Posted on 22 December 2013 by WNSTV
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Posted on 22 December 2013 by WNSTV
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Posted on 22 December 2013 by Luke Jones
BALTIMORE — The Ravens are no strangers to big games with the New England Patriots as the teams meet Sunday for the first time since last January’s AFC Championship with high postseason stakes once again involved.
New England entered Sunday needing only a win or a Miami loss to clinch its fifth straight AFC East division title while the Ravens can punch their ticket to the postseason for the sixth consecutive year with a win and losses by both Miami and San Diego. Of course, the Ravens still have visions for an AFC North championship but need a win or a Cincinnati loss in Week 16 to set up next week’s showdown with the Bengals as a division title game.
Watchful eyes will be on quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice as both are active but were limited in practices this week. During pre-game warmups, Flacco was moving around fairly well while sporting a brace on his left knee and throwing to tight end Dennis Pitta and wide receiver Jacoby Jones.
Rice is dealing with a mild quadriceps injury that forced him out of Wednesday’s practice, but the sixth-year running back downplayed the significance of the ailment earlier in the week. The Patriots are 31st in the NFL in rush defense, so this matchup sets up nicely for Rice and backup Bernard Pierce to have productive days.
Linebacker Elvis Dumervil is active and will play despite being a late addition to the injury report on Friday. Like Flacco and Rice, he was listed as questionable, but the rush specialist will play against the Patriots after being limited in Friday’s practice with a lingering ankle injury.
Tight end Dallas Clark is inactive for the second time in three weeks despite being listed as probable on the final injury report with an illness. He was active against Detroit in Week 15, but the veteran did not play a snap.
The Patriots will be without left tackle Nate Solder (concussion) today after he was downgraded to out Saturday night. As a result, New England is expected to shift veteran left guard Logan Mankins to left tackle as they did last week when Solder suffered his second concussion in as many weeks.
New England wideout Aaron Dobson is active and will provide a 6-foot-3 target in the red zone for a Patriots offense that struggled in that capacity last week in Miami.
Including the playoffs, Sunday marks the seventh time these teams have met in the John Harbaugh era with the Ravens and Patriots splitting the series. Despite Baltimore’s postseason success against quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, New England is 6-1 all-time in the regular season against the Ravens.
Unseasonably warm temperatures reaching the low 70s and a 60-percent chance of rain — with the possibility of a thunderstorm — are in the forecast with winds up to 11 miles per hour for the 4:25 p.m. kickoff.
The referee for Sunday’s game will be Ron Winter.
The Ravens will wear purple jerseys with black pants while New England sports white jerseys with dark blue pants.
Here are Sunday’s inactives:
CB Asa Jackson
S Omar Brown
LB Albert McClellan
C Ryan Jensen
WR Deonte Thompson
TE Dallas Clark
DT Brandon Williams
LT Nate Solder
TE D.J. Williams
LB Dane Fletcher
WR Josh Boyce
WR Kenbrell Thompkins
DT Isaac Sopoaga
DE Jake Bequette
Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the afternoon for updates and analysis as Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, and I bring live coverage from M&T Bank Stadium.
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Posted on 22 December 2013 by Luke Jones
The Patriots will once again shuffle their offensive line following the decision to rule out starting left tackle Nate Solder on Saturday night.
After suffering concussions in two consecutive weeks, Solder practiced on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday, but his status for Sunday’s game against the Ravens remained in serious doubt even after he was listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week.
New England also ruled out wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, meaning the rookie will miss his third straight game while dealing with a hip injury. Fellow rookie wideout Aaron Dobson (foot) is questionable while fellow rookie Josh Boyce was ruled out earlier in the week.
The absence of Solder means the Patriots are likely to again move Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins to left tackle while rookie Josh Kline will step in at left guard for the starting offensive line. Mankins replaced the injured Solder at left tackle last week in a loss to the Miami Dolphins and was regarded by the Patriots as a lineman capable of playing left tackle when they drafted him.
“Scheme-wise, it’s not all that hard. I know all the plays at every position, so that’s not tough,” Mankins said to the New England media earlier this week. “Just the overall different angles, different foot work, that kind of thing. I have to process that pretty fast.”
Mankins has started 127 of his 128 career games at left guard.
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Posted on 21 December 2013 by Luke Jones
The Ravens renew what’s become one of the best rivalries in the NFL in recent years Sunday when the New England Patriots pay a visit with playoff implications for both sides.
A rematch of the last two AFC Championship games is compelling enough, but the Ravens enter Sunday with a chance to punch their ticket to the postseason for the sixth straight year with a win and losses by Miami and San Diego. New England will clinch its fifth consecutive AFC East division title with a victory at M&T Bank Stadium.
These teams have dealt with their fair share of changes since the last time they met in Foxborough last January, but they find themselves in a familiar position with new faces emerging to replace the big names of past years. Counting the postseason, Sunday marks the seventh time the Ravens and Patriots have met in the John Harbaugh era — it’s been a 3-3 split — with few teams having as much success against New England coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady as Baltimore.
It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens try to clinch another winning season under Harbaugh and set up an AFC North championship game against Cincinnati in Week 17. Baltimore is just 1-6 in the all-time regular-season series against New England, but the Ravens hold a 2-1 edge over the Patriots in the postseason.
Here’s what to expect as the Ravens look to continue their four-game winning streak and keep themselves in position for January football …
1. Joe Flacco’s knee injury will affect his mobility, contributing to him being sacked four times for the first time since late November. One of the major factors for Flacco’s improved play down the stretch has been his ability to move around in the pocket and occasionally take off to gain yards on the ground, but the mild MCL sprain of his left knee figures to impact that to some extent. Trying to assess Flacco’s mobility during practices this week was impossible as quarterbacks only played catch from a stationary position during the open portion of practices, but he was still dealing with some swelling late in the week. The Baltimore offensive line has only allowed five sacks over the last three games, but Flacco will be more likely to stay in the pocket this week, leading to a few more sacks with defensive ends Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich coming off the edges.
2. New England cornerback Aqib Talib will match up with Dennis Pitta, but the Ravens tight end will catch a touchdown. The Patriots have used the 6-foot-1 Talib against talented tight ends such as New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham and Miami’s Charles Clay, so don’t be surprised to see him covering Pitta from the slot position while New England tries to use Cover 2 to contain the deep-ball threats of Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones on the outside. Talib is listed as probable on the final injury report, but he’s been dealing with a nagging hip issue, which might explain why defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Belichick moved him inside last week in Miami. Talib will prevent Pitta from having a huge day, but Flacco will still find his favorite target inside the red zone for a touchdown after the tight end wasn’t targeted once in three red-zone trips last week in Detroit.
3. Brady will find rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson for a touchdown to help the Patriots’ recent red-zone woes. New England ranks 16th in the league in red-zone offense, and the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski has only made that area of the field more problematic for the future Hall of Fame quarterback as he lacks a big target to throw to. The Patriots were only 1-for-4 inside the 20 in last week’s loss to the Dolphins, but the return of the 6-foot-3 Dobson will help complement smaller receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. The Ravens must also keep tabs on Shane Vereen and his receiving abilities out of the backfield, but the league’s fourth-ranked red-zone defense will make the Patriots scratch and claw all day. Even with their personnel losses, the Patriots rank sixth in the NFL in points scored and Brady will connect with Dobson for a touchdown.
4. Backup running back Bernard Pierce will earn a season high for rushing yards with Ray Rice less than 100 percent. Rice and the Ravens have downplayed the mild quadriceps strain he suffered in the Week 15 win over the Lions, but it’s difficult not to be concerned considering how tough this season has been for the three-time Pro Bowl selection. Pierce has experienced his own struggles — averaging only 2.8 yards per carry — behind an offensive line that’s underperformed. If the Patriots do match up Talib with Pitta and rely on two high safeties against the vertical threat, the Ravens will receive better looks in the box against the league’s 31st-ranked run defense that’s surrendered 132.5 yards per game. It’s difficult to trust the Ravens to run the ball effectively against anyone at this point, but Pierce will eclipse his season high of 65 rushing yards set in Week 3.
5. An improved effort inside the 20-yard line will go a long way as the Ravens win a 23-17 final over New England. Baltimore has won four straight games but has only gone 4-for-14 inside the red zone over that stretch, leaving a slim margin for error and too much reliance on kicker Justin Tucker. That being said, Flacco has gotten the best of Brady in recent years and the Ravens are feeling more urgency than the Patriots with their playoff positioning. Sunday will be a nail-biter and you can never count out Brady when the stakes are high, but the Ravens will once again rise to the occasion to finish 7-1 at home. The offense will have a respectable effort on the ground and make a few big plays through the air to complement another strong defensive effort as the Ravens set up a massive Week 17 showdown with the Bengals.
Posted on 20 December 2013 by Luke Jones
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens have no doubt that Joe Flacco will be available to play in Sunday’s critical meeting with the New England Patriots, but how effective the quarterback will be remains to be seen.
He along with running back Ray Rice and linebacker Elvis Dumervil were listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week after all three were limited in practice on Friday. Dumervil was a new addition to the injury report as it appears the ankle injury he suffered on Thanksgiving night continues to be an issue.
Flacco practiced on a limited basis for a third consecutive day and he’s only played catch during the media viewing portions of workouts, leaving observers to wonder just how mobile he is after suffering a mild medial collateral ligament sprain in Monday’s win over the Detroit Lions. The sixth-year quarterback will wear a brace on his left knee to protect its stability as the Ravens try to remain in position for a playoff spot in the AFC.
“He looked good. I don’t know if there’s a progression,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He looked pretty much the same all week and he got through all the practices and took his reps. He did well.”
Over the course of Baltimore’s four-game winning streak to elevate their record to 8-6, Flacco has shown good mobility in occasionally taking off to gain yards on the ground and to extend plays by eluding pressure in the pocket. A more-statuesque Flacco would put immense pressure on an offensive line that has been inconsistent in allowing him to be sacked a career-worst 42 times this season.
Flacco has gained 130 yards on 24 rushing attempts this season, averaging a career-high 5.4 yards per carry. Interestingly enough, he is on pace to set a career low in carries despite being so productive when he takes off.
“He’s always been a mobile quarterback,” Harbaugh said. “Go back to his very first game against the Bengals [with a 38-yard touchdown run in 2008]. If you’re saying people don’t take stock of that, they probably haven’t been paying attention. That’s definitely a big part of his game and it’s made a difference for us in a lot of games this year so far.”
Rice practiced for a second straight day as he has nursed a mild quadriceps strain that surfaced on his final run from scrimmage against the Lions. The sixth-year back was a non-participant in Wednesday’s workout but downplayed the significance of the injury and is expected to play.
Acknowledging earlier in the week to the New England media that his early-season hip flexor strain has continued to be an issue, Rice has looked more explosive in recent weeks, making his thigh injury a concerning development for the Ravens.
Harbaugh would not reveal whether Rice’s injury is related to his hip.
“You know I’m not going to get into all that,” Harbaugh said. “He’s on the injury report and that’s what it is. What the injury report says is what it is.”
Dumervil’s status is unclear after he wasn’t listed on the injury report before Friday. Harbaugh was available Friday before the final injury report was released, so it’s unknown whether Dumervil suffered a setback during the workout.
The Ravens’ only other question marks in terms of game-day status are linebacker Albert McClellan (neck) and cornerback Asa Jackson (hamstring). Neither player practiced all week as Baltimore listed McClellan as questionable and Jackson as doubtful for Sunday’s game. It’s worth noting that McClellan, a key special-teams contributor, missed several weeks of practices earlier in the year without missing a game despite a lingering shoulder issue.
Meanwhile, New England ruled out wide receiver Josh Boyce and listed seven players as questionable, with the most significant concern being left tackle Nate Solder. The offensive lineman suffered his second concussion in as many weeks last Sunday but practiced on a limited basis Thursday and Friday.
Others listed as questionable for New England included rookie wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, cornerbacks Kyle Arrington and Alonzo Dennard, and linebacker Brandon Spikes.
After a mild week in terms of any potential trash talk between these teams who’ve met in plenty of meaningful games over the last five years, Patriots safety Devin McCourty provided some bulletin board material to get the Ravens’ attention ahead of Sunday’s game. McCourty acknowledged hating the Ravens “a little bit” and admitted New England clinching its fifth consecutive AFC East title wouldn’t be the only goal on his mind.
“I’ll put it this way: there would be no better feeling than us beating them Sunday and…we eliminate their season right there,” McCourty told Comcast SportsNet New England. “For me and a lot of my teammates, there’d be no better feeling.”
The referee for Sunday’s game will be Ron Winter.
The forecast is calling for unseasonably warm temperatures approach 71 degrees, but there is a 60-percent chance of rain that could include thunderstorms and winds around 20 miles per hour. Of course, it’s just the latest example of unusual weather this season as the Ravens have endured two weather-related delays, high winds, significant snow, and even a tornado warning at different points.
“Thunderstorms go with lightning, so that could be a delay,” said Harbaugh as he laughed. “We won’t be surprised if that happens.”
It was also announced Friday that Detroit linebacker DeAndre Levy was not fined for his helmet shot delivered just below Flacco’s knee that wasn’t penalized during the game. However, Ravens safety Matt Elam was fined $7,875 for unnecessary roughness on his hit delivered to a sliding Matthew Stafford.
Here is the final injury report of the week:
OUT: CB Asa Jackson (thigh)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle), QB Joe Flacco (knee), LB Albert McClellan (neck), RB Ray Rice (thigh)
PROBABLE: TE Dallas Clark (illness), S Brynden Trawick (ankle)
OUT: WR Josh Boyce (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Kyle Arrington (groin), CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee, shoulder), WR Aaron Dobson (foot), LB Dane Fletcher (groin), T Nate Solder (concussion), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip)
PROBABLE: WR Danny Amendola (groin), QB Tom Brady (right shoulder), T Marcus Cannon (ankle), S Steve Gregory (finger), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee), T Will Svitek (ankle), CB Aqib Talib (hip)
Posted on 20 December 2013 by Luke Jones
Here are this weekend’s picks as The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction will pick every NFL game and local college games this season.
Luke Jones finished Week 15 with a 7-9 record while Drew Forrester was 6-10 on his picks. Entering Week 16, Jones is 135-88 on the season while Forrester is 129-94. Official standings are based only on the NFL picks.
You can listen to Friday’s “Picks and Comment” segment HERE.
Patriots at Ravens: Baltimore 26-13 (Drew), Baltimore 23-17 (Luke)
Dolphins at Bills: Miami 24-10 (Drew), Miami 23-16 (Luke)
Saints at Panthers: Carolina 20-17 (Drew), Carolina 26-24 (Luke)
Cowboys at Redskins: Washington 30-23 (Drew), Dallas 34-27 (Luke)
Buccaneers at Rams: Tampa Bay 23-20 OT (Drew), St. Louis 24-20 (Luke)
Browns at Jets: New York 22-21 (Drew), Cleveland 20-16 (Luke)
Colts at Chiefs: Kansas City 31-7 (Drew), Kansas City 26-20 (Luke)
Vikings at Bengals: Cincinnati 38-17 (Drew), Cincinnati 27-13 (Luke)
Broncos at Texans: Denver 28-24 (Drew), Denver 27-19 (Luke)
Titans at Jaguars: Jacksonville 24-20 (Drew), Tennessee 24-23 (Luke)
Cardinals at Seahawks: Seattle 27-10 (Drew), Seattle 26-12 (Luke)
Giants at Lions: Detroit 34-17 (Drew), Detroit 31-20 (Luke)
Raiders at Chargers: San Diego 33-24 (Drew), San Diego 31-21 (Luke)
Steelers at Packers: Pittsburgh 28-24 (Drew), Green Bay 24-21 (Luke)
Bears at Eagles: Philadelphia 37-27 (Drew), Philadelphia 34-30 (Luke)
Falcons at 49ers: San Francisco 27-6 (Drew), San Francisco 24-10 (Luke)
Towson at Eastern Washington: Tigers 30-28 (Drew), Eagles 34-31 (Luke)
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Posted on 19 December 2013 by Luke Jones
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens received good news Thursday with the return to the practice field of running back Ray Rice as they continued preparations for Sunday’s showdown with the New England Patriots.
Rice practiced on a limited basis a day after sitting out with what was listed as a thigh injury. It appears Rice’s day off was more precautionary than anything after he was present for Wednesday’s practice despite being listed as a non-participant on the official injury report.
The sixth-year back felt his quadriceps tighten up slightly during his 19-yard run to close out the 18-16 win over Detroit, which explains why he elected to go down on the play rather than try to score a touchdown. It has been assumed by most observes that Rice simply wanted to run out the clock without giving the ball back to the Lions with under 30 seconds remaining.
Quarterback Joe Flacco (knee) practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day as quarterbacks only played stationary catch during the portion of practice open to media on Thursday. The sixth-year quarterback suffered a mild MCL sprain in Monday night’s win over Detroit and will wear a brace on his left knee, but he is fully expected to play.
It remains a mystery how mobile Flacco will be on Sunday with the open portions of practice not revealing much in terms of his movement.
“If they can take the field, they can play,” said offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell on how Flacco’s health could impact Sunday’s game plan. “Obviously, the doctors will make that determination. Joe has been practicing and we fully anticipate he’ll be able to do his job.”
Tight end Dallas Clark was a full participant on Thursday a day after missing practice due to an illness.
Linebacker Albert McClellan (neck) and cornerback Asa Jackson (hamstring) missed their second straight day of practice as the status of both players remains up in the air.
Meanwhile, the Patriots received good news as starting left tackle Nate Solder returned to the practice field on a limited basis after suffering his second concussion in as many weeks in New England’s Week 15 loss at Miami. It remains unclear whether he has been cleared for contact, but his presence at practice paints a more positive picture for his status than many had suggested earlier in the week.
Rookie wide receivers Aaron Dobson (foot) and Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) both practiced on a limited basis for the second straight day, which bodes well for their prospects of returning to game action.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder) was limited once again, but head coach Bill Belichick is known as a notorious manipulator of the injury report and the future Hall of Fame signal-caller is not considered to be in any danger of missing Sunday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium.
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Asa Jackson (thigh), LB Albert McClellan (neck)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: QB Joe Flacco (knee), RB Ray Rice (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: TE Dallas Clark (illness), S Brynden Trawick (ankle)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Josh Boyce (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Danny Amendola (groin), CB Kyle Arrington (groin), QB Tom Brady (right shoulder), T Marcus Cannon (ankle), CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee, shoulder), WR Aaron Dobson (foot), LB Dane Fletcher (groin), S Steve Gregory (finger), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee), T Nate Solder (concussion), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), T Will Svitek (ankle), CB Aqib Talib (hip), WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip)
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Posted on 18 December 2013 by Luke Jones
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Taking the practice field less than 48 hours after injuring his left knee in the Ravens’ 18-16 win over Detroit, quarterback Joe Flacco was present in what was little more than a walk-through on Wednesday afternoon.
Sporting a brace underneath his pants, Flacco played catch and wasn’t moving with a noticeable limp during the media viewing portion of practice, but none of the Baltimore quarterbacks were doing much in the first 30 minutes of a workout that didn’t include helmets. Flacco is expected take it easy over the next couple days, but he isn’t considered to be in any danger of missing Sunday’s contest against the New England Patriots.
A magnetic resonance imaging test revealed a mild MCL sprain in Flacco’s left knee, according to an ESPN report.
“He went through practice today on a limited basis, and we listed him as limited today,” said coach John Harbaugh, who acknowledged cringing when he saw the replay of the helmet shot delivered to Flacco’s knee by Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy. “We’ll just take it the rest of the week on a day-by-day basis, but we do anticipate that he will play. We’ll see where we’ll go from there.”
Flacco described the brace as “a little bit” uncomfortable, but he confirmed that he will wear it during Sunday’s game whether he needs to or not to prevent further injury. He has experienced stiffness and swelling since hurting the knee midway through the fourth quarter Monday night, but the knee is getting better, according to the quarterback.
The sixth-year signal-caller admitted he was initially scared when he was hit and hesitated to get up in fear of there something being seriously wrong with the knee. Sunday will mark the first time Flacco has worn a knee brace during an NFL game, but the University of Delaware product said he wore one on his left knee during his junior year after suffering an injury to his medial collateral ligament.
“I got up and I put a little pressure on it and was able to run off the field and all that,” Flacco said. “You’ve got to feel pretty good about that. You’re able to go back out there and do everything. My mind was at ease as soon as I got up, so that wasn’t that big of an issue.”
There is little doubt that Flacco will play on Sunday, but how effectively he can move around remains to be seen with the viewing portions of practice unlikely to reveal anything of real substance this week. Recently, Flacco has shown a willingness to not only take off and gain yards on the ground but to escape pressure in the pocket to extend plays and make throws downfield.
Flacco has never missed a game in his professional career — making 107 starts including postseason games — and has the third-longest consecutive games played streak among active quarterbacks, trailing only New York’s Eli Manning and San Diego’s Philip Rivers. His durability is considered one of his biggest strengths and has allowed the Ravens not to feel the need to invest heavily in a backup quarterback in recent years.
“That is one of the first things you think about when you get hit there and you go down,” Flacco said. “You’re like, ‘Shoot, I better not be able to not be able to play.’ I’m definitely very proud of that. At some point, it may happen that I can’t go out there and start a football game, but we’re going to try to hold that off for a while.”
Though he was present on the practice field while the Ravens worked indoors, running back Ray Rice was listed as a non-participant for Wednesday’s workout with a thigh injury. He rushed for 56 yards on 12 carries against Detroit, which represent his second-highest yards per carry average (4.7) this season.
Rice did not appear to be in serious pain after Monday’s game or during practice and could have simply received a day off on Wednesday as the Ravens periodically do with veteran players. His mere presence on the field is a good indication that his injury is unlikely to be serious.
Tight end Dallas Clark (illness), linebacker Albert McClellan (neck), and cornerback Asa Jackson (hamstring) were also absent from Wednesday’s practice, but only Jackson came away with a reported injury from the win over the Lions. Clark was active for Monday’s game but did not play at all.
Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (ankle) was present and working during Wednesday’s practice after returning to action in Week 15 and playing 33 of 65 defensive snaps.
The Patriots were without starting left tackle Nate Solder (concussion) during their Wednesday practice as the starting lineman is once again dealing with a concussion.
As is typically the case, New England head coach Bill Belichick listed a number of players as limited participants, including quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder), wide receiver Danny Amendola (groin), cornerback Aqib Talib (hip), and wide receivers Aaron Dobson (foot) and Kenbrell Thompkins (hip).
Here is Wednesday’s official injury report:
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Dallas Clark (illness), CB Asa Jackson (thigh), LB Albert McClellan (neck), RB Ray Rice (thigh)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: QB Joe Flacco (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: S Brynden Trawick (ankle)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Josh Boyce (ankle), T Nate Solder (concussion)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Danny Amendola (groin), CB Kyle Arrington (groin), QB Tom Brady (right shoulder), T Marcus Cannon (ankle), CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee, shoulder), WR Aaron Dobson (foot), LB Dane Fletcher (groin), S Steve Gregory (finger), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (knee), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), T Will Svitek (ankle), CB Aqib Talib (hip), WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip)
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Posted on 17 December 2013 by Luke Jones
Following their biggest win of the season against the Detroit Lions on Monday night, the Ravens now see their playoff possibilities coming into sharp focus with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
Paths to a division title or the second wild-card spot in the AFC remain very reasonable with the Ravens having complete control over both of those outcomes, but Baltimore still has a chance — unlikely as it might be — to earn the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye after the top three teams in the conference all lost in Week 15.
While there are clearly no scenarios in which the Ravens could clinch the division or the No. 2 seed in Week 16, they could punch their ticket to the postseason if they continue their current winning streak and receive help from other teams on Sunday.
Here are the Ravens’ current playoff scenarios entering Week 16:
The Ravens will clinch a playoff spot on Sunday with:
A win over New England AND a Miami loss at Buffalo AND a San Diego loss or tie against Oakland
Skinny: Some have erroneously said the Ravens would clinch the No. 6 seed with a win over the Patriots and a Dolphins loss, but the Chargers remain in the hunt with a 7-7 record, leaving open the possibility of a three-way tie for the No. 6 seed at the end of Week 17. Though the Ravens would win individual tiebreakers against Miami (their Week 5 win) or San Diego (superior conference record), the Dolphins would win the three-way tiebreaker with the best conference record should all three teams finish 9-7 or 8-8.
The Ravens can win the AFC North with:
Two wins OR two Cincinnati losses (home games against Minnesota and Baltimore)
Skinny: The Bengals would clinch the division with a win or a tie against the Vikings and a Baltimore loss against New England in Week 16, but a Ravens win over the Patriots or a Bengals loss to Minnesota would guarantee an AFC North championship game in Week 17. Baltimore would own the head-to-head tiebreaker with a win over the Bengals after defeating them once earlier in the season.
The Ravens would clinch the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye with:
Two wins AND two New England losses (at Baltimore and home against Buffalo) AND one Indianapolis loss (at Kansas City or home against Jacksonville) AND one Miami loss (at Buffalo or home against the New York Jets)
Two wins AND two New England losses AND two Indianapolis losses
Skinny: Under the first scenario presented, the Ravens would finish with a better conference record than New England and a better record against common opponents than Indianapolis. However, if the Patriots would lose out and the Dolphins would win out, Miami would win the AFC East and the door would remain open for a three-way tie among Baltimore, Indianapolis, and Miami that would give the Dolphins the No. 2 seed by way of the best conference record. This possibility would be eliminated if the Colts were to lose two games as the Ravens would still own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Dolphins, meaning a Miami loss wouldn’t be needed.