Houston Texans for game 1 of the 2014 Season?

Yes       -140     (5/7)

No        EVEN   (1/1)

 

Will Mike Shanahan be the head Coach for the Washington Redskins for game 1 of the 2014 Season?

Yes       -140     (5/7)

No        EVEN   (1/1)

 

Will Tom Coughlin be the head Coach for the New York Giants for game 1 of the 2014 Season?

Yes      -200     (1/2)

No        +150     (3/2)

 

Will Ron Rivera be the head Coach for the Carolina Panthers for game 1 of the 2014 Season?

Yes      -300     (1/3)

No        +200     (2/1)

 

Will Mike Tomlin be the head Coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers for game 1 of the 2014 Season?

Yes      -350     (2/7)

No        +225     (9/4)

 

Will Mike Smith be the head Coach for the Atlanta Falcons for game 1 of the 2014 Season?

Yes      -400     (1/4)

No        +250     (5/2)

 

Will Jim Schwartz be the head Coach for the Detroit Lions for game 1 of the 2014 Season?

Yes      -500     (1/5)

No        +300     (3/1)

 

NFL WEEK 11 SPECIALS – Who will have the 1st Overall Pick in the 2014 NFL Draft? 

Jacksonville Jaguars                 1/2

Tampa Bay Buccaneers             2/1

Minnesota Vikings                     10/1

Any Other Team                        5/1

 

NFL WEEK 11 SPECIALS – Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs 2013 Regular Season Matchup     

Denver wins both games                                   10/11   

Kansas City wins both games                            7/1       

Denver and Kansas City each win a game           11/10

 

NFL WEEK 11 SPECIALS – How many Home wins will the Philadelphia Eagles have in the 2013 Regular Season? (Note: The Eagles have lost their last 10 home games and have four remaining home games this season)

Over                             2½ (EVEN, 1/1)

Under                           2½ (-140, 5/7)

 

NFL WEEK 11 SPECIALS – New Orleans Saints- Total Offensive Yards Week 11 vs. the San Francisco 49ers  

Over/Under                   410½

 

NFL WEEK 11 SPECIALS – How many points will the Panthers allow Week 11 vs. the New England Patriots

Over/Under                   21½

 

NFL WEEK 11 SPECIALS – How many Offensive Yards will the Patriots record Week 11 vs. the Carolina Panthers            

Over/Under                   330½

 

Player Props

NFL WEEK 11 SPECIALS -  Percy Harvin – Will he score a Touchdown Week 11 vs the Minnesota Vikings     

Yes                  +160     (8/5)

No                    -200     (1/2)

 

NFL WEEK 11 SPECIALS – Scott Tolzien (GB) – Total Passing Yards Week 11 vs. New York Giants     

Over/Under                   240½

 

NFL WEEK 11 SPECIALS – Scott Tolzien (GB) – Total TD Passes Week 11 vs. New York Giants           

Over/Under                   1½

 

NFL WEEK 11 SPECIALS – Scott Tolzien (GB) – Total Interceptions Week 11 vs. New York Giants       

Over                             ½  (-250, 2/5)

Under                           ½ (+200, 2/1)

 

NFL WEEK 11 SPECIALS – How many TD Passes will Nick Foles throw starting Week 11 before he throws his first interception? (Note: Foles currently has 16 TDs and 0 interceptions on the season)

Over/Under                   2½

 

NFL WEEK 11 SPECIALS – Andy Dalton – Total Interceptions in the 2013 Regular Season (Note: Dalton has thrown 6 interceptions the last two weeks and currently has 13)              

Over/Under                   19½

 

Division Odds

Odds to win the 2014 AFC East Division          

New England Patriots                1/10

New York Jets                           5/1

Miami Dolphins                         14/1

Buffalo Bills                              100/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 AFC North Division        

Cincinnati Bengals                     1/3

Baltimore Ravens                      5/1

Cleveland Browns                      11/2

Pittsburgh Steelers                    12/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 AFC South Division       

Indianapolis Colts                      1/10

Tennessee Titans                       11/2

Houston Texans                        25/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 AFC West Division         

Denver Broncos                        2/5

Kansas City Chiefs                    8/5

 

Odds to win the 2014 NFC East Division          

Dallas Cowboys                        13/10

Philadelphia Eagles                   13/10

New York Giants                       5/1

Washington Redskins                8/1

 

Odds to win the 2014 NFC North Division        

Detroit Lions                             1/2

Green Bay Packers                    3/1

Chicago Bears                          7/2

 

Odds to win the 2014 NFC South Division       

New Orleans Saints                   2/5

Carolina Panthers                      8/5

 

Odds to win the 2014 NFC West Division

Seattle Seahawks                      1/7

San Francisco 49ers                  4/1

Arizona Cardinals                      33/1

 

 

BCS Exact Matchup Odds

Alabama vs. Florida State                      4/5

Alabama vs. Baylor                               5/1

Baylor vs. Florida State                         6/1

Alabama vs. Ohio State                         13/2

Florida State vs. Ohio State                   7/1

Baylor vs. Ohio State                            20/1

 

Will Alabama, Florida State, Baylor and Ohio State all finish the Regular Season 12-0?

Yes      8/1

No        1/16

 

Hypothetical BCS Title Odds

Alabama           -5.5

Florida State     +5.5

 

Alabama            -7

Baylor               +7

 

Alabama            -9.5

Ohio State        +9.5

 

 

Who will be the first head coach fired in the 2013-2104 Season?       

Randy Wittman (WAS)               2/1

Tyrone Corbin  (UTA)                 9/4

Monty Williams (NO)                  7/2

Jason Kidd (BRK)                     13/2

Dwane Casey (TOR)                  13/2

Mike Woodson (NY)                  15/2

Mike D’Antoni  (LAL)                  12/1

Terry Stotts (POR)                     12/1

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Flacco after Bengals Hail Mary: “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

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Flacco after Bengals Hail Mary: “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

Posted on 10 November 2013 by WNSTV

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Ravens escape Bengals despite offensive slumber party

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Ravens escape Bengals despite offensive slumber party

Posted on 10 November 2013 by Drew Forrester

There are two ways to look at Sunday’s 20-17 Baltimore win over Cincinnati.

Season saved.

Or, torture extended.

Honestly, I’m thinking we’re a lot closer to torture-extended than saving the season, but that’s why they play the games.

I’ll just ask the question directly instead of beating around the bush:  This Ravens offense can’t possibly be good enough to win six more games between now and New Years, right?

I don’t see how it can happen.

They can’t run the ball.  Anywhere.  And the passing game, while decent enough at times, just can’t prop up a one-dimensional offense like the one the Ravens are utilizing these days.

Now, this takes nothing at all away from the overtime win over the Bengals.  A loss by the Ravens – after being up 17-0 – would have been about as disappointing as The Hangover 3.  And, with the win, the season and hopes for a rebound in the second half are alive and well, despite the offensive ineptness.

A win IS a win, no matter how many times we’ve heard that over the years.

And, we’ve heard it a lot.

But, it’s true.  The standings will reflect that Baltimore won on Sunday to improve to 4-5 and the Bengals lost to fall to 6-4.  Bellyaching about the team’s offense – like I just did above – won’t change those facts.  Lamenting about James Ihedigbo’s mental error on the game’s final play of regulation won’t alter the outcome, either.

I assume Bengals fans might want to wring Marvin Lewis’s neck for a series of bizarre decisions throughout the afternoon, but none will be talked about more than his decision to take the overtime kick off and give the Ravens the choice of which end zone to defend.  It essentially flipped the field on Cincy in OT, as they elected not to try and kick a 50 yard field goal into the windswept end and instead went for it on 4th and 2 from the Baltimore 33 yard line.  When the Bengals lost 11 yards on the play, the Ravens got the ball on their own 44 yard line.  Even a bad Baltimore offense can scoot the ball along 25 yards without coughing it up, which is exactly what happened to give Tucker his 46 yard game-winner.

Lewis will regret not punting on 4th and 2.  And he’ll be questioned about taking the ball to start overtime and giving the Ravens the easy end of the field to work with, wind-wise.  That said, neither of those elements dwarf his team’s biggest problem on Sunday:  Andy Dalton stunk up the joint.  If he’s a championship quarterback, I’m the lead singer for Alice in Chains.

Truthfully, from the first whistle until Green’s miracle grab on the final play, the Bengals had zero business even being in the game.  They were disjointed, undisciplined and largely more interested in accumulating penalty flags than points throughout most of the afternoon.  It wasn’t until Baltimore’s offense fizzled in the final two minutes of the game that the visitors even had a breath of life.

If ever the Ravens grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat, Sunday’s game did just that.

And that’s after they allowed the Bengals to meander their way back into the contest when it looked like they weren’t all that interested in doing so.

That’s what happens when your offense can’t put teams away.

And that’s how it goes when you’re playing with fire defensively, knowing any small mistake can put your team behind the eight ball.

The Ravens outplayed the Bengals on Sunday.

It wasn’t an ass kicking or anything, but the Baltimore defense manned up all afternoon and put John Harbaugh’s team in position for a relatively easy win.

Then, the Baltimore offense stalled.

Again.

And the whole thing got a lot closer than it needed to get.

This Ravens team – as a whole – just doesn’t appear to be all that good.  But, they’re 4-5 and still alive in the race for an AFC playoff spot.  A win in Chicago next week and they’re still very much in the thick of things.

Let’s see if the offense makes the trip to Soldier Field.

If it doesn’t, we won’t be crowing about “a win is a win” this time next Sunday night.

 

 

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Does John Harbaugh’s style need changing?  It’s a fair question…

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Does John Harbaugh’s style need changing? It’s a fair question…

Posted on 05 November 2013 by Drew Forrester

Football players can’t change much, but a coach sure can.

Can John Harbaugh change?

Should he?

Will he?

Those are all fair questions now as the Ravens are in the midst of only their second 3-game losing streak in Harbaugh’s outstanding 6-year run as Baltimore’s NFL coach.

First, let’s get this straight from the start:  In and of itself, a 3-game losing streak is NOT a reason to panic.  It’s NOT a reason to change the great things you’ve done.  And it’s NOT incumbent upon one person to say, “I’ll fix this whole thing…”

That said, when you’ve been around for five-plus seasons, any significant bump in the road – and a 3-game losing streak, to a high-level franchise like the Ravens, is SIGNIFICANT – has to be looked at by the head coach as an opportunity to evaluate himself and his work.

I hope John is doing that today in Owings Mills.

Anyone who has read my work here or listened to my radio show knows what I think about John Harbaugh.  For the record, again, I’ll simply say this:  John is an outstanding football coach.  He’s an equally outstanding “man”.  He’s a champion.  And, of course, he still has plenty to learn in his profession.

I’ve been around athletes for the last thirty years of my life and one thing I can say for sure is that players rarely change their own style.  They can’t, really.  They are what they are.  If you’re a striker in professional soccer and you’re a right footed player with little or no ability to play left-footed, you’re always going to be a player that goes to his right and uses his right foot to pass or shoot the ball.  The same goes for a basketball player who’s a “right sided” player.  You’re going to your right, virtually every time, and that’s just the way it goes.  You do what got you there, for lack of a better term.  Football players are the same.  Their style is their style.  Some of that is predicated on things outside of their control — size and speed are two factors — but for the most part, a pro football player is going to use the tools that got him there in the first place.

Coaches are different.

They can change.

That doesn’t mean they have to undergo a wholesale change that comes across as “obviously phony”.

But, a coach who’s soft can develop a new, stronger edge and a coach that’s known to be a drill sergeant can soften his edges and  learn to be more accomodating with his players.  The most obvious NFL example of the latter is Tom Coughlin in New York, who has worked hard over the last five years to listen more and yell less.  It’s worked, of course.  He’s a 2-time Super Bowl champion and likely headed for the Hall of Fame someday.

I’d ask John Harbaugh to go through the same self-evaluation as Coughlin did five years ago.

I’m not TELLING John to change.  That’s not the point of this.

I’m simply suggesting to the coach that now, season six of his tenure, might be the time to carefully evaluate his style to see if it still works with this group of players he has in Baltimore.

One thing I know for sure.  If John Harbaugh thinks his style can be tweaked, improved or altered and doing so would help the team win, he’d surely consider doing it.  Another thing I know without hesitation:  No one on the football team or football staff wants to win more than Harbaugh.  No one.  He’d sell his mother to win a football game.  And then he’d pay double to get her back afterwards.  He wants to win, badly.

Then again, the players want to win, too.  How you get them to win, though, is the challenge.  As someone in the Ravens organization said to me last week, “We have an interesting collection of players.  Some of the veterans need an ass-kicking and some don’t.  Some of our young players get it and some of them don’t.  Usually, the vets don’t need to be reminded to take every snap seriously and the kids do, but our locker room is a unique blend of guys, for some reason.”

One of those veteran players who needed an ass kicking got it last week.  Michael Huff was sent packing after three months of showing little desire to do anything except pick up a paycheck.  Marcus Spears was also let go, but that was much more about his degenerative knee condition limiting him, physically.  Cornerback Asa Jackson returns this week after his 2nd run-in with the league’s Substance Abuse Policy.  He’s on life number eight of his nine lives in Baltimore.  Will he take advantage of it or will he fall from grace the way most people in Owings Mills assume he will?

And, how does John Harbaugh go about his own business now, dealing with a locker room that’s reeling with three straight losses and has both sides of the ball stinking it up at crucial times during the games?  A fractured locker room is a bad locker room.  Once the offense and defense start taking up sides, you’re in big trouble.  I can only guess there’s an element of that existing right now at 1 Winning Drive, but that atmosphere likely exists in most locker rooms of 3-5 teams.

This, again, is on Harbaugh’s shoulders right now.

Is he working with a depleted roster, minus eleven critically important players from a season ago?

Absolutely.

If you suddenly re-inserted these jerseys in the Ravens locker room, would the team be a lot better?  Dennis Pitta, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard, Cary Williams, Brendon Ayanbedejo, Anquan Boldin, Matt Birk, Bryant McKinnie, Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe.

Answer, of course:  Yes.

But, that was then, this is now.  Those guys are gone.  And this new edition of Ravens football might not react to the head coach the way the championship team did a season ago.

Is John just going with his style because it’s his style or is willing to look at himself and say, “For this team, now, I might need to change the way I do things?”

More bible verses?  Or less bible verses?

Harder practices?  Lighter practices?

More hugs to the special team players…the fringe guys?  Or less hugs and more questions like “Are you ever going to be good enough to start in this league?”

More critical analysis of his coaching staff?  Longer days?  Shorter days?  More “come to Jesus” meetings with position coaches who see their own struggling game in and game out?

More thorough review of John’s own in-game style and strategy?  More of a gambler?  Less of a gambler?

I don’t know the answers to any of those questions and I’m not suggesting any, honestly.

I’m merely asking the coach if his style, the one that has made him a champion, is etched in stone and non-negotiable?

Or, like the truly GREAT coaches in all sports, can he re-invent himself and use his strengths to mold a new character that changes with the seasons and the players he leads?

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Hands Off the Panic Button

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Hands Off the Panic Button

Posted on 28 October 2013 by Brett Dickinson

Marlon BrownThe Purple Camo Army can officially remove their fingers from the panic button (at least for now); the Ravens have officially won the bye week. During the all-to-timely bye week, the Ravens should regain some confidence in their playoff chances looking forward. After the dust has settled from a somewhat strange Sunday, Baltimore remains a game back of the 6th seed in the AFC and the second Wild Card spot.

Sitting at 3-4 seems to be an ugly situation for the defending champs, but with a top heavy conference, there is still wiggle room for the Ravens to make a run during the second half of the season. John Harbaugh and company probably paid close attention to the games this weekend, to scout some of their competition, but must have waked up Monday morning with a slight grin.

The only teams that are in the fight for that final playoff spot that had a positive weekend are also those who did not play, such as San Diego (4-3) and Tennessee (3-4). Everyone else struggled to gain any ground in the Wild Card race, with losses by Cleveland (3-5), New York Jets (4-4), Pittsburgh (2-5), Buffalo (3-5) and Miami (3-4). The best situation for the Ravens is for the front-runners in each division (except the Bengals in the AFC North) to keep up their pace.

New England will have more opportunities against their division rivals, and could single-handedly knock out the Bills, Dolphins and Jets from playoff contention. If they were to sweep the AFC East from here on out (which is not impossible, considering some of the players they will regain from the injury list), those teams will be all but finished.

The AFC West sports the best two teams in the league (record-wise at least), with the Broncos and Chiefs only having one loss between the two of them. Kansas City and Denver will both have two cracks at the Chargers the rest of the way; meaning they could hand San Diego at least their seventh loss, by the final week of the season.

Add in the Colts opportunity to face off with Tennessee twice this season and Ravens fans should be rooting for some of their most-hated non-divisional rivals. It’s sad to say that Baltimore’s playoff hopes are contingent on the Broncos, Patriots and Colts all helping them out.
The upcoming schedule for Baltimore looks to be much easier than predicted before the season started. A road trip to Chicago seems to be much more winnable with Jay Cutler’s injury concerns, while matchups with the Browns, Jets, Steelers and Vikings all are expected wins for the Ravens over the next six weeks.

Bengals vs JetsNow Baltimore is not out of the AFC North battle either, sitting two and half games back of the Bengals. They will have their chances to gain ground two Sunday’s from now on the division leader, at the friendly confines of the M&T Bank stadium. With this six week stretch upcoming, the Ravens are set up for a Week 17 battle for the AFC North Crown in Cincinnati.

Cheers going out to the Broncos, Patriots and Colts….ugghhhh.

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Loss of a dozen starters has really hurt the Ravens

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Loss of a dozen starters has really hurt the Ravens

Posted on 22 October 2013 by Drew Forrester

Everywhere I went on Monday, the question was basically the same:  ”What’s wrong with the Ravens?”

A few folks who asked that of me quickly followed up with, “You shouldn’t be this bad a year after winning the Super Bowl.”

Well, what’s wrong with the Ravens is, in fact, a by-product of winning the Super Bowl in New Orleans last February.

The 2013 edition of John Harbaugh’s team isn’t the same one that won the title in 2012.  Simple, right?  Well, yes, it sort of IS that simple, actually, even though people are always trying to find the “hidden secret” or “untold story” of the team.

Try this simple exercise for a second.  You’re going to have to put your pre-conceived negative opinions of John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco and Ray Rice on the side for a moment, because this little game won’t work if you can’t do that.

OK…ready?

I want you to rewind your brain all the way back to last January.  The Ravens have just finished 10-6, won the AFC North, and get to take on the Colts in the first round of the playoffs.  If they win there, their “prize” is a trip to Denver to take on a Peyton Manning team that rocked you in Baltimore a month earlier.  And, if you’re somehow fortunate enough to get past the Broncos, the last remaining hurdle between you and the Super Bowl is a visit to Tom Brady’s house in Foxboro.

Still with me?

OK — the week before the Colts game, a crippling virus races through the Ravens locker room and these ten players are deemed OUT for the remainder of the playoffs:  Anquan Boldin, Matt Birk, Dannell Ellerbe, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Paul Kruger, Brendon Ayanbedejo, Bernard Pollard, Cary Williams and Dennis Pitta.  Add Bryant McKinnie to the mix after Monday’s trade and that makes eleven key players gone. (Keep in mind, as much as people like to beat up McKinnie, the Ravens are 0-2 since they jettisoned him to the bench in favor of Eugene Monroe.)

Could the Ravens have won four straight games in January and February without those eleven players a year ago?

Honestly?

Of course not.  They wouldn’t have moved past Indianapolis in the first round of the playoffs given those ten starters missing the game due to the mythical “virus” I described above.

Well — of those eleven players I listed, nine of them were STARTERS from a year ago who haven’t played a single down for the Ravens this season.  McKinnie played 5 of 7 games before they sent him packing on Monday afternoon.

Of the players listed above, only Dennis Pitta remains on the roster, and he’s injured and was unavailable through seven games of 2013.

If you’re looking for the biggest reason why the Ravens are 3-4 at the bye, you just saw ten of them above.  There are, generally speaking, 22 “starters” in any game.  Ayanbedejo wasn’t technically a starter, but he WAS a special teams ace, so I deem him to be an important cog in the machine.  So, ten starters – out of 22 – are gone.  That’s not quite 50%, but it’s a huge chunk of quality missing that needed to be replaced.

(Please see next page)

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