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Your Monday Reality Check: Ravens should absolutely play to win in Cincinnati

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Your Monday Reality Check: Ravens should absolutely play to win in Cincinnati

Posted on 24 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

I’m amazed by how many people I had to explain it to Sunday night. I honestly had to give up after a little while.

The stupidity of the statement “I’d rather the Baltimore Ravens be the four seed because the path looks easier to me” is unbelievable.

I was impressed by a number of things I saw from the Baltimore Ravens Sunday (weren’t we all?), but one that probably went unnoticed by many was how head coach John Harbaugh addressed the question of how the team would handle next week’s game.

“The thing we’re going to do for sure is we’re going to try to win the game” Harbaugh explained. “We’re also going to try to make sure we’re as healthy as we can be going into the playoffs so I think we’ll merge those two considerations.”

Bingo. The Baltimore Ravens absolutely MUST try to win their Week 17 date with the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.

By virtue of their 33-14 win over the New York Giants Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens clinched the AFC North title and a home playoff game. They are guaranteed to play on Wild Card weekend of the NFL Playoffs, but they are not yet locked into the four seed. The Ravens could still clinch the three seed in the AFC Playoffs with a win over the Bengals and a New England Patriots loss to the Miami Dolphins.

The difference in the third seed and fourth seed isn’t necessarily significant, but it has the potential to be. Getting the third seed could be the difference in whether the Ravens are able to host the AFC Championship Game.

It seems like an unlikely scenario, but it’s not impossible. Should the Ravens and Patriots end up as the third and fourth seeds but each win their first two playoff games, they would meet in the AFC title game. If the Pats are the three seed and the Ravens the four, the Pats would host the game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. I vaguely remember such a game happening there before.

But if the Ravens were to finish as the three seed and the Patriots the fourth seed, the game would then be played in the friendly confines of M&T Bank Stadium, the place where the Baltimore Ravens have won 15 of their last 17 games (including playoffs).

Which scenario would you prefer?

I got this question Sunday night. “This seems so unlikely. When was the last time something like this even happened?”

The person who asked was right. It IS an unlikely scenario. But if the Ravens are to return to the AFC Championship Game at all, they will HAVE to knock off one of the top two seeds. The Pats would then only need to win a game either in Houston or Denver, neither of which seems like an impossible scenario.

And if you’ll allow your memory to serve you right, you’ll be reminded that the Ravens were a second half collapse away from having this scenario play out in January 2011. The New York Jets stunned the Patriots in Foxborough, so had the Ravens avoided blowing a fourteen point halftime lead to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, they would have hosted the AFC Championship Game as a five seed.

Some people argued to me “Glenn, I think the road is easier as a four seed because I’d rather play Indianapolis and Houston than Cincinnati and Denver.”

I have absolutely no idea why there is a sudden fear of the Cincinnati Bengals amongst Ravens fans. The difference between the Bengals and Colts is minimal at best. Bengals QB Andy Dalton has thrown for three touchdowns and five interceptions over the course of the last three weeks, is 0-3 in his career against the Ravens and thus far in his NFL career has not defeated a team that has clinched a postseason berth (although that could change next week if the Washington Redskins or New York Giants get in).

The Houston argument is more compelling. Despite the fact that the Ravens suffered a 43-13 shellacking earlier this season in Houston, it’s easy to understand why fans would believe that task more likely to be accomplished than a Ravens win in Denver. What’s forgotten in this scenario is that the Texans have not yet clinched the top seed in the AFC. They will need to do something they’ve never done in franchise history-win in Indianapolis-next Sunday in order to nail down the top spot, and RB Arian Foster’s availability could be an issue after he left Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings with an irregular heartbeat.

Should the Texans lose (as well as the Patriots) and the Broncos win, the Broncos would be the one seed and the Texans would be the two seed. Which scenario is better for the Ravens at that point?

The NFL did the Ravens no favors in scheduling, as their tilt with the Bengals will kick off at 1pm Sunday, while the Patriots won’t kick off until some three hours later. The Ravens will not have the benefit of knowing what the Patriots are doing to decide if there’s a point where they want to pull their starters.

Instead, they’ll simply have to channel former NFL coach Herm Edwards and “play to win the game.”

That doesn’t mean they should go crazy.

The Ravens are smart enough to know that the Patriots are unlikely to lose to the Dolphins and will most likely open the postseason by hosting the Colts in a playoff game for the second time in franchise history. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try.

As Harbaugh said, merging the two considerations is very plausible.

It would make total sense for the Ravens to consider giving oft-injured DT Haloti Ngata another week off (he rested for the team’s blowout win over the Oakland Raiders in November) and even LB Terrell Suggs (who has played the last two weeks after suffering a torn biceps tendon) the day off. Harbaugh also confirmed LB Ray Lewis wouldn’t be a consideration to return from Injured Reserve until the postseason. It wouldn’t be stunning to see S Bernard Pollard miss a third straight game either, and if WR Anquan Boldin’s shoulder is of significant concern it would be understandable to see him miss the finale as well.

But there is absolutely no reason for the Ravens to spend Sunday’s game with Tyrod Taylor handing the ball off to Anthony Allen all afternoon while Joe Flacco and Ray Rice watch in sweats. It’s one thing to be prudent. It’s quite another to just plain give up.

With something to play for still, there’s no reason the Ravens should do the latter. Judging by John Harbaugh’s comments, I’ll assume they won’t.

-G

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The Reality Check Week 16 NFL Power Rankings

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The Reality Check Week 16 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 20 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Kansas City Chiefs (30)

We all knew they’d end up back here.

31. Arizona Cardinals (32)

Wha…what?

30. Oakland Raiders (31)

Don’t fail me now, Seabass.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (29)

They’ll finish the season lower.

28. Philadelphia Eagles (28)

LeSean McCoy is playing WHY?

27. Detroit Lions (25)

Stunning mess.

26. Cleveland Browns (24)

We knew it wouldn’t last.

25. Tennessee Titans (27)

But Jake Locker still stinks.

24. Buffalo Bills (23)

Hope they felt comfortable North of the Border.

23. San Diego Chargers (19)

Gave up?

22. St. Louis Rams (20)

They can still finish above .500.

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (17)

Completely fell apart.

20. New York Jets (18)

VICKMANIA!

19. Carolina Panthers (26)

They might be a year away.

18. Miami Dolphins (22)

Like Republicans, Fins fans want Bush back.

17. New Orleans Saints (21)

Did that whole Sean Payton thing ever get figured out?

(Continued on Page 2…)

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The Reality Check Week 15 NFL Power Rankings

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The Reality Check Week 15 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 13 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Arizona Cardinals (31)

Worst game ever?

31. Oakland Raiders (32)

Congratulations on not being the Cardinals?

30. Kansas City Chiefs (29)

Normalcy likely still not fully returned.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (28)

So do I play Montell Owens next week?

28. Philadelphia Eagles (30)

I’d like to watch Jason Avant’s catch every day of the week.

27. Tennessee Titans (26)

Think they wouldn’t like to have Joe Flacco?

26. Carolina Panthers (27)

The Gus Johnson-Cam Newton connection is something I can support.

25. Detroit Lions (21)

Still think they’re better than their record.

24. Cleveland Browns (25)

Would you have ever believed there’d be a point they were above the Lions on this list?

23. Buffalo Bills (20)

That’s the sound of Fred Jackson owners scrambling.

22. Miami Dolphins (19)

Starting to wonder if they’re even a year away.

21. New Orleans Saints (17)

They probably needed some good news.

20. St. Louis Rams (22)

Wait…who?

19. San Diego Chargers (24)

I miss Jarret Johnson.

18. New York Jets (23)

Worst 6-7 team ever.

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (15)

Are they any good?

(16-1 on Page 2…)

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“The Reality Check” Week 14 NFL Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Week 14 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 06 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Oakland Raiders (31)

Carson Palmer must feel better and better himself by the day.

31. Arizona Cardinals (30)

They’re just going to keep letting Ryan Lindley play, aren’t they?

30. Philadelphia Eagles (29)

Can I get some more Bryce Brown the rest of the way, please?

29. Kansas City Chiefs (32)

You felt good for them.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (28)

Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon would look SO good in purple.

27. Carolina Panthers (21)

Yeesh.

26. Tennessee Titans (24)

Next season will be crucial for Jake Locker.

25. Cleveland Browns (27)

Well…they’re winning.

24. San Diego Chargers (22)

Why would they hire Andy Reid?

23. New York Jets (26)

MCELROYBUTTFUMBLETEBOWMANIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

22. St. Louis Rams (23)

Best nickname of 2012: “Legatron” or “The Muscle Hamster”? There are no other options.

21. Detroit Lions (20)

This whole season is a disappointment.

20. Buffalo Bills (25)

Not far from .500.

19. Miami Dolphins (17)

That was their best chance. Going to need a miracle.

18. Minnesota Vikings (18)

Running out of time.

17. New Orleans Saints (13)

Not impossible they run table…they’ll have to.

(Ryan’s rankings on Page 2…)

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“The Reality Check” Week 13 NFL Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Week 13 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 28 November 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Kansas City Chiefs (32)

Stay low for Geno?

31. Oakland Raiders (30)

I’d say they had a good chance to get a win this weekend, but…

30. Arizona Cardinals (26)

How has Larry Fitzgerald not completely lost his mind?

29. Philadelphia Eagles (25)

The Ravens lost to this team…

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (31)

Chad by God Henne.

27. Cleveland Browns (28)

Eight turnovers…barely squeaked by.

26. New York Jets (24)

SAVE US, TEBOW!

25. Buffalo Bills (23)

But Toronto won the Grey Cup!

24. Tennessee Titans (22)

Didn’t mention Munchak on the hot seat, but he is, right?

23. St. Louis Rams (27)

Wondering if other teams can trade for Ryan Lindley.

22. San Diego Chargers (21)

Now beat Cincinnati, please.

21. Carolina Panthers (29)

Looked an awful lot like what they were supposed to look like.

20. Detroit Lions (19)

God awful way to lose.

19. Dallas Cowboys (17)

What do you do when the quarterback isn’t your problem but the quarterback has to be portrayed as the problem?

18. Minnesota Vikings (13)

But at least they only have to go to Green Bay next week.

17. Miami Dolphins (20)

Not buying back in yet.

(16-1 on Page 2…)

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The Reality Check Week 11 NFL Power Rankings

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The Reality Check Week 11 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 14 November 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (31)

I had a funny feeling they’d end up back here.

31. Kansas City Chiefs (32)

In my heart of hearts, their defense is better than the Jags’.

30. Cleveland Browns (26)

The entire state is too concerned with the Buckeyes’ pursuit of an undefeated season to notice.

29. Carolina Panthers (28)

Oh right. They stink. Sorry I forgot that.

28. Oakland Raiders (24)

Just an absolutely piss poor effort. Which I appreciated.

27. New York Jets (25)

Rex is popular enough that he’ll survive this.

26. St. Louis Rams (30)

They deserved to lose and stole a tie.

25. Arizona Cardinals (23)

Welcome back from the bye. Enjoy Atlanta.

24. Buffalo Bills (27)

That was pretty respectable.

23. Philadelphia Eagles (21)

There are too many good players to be this bad.

22. Washington Redskins (22)

This is a big stretch here after the bye for Mike Shanahan.

21. Tennessee Titans (29)

Where the hell did that come from?

20. San Diego Chargers (18)

And yet…do any of you feel comfortable about the Ravens’ trip to San Diego next week?

19. Miami Dolphins (14)

This is a crucial test for them on Thursday Night Football.

18. Dallas Cowboys (19)

They don’t go away, do they?

17. Detroit Lions (12)

That could end up being a brutal loss to their playoff hopes.

(16-1 on Page 2…)

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The Reality Check Week 10 NFL Power Rankings

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The Reality Check Week 10 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 07 November 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Kansas City Chiefs (32)

Getting rid of Stanford Routt will probably solve everything, though.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (31)

I have to come up with eight more weeks of commentary to make about them.

30. St. Louis Rams (29)

They really have three wins?

29. Tennessee Titans (26)

They’re better than that, aren’t they?

28. Carolina Panthers (30)

I THINK they’re on the uptick?

27. Buffalo Bills (27)

Played the Texans better than the Ravens did.

26. Cleveland Browns (25)

But they’ve got Phil Dawson.

25. New York Jets (24)

Has any team ever been less excited to come back from a bye week?

24. Oakland Raiders (23)

It’s a good time to see them here.

23. Arizona Cardinals (19)

I’ve got nothing.

22. Washington Redskins (18)

At least they have their throwback uniforms.

21. Philadelphia Eagles (17)

Firing Juan Castillo totally solved their O-Line.

20. Cincinnati Bengals (20)

I left them alone for keeping things competitive against the Broncos. I’m giving them too much credit.

19. Dallas Cowboys (15)

Jerry Jones should be locked out of a number of rooms at this point.

18. San Diego Chargers (28)

I knocked them down too far. I’ll probably do it again.

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22)

DOUG MARTIN DOUG MARTIN DOUG MARTIN DOUG MARTIN DOUG MARTIN DOUG MARTIN.

(16-1 on Page 2…)

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On Election Day eve, no one is “undecided” about the 15-7-0

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On Election Day eve, no one is “undecided” about the 15-7-0

Posted on 05 November 2012 by Glenn Clark

As always, this week’s 15-7-0 is brought to you by Roofing By Elite. Visit them at roofingbyelite.com. We make 15 observations about football that are ELITE, 7 that are “not so ELITE” and one “zero” who deserves to sleep on the roof from outside of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens game analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

Here we go.

“The ELITE 15″…

1. There’s college football…and then there’s Alabama.

I guess things didn’t work out for this guy…

The team may have lost, but this was AWESOME…

Also feeling stupid? LSU QB Zach Metten-Rae-Jepsen…

Let’s check in on a man who is the second best coach in his own division…

Wanna see Kirk Herbstreit play with Lee Corso’s trunk? Of course you do…

Next up for Alabama? Johnny Football…

Elsewhere in the SEC, this.

2. How did I spend my Sunday night? Oh, just watching this postgame video of Chuck Pagano and crying.

Oh man.

Also, these types of throws are making people wil’ out about Andrew Luck. I get it. A quick reminder that Andrew Luck plays indoors. That’s all.

In defeat, Reggie Bush tallied a TD on a play that reminded of a guy who used to play for USC a few years back…

3. The Pittsburgh Steelers just refuse to make things easy on the Ravens…again.

And say whatever you want…this was an incomplete pass.

Also, this shouldn’t have been a flag on Ryan Clark either. I’m not trying to apologize for the Steelers (in fact, I was glad both calls went against them). Had they lost, they would have lost and I would have said they deserved to lose. That’s the way it works in the NFL.

Also-are you a Ravens fan considering voting for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan? This is the man you’d be voting for…

4. Despite what the computers might say, I think we all know Oregon is the 2nd best team in the country.

We’ll get to Collin Klein in a second, but Kenjon Barner PROBABLY moved to second on the Heisman Trophy list (ahead of Manti Te’o) in the Ducks’ win at USC…

The Trojans lost their third game of the season, but it’s hard to blame their quarterback. Unless you’re former USC RB Marc Tyler…

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, UCLA blew out Arizona a week after Arizona ran over USC. But UCLA’s win came with their assistants looking like this…

5. And I think we all know Kansas State is the 3rd best team in the country.

They looked really good against Oklahoma State Saturday night…

Also, here’s this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfmFwIGUEb8

Elsewhere in the Big 12, did this final 2 point conversion in West Virginia-TCU actually happen?

(Since I don’t like WVU…I don’t care if it did or didn’t. I’m just glad they said it did.)

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens’ hearts with Pagano as he battles leukemia

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Ravens’ hearts with Pagano as he battles leukemia

Posted on 01 October 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Returning to their Owings Mills facility on Monday morning after a three-day respite, the Ravens were greeted with the solemn news of former defensive coordinator and current Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano being diagnosed with leukemia.

The 51-year-old will be hospitalized for the next six to eight weeks as he undergoes treatment

Spending last season as the Ravens defensive coordinator and the previous three seasons as the secondary coach, Pagano was popular in Baltimore and often described as a “players’ coach” similar to former defensive coordinator and current New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan. His energetic personality and work guiding the league’s third-ranked defense enticed the Colts to hire Pagano as their head coach just days after the Ravens’ loss in the AFC Championship game late January.

“He’s just one of the guys,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said. “He interacts with us just like he’s one of us, like he’s one of the teammates — not our coach. He’s just a likeable guy, always has a smile on his face. He’s always joking around, having a good time, enjoying work. While he always was serious about his job, but he was having fun with it. We love that.”

Coach John Harbaugh said he exchanged text messages with Pagano earlier in the day, sharing that the former Ravens assistant seemed upbeat about fighting the disease. Pagano also relayed a message to his defensive players about how he expects them to play, though Harbaugh would not disclose what the “forthright” comments were in reference to Baltimore’s defense that’s currently ranked 23rd in the league.

Former Ravens defensive players Tom Zbikowski, Cory Redding, and Brandon McKinney left via free agency this past off-season to join Pagano in Indianapolis.

“Chuck’s a fighter in every respect,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Chuck’s got that swagger. I’m completely confident that Chuck will go to work on this with the same enthusiasm he does [with] everything else in his life, and he’ll be victorious. We’ll be pulling for him and praying for him on that.”

Players have expressed immense respect for new defensive coordinator Dean Pees and his football intellect, but listening to members of the defense such as Ray Lewis and Suggs gush about their relationship with Pagano last season made it easy to understand how hard players would take the news about his illness.

Doctors are optimistic that Pagano will recover from acute myeloid leukemia, a disease in which the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells that interfere with healthy blood cells. Symptoms include weakness or fatigue, weight loss, and bleeding or easy bruising.

“A lot of guys, it hit our hearts this morning when we heard the news,” Webb said. “We just can’t believe it’s Chuck, one of ours. We know he’s a Colt, but he’s still one of us. We sent all of our heart and condolences to him. It hit us hard this morning.”

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Report: Former Ravens defensive coordinator and Colts head coach Pagano has leukemia

Posted on 01 October 2012 by Luke Jones

Former Ravens defensive coordinator and Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has been hospitalized with leukemia, according to multiple reports Monday morning.

The illness is considered “very treatable’ as Pagano will be hospitalized for the next six weeks while undergoing treatment, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. The Colts had a bye in Week 4, but Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz reports Pagano had been complaining of unusual fatigue and went for blood workup during the bye week.

Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will serve as interim coach while Pagano focuses on treatment and recovery. The Colts have called a 10:30 a.m. press conference to offer more information about Acute promyelocytic leukemia, the form with which Pagano has been diagnosed.

In 2011, Pagano guided the league’s third-ranked defense in his only season as the defensive coordinator in Baltimore. Prior to that, the 51-year-old served three years as the Ravens secondary coach under John Harbaugh.

Wildly popular with his defensive players, Pagano often drew comparisons to former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan during his tenure in Baltimore.

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