Tag Archive | "Denver Broncos"

Brandon Stokley: Peyton Manning has three good games left in him

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Brandon Stokley: Peyton Manning has three good games left in him

Posted on 12 January 2016 by WNST Staff

Brandon Stokley is one of Peyton Manning’s closest friends, and he joined Nestor to discuss #18 and the Broncos heading into their matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brandon felt that the time off for Manning as he recovered from his injury may have benefitted him mentally as much as physically…

“He knows what kind of team they have, and he doesn’t have to win the football game anymore,” Stokley said. “That doesn’t have to be his mindset heading into the playoffs. You’ve got the best defense in the NFL. So if you need to throw the ball away or take a sack, that’s fine.”

Although Manning has established himself as one of the best quarterbacks of all time, the question of whether he has three good games left in him persists across the nation. What does Brandon think?

“That’s a very valid question, and I guess we all will see,” Stokley said. “I think he does. I really do. I think he’s going to come out and play great. I know the guy well, and there’s nobody that’s going to go out and fight and claw and compete like him. He’s going to be prepared and he’s going to lay it all on the line. I think he’s going to go out and have a great game and play well. Obviously I think they’ll win, and it’ll make for a great AFC Championship game.”

“It’ll make for a fun ride for him, to see him in possibly his last playoffs ever.”

To hear all of Brandon Stokley’s chat with Nestor, listen here:

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Ravens opener – the one that got away

Posted on 14 September 2015 by Dennis Koulatsos

After the Ravens’ bitter 19-13 loss to the Broncos, it was clear that this was a game that they could have won, but it just got away from them.  It got away because of Joe Flacco’s back breaking interception.  It got away because the defense couldn’t get the Denver offense off of the field for nearly 11 minutes – in the 4th quarter to boot.  It got away when WR Steve Smith Sr.  let one slip through his fingers – in the endzone. It got away when second year tight end Crockett Gillmore had his hands on the ball – in the endzone again – and couldn’t haul it in while tightly covered by two Broncos defenders, including former Raven safety Darren Stewart, who ultimately came down with the ball.

There were other factors that led to the outcome, but those were the ones that stood out.  We saw Joe Flacco under duress by a fierce Denver pass rush the entire game.  Flacco never looked comfortable in the pocket, hardly ever set his feet, and frequently threw off of his back foot.  This is what happens when teams can’t run the ball in the NFL. When defenses like the Broncos’ and the Ravens’ completely take away the run, they limit the offenses, make them one dimensional and by and large predictable.  Credit Dean Pees and Wade Phillips here, as clearly they got the best of their counterparts, Rick Dennison and Marc Trestman.

Then there was the season ending injury to Terrell Suggs, the Ravens’ 6 time Pro-Bowler and arguably the team’s defensive leader.  For a defensive minded team that the Ravens are, this is a huge loss.  The Ravens have obvious limitations on the offensive side of the ball, and if they are going to sniff the playoffs this year, it’s going to have to be on the strength of their defense. Suggs was not only a fierce pass rusher off of the edge, but also stout against the run. Plus he’s a much more cerebral player than given credit for.  His teammates said that numerous times during yesterday’s game, he would tell them where the ball was going and/or what play was coming. Replacing his production is something that the Ravens are going to really have to take a long hard look at.

Courtney Upshaw  and Za’Darius Smith (who was inactive for yesterday’s game) are the obvious choices to fill Suggs’ spot.  The team may also pull up Brennen Beyer from the practice squad.  The 6’4″ 260 pound former Michigan Wolverine was transitioning from DE to OLB, and he will get a long look this week.  Plus Brent Urban will be coming off of the injured reserve list mid-season, and will give the Ravens a boost.  They may be able to overcome the injury to Suggs, but they simply cannot afford any more season ending injuries to the rest of the starters.

Back to Joe Flacco.  The awful, telegraphed pick-6 that he threw to Aquib Talib was about as demoralizing a play as one can be.  I know that Peyton Manning threw a pick-6 as well, but it wan’t as horrible of a throw as Jimmy Smith had to really work for it.  Smith made one heck of a play as he broke on the ball, tipped it into the air and took it to the house.  What made Flacco’s interception so bad, is that we have seen him – pre snap – lock onto his primary receiver, while seemingly giving no thought to what the defense is doing in regard to alignment. Talib said from his film study, he knew exactly where Flacco was going with the ball, as he undercut Steve Smith’s route and brought the ball back 51 yards for a TD.  Elite QBs don’t determine where the ball is going pre-snap. They line up, scan the defense, drop back and go through their progressions.  I know that Flacco didn’t have a lot of time to get his passes off yesterday, but on that particular play the line held; he had ample time to make the correct read prior to releasing the ball.  That’s the book on Joe – if you pressure him he will make mistakes, and he made a critical one yesterday.

The offensive line got overwhelmed by Denver’s defensive line, plain and simple. James Hurst was serviceable, as he replaced Eugene Monroe, who left the game in the first quarter due to a concussion.  They just couldn’t get any push, and the combo of Justin Forsett and Buck Allen had difficulty picking up yards.  The receivers and tight ends were unremarkable, as they got little to no separation from the Broncos’ secondary.

The Ravens defense played well as a whole.  They made Manning look ordinary and pedestrian.  He missed a couple of deep balls as he overthrew open receivers, and just didn’t look like the Manning of old.  “Old Manning” may be a better characterization of him at this point of his career.  The defense did have a let down at the worst possible time, as they let up that 11 minute 4th quarter drive.  Manning found success with some intermediate passes, as did RB Ronnie Hillman with some trap draws between the tackles.  The Ravens defense was obviously gassed on that drive, and were aided by a Broncos’ time out at about the 3 minute mark.  Had time out not been called, the Broncos would have probably scoreed a touchdown instead of a field goal.

It is the first week of the season and we are all very aware of that. It is not a time for a team – or a fanbase – to get too high or too low based on the results/performance of game one.  Defense wins championships and if these two teams can improve on offense, they will both be in the running for a spot in the playoffs 15 weeks from now. The only certain thing is that the Ravens will finish somewhere between 0-16 and 15-1.  The road trip continues with a stop next week at Oakland.  QB Derek Carr injured his hand in the Raiders’ loss to the Bengals, but should be cleared to play.  It will interesting to see if the Ravens can bounce back and avoid starting their season 0-2.  It is very much a must win game.

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Ravens release 2012 schedule headlined by four prime-time games

Posted on 17 April 2012 by Luke Jones

Though the Ravens’ 16 opponents had been known since the end of the 2011 regular season, there was still a feeling akin to Christmas morning when the NFL announced the 2012 schedule on Tuesday night.

The 2011 AFC North champion Ravens will play in four nationally-televised games, including the season opener when they host the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 10 in the first Monday night home game played in Baltimore since 2007.

Also highlighting the 2012 schedule will be Sunday night contests with the AFC champion New England Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium and a battle at Heinz Field in November, where the Ravens won in dramatic fashion on an NBC telecast last season.

Three of the Ravens’ first four games are nationally-televised home games in prime time as the Browns will come to Baltimore for a Thursday night game to end the stretch of national exposure on Sept. 27. However, John Harbaugh’s Ravens play only two home games in October and November before playing three of their final five games in Baltimore for the month of December.

An unpopular portion of the schedule will be the league’s decision to have the Ravens play Pittsburgh twice in three weeks, a rare concurrence with the NFL schedule that leaves an intense few weeks but a void before and after the stretch for the two fan bases.

Baltimore will play the Manning brothers in consecutive weeks when Denver visits M&T Bank Stadium on Dec. 16 and Eli Manning and the Super Bowl champions roll into town the following week.

The Ravens make their lone trip to the West Coast on Nov. 25 when they travel to San Diego to take on the San Diego Chargers.

Of their 16 opponents, the Ravens will play 13 games in which the projected starting quarterback has been invited to the Pro Bowl, which will create a daunting task for the Baltimore defense in order to repeat as division champions.

2012 SCHEDULE

Monday, Sept. 10 Cincinnati Bengals – 7:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Skinny: The Ravens host their first Monday night game in five years and begin the season against Marvin Lewis’ Bengals, who hope to build on a surprising 9-7 campaign in which they made the playoffs under rookie quarterback Andy Dalton.

Sunday, Sept. 16 at Philadelphia Eagles – 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: John Harbaugh’s former team is the only one with which the Ravens have ever tied, a 10-10 barnburner at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 16, 1997.

Sunday, Sept. 23 New England Patriots – 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Skinny: The sting of the AFC Championship loss will clearly be on the Ravens’ minds as they welcome Tom Brady and Co. to town for Sunday Night Football to try to extract some revenge.

Thursday, Sept. 27 Cleveland Browns – 8:20 p.m. (NFL Network)
Skinny: The Ravens’ 19 regular-season wins over the Browns are the most they own against any team in the NFL.

Sunday, Oct. 7 at Kansas City Chiefs – 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: It’s staggering how dramatically the Chiefs collapsed under Todd Haley after losing to the Ravens in a playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium two years ago.

Sunday, Oct. 14 vs. Dallas Cowboys – 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
Skinny: There are some interesting subplots to this one, including Dallas coach Jason Garrett nearly becoming the head man in Baltimore, but the Cowboys are 0-3 all-time against the Ravens.

Sunday, Oct. 21 at Houston Texans – 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: Despite making their first-ever playoff appearance in 2011, Gary Kubiak’s Texans have spent the entire offseason wondering what could have been if quarterback Matt Schaub hadn’t gotten hurt.

Sunday, Oct. 28 BYE WEEK

Sunday, Nov. 4 at Cleveland Browns – 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The Browns haven’t beaten Baltimore since 2007, which clearly doesn’t make Clevelanders very happy.

Sunday, Nov. 11 vs. Oakland Raiders – 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: Carson Palmer will need to rekindle the magic from his days with the Bengals in order for the Raiders to beat the Ravens for the first time ever in Baltimore (four previous attempts).

Sunday, Nov. 18 at Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Skinny: This Sunday night affair marks the sixth straight season these rivals have played in a prime-time contest, with the last four night games each decided in the closing seconds.

Sunday, Nov. 25 at San Diego Chargers – 4:05 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The Ravens’ trip to San Diego last season was the only game in which Baltimore was thoroughly embarrassed, but the Chargers no longer have big target Vincent Jackson.

Sunday, Dec. 2 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – 4:15 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: It’s unusual for these teams to meet twice in three weeks, but the Steelers will have revenge on their minds after being embarrassed in Baltimore in the 2011 season opener.

Sunday, Dec. 9 at Washington Redskins – 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The Redskins haven’t beaten the Ravens since Tony Banks was at the helm for Baltimore in the midst of a five-game touchdown drought during the 2000 Super Bowl season.

Sunday, Dec. 16 vs. Denver Broncos – 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The Ravens haven’t beaten a Peyton Manning-led team since 2001 when the former Indianapolis quarterback threw an interception returned for a touchdown by Hall of Fame defensive back Rod Woodson.

Sunday, Dec. 23 vs. New York Giants – 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
Skinny: Eli Manning once referred to his 2004 loss in Baltimore as the worst game he had ever played at any level, but it’s fair to say the Giants quarterback has recovered by winning two Super Bowls since then.

Sunday, Dec. 30 at Cincinnati Bengals – 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: Before last season’s win in the regular-season finale, the Ravens had lost five of their previous six games at Paul Brown Stadium.

***Note: The final seven weeks of the regular season are subject to flexible scheduling.

 






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Four players not practicing; Ravens-Chargers staying on Sunday night

Posted on 07 December 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Returning to the practice field to begin preparations for the hapless Indianapolis Colts, the Ravens were without two starting members of their offensive line on Wednesday afternoon.

Center Matt Birk and left guard Ben Grubbs were present but not working during the portion of practice open to the media as the team practiced in helmets and shells. Birk left Sunday’s game in Cleveland with a sprained right shoulder before returning shortly after being examined in the locker room.

Grubbs did not appear to suffer any injury in the win over the Browns, but he continues to deal with the right toe injury that sidelined him for six games earlier this season. Since returning to action in the Ravens’ win in Pittsburgh on Nov. 6, Grubbs has not missed a practice as he continues to play with pain in the toe.

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Less surprising were the absences of linebacker Ray Lewis (toe) and cornerback Chris Carr (back), as neither was present during the open portion of practice on Wednesday. Lewis has missed three straight games with a turf toe injury suffered last month while Carr has missed two straight games with a back injury and six games overall this season.

Ravens-Chargers staying on Sunday night

After much speculation that the Ravens’ Week 15 game in San Diego would be moved from its originally-scheduled 8:20 p.m. slot to the afternoon, the game will remain on NBC’s Sunday night broadcast after all.

Unable to appease CBS and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who both wanted New England’s game against Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos to remain in the afternoon, the league has elected to keep Baltimore-San Diego in the prime-time slot despite the Chargers sporting a 5-7 record in the AFC West. The decision means the Ravens will play a night game on the West Coast before flying back to Baltimore on Monday morning and immediately beginning preparations for the Cleveland Browns on a short week.

When asked about the league’s delay in making the call regarding their Week 15 contest, the Ravens maintained the company line in terms of the league’s wavering over the decision.

“I’ve been instructed to say, ‘No, I don’t care,'” coach John Harbaugh said. “I’m supportive of the decision. Whatever the league says, we support it.”

Safety Ed Reed shared a similar sentiment to his head coach, but the veteran acknowledged the league-wide appeal of watching the Broncos quarterback in a nationally-televised game.

“I don’t know if [the networks] want to see Tebow or they just want to change the schedule, so people can see Tebow and him play the Patriots.”

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from John Harbaugh, Ed Reed, Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, Vonta Leach, and Jameel McClain right here.

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Oct 16, 2010; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lane Kiffin gestures during the game against the California Golden Bears at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated California 48-14. Photo via Newscom

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The “Controversial Sports Personalities” of 2010 …..

Posted on 16 December 2010 by Rex Snider

As we make our way into mid-December and the final weeks of the year, excitement starts to build with many people, young and old. From the anticipation (or stresses) of the holidays, to the culmination of another NFL season, many of us look forward to this part of our annual calendar.

In my own way, I look forward to this time of year, because I’m a “list” kinda guy …..

Be it BEST OF, WORST OF, MOST INTRIGUING, MOST OVERRATED, MOST POPULAR, MOST HATED and just about any related combination, I like compiling lists of my personal rankings regarding people and events of any given year.

Of course, my lists revolve around sports, in one context or another. From the famous to the infamous, and the champions to the chokers, I’ll give you the spin on how 2010 shakes out in my conflicted mind.

Today, we’ll begin with the “TEN MOST CONTROVERSIAL SPORTS PERSONALITIES OF THE YEAR” …..
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10) Lane Kiffin – The ultimate coaching mercenary, huh? Many of us were snookered into believing Kiffin was the sympathetic figure depicted in his dysfunctional ride with Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders. Little did we know his loyalties would tend to run as deep, or shallow, as his former boss …..

Oct 16, 2010; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lane Kiffin gestures during the game against the California Golden Bears at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated California 48-14. Photo via Newscom

Earlier this year, Lane Kiffin deserted the University of Tennessee – the institution that gave him a second chance – on a whim to return to his coaching roots, at the University of Southern California. Kiffin garnered a lot of rightful criticism for switching jobs, midstream, while so many people, in Tennessee, depended on him.
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9) Cam Newton – Well, we all know this name, huh? Yet, a year ago at this time, only the hardcore college football fans really knew anything about Newton. Only in America …. can a sports personality rise from anonymity to celebrity, in the span of a few months.

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: 2010 Heisman Trophy candidate Cam Newton of the Auburn University Tigers speaks at a press conference at The New York Marriott Marquis on December 11, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

I suppose we should really be recognizing Cam’s father, Cecil, for being the “straw that stirred this combustible cocktail.” He obviously lobbied for money in exchange for his son’s services, and regardless of what the NCAA might be saying, most of us don’t really believe young Cam is blameless.

Hmmm …. how long will it take for him to surrender that trophy?

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ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Matt Ryan  of the Atlanta Falcons converses with quarterback Joe Flacco  of the Baltimore Ravens after the Falcons 26-21 win at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Blog & Tackle: NFL one-liners through Week 13

Posted on 09 December 2010 by Chris Pika

The 2010 NFL season has reached the three-quarter mark, and like any good game on Sundays, it’s usually the fourth quarter that decides success or failure.

It’s a chance to take stock of each conference after 13 weeks and 12 games with one-liners on each of the teams. Below are some stats, observations and conjecture as we look ahead to the final four weeks.

First, here is a look at the AFC by divisions. Records are through Week 13:

AFC East

New England Patriots (10-2): Patriots have won last four, including huge win over the Jets to solidfy their claim as AFC’s best team behind conference-best (+110) scoring differential; road to AFC title will go through Gillette Stadium and coach Bill Belichick.

New York Jets (9-3): Despite 3-1 stretch, Jets went from potentially being in line to host AFC title game to very vulnerable after shredding of New York’s vaunted D by the Patriots.

Miami Dolphins (6-6): Dolphins continue to confound with 5-1 road mark, but 1-5 home record — that will be main reason they will not make playoffs as well as offensive woes (-23 point differential).

Buffalo Bills (2-10): Bills finally saw results after 0-8 start with two straight victories, but close loss to Steelers and blowout defeat to Vikings has slowed Buffalo’s progress.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3): Steelers have grabbed choke-hold of AFC North after winning the war in Baltimore last week behind QB Ben Roethlisberger and stout defense; now Pittsburgh could host AFC Divisional Playoff at always-tough Heinz Field.

Baltimore Ravens (8-4): Only home loss of season so far to Steelers was costly as Ravens may have three straight playoff games on the road instead of one or two home games; predicted high-production offense has gone cold at bad times.

Cleveland Browns (5-7): Cleveland continues to be a “tough out” thanks to solid running game behind RB Peyton Hillis; if they get QB (and maybe head coach) situation settled in offseason, could be 2011 team to watch in AFC.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-10): The wheels have completely come off the cart for one of the preseason favorites to win the division — nine-game losing streak may spell the end of the Marvin Lewis era in Cincinnati.

AFC South

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5): Jaguars, after 3-1 stretch, find themselves on top in the division, despite worst point differential among all division leaders (-43) — only question is can they hold off slumping Colts?

Indianapolis Colts (6-6): Colts’ injuries have finally taken a toll; forget Peyton Manning for a moment, being in position of having to pass so much has allowed opponents to tee off in crucial situations — but Indy can still catch Jaguars for division title.

Houston Texans (5-7): Lack of strong starts have doomed Texans, 1-5 in their last six games — last chance for Houston (and maybe coach Gary Kubiak’s job) comes with Monday night visit by Ravens in Week 14.

Tennessee Titans (5-7): When you didn’t think anybody else could surpass Minnesota as NFL’s best soap opera, here comes the Titans; normally unflappable coach Jeff Fisher has had to deal with Vince Young, Randy Moss and owner Bud Adams in recent weeks.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (8-4): Chiefs seem to have control of the division after a three-game win streak and perfect 6-0 home mark; can they hold off the Raiders and Chargers over the final four weeks?

Oakland Raiders (6-6): Progress has been slowed by 3-2 mark in last five games, but 4-0 division record could be factor if they get help before Week 17 showdown at traditional rival Chiefs.

San Diego Chargers (6-6): Amazing how one loss changes things after blowout defeat by Raiders last week that stopped four-game win streak; season on the line vs. Chiefs this week.

Denver Broncos (3-9): A three-game losing streak coupled with Spygate-like scandal in London finally cost Josh McDaniels his coaching job; Eric Studesville gets his audition but the supporting cast is not there.

And now for the NFC by divisions:

NFC East

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Matt Ryan  of the Atlanta Falcons converses with quarterback Joe Flacco  of the Baltimore Ravens after the Falcons 26-21 win at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Philadelphia Eagles (8-4): The Eagles are tied for the division lead, but arguably have the NFC East’s toughest schedule left with two games vs. Dallas and one each against the Giants and Vikings — for what was originally expected to be a transition year, a lot is still on the table.

New York Giants (8-4): Giants are playing as well as any team in NFC right now, but head coach Tom Coughlin’s team must navigate Minnesota, Philadelphia and Green Bay the next three weeks to stay in the division and Wild Card mix.

Washington Redskins (5-7): The Redskins season has become a trainwreck as head coach Mike Shanahan has had to deal with several distractions, including DT Albert Haynesworth’s suspension for conduct detrimental; the Skins defense should be suspended as well, allowing the fifth-most points in the NFC.

Dallas Cowboys (4-8): The Cowboys have gotten off the deck to become a team no one wants to face down the stretch; Dallas could play spoiler in the NFC East and help Jason Garrett remove the interim coaching tag.

NFC North

Chicago Bears (9-3): The Bears have won five straight to hold the division lead by one game thanks to resurgent play by QB Jay Cutler and LB Brian Urlacher; Chicago has murderous final four weeks capped by Week 17 visit to Packers.

Green Bay Packers (8-4): Despite injuries, Packers are firmly in the playoff mix, but key Week 12 loss at Atlanta looms large as well as final three games against New England, Giants and Chicago — win those and Green Bay will have earned its postseason ticket.

Minnesota Vikings (5-7): A change in head coach to well-respected assistant Leslie Frazier has helped the mood in Minnesota, but the final four weeks will be all about Brett Favre’s literal limp to the finish of his career (I think).

Detroit Lions (2-10): Some of the strides made early in the season by the Lions have been erased by the current five-game losing streak; coach Jim Schwartz is still looking for consistent winning formula.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons (10-2): The hottest team in the NFC with six straight wins, the Falcons may do something no Atlanta NFL team ever has — host the NFC Championship Game in January; but they have to get through Week 16 Monday Night game vs. Saints.

New Orleans Saints (9-3): The defending Super Bowl champions are playing like it for first time all season with a current five-game win streak as the Saints try to go stride-for-stride with the Falcons; back-to-back road contests at Baltimore and Atlanta in Weeks 15-16 are New Orleans’ key games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5): The air has finally come out of the Buccaneers’ balloon with two straight losses, but Tampa Bay is just one game out of a Wild Card spot with favorable matchups in the next three weeks before Week 17 at Saints.

Carolina Panthers (1-11): The Panthers just want the season to be over, and the housecleaning will begin soon after starting with head coach John Fox; Panthers are a NFC-worst minus-153 in point differential.

NFC West

St. Louis Rams (6-6): The Rams have quietly put themselves in position to make the playoffs out of a weak NFC West, but don’t mistake St. Louis as a weak team — QB Sam Bradford is one of the league’s feel-good stories of 2010, and division could come down to Week 17 tilt at Seattle.

Seattle Seahawks (6-6): The Seahawks are in position to capture the NFC West, but head coach Pete Carroll’s squad still has worst point differential among NFC teams with a winning record (-49); Week 17 vs. St. Louis could be the decider.

San Francisco 49ers (4-8): San Francisco not officially dead in NFC West race, but last gasp could come this Sunday vs. Seattle; if they win, they still have games vs. St. Louis and Arizona — teams they have already beaten in 2010.

Arizona Cardinals (3-9): Cardinals have gone south for the winter as they have lost seven straight and hold NFC’s second-worst point difference (-138), but have three winnable games in final four weeks.

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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Buffalo Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson (L) catches a pass for a touchdown in front of Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb in the second quarter of their NFL football game in Baltimore, Maryland October 24, 2010.   REUTERS/Joe Giza (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

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So much for the “losing to a good team on the road” excuse, huh?

Posted on 25 October 2010 by Rex Snider

For me, the challenge in writing a good blog is partly bound in highlighting a specific theme or idea that hasn’t been addressed by other writers. While such originality is usually my mission, it’s not always possible.

But, I still try ….. So, as I walked out of M&T Bank Stadium, upon witnessing the Ravens thoroughly destroy the Buffalo Bills, I envisioned the things we would hear on the radio and see in blogs, come Monday morning.

Heck, I was hearing it as we walked across the Hamburg Street bridge. My wife is not a football visionary. However, she is a passionate Ravens fan. Thus, her ensuing comments were as predictable as the sunset every evening. “You and your buddies said there was no way the Buffalo Bills would hang with the Ravens” ….. “You gonna blame today’s crappy 4th quarter on the opponent being a good team?” ….. “This might’ve been a win, but it’s an embarrassing win” ….. If I would’ve had a rope, I could’ve hanged myself – right there, above the train tracks. It was a better alternative than begging her to “PLEASE SHUT THE HE@# UP,” which is not a good idea with my wife. Trust me, I’ve done it and I’ve paid for it. Besides, she was

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Ravens appear to be ready for the NFL's elite teams .....

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Ravens appear to be ready for the NFL’s elite teams …..

Posted on 11 October 2010 by Rex Snider

For the past few years, we’ve been accustomed to witnessing some dismal, yet predictable outcomes whenever the Ravens play the National Football League’s best competition. Such shortcomings are undoubtedly tied to a few mitigating reasons, but most importantly, the opponents have simply been better teams.

Of course, for the purpose of this conversation, “best competition” = INDIANAPOLIS COLTS and NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS.

Dating back to 2002, the Ravens have amassed a collective record of 1-11 against the Colts and Patriots. You got that? ONE WIN and ELEVEN LOSSES.

If we’re searching for answers, a few likely conclusions come to mind …..

The Colts and Patriots have outcoached the Ravens.

The Colts and Patriots have outperformed the Ravens.

The Colts and Patriots have outgutted the Ravnes.

And, as we all know, the Colts and Patriots have these guys …..
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While Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have merited the significant hand in matchups against a young Joe Flacco, Kyle Boller, Steve McNair, Anthony Wright, Jeff Blake and Chris Redman, an even greater reality exists in justifying such one-sided dominance.

The Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots have simply been been better teams. Heck, they’ve been the BEST teams of the last decade.

The Ravens have mounted some very spirited efforts against Indy and New England …..

Rewind the clock to December of 2007. On a blustery, snow flurried night, the Ravens nearly upset the undefeated Patriots, at M&T Bank Stadium. But, in the final seconds, the better team prevailed.

How about the trip to Indianapolis, in October of 2002? The Ravens lost a heartbreaker, thanks in part to an Oscar winning performance by former Raven, Qadry Ismail, on a disputable last minute pass interference call. But, once again, the better team prevailed.

The real reason the Ravens own ONE WIN against ELEVEN LOSSES in most recent matchups with the Colts and Patriots really boils down to the more talented team making things happen when it matters most. Indeed, this is a quality winners possess.

It also appears to be a quality the 2010 edition of the Baltimore Ravens are developing.

Yesterday’s win against the Denver Broncos didn’t really showcase any last minute heroics from Flacco & Company, but it did feature a well balanced offensive attack and this season’s first glimpse of a proposed powerful Ravens running game.

While Joe Flacco did not bring loud applause from his respective fantasy football owners, he did manage the game appropriately. He picked on a vulnerable secondary fill-in, when needed. And, he led an offensive effort that clearly wanted to win more than the Broncos defenders on the other side of the ball.

With exception to the hiccup in Cincinnati, the Ravens have improved their overall effort each and every week. And, the wins are coming with contributions from many facets of the team’s makeup. Yesterday, Ray Rice dominated. Last week, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Flacco stepped up at the biggest moment. Two weeks ago, Anquan Boldin burned the Browns.
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This is exactly how the Colts and Patriots have exploited the last decade. While Manning and Brady figure into every game’s outcome, they’ve reliably spread the ball, opportunities and credit among teammates.

Past games against the Colts or Patriots did not feature such an exercised strategy and performance from the Ravens. Years ago, Jamal Lewis was the lone offensive weapon, and more recently, Ray Rice and Derrick Mason have been the only real threats. Of course, the team’s defense has been heavily depended upon in each and every game.

But, it appears things are changing …..

Next Sunday, the Ravens will march into Foxboro with a more lethal offense than Bill Belichick has ever witnessed. Such a reality provides an optimistic feeling on this side of the fence. The Ravens pounded a “Welker-less” Patriots team, back in January. And, last October’s game …. well, lets just say that’s the game that slipped or “bounced” (off the chest of Mark Clayton) away.

There is legitimate reason to believe the Ravens are every bit as good as the Patriots. For the record, I think the Ravens are a better, balanced team.

That said, the Patriots are coming off their bye-week. And, history suggests Tom Brady is a very hard guy to beat when his team has two weeks to concentrate on an opponent. Regardless of the loss of Randy Moss, the Patriots will not lay down like the Broncos, nor will they be as unimaginative as the Steelers and Browns.

Next Sunday serves as a true test of the Baltimore Ravens legitimacy as an ELITE team in the National Football League.

It’s been nearly 9 years since the Ravens defeated the Colts or Patriots in a regular season contest. In the near-decade of matchups, Ravens losses have occurred in nearly every imaginable way. From last minute disappointments, to lackluster performances, to total blowouts, the Ravens have walked away from losses against the Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in nearly every possible scenario.

But, as I’ve suggested, that can really change next week. We could indeed witness the emergence of a couple of the NFL’s next BIG STARS …..
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And, to be quite honest, that’s the way it has to happen. Ray Rice is already on the brink and with yesterday’s showing, he’s primed to renew his 2009 outburst. With Joe Flacco, he needs the stage of serving notice on one of the guys who has done it many times. Beating Tom Brady, on successive efforts would be huge.

Most of all, the Ravens need to beat the Patriots, because that’s what winners do; they beat the good and bad teams.

Beating one of the two teams that has dominated the NFL for so long would establish a new dominance for the Ravens, and I think it would serve as a psychological step in the belief they can beat any team.

The Ravens are better than the Patriots, and in 6 days they’ll have an opportunity to prove it …..

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Friday Football Frenzy ....

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Friday Football Frenzy ….

Posted on 08 October 2010 by Rex Snider

It’s Friday, and we’ll greet the start of another weekend in grand style, this afternoon. Of course, this means plenty of RAVENS talk and some lighthearted fun during today’s edition of the FRIDAY FOOTBALL FRENZY, sponsored by Guiness …..
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Once again, I’ll be joined by Nestor for a solid four hours of bantering back and forth, while breaking down Sunday’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos. Last year’s matchup was less than competitive. However, we expect to see a much more explosive Broncos passing attack on this visit.

Led by Kyle Orton – YES, I said KYLE ORTON ….. the Broncos are the top rated passing offense in the NFL. In fact, Orton is on pace to establish new records, as he currently has thrown for more yards, thru 4 games, than any quarterback in history.

That’s okay, EVERYONE knows the Broncos will be throwing the ball nearly every down. To say they don’t have a running game is an understatement. And, late word this afternoon is starting running back, Knowshon Moreno, has been ruled OUT for Sunday.

The Broncos offense is predictable, but stellar. And, they’ve made opponents pay …..
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Wait a minute ….. is he cross-eyed ???

The Ravens are coming off a big win of their own, in Pittsburgh. With the increased health of Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, we might just see a return to the 2009 prominence of the running attack.

Joe Flacco and his corps of receivers are likely to realize increased success, this week, as well. The Broncos have underachieved in pass rush, with their front-3 still seeking a sack.

Did I mention their entire secondary is north of 30 years old?

I’m predicting a good bit of scoring on both sides of the ball. An exciting game is in store, to say the least.

Do you agree? Do you disagree? Let us know …..

We’ll gladly take your calls at (410) 481-1570, starting at 2pm. You can also email the show at rex@wnst.net

Today’s guests will include insiders from Denver, as well as national voices calling the game. And, we’ll spend a few minutes with the NFL Network’s, Brian Baldinger, as well as WNST NFL correspondent, Chris Pika.

It’s an afternoon of fun. It’s the Ravens vs. Broncos. It’s the Friday Football Frenzy …..
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They could've made a movie about this story .....

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They could’ve made a movie about this story …..

Posted on 07 October 2010 by Rex Snider

Later today, I will be devoting a substantial portion of the AFTERNOON DRIVE to discussing the upcoming matchup between the Ravens and Broncos. Pitting the NFL’s top-rated passing offense against its top-rated passing defense should produce an exciting game on Sunday.

However, we’ll take a slight detour during the 3 o’clock hour, as I chat with Hollywood producer, Mark Ciardi. Our conversation coincides with Mark’s latest release Secretariat, which debuts in theatres tomorrow. The movie, starring Diane Lane and John Malcovich, centers on the life story of Penny Chenery, an inexperienced stables heiress who would eventually rise to prominence as owner of horse racing’s greatest competitor.
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While I will certainly enjoy talking about the movie’s debut, I’m really looking forward to learning more about Mark Ciardi, himself. In full disclosure, I must take this opportunity to thank Glenn Clark for booking the segment. While the story and movie are a compelling topic, Glenn had no idea that Mark and I share a unique tie.

One of my very best friends is also a friend of Mark Ciardi. My friend and Mark played baseball, together, at the University of Maryland. Both gentleman went on to play professionally, as well. However, they’ve fallen out of touch over recent years. Today, I’ll have a special opportunity to reminisce, with Mark, about his baseball career, modeling and his eventual transition into producing.

His college teammates called him “Chief.” He probably hasn’t heard that nickname in years …..

In addition, we’ll examine the prospect of producing a true-life sports story into a Hollywood blockbuster. Mark has produced numerous successful box office hits, like Invincible, The Rookie and Miracle. A producer is tasked with finding the right story or screen play, financing it and hiring the director, along with a portion of the cast.

Is Mark working on another Vince Papali-type project? Was Dennis Quaid his first choice to portray Jim Morris? Did making Miracle bring about the same emotional reaction we felt when witnessing the actual event? We’ll find out today.

In fact, I’m devoting a portion of my morning to brainstorming some real-life sports stories for Mark’s consideration. Hey, this is my shot. Maybe, I can become part of the production staff. Yep ….. I could easily live in SoCal – especially when considering the weather we’re likely to endure over the next six months.

As for my ideas, I’ve thought of a few storylines. I’m sharing them, below. Feel free to email your own suggestions. Here’s my ideas …..

Jay Gibbons

I can imagine the initial impression developed when you see Jay Gibbons heading my list. He’s not inspirational. He’s not a great talent. He hasn’t overcome odds of life’s making. Fair enough …..

However, Jay may very well be the most compelling figure from Major League Baseball’s steroid era. In the sense of a complete story, he’s pretty much it. He was a marginal big leaguer, who used steroids and became substantially more productive. He was awarded a multi-million dollar contract based on tainted achievements.
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Jay Gibbons was caught, he admitted his guilt and eventually his deflated play resulted in a departure from the game. While so many other ex-ballplayers have met a similar fate, Jay Gibbons didn’t let go. He continued to work at his craft and bounced around with some independent organizations. He also wrote letters to each Major League Baseball owner – asking for their forgiveness and another chance.

In those letters, Jay promised to donate his salary to charity if he ever returned to the big leagues. The Los Angeles Dodgers came calling last off-season. They gave him a shot and he performed quite well with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate, in Albuquerque. Jay Gibbons was promoted to Los Angeles and joined the Dodgers, in August.

He played decently, hitting .280 with 5 homers over the final 37 games of the season. What does the future hold? We shall see. But, he has chosen not to donate his salary to charity. Could this be the factor that deters any movie consideration. It surely won’t look good.

Dale Earnhardt

I would imagine an authentic Earnhardt movie will never happen anytime soon. After a hastily packaged ESPN effort, starring Barry Pepper, and a few years of jamming the NASCAR legend’s likeness down our throats, I think it’s safe to say the American viewing audience has experienced enough Earnhardt remembrances for years to come.

That’s the way our society works, right? An iconic legend dies, unexpectedly, and the crush of anything and everything related to them simply swamps our collective culture. It happened with Elvis Presley. It happened with John Lennon. It happened with Princess Diana. It happened with Michael Jackson.

And, it happened with Dale Earnhardt.
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In the days following his death, Earnhardt’s image was plastered on the covers of Time, People and Sports Illustrated, along with every tabloid and newspaper across the nation. It was the top news story for several days and ESPN ranked it the #1 sports event of the last 25 years.

But, lost in all the hoopla of a violent crash and death stands the real story of Dale Earnhardt. He was beyond an aggressive and fearsome competitor. Earnhardt was an entrepreneur; living the American dream the HARD WAY. He was a 9th grade dropout, who revolutionized the marketing strategies of NASCAR. He sold himself on t-shirts, toy cars and caps. Throw in jackets, posters and coffee mugs, too.

Dale Earnhardt embraced the “Man In Black” image.

Yet, he was also a privately generous dude. Many accounts of his charitable vices have circulated since his death. Those stories would’nt dare be leaked during his life. Dale Earnhardt owned a racing organization valued at more than $100 million. His endorsements and merchandising efforts also raked in hundreds of millions.

But, he lived his life simply. Cowboy boots, a pickup truck, horses and cows on a farm. That was him. Yeah, he had his jets and fancy boats. Everyone has splurging pleasures, I suppose.

That ESPN movie was not a fair or vivid view of Dale Earnhardt. Unfortunately, it’s probably the only account the public will ever see.

Josh Gibson

We’ve seen The Natural and A League Of Their Own, why not make a movie based on the life of the “Black Babe Ruth”?

That’s how many baseball historians remember the life and career of Josh Gibson. Like many phenomenal black ballplayers, Josh Gibson was forbidden from playing in the big leagues, because of the color of his skin. His exclusion will be Major League Baseball’s loss, forever.
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While there are few documents certifying Gibson’s statistics, many witnesses watched him and several accounts were written, at the time. Major League Baseball has officially cited his lifetime homerun total at “near 800”, along with a .359 batting average. Undocumented references have him hitting the only fair ball out of Yankee Stadium.

What more could Hollywood want?

I would like to see a serious, credible movie based on the authentic history of the Negro Leagues. Of course, there would be a degree of sadness and dismay, especially at reenactments of racially provoked hatred and discrimination. But, it’s a history that should be told.

I hope to see the life of Josh Gibson and heritage of the Negro Leagues on the big screen someday.

Ric Flair

Yes, I know Mickey Rourke starred in a movie loosely based on a wrestling character, a couple years ago. But, I’m talking about a REAL LIFE story from cradle to wherever he ends up when the movie’s script is written.

Can you think of a more interesting life of choreographed hype than Ric Flair? For the record, the story would begin by following the childhood of Richard Morgan Fliehr, in a suburban Minnesota community.
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Ric Flair’s life really does envelope the career and character of the prototypical professional wrestler, albeit from a more successful side. Unlike many others, he didn’t die young or end up crippled before his 50th birthday. Flair is no longer wrestling, but he stays in character and has made quite a living marketing his “Nature Boy” image.

He counts several celebrities among his close friends, and he’s managed to engage millions of people while flip-flopping from HEEL to BABYFACE more times than a chameleon. With the extravagant, glittery robes, white-blond hair and his trademark “woooooo”, Flair is recognized wherever he goes.
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And, that’s what really separates him from other senior citizen-aged performers who usually just blend into the fabric of their resulted economy.

Forget the feuds with Hulk Hogan, Sting and Nick Bockwinkel. In fact, everything in the squared circle is well known, at this point.

I would be more interested in seeing the real life of Flair, beyond the ring. Failed marriages, absentee parenting, blown finances, regained finances, renewed relationships. I would imagine it’s a high-charged version of VH1’s “Behind The Music.”

No doubt, it would be interesting.

Well, that’s my ideas. I will be certain to run them past Mark Ciardi, this afternoon. Have a GREAT Thursday …..

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