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Ravens-Falcons preseason primer: Five players to watch

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Ravens-Falcons preseason primer: Five players to watch

Posted on 14 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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Looking to build on an uneven performance from their starting units in the preseason opener, the Ravens return to M&T Bank Stadium for their first live-game action at home since last season in hosting the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night.

Though starters won’t see their most extensive action until next week against Carolina, the first-team units will likely play deep into the second quarter before giving way to backups.

“It will be somewhere in that neighborhood,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Usually the second preseason game is a half, but again, like we say every time we play a preseason game, it will depend on different guys. Different guys will be on different plans, so it’s hard to say exactly.”

The second preseason game is often the best opportunity for younger players to make their biggest impression with the coaching staff since starters often play into the third quarter in the third preseason game. As a result, many rookies and backups won’t receive as many live-game reps again until the fourth preseason game after most 53-man roster decisions have already been made internally.

With veteran additions being made at wide receiver and tight end over the last week, fringe players at those positions find themselves in a precarious position trying to stand out despite the reality of there now being one or two fewer roster spots available to win.

“If you play well enough, you’re going to make it,” Harbaugh said. “And if you play well enough and you don’t make it here, you’ll make it somewhere else. It’s really more of a competition against yourself and how well you can play and how good you can get and then see what happens. That other stuff is pretty much out of their control, and I think they understand that.”

The Ravens and Falcons will meet in the preseason for the 10th time as Baltimore holds a 6-3 record. The two teams are tied 2-2 in the all-time regular-season series as Atlanta won the most recent meeting in 2010.

After last week’s 44-16 win over the Buccaneers, the Ravens are now 41-27 all-time in the preseason and 14-7 in the Harbaugh era. Baltimore has now won 13 of its last 17 preseason games and has produced seven wins in the last eight preseason contests played at M&T Bank Stadium.

Unofficial (and largely speculative) injury report

The Ravens are not required to release an injury report like they do for regular-season games, but I’ve offered my best guess on what the injury report would look like if one were to be released.

Most of the players ruled to be out will come as no surprise, but the status of a few will be in question. Cornerback Lardarius Webb is not expected to play as he continues to increase his level of activity in 11-on-11 sessions during practices. Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda just returned to the practice field on Monday on a limited basis but could take part in the third preseason game of the summer.

Newly-signed tight end Dallas Clark is not expected to play against the Falcons while veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley could see some very limited action as each player tries to learn offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell’s system. Both are good bets to receive extensive action in next week’s nationally-televised game against the Panthers.

Again, this is not an official injury report released by the Ravens:

OUT: TE Ed Dickson (hamstring), WR Deonte Thompson (foot), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder), LB Jameel McClain (neck), OL Ryan Jensen (foot), DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (knee), TE Dennis Pitta (hip)
DOUBTFUL: DT Marcus Spears (hamstring), CB Lardarius Webb (knee), CB Chris Johnson (undisclosed)
QUESTIONABLE: OL Ramon Harewood (knee), LB Bryan Hall (hamstring), WR Marlon Brown (undisclosed)
PROBABLE: WR David Reed (groin), S James Ihedigbo (neck), CB Chykie Brown (undisclosed)

Five players to watch Thursday night

1. WR Tandon Doss

With Stokley still in the process of picking up the offensive system, Doss must show the coaching staff that he can be a viable option working out of the slot after a disappointing performance in the preseason opener. It’s largely been a quiet summer for the third-year receiver who has a reputation for good hands and running crisp routes in practice.

Next week, you would expect the Ravens to take long looks at both Stokley and Clark working the middle of the field in the passing game, meaning Doss has a critical opportunity against the Falcons to show he can be more than just an afterthought offensively. It’s time for Doss to show why the Ravens thought highly enough of him to draft him in the fourth round of the 2011 draft.

2. DT Terrence Cody

The fourth-year defensive lineman has been maligned for much of his run in Baltimore, but Cody has received positive reviews from the coaching staff this summer as he’s finally healthy after offseason hip and elbow surgeries. His roster standing appears to be safer now than it was at the start of camp, but he’s fighting for playing time in what’s shaping up to be a crowded defensive line rotation.

Cody may never live up to his original second-round billing, but the Ravens need a strong option to back up Haloti Ngata at nose tackle, which will allow defensive coordinator Dean Pees to be more creative in moving the Pro Bowl defensive tackle around when warranted. There’s no reason why Cody can’t feast against the Falcons’ second-team offense and further impress the coaching staff as he enters the final year of his rookie contract.

3. LB Courtney Upshaw

Many have been surprised to see Upshaw work so extensively with the starting defense — and ahead of pass-rush standout Elvis Dumervil — but all you have to do is focus on his ability against the run to see why the Ravens are high on him. He has shed the excess weight he was carrying in the spring and looks to be carving out his spot as the starting strongside outside linebacker who will play against offensively-balanced teams in early-down situations.

Upshaw’s ability against the run allows Pees to be more judicious in how he uses both Dumervil and starting rush linebacker Terrell Suggs, which will hopefully keep both veterans fresher over the course of games and the entire season. He doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher, but Upshaw will factor heavily in what the Ravens expect to be a stout run defense.

4. LB Arthur Brown

Brown’s athleticism and ability in pass coverage have been impressive, but he just doesn’t look the part of a three-down linebacker right now with his 235-pound frame, which is probably a generous listing. That said, Brown will serve an important role as a nickel linebacker spelling Josh Bynes in passing situations.

The second-round pick may not become a full-time starter until he can benefit from a full offseason to put on 10 pounds of muscle, but the Ravens struggled to cover tight ends over the short-to-intermediate middle portion of the field over the last few years and Brown can be a major boost in that department. Brown has a bright future, but he has a lot of work to do in order to close the gap between him and Bynes for the starting weakside inside linebacker spot next to veteran Daryl Smith.

5. TE Matt Furstenburg

Furstenburg is just one of several young players who are feeling the effects of the recent veteran signings as he now trails Ed Dickson, Visanthe Shiancoe, and Clark and is battling veteran Billy Bajema for the fourth spot on the depth chart. The Maryland product’s most realistic destination is the practice squad at this rate, but he will have an opportunity to distinguish himself Thursday like Doss and the other young wide receivers fighting for playing time and roster spots.

A factor that many will overlook in the tight end battle is blocking and neither Shiancoe nor Clark are particularly strong in that department. Of course, much will depend on the status of Dickson’s injured hamstring in a couple weeks, but there could be a potential spot available to Bajema or Furstenburg if their blocking ability proves to be a necessary asset.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 13 August 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Charm City Roller Girls (Saturday 5:30pm Du Burns Arena); WNBA: Washington Mystics @ Atlanta Dream (Sunday 3pm from Atlanta live on NBA TV); Boxing: Daniel Geale vs. Darren Barker (Saturday 9:45pm from Atlantic City live on HBO)

10. George Thorogood/Buddy Guy (Tuesday 8pm Pier Six Pavilion); Huey Lewis & The News (Tuesday 8pm Wolf Trap), Chicago (Monday 8pm Wolf Trap); Uproar Festival feat. Alice In Chains, Jane’s Addiction, New Politics, Coheed and Cambria, Middle Class Rut (Friday 2pm Jiffy Lube Live), Jimmy Buffett (Saturday 8pm Jiffy Lube Live); Ted Nugent (Friday 9pm Rams Head Live), En Vogue (Saturday 9pm Rams Head Live); Candlebox (Tuesday 7:30pm Baltimore Soundstage); Blues Traveler (Sunday 8pm Rams Head on Stage), Bret Michaels (Monday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); JD McPherson (Friday 7:30pm Birchmere), Edwin McCain Band (Saturday 7:30pm Birchmere); Great White (Friday 8pm House of Rock); Cherry Poppin’ Daddies (Saturday 8:30pm The Hamilton); Hot August Blues feat. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals/Galactic (Saturday 12pm Oregon Ridge Park)

Perhaps I’ll do a little drinking Tuesday night at the Thorogood show.

Obviously there’s no drinking allowed at a Jimmy Buffett show though. Obviously.

Judge all you want. Blues Traveler OWNS.

Last time Grace Potter was in town…she really killed it.

9. Feast of St. Gabriel Italian Festival (Saturday & Sunday Little Italy); Baltimore County Restaurant Week (Tuesday-Monday throughout Baltimore County); Paul Rodriguez (Thursday-Saturday DC Improv); Jobs“, “Kick-Ass 2” and “Paranoia” out in theaters (Friday); Olympus Has Fallen” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday)

Just reading the words “feast” and “Italian” in the same sentence make something really weird happen in my pants…

I assume someone will be working on a replication of my fiancé’s buffalo chicken shells…

“I Wish It Was Christmas Today.”

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top Seven- Mid-season MLB Rankings

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top Seven- Mid-season MLB Rankings

Posted on 02 July 2013 by WNST Staff

Here’s Drew’s top seven in Major League Baseball

7) Atlanta Braves

6) Pittsburgh Pirates

5) Boston Red Sox

4) Baltimore Orioles

3) Texas Rangers

2) Detroit Tigers

1) St. Louis Cardinals

Here’s Ryan’s Top Seven

7) Detroit Tigers

 

6) Baltimore Orioles

5) Pittsburgh Pirates

4) Texas Rangers

3) Boston Red Sox

2) Cincinnati Reds

1) St. Louis Cardinals

 

 

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Orioles deal RHP Ayala to Atlanta for minor league arm

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Orioles deal RHP Ayala to Atlanta for minor league arm

Posted on 10 April 2013 by Luke Jones

Feeling a roster crunch due to a short bench and the desire to keep Rule 5 selection T.J. McFarland, the Orioles have traded right-handed relief pitcher Luis Ayala to the Atlanta Braves.

In exchange, Baltimore receives minor league pitcher Chris Jones, who will be assigned to Double-A Bowie. The deal frees up a roster spot for outfielder Chris Dickerson, who will join the club in Boston for Wednesday’s game and was not on the 40-man roster while beginning the season at Triple-A Norfolk.

Injuries to second baseman Brian Roberts and outfielder Nolan Reimold had left the Orioles short-handed as they tried to carry McFarland on the 25-man roster. Trading Ayala not only gives them a fourth bench player immediately with Dickerson but makes the long-term prospects of keeping McFarland more reasonable.

Ayala was 6-5 with a 2.81 earned run average in 68 games for the Orioles over the past two seasons, but he became more expendable with the decision to move former starter and right-handed pitcher Tommy Hunter to a bullpen role. The club had been shopping the 35-year-old right-hander since the end of spring training when it became apparent that executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter wanted to keep the 23-year-old McFarland around.

The veteran reliever allowed 44 percent of inherited runners to score in 2012, his worst full-season mark since the 2004 season when he pitched for the Montreal Expos (45 percent).

Dickerson provides the club another left-handed bat off the bench despite only having the ability to play the outfield. The 31-year-old spent the last two seasons with the New York Yankees, hitting .266 with three homers and 12 runs batted in in 72 plate appearances. He is a career .266 hitter with 11 home runs 47 RBIs, and 27 stolen bases in 599 plate appearances over five seasons with Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and New York.

He went 3-for-15 in six games with Norfolk this season and will wear No. 60.

The Orioles lacked any other roster flexibility in the bullpen considering all current members are either out of options or a Rule 5 selection other than left-hander Brian Matusz and right-hander Darren O’Day, two arms Showalter would obviously like at his disposal.

The 24-year-old southpaw Jones is 24-20 with a 3.58 ERA over seven minor league seasons with the Cleveland Indians and Braves. He posted a 3.90 ERA in 45 appearances in relief for Double-A Mississippi last year.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 26 February 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Harlem Globetrotters (Saturday 1pm Verizon Center Saturday 7:30pm Sunday 2pm Patriot Center); Women’s College Basketball: Maryland @ Florida State (Thursday 7pm from Tallahassee live on ESPN3.com), Wake Forest @ Maryland (Sunday 2pm Comcast Center); Pro Wrestling: Ring of Honor 11th Anniversary (Saturday 8:30pm from Chicago live on Pay-Per-View); Soccer: CONCACAF U-20 World Cup Qualifying-Team USA vs. Canada (Tuesday 6pm from Puebla, Mexico live on Fox Soccer Channel); Tennis: ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (Tuesday & Wednesday 5am Thursday 6am Friday 8am Saturday 10am from Dubai, UAE live on Tennis Channel), ATP Delray Beach International Tennis Championships (Tuesday-Friday 2:30pm Saturday & Sunday 3pm from Delray Beach, FL live on Tennis Channel); Boxing: Richar Abril vs. Sharif Bogere (Saturday 10pm from Las Vegas live on Showtime), Friday Night Fights: Billy Dib vs. Evgeny Gradovich (Friday 9pm from Mashantucket, CT live on ESPN2); Monster Jam (Saturday & Sunday 1st Mariner Arena)

10. Mos Def (Friday 9pm Rams Head Live), Fishbone (Monday 8pm Rams Head Live); ZZ Ward (Monday 7pm 8×10 Club); Johnny Winter Band (Friday & Saturday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Lupe Fiasco (Wednesday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Erykah Badu (Thursday & Friday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Flyleaf & Drowning Pool (Saturday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Pat Green (Wednesday 7pm 9:30 Club), Eels (Sunday 7pm 9:30 Club); Bacon Brothers (Friday-Sunday 7:30pm Birchmere); Naughty By Nature (Friday 8pm Howard Theatre); Suzanne Vega (Saturday 8pm Sixth & I Historic Synagogue); Civil Wars & T-Bone Burnett “A Place at The Table” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I’ll be at ZZ Ward Monday night. She’s just…excellent.

You may remember Lupe Fiasco as the guy that did that song you couldn’t stop listening to that one time…

Not everyone is a huge Flyleaf fan, but you cannot doubt that girl’s pipes…

There was a time when I didn’t know if new Civil Wars music was coming. This is one of the better Tuesdays of my life.

9. Jon Stewart (Friday 8pm Meyerhoff Symphony Hall); Sandra Bernhard (Saturday 8pm Howard Theatre); “The Master” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); “21 and Over” out in theaters (Friday); Baltimore Boat Show (Thursday-Sunday Baltimore Convention Center)

Politics aside, Jon Stewart is so F*CKING funny.

And while you’re at the Boat Show, if you happen to see one of these please go ahead and pick it up for me.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens maintain longest odds of remaining teams to win Super Bowl

Posted on 14 January 2013 by WNST Staff

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

 

Odds to win the 2013 Super Bowl XLVII

New England Patriots                 1/1

San Francisco 49ers                  2/1

Atlanta Falcons                         11/2

Baltimore Ravens                       15/2

 

2013 Super Bowl XLVII – Exact Super Bowl Matchups

Baltimore Ravens vs. Atlanta Falcons                   9/1

Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers            6/1

New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons             9/4

New England Patriots vs. San Francisco 49ers      5/6

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The Reality Check NFL Playoff Power Rankings

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The Reality Check NFL Playoff Power Rankings

Posted on 09 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

Ryan Chell & I ranked the best head coaches, quarterbacks and defenses left in the postseason, then ranked the teams left in order of likelihood to win Super Bowl XLVI.

It was a fun day Tuesday on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net. You really should be listening.

Head Coaches:

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

8. Gary Kubiak

7. Pete Carroll

6. Mike Smith

5. Jim Harbaugh

4. John Harbaugh

3. John Fox

2. Mike McCarthy

1. Bill Belichick

Ryan Chell’s Rankings…

8. Gary Kubiak

7. Pete Carroll

6. Mike Smith

5. Jim Harbaugh

4. John Fox

3. John Harbaugh

2. Mike McCarthy

1. Bill Belichick

(Quarterbacks on Page 2…)

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Your Monday Reality Check: Stupidity alive in Lewis retirement reaction

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Your Monday Reality Check: Stupidity alive in Lewis retirement reaction

Posted on 07 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel might be a decent sports columnist. I’m not a regular reader of his, as I assume he doesn’t spend much time listening to “The Reality Check” on WNST. (But he should.)

I don’t think Mike Bianchi is an idiot. I have no reason to believe he’s incapable of serving in his capacity as a columnist.

I just can’t understand why Mike Bianchi thought it acceptable to put together this incredibly stupid paragraph in his Sunday column about Baltimore Ravens LB Ray Lewis…

To fathom the scope of his redemptive powers, all you have to do is click on the two separate Wikipedia pages of Lewis and Michael Vick. In the opening paragraph of Vick’s, it mentions his notorious episode of dog-killing. In Lewis’ opening paragraph, it chronicles his Pro Bowls, his Super Bowl MVP, even the torn triceps that kept him sidelined for much of this season. But there is not a single mention of the fact that he once was charged with murdering two men.

He actually scripted this paragraph and thought it was acceptable to say “okay, I made a great point here.”

He never thought that for any reason he should include a disclaimer that said “the obvious difference between the two being that Ray Lewis had the murder charges against him dropped due to a stunning lack of evidence while Vick served 19 months in prison for his role in a dogfighting ring.”

That would have been a really important sentence to include. The other option would have been for Bianchi to avoid the Lewis-Vick comparison altogether and use his column space to intelligently inform less knowledgable sports fans that the transgressions of the two weren’t remotely similar.

Unfortunately Bianchi and a few others didn’t do that. Instead, they chose to play to the crowd that represents the lowest common denominator. The crowd that wants to tell you about how Ray Lewis once murdered two people in Atlanta.

The events of January 31, 2000 cannot and should not be ignored in discussing the legacy of Ray Lewis.

Lewis’ dedication to spending the last 13 years changing his legacy has been one of the most admirable sports stories of the 21st century. As we approach the final game of his certain future Hall of Fame career, I am glad many talented writers (including the exceptional Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports) took the time to tell the story without ever crossing the line that Sporting News’ David Whitley did.

That’s the line where you ask a question like this within your column about Lewis’ retirement announcement.

“Oh yeah, did he also get away with murder?”

That’s an actual line that was written by a significant national columnist (although in fairness, the same national columnist who compared Colin Kaepernick to a con because he has tattoos).

Whitley appeared on my radio show last week after I told him I had taken issue with his comments. He essentially admitted he should have been more specific in making it clear that Ray Lewis did not get away with murder.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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“The Reality Check” Final Regular Season Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Final Regular Season Power Rankings

Posted on 02 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Kansas City Chiefs (32)

Okay, so no Josh McDaniels. Umm…Marty-ball?

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (30)

Mike Mularkey: “Are you sure you didn’t want to fire me?”

30. Arizona Cardinals (31)

I cannot believe they’re really considering hiring Todd Haley. OH.MY.GOD.

29. Oakland Raiders (29)

Now they get ready for their Super Bowl…the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine.

28. Detroit Lions (28)

The problem for Jim Schwartz is that he’s a former defensive coach for a team that can’t play defense.

27. Philadelphia Eagles (27)

Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole tells us the Eagles could keep Michael Vick around if they hire Chip Kelly.

26. Cleveland Browns (26)

While the Browns’ first choice is the same Chip Kelly, no one’s first choice EVER has been the Cleveland Browns.

25. New York Jets (23)

QUARTERBACKS FOR SALE!!!!!!!!!!

24. Tennessee Titans (25)

Check back in with me in five minutes to confirm Mike Munchak still hasn’t been fired yet.

23. Buffalo Bills (24)

I think a Ken Whisenhunt/Russ Grimm combo would be a good fit there.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22)

Do you focus more on what went wrong? Or do you focus more on how to build off of seven wins?

21. Miami Dolphins (17)

At least they have a quarterback.

20. St. Louis Rams (18)

Are they as close as their record would make you believe?

19. San Diego Chargers (21)

If Peyton Manning isn’t in the AFC West, they win the thing and save Norv Turner again.

18. New Orleans Saints (16)

I’ll go ahead and assume they win 13 games next season.

17. Carolina Panthers (19)

By keeping Ron Rivera, they’d give up potential “most desirable location” status for coaches.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers (20)

If they had a healthy Ben Roethisberger for 16 games they would have won the division. Unless the Ravens had a healthy Suggs/Ngata/Webb/Lewis. I guess what I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter.

15. Dallas Cowboys (13)

What the eff do you do here?

14. Chicago Bears (14)

I’d want this job.

13. New York Giants (15)

“Hynocerous” is one of the Top 5 nicknames in football this year.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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The Reality Check Week 17 NFL Power Rankings

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The Reality Check Week 17 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 27 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Kansas City Chiefs (32)

Who’s a fit here? Josh McDaniels?

31. Arizona Cardinals (31)

At this point I have to assume Whisenhunt is gone. Players openly bitching there.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (29)

I can’t wait until they go 7-9 next year and somehow make the playoffs with Tim Tebow as quarterback.

29. Oakland Raiders (30)

I ASSUME Dennis Allen is safe, but you absolutely never know.

28. Detroit Lions (27)

But that was at least fun to watch Saturday night.

27. Philadelphia Eagles (28)

Nice of them to give Michael Vick a farewell show.

26. Cleveland Browns (26)

I honestly wouldn’t want the job of having to solve this puzzle.

25. Tennessee Titans (25)

Jake Locker gets another year before he’s fully labeled a bust.

24. Buffalo Bills (24)

I really have nothing to say about the Buffalo Bills.

23. New York Jets (20)

HIGH-LAIR-EE-USS.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (21)

I wish I had paid enough attention to the Bucs to know whose fault their collapse was.

21. San Diego Chargers (23)

“You think Jon Gruden would go there?” is the question you’ll hear most related to the Bolts in the coming weeks.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers (16)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

19. Carolina Panthers (19)

Is the late push enough for Ron Rivera to keep his job?

18. St. Louis Rams (22)

They can finish ABOVE .500…

17. Miami Dolphins (18)

Please beat New England.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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