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Ravens-Browns: Five predictions for Sunday

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Ravens-Browns: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 02 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

The Ravens haven’t lost to the Cleveland Browns since the George W. Bush administration and will try to continue that trend at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday in the 30th all-time meeting between these teams.

In dumping veterans Bryant McKinnie, Marcus Spears, and Michael Huff, coach John Harbaugh hopes his team will respond positively after an underwhelming 3-4 start that’s put the Ravens below the .500 mark this late in a season for the first time since 2007. Baltimore is 5-0 coming off its bye week in the Harbaugh era and plays Cleveland following an off-week for the second straight season.

Losers of three straight, the Browns look much different offensively as veteran Jason Campbell is now the starting quarterback and former Raven Willis McGahee has replaced 2012 first-round pick Trent Richardson, who was traded to Indianapolis after Cleveland’s Week 2 loss to the Ravens. Unlike that game in Baltimore, explosive wide receiver Josh Gordon will be available to challenge the Ravens secondary and has caught 32 passes for 582 yards and three touchdowns in six games this season.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens lead the all-time series by an overwhelming 22-7 margin and are 10-4 in Cleveland. Despite Baltimore’s current 11-game winning streak over the Browns, three of the last four contests have been decided by eight points or less.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens try to climb back to the .500 mark and improve their all-time record coming off a bye week to 13-5 …

1. A new and undersized left guard isn’t going to help jump-start the Ravens running game after the bye. It’s true that Kelechi Osemele wasn’t playing at a high level, but news of him likely undergoing season-ending back surgery is bad for the rest of the season. A.Q. Shipley is giving up four inches and over 20 pounds compared to Osemele, leaving the Ravens undersized at both center and left guard. There have been whispers of Juan Castillo’s influence waning and Andy Moeller being given a bigger voice in coaching the offensive line, so it will be interesting to see how the unit looks against one of the league’s better defenses. Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce appear to be healthy, but Browns nose tackle Phil Taylor will be a handful for the interior line and the front seven will keep the Ravens under 85 rushing yards for the sixth time in eight games this year.

2. With more responsibility on Joe Flacco’s shoulders, the quarterback will throw for two touchdowns and go over 275 yards. The increased use of the no-huddle offense and three wide receivers in Pittsburgh was likely a preview of what we’ll see more frequently in the second half of the year as the Ravens can’t count on the running game to suddenly make drastic improvements after averaging a league-worst 2.8 yards per carry. The bye week allowed offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell to devise creative ways to get the ball to Torrey Smith while also utilizing the skills of Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss, and Marlon Brown. Cleveland has struggled lately against the pass and the Ravens need Flacco to step up his performance in the second half despite several factors working against him. He’ll come through with solid but unspectacular pass protection in front of him.

3. Browns tight end Jordan Cameron will catch a touchdown pass to follow up a strong performance against the Ravens in Week 2. Baltimore didn’t have to face Gordon in Week 2 and will need to watch him closely as a deep threat, but Cameron is the more dangerous target in the red zone and had 95 receiving yards against the Ravens earlier this season. The 6-foot-5 receiver will be a difficult matchup regardless of whether a linebacker or a safety attempts to cover him, and I expect defensive coordinator Dean Pees to throw as many different coverage looks as he can at Campbell. The Browns haven’t been able to run the football all season and that won’t change on Sunday, putting the ball in Campbell’s hands and the veteran will lean on his stud tight end for much of the afternoon.

4. With Terrell Suggs locked up with Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas all day, Elvis Dumervil will star for the Ravens’ pass rush with two sacks. In Week 2, Suggs had a strong performance against Thomas, but he won’t have as much success this time around. However, Dumervil will draw frequent matchups against right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who isn’t nearly as accomplished and struggled throughout the Week 2 game. The Browns have given up 28 sacks this season while the Ravens have collected 25 in seven games. The Baltimore defense hasn’t been very dynamic in terms of creating turnovers and setting the offense up on a short field, but it has pressured quarterbacks throughout the season. Campbell was impressive in throwing for 293 yards and two touchdowns against a very tough Kansas City defense in a losing effort last week, but lighting won’t strike twice.

5. Superior efficiency in the red zone will be the difference as the Ravens find a way to win their 12th straight over Cleveland in a 20-16 final. Much like the last handful of games between these teams, scoring opportunities will be at a premium as both offenses have faced their challenges all season. The defenses are the main strengths of each team, but the Ravens rank first in red-zone defense (allowing touchdowns on 26.3 percent of red-zone trips) while the Browns rank only 30th (65.2 percent). In a close, low-scoring game that could come down to the final possession or two, the Ravens will make the big play they need while Cleveland will come up short as they have so many times in the Harbaugh era despite Baltimore appearing as vulnerable as ever for a loss to the AFC North foe on Sunday.

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Osemele likely to undergo season-ending back surgery

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Osemele likely to undergo season-ending back surgery

Posted on 01 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens left guard Kelechi Osemele discussed his chronic back problem at length prior to the bye week and it appears his 2013 season is now over.

Coach John Harbaugh announced after Friday’s practice that the second-year offensive linemen would not play against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday and will likely undergo season-ending back surgery to have a disc problem corrected. Osemele’s back appeared to have worsened earlier in the week and his chances of playing the rest of the year are remote, according to the head coach.

Before officially being ruled out on Friday afternoon, Osemele had made 23 straight starts and hadn’t missed a game in his young career.

“There are some changes in his back that we discovered this week,” Harbaugh said. “He’s not going to play in this game. Going forward, I think the chances of him playing the rest of the year probably are pretty slim. There’s a good chance he’s going to get surgery here real soon. The back was just getting a little worse and a little worse as we went. We went back in and looked at it, and there’s some things that need to get taken care of there.”

Osemele practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday before being sidelined on Thursday, raising red flags regarding the status of his back. The 2012 second-round pick told reporters during the bye week that he’s dealt with the back injury since his rookie year and it had gotten worse this season, acknowledging that he would need to have surgery.

Backup center A.Q. Shipley will start at left guard against the Browns and replaced Osemele when back spasms sidelined him against the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 6. Harbaugh said 2011 third-round pick Jah Reid and rookie Rick Wagner will also be in the mix at the position.

“He’s played very well when he’s been in there,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a football player. He’s always played well whenever he plays. And there are other guys that will be in the mix. The offensive line is developing very well, and I’m excited to see how they play going forward. We’ll actually be better, I think, with a healthier player.”

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 309 pounds, Shipley is four inches shorter and 21 pounds lighter than Osemele, giving the Ravens undersized players at both the center and left guard positions. Shipley began practicing more extensively at left guard following Osemele’s spasms in Miami and expressed confidence that he will be able to handle a new position.

Shipley has never started an NFL game at left guard and he made five starts at center for the Indianapolis Colts last season before he was dealt to the Ravens this offseason for a conditional seventh-round pick.

“I’ve been ready. I’ve been preparing as a starter for something like this,” Shipley said. “That’s the nature of this business, so it’s ‘next man up.’ [Guard] is a little easier in terms of the mental aspect. I just have to listen to the center now. It’s very similar to center; I’ve just got a little more space to deal with now.”

Meanwhile, Reid has been inactive for all but one game this season, but the third-year lineman has more experience at the position. After former Ravens Ramon Harewood and Bobbie Williams were given opportunities at left guard, Reid started seven games before a toe injury ended his 2012 season and paved the way for Osemele to move from right tackle to left guard for the postseason.

Other than Osemele, the Ravens appear to be in good shape from a health standpoint as all other members of the 53-man roster were present and working during Friday’s practice.

Veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley (groin) is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game and practiced on a limited basis all week. Five others were listed as probable, including right tackle Michael Oher (ankle) and linebacker Josh Bynes (finger).

For the Browns, starting running back Willis McGahee (knee) was a full participant on Friday and is listed as probable to play against his former team.

Scott Green will be the referee for Sunday’s game in Cleveland. Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the mid-40s with a 30 percent chance of rain but most of the precipitation coming in the morning.

Here is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: G Kelechi Osemele (back/knee)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)
PROBABLE: LB Josh Bynes (finger/thigh), DT Terrence Cody (knee), C Ryan Jensen (foot), T Michael Oher (ankle), RB Bernard Pierce (thigh)

CLEVELAND
QUESTIONABLE: LB Quentin Groves (ankle), DL Billy Winn (Quad)
PROBABLE: DL Desmond Bryant (thumb), RB Willis McGahee (knee), RB Chris Ogbonnaya (ribs), DB Chris Owens (finger), LB Jabaal Sheard (wrist)

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Picks and Comment – Week 9

Posted on 01 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Here are this weekend’s picks as The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction will pick every NFL game, local college games, and their respective high school games this season.

Luke Jones finished Week 8 with a 9-4 record while Drew Forrester was 10-3 on his picks. Entering Week 9, Jones is 73-47 on the season while Forrester is 74-46. Official standings are based only on the NFL picks.

Jones and Forrester incorrectly picked Cincinnati to defeat Miami to kick off Week 9.

You can listen to Friday’s “Picks and Comment” segment HERE.

Ravens at Browns: Baltimore 20-12 (Drew), Baltimore 20-16 (Luke)
Falcons at Panthers: Carolina 27-13 (Drew), Carolina 24-16 (Luke)
Vikings at Cowboys: Dallas 34-13 (Drew), Dallas 31-17 (Luke)
Saints at Jets: New Orleans 30-24 (Drew), New Orleans 24-17 (Luke)
Titans at Rams: St. Louis 24-20 (Drew), Tennessee 21-13 (Luke)
Chiefs at Bills: Buffalo 21-20 (Drew), Kansas City 17-14 (Luke)
Chargers at Redskins: San Diego 33-30 (Drew), Washington 28-24 (Luke)
Eagles at Raiders: Oakland 21-16 (Drew), Oakland 23-13 (Luke)
Buccaneers at Seahawks: Seattle 30-9 (Drew), Seattle 31-10 (Luke)
Steelers at Patriots: Pittsburgh 24-20 (Drew), New England 23-17 (Luke)
Colts at Texans: Indianapolis 27-17 (Drew), Indianapolis 23-21 (Luke)
Bears at Packers: Green Bay 38-23 (Drew), Green Bay 31-17 (Luke)
Delaware at Towson: Tigers 35-30 (Drew), Tigers 34-27 (Luke)
Navy at Notre Dame: Fighting Irish 30-20 (Drew), Fighting Irish 24-14 (Luke)
Hampston at Morgan State: Bears 33-27 (Drew), Bears 23-20 (Luke)
Glen Burnie at South River: Gophers 31-7 (Drew), Seahawks 34-0 (Luke)
Dover at Susquehannock: Eagles 27-7 (Drew), Warriors 14-13 (Luke)

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Trends converging as Ravens try to right ship in Cleveland

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Trends converging as Ravens try to right ship in Cleveland

Posted on 31 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The story has been the same whenever the Ravens encounter the Cleveland Browns in the John Harbaugh era.

Winners of 11 straight against the AFC North foe starting in the 2008 season — the year Harbaugh, quarterback Joe Flacco, and running back Ray Rice first stepped foot in Baltimore — the Ravens and their fans have been able to view a meeting with Cleveland in November or later as a catalyst propelling them to greater heights while throwing dirt on the division’s annual doormat. In truth, the Browns haven’t been a pushover in recent years as three of the last four encounters have been decided by eight points or less, but the script inevitably involves the Ravens making the necessary big play and the Browns folding when it matters late in the game.

So, why would Sunday’s meeting at FirstEnergy Stadium be any different?”

“Because as the years go by, the teams change,” Browns cornerback Joe Haden told the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Thursday. “The Ravens aren’t the Ravens of old. They’re still a really good team, a division opponent, but at the same time, our team is a whole different team. It’s a different squad. We still haven’t gotten over the hump, but there’s no reason why we can’t.”

Of course, it would be easy to fire back at the talented young defensive back that Cleveland has very much looked like the old Browns since a surprising 3-2 start, losing three straight despite a top 10 defense and an offense that includes talented young wide receiver Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, who was labeled by Harbaugh earlier this week as a premier tight end in the NFL. After quarterback Brian Hoyer went down with a torn ACL on Oct. 3, head coach Rod Chudzinski has bounced between 2012 first-round pick Brandon Weeden and veteran Jason Campbell at the quarterback position, appearing to settle on the latter after a surprising performance in a losing effort to undefeated Kansas City last week.

But Haden’s right about the Ravens as their 3-4 record puts them only one loss better than the Browns and in unfamiliar territory below the .500 mark this late in a season for the first time under Harbaugh. Even with the Browns’ recent struggles, the Ravens’ long winning streak against Cleveland has never appeared to be in more danger than it is on Sunday.

Harbaugh and his players received all the evidence they needed in Week 2 when they were shut out in the first half before scoring two second-half touchdowns in a 14-6 victory over the Browns in Baltimore.

“Every time we play them, it’s a tough game, it’s a physical game,” Harbaugh said. “They’ve run the ball on us, they’ve played great defense against us over the years, [and] their pass rushers are legitimate pass rushers. It’s always a fight right down to the finish, so we know it will be that kind of game again — at least that’s what we are expecting and preparing for.”

The head coach went on to state his belief that the Ravens are going to catch fire over the season’s final nine games after various concerns in all three phases have left them two games behind the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North. Meanwhile, a loss to the Ravens would all but finish the Browns with a 3-6 record entering their Week 10 bye.

But the Ravens must find a way to start faster in games as they’ve been held without an offensive touchdown in the first half of five of their seven games and have trailed at halftime five times this season. Most of the blame will fall on the league’s worst running game in yards per carry (2.8), but Flacco has completed just 55.2 percent of his first-half passes before improving to 63.7 percent in the game’s final 30 minutes.

The weekly slow starts have put much pressure on a solid but unspectacular defense that has allowed 140 or more rushing yards in three of its last four games and has struggled to get off the field in the second half in two straight losses to Green Bay and Pittsburgh.

It’s been an uphill battle too often and a formula not conducive to success over the scope of an entire season, especially when playing on the road.

“There’s nothing you can really do in terms of practice and stuff like that to ensure anything,” Flacco said. “You practice to give yourself the best chance to play the best, and it’s a matter of going out there and playing. Once we go out there and play well early on, then people will forget about it and we’ll forget about it to a certain extent.”

The Ravens have said all the right things about feeling the necessary urgency and acknowledging that there’s little margin for error with six of their final nine games coming against teams with a .500 or better record.

But as Flacco said, talking about making the necessary corrections along the offensive line, in the run defense, and on special teams means little if the results don’t show up on Sundays.

General manager Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh sent a clear message on Wednesday by cutting veteran defensive players Michael Huff and Marcus Spears and proving that they won’t hesitate to make changes to turn around their season and advance to the postseason for a franchise-record and NFL-best sixth straight season.

Their first post-bye opportunity comes against the league’s 24th-ranked offense and a running game that’s been nearly as ineffective as them, but the Browns possess a balanced defense posing a serious challenge to an offense that showed marginal improvement two weeks ago in Pittsburgh but hasn’t been able to get out of its way more often than not this year. Several players echoed the sentiment this week that the Ravens are built for the second half of the season, but much of that was based on past accomplishments that included a much stronger running game.

“It’s November football,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “At this point, [the games are] all big after the bye. They all count. Not to say the ones before didn’t, but these decide whether or not you get a chance at greatness.”

As much as Baltimore’s leadership was discussed this offseason following the departures of such veterans as Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, and Matt Birk, the true test was always going to come in the face of adversity, and a 3-4 record with an important divisional road game certainly qualifies. The locker room has remained united and focused on team-oriented goals, but a loss to the Browns and a 3-5 record would place more strain on the fabric of the Ravens than they’ve felt in a very long time.

Past trends don’t guarantee future results as the Ravens have seen other streaks under Harbaugh come to an end this season, including an undefeated mark in season openers and a perfect home record against NFC opponents. On Sunday, the Ravens will try to improve to 6-0 coming off their bye week under Harbaugh while extending their winning streak over Cleveland to 12 games.

The Browns will have something to say in determining the outcome — good or bad — but Haden was right in saying these aren’t the same old Ravens as only seven players remain from when Baltimore began its current streak of success against Cleveland on Sept. 21, 2008. And 18 players currently on the 53-man roster weren’t with the organization for Super Bowl XLVII nine months ago.

“It’s different, because every time I used to look at them, they used to be back there controlling everything,” said Browns running back Willis McGahee when asked about seeing his former team without leaders such as Lewis and Reed. “Now, it’s a bunch of new faces. I guess it was time for them to start over and bring in new people.”

Even with new faces and glaring flaws, the Ravens hope old habits die hard in Cleveland and that Sunday is the first step in righting their 2013 season.

While also putting the latest nail in the coffin of a Browns season.

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Osemele absent from Thursday’s practice

Posted on 31 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Despite optimism that the 53-man roster was as close to full strength as possible following the Week 8 bye, the Ravens were without a starting member of their offensive line for the second straight day on Thursday as they continued preparations for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

After right tackle Michael Oher sat out Wednesday’s workout with an ankle injury, left guard Kelechi Osemele did not participate after being a limited participant a day earlier. Osemele has been nursing a back injury all season and acknowledged prior to the bye that he would be undergoing offseason surgery to correct a bad disc, making it likely that the Ravens will need to monitor his practice time for the rest of the season.

“The back’s a big thing. It’s connected to everything,” said Osemele about the injury during the bye week. “It’s connected to your legs. It’s everything from that point down is affected. It’s affected my power. I’m an offensive lineman. I need to have strong legs. So, obviously it’s affected me.”

Oher was suited up and working fully after he was listed as a non-participant the day before. His ankle injury was not considered serious as he was moving around well during Thursday’s practice.

Wide receiver Brandon Stokley (groin) was present and working for the second straight day and was listed as a limited participant once again. Linebacker Josh Bynes (finger) was a full participant after being limited on Wednesday.

With veteran Jameel McClain back to action, Bynes has been relegated to a reserve role and is expected to play a larger role on special teams, an area in which the Ravens have expressed strong desire to improve. Considering McClain was the incumbent at the weakside inside linebacker position, Bynes took the expected demotion in stride as defensive coordinator Dean Pees said he has full confidence to continue playing the young linebacker should McClain need a breather.

“I think it definitely helps on our special teams, because we definitely need to get better on that end,” Bynes said. “Defensively, it just helps us out as a unit. We’ll see how that goes and what not. It just helps this defense tremendously.”

There was one notable change to the Browns’ injury report as starting running back Willis McGahee was a non-participant on Thursday after practicing fully a day earlier. The former Raven is dealing with a knee injury as he prepares to take on his former team.

Here is Thursday’s injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: G Kelechi Osemele (back/knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Josh Bynes (finger/thigh), DT Terrence Cody (knee), C Ryan Jensen (foot), T Michael Oher (ankle), RB Bernard Pierce (thigh)

CLEVELAND
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: RB Willis McGahee (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Quentin Groves (ankle), DL Billy Winn (Quad)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Willis McGahee (knee), RB Chris Ogbonnaya (ribs), DB Chris Owens (finger), LB Jabaal Sheard (wrist)

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Oher only Ravens player to sit out Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 30 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens took full advantage of their bye week from a health standpoint as all but one player on the 53-man roster took part in Wednesday’s practice.

Despite being dressed out in full gear and appearing to take part in individual drills during the viewing portion of the workout, right tackle Michael Oher (knee) was listed as a non-participant on the first injury report of the week.

Continuing preparations for Sunday’s trip to Cleveland to take on the 3-5 Browns, coach John Harbaugh painted a positive picture from an injury standpoint as the Ravens battled a slew of injuries in the first half of the season. Left guard Kelechi Osemele (back), running back Bernard Pierce (hamstring), linebackers Josh Bynes (finger) and Albert McClellan (shoulder), and wide receiver Brandon Stokley (groin) were all present and working after sitting out the last practice of the bye week before players were given four straight days off.

“When you start losing guys to injury, it has a domino effect throughout your team,” Harbaugh said prior to Wednesday’s practice. “This will be the healthiest we’ve been. We have all 53 guys practicing today for the first time all season. That’s a good thing.”

Bynes, Osemele, and Stokley were all limited participants during Wednesday’s practice.

Newly-signed running back Bernard Scott was present and participating after being signed to the active roster on Monday. With Pierce and starter Ray Rice both dealing with nagging injuries in the first half of the season, Scott was viewed as both an insurance policy and a change-of-pace back who could potentially see some opportunities on third down depending on how quickly he absorbs the offense.

However, any linger concerns over Pierce’s sore hamstring during the bye seemed to be put to rest with the second-year back practicing on Wednesday. Pierce said both he and Rice are as healthy as they’ve been since the start of the regular season.

“I’m feeling good. I’m ready to go,” said Pierce, who acknowledged the hamstring injury being an issue at different times over the last two months. “I came in and did everything with the team on Monday. I’m feeling great.”

Safeties Omar Brown and Brynden Trawick were both taking part in their first practice since being promoted from the practice squad.

Trawick was on the 53-man roster for the first three games of the season while Brown has been with the organization since last year and was active for three games during the 2012 season.

Meanwhile, Cleveland is also in excellent shape from a health standpoint as only two players were listed as limited participants and no one missed Wednesday’s practice. Former Ravens running back Willis McGahee was listed as a full participant.

Here is Wednesday’s injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: T Michael Oher (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Josh Bynes (finger/thigh), G Kelechi Osemele (back/knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: DT Terrence Cody (knee), C Ryan Jensen (foot), RB Bernard Pierce (thigh)

CLEVELAND
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Quentin Groves (ankle), DL Billy Winn (Quad)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Willis McGahee (knee), RB Chris Ogbonnaya (ribs), DB Chris Owens (finger), LB Jabaal Sheard (wrist)

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“The Reality Check” Week 9 NFL Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Week 9 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 30 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week 32)

I should not be forced to have to say something about them every week.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31)

Mike Glennon might be auditioning for jobs elsewhere.

30. Minnesota Vikings (30)

Jared Allen is going to look really good not winning games the rest of the season.

29. St. Louis Rams (26)

That loss might have been the highlight of the season.

28. New York Giants (29)

Somehow…some way…not done.

27. Houston Texans (27)

Why do I feel like they might not be done either?

26. Washington Redskins (25)

How many more games does RGIII leave early this year?

25. Philadelphia Eagles (23)

Nothing about this team is fun to watch.

24. Oakland Raiders (28)

Terrelle Pryor however remains fun to watch.

23. Pittsburgh Steelers (21)

I gave them too much credit for beating a team that isn’t very good.

22. Atlanta Falcons (20)

If Matt Ryan is as good as everyone says he is, he survives the loss of his receivers.

21. Tennessee Titans (22)

Maybe now we’ll see some Kenny Britt?

20. Cleveland Browns (19)

Oh God. Please no.

19. Buffalo Bills (17)

Did you know Mario Williams was already in double digit sacks?

18. Miami Dolphins (16)

They were 3-0.

17. Arizona Cardinals (24)

A defense that is SO much better than you realize.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 29 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Mixed Martial Arts-Bellator MMA (Saturday 7pm from Long Beach, CA live on SpikeTV); Soccer: New Zealand @ Team USA women (Wednesday 7:30pm from Columbus live on USSoccer.com); Golf: World Golf Championships HSBC Champions (Wednesday-Saturday 11pm from Shanghai live on Golf Channel), Champions Tour Charles Schwab Cup Championship (Thursday-Sunday 4:30pm from San Francisco live on Golf Channel); Exhibition Women’s College Basketball: Catholic University @ Maryland (Tuesday 7pm Comcast Center), Holy Family @ Maryland (Saturday 2pm Comcast Center); Boxing: Gennady Golovkin vs. Curtis Stevens (Saturday 10pm from New York live on HBO)

10. Drake (Thursday 7pm Verizon Center); Matt Nathanson (Friday 9pm Rams Head Live); Brett Dennen (Friday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Third Eye Blind (Friday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Cypress Hill (Thursday 8pm Howard Theatre); Fitz and the Tantrums/Capital Cities (Wednesday & Thursday 6:30pm 9:30 Club), The Head and The Heart (Monday 7pm 9:30 Club); India.Arie (Wednesday 8pm Warner Theatre); Marc Broussard (Thursday 7:30pm Birchmere); Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors (Wednesday 7:30pm The Hamilton), Blue Oyster Cult (Thursday 7:30pm The Hamilton); Common (Friday 8pm Meyerhoff Symphony Hall); Bootsy Collins (Thursday 8pm Strathmore), Travis Tritt (Friday 8pm Strathmore); Barenaked Ladies (Monday 7pm Lincoln Theatre); Passion Pit/Joy Formidable (Thursday 8pm Echostage); Arcade Fire “Reflektor”, Linkin Park “Recharged” and Bad Religion “Christmas Songs” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I enjoy Brett Dennen and his music. And popsicles.

By law, you’re not allowed to tell anyone how much I like Third Eye Blind without my approval.

Fitz and the Tantrums is more fun than hanging out with your best girl. Unless you’re hanging out and listening to Fitz and the Tantrums.

The Head and The Heart are pleasant. Except when they fight. Jerks.

9. Mark Curry (Friday & Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Tony Rock (Thursday-Sunday DC Improv); Ender’s Game” and “Last Vegas” out in theaters (Friday); Monsters University” and “R.I.P.D.” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); Punkin Chunkin (Friday-Sunday Wheatley Farm); Greek Food & Cultural Festival (Friday-Sunday Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation); The Gathering: Food Truck Rally (Friday 5pm McHenry Row); Maryland Brewers’ Harvest (Saturday 12pm & 5:30pm Meyerhoff Symphony Hall)

I don’t really see what people enjoy about Punkin Chunkin, really.

Oh. Okay now I do. As far as Monsters University is concerned…

Excellent.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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The 15-7-0 goes back, goes back, goes back into the woods

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The 15-7-0 goes back, goes back, goes back into the woods

Posted on 23 September 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.

In portions of the program that were cut for time constraints, the 15-7-0 won four of the seven Emmy Awards it was nominated for. Stupid good looking guy from “The Big Bang Theory”…

15 Positive Observations…

1. And in three hours, Brian Hoyer became the best quarterback the city of Cleveland has seen in a generation.

Here’s proof.

The whole thing is weird, because I had kinda expected the Browns to show their ass Sunday…

But if we’re being honest, the Vikings should be ashamed of themselves.

2. West Virginia tried to “go back into the woods” Saturday night but they were stuffed by Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil en route.

It was a hell of a day in Baltimore Saturday…

And if you haven’t watched this video…just…just wow.

Speaking of going back into the woods, there are rumors that a local radio personality posted a picture of himself having to use an outdoor shower at Bethany Beach this weekend…

Oh crap. Look, you’ll do a lot of stuff for a Grotto Pizza…

3. Miami, Louisville, Ohio State and Baylor all hit the 70 point mark Saturday. The Virginia Tech basketball coaching staff sent a group of researchers to each school to learn more.

Here’s an update on my Heisman Trophy rankings.

1-Teddy Bridgeovertroubledwater
2-Clemson QB Tahj Boyd
3-Jonathan Quincy Football Esquire
4-The guy who’s going to get to say “wait, you dated that loser AJ McCarron” to Katherine Webb next.
5-Alabama QB AJ McCarron

Right, because did you hear that Katherine Webb was single?

If the OSU Marching Band keeps up what they’ve been doing recently, they’ll end up on the list. Here’s Script Ohio in braille performed alongside the school for the blind…

In the Buckeyes’ win, Jordan Hall did something very smart with a ref…

4. Andy Dalton outperformed Aaron Rodgers Sunday. I am now scanning the interwebs for stories about bovine aviation.

The game winning score happened EXACTLY the way the Bengals drew it up…

Giovani Bernard also did things in this football game.

You guys know you’re on the same team, right?

And it was awfully thoughtful of Vontaze Burfict to perform an in-game cup check…

5. I haven’t checked the newspaper yet today, but I believe the Dallas Cowboys are leading the NFC East by something like 39 and a half games.

Their win over the Rams was pretty forgettable all things being equal. Just stuff like this…

The Rams WISH they were as awesome as the Browns…

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens’ depth, versatility paying off at outside linebacker

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Ravens’ depth, versatility paying off at outside linebacker

Posted on 17 September 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Though the Ravens’ 1-1 start has been anything but seamless, the hype surrounding the pass-rushing combination of Terrell Suggs and free-agent acquisition Elvis Dumervil has been justified for the Baltimore defense.

Entering the 2013 season with eight Pro Bowl selections and 148 quarterback sacks between them, Suggs and Dumervil have collected a combined four sacks and 10 quarterback hits in their first two weeks together. Considering the money and resources invested by general manager Ozzie Newsome at the outside linebacker position, you expect that kind of production, but another reason to feel optimistic about Suggs, who will turn 31 next month, and the 29-year-old Dumervil being productive over the entire 16-game regular season is the depth and versatility behind them in the Baltimore defense.

With younger players such as Courtney Upshaw and Pernell McPhee spelling the veterans in certain situations, it decreases their total number of opportunities to rack up sacks and pressures but provides an ability to maximize their production when they are on the field. Both Suggs and Dumervil have welcomed younger players receiving opportunities defensively.

“That’s a good thing. You want guys getting after it,” Suggs said following Sunday’s win. “Everybody’s fighting for it.”

With Cleveland expected to establish the running game as opposed to Denver’s wide-open passing attack from Week 1, it was no surprise to see Upshaw start the game at the strong-side linebacker position with Dumervil on the sideline. Ideally, Dumervil is better suited for Suggs’ rush linebacker position than the Sam linebacker spot responsible for setting the edge and focusing more on stopping the run.

Upshaw played 42 of the Ravens’ 63 defensive snaps against the Browns while Dumervil was on the field for 39 plays. This didn’t prevent Dumervil from being a major thorn in the side of Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden as he collected a sack, three quarterback hits, and two hurries in 28 pass-rush situations, according to Pro Football Focus. Meanwhile, Upshaw was a major part of a run defense that limited the Browns to just 3.3 yards per carry and 65 yards on the ground.

“Upshaw is a hell of a player, and he’s only [in] year two, so the sky is the limit for him,” Dumervil said prior to the start of the season. “I think the staff does a great job of putting guys where it’s suited best for them, and as a player, you have to be respectful towards what is trying to be accomplished.”

Dumervil wasn’t the only standout linebacker to receive some rest over the course of the game as Suggs took 49 defensive snaps and third-year pass-rush specialist Pernell McPhee participated in 20, often spelling Suggs at his rush linebacker spot. McPhee was converted to outside linebacker in the offseason and while he lacks the skill set of Suggs against the run and in pass coverage, the position change allowed him to shed some weight to take some pressure off his problematic knees and to help keep the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year fresh over the course of games when possible.

Of course, there will be occasions against tougher competition in which the Ravens will lean more heavily on Suggs and Dumervil, but the ability for defensive coordinator Dean Pees to lighten the workload of his veteran outside linebackers will keep them more productive down the stretch when the Ravens will need them at their best.

Dead end with tight ends

The tight end position has been a hot topic for discussion ever since starter Dennis Pitta went down with a serious hip injury in the first week of training camp, and there are no indications that the problem is being fixed until his potential return late this season.

The Ravens showed their level of concern by working out free-agent tight ends Jake Ballard and Matt Mulligan after the season opener, but it’s difficult to expect any addition off the street to make a significant impact. Ed Dickson has struggled mightily to catch the football while 34-year-old Dallas Clark has looked slow running routes and dropped a sure touchdown right before halftime in the Week 1 loss at Denver.

“Those guys need to be a big part of what we are doing,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They are fully capable of making catches. Ed should be a big-play guy up the seam, over routes, and all those kinds of things. We need to get Ed going.”

On paper and in practices, Dickson looks like the prototypical tight end with size, good speed, and strong blocking ability, but trying to cure the mental issue of having a case of the drops isn’t easy. After Dickson dropped a Joe Flacco pass that would have been a nice gain over the middle of the field on the first play of the game on Sunday, the quarterback didn’t target him again.

It spoke volumes for both Dickson and Clark that No. 3 tight end Billy Bajema — known mostly for his blocking — turned in the best performance of the day by making an 18-yard reception. Whether we see more of him, versatile fullback Kyle Juszczyk, or the eventual promotion of Matt Furstenburg from the practice squad, the Ravens need to see improvement from the tight end spot considering the similar questions facing the wide receiver position.

In two games this season, Ravens tight ends have combined for 10 catches and 126 yards. In comparison, New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham had eight catches for 156 yards and a touchdown in the first half of the Saints’ win against Tampa Bay on Sunday.

That type of production from their tight ends in two games just simply isn’t enough in the modern NFL.

Running game concerns

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