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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Picks and Comment – Week 14

Posted on 06 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 13 with a 12-4 record while Drew Forrester was 9-7 on his picks. Entering Week 14, Jones is 115-76 on the season while Forrester is 113-78. Official standings are based only on the NFL picks.

Jones correctly picked Jacksonville to beat Houston Thursday night while Forrester incorrectly picked the Texans to win to kick off Week 14 action.

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

Vikings at Ravens: Baltimore 27-7 (Drew), Baltimore 24-13 (Luke)
Dolphins at Steelers: Pittsburgh 27-23 (Drew), Pittsburgh 21-16 (Luke)
Colts at Bengals: Cincinnati 37-10 (Drew), Cincinnati 23-20 (Luke)
Chiefs at Redskins: Kansas City 27-24 OT (Drew), Kansas City 26-17 (Luke)
Browns at Patriots: New England 30-17 (Drew), New England 30-20 (Luke)
Raiders at Jets: 16-16 TIE (Drew – pick is worth five wins if it happens), Oakland 20-13 (Luke)
Lions at Eagles: Detroit 24-20 (Drew), Philadelphia 27-21 (Luke)
Bills at Buccaneers: Buffalo 23-21 (Drew), Tampa Bay 23-21 (Luke)
Falcons at Packers: Green Bay 23-13 (Drew), Green Bay 24-21 (Luke)
Titans at Broncos: Denver 31-21 (Drew), Denver 34-20 (Luke)
Rams at Cardinals: Arizona 26-10 (Drew), Arizona 17-13 (Luke)
Giants at Chargers: San Diego 38-17 (Drew), San Diego 31-23 (Luke)
Seahawks at 49ers: San Francisco 20-17 (Drew), San Francisco 20-16 (Luke)
Panthers at Saints: New Orleans 24-20 (Drew), New Orleans 27-21 (Luke)
Cowboys at Bears: Chicago 28-27 (Drew), Dallas 27-20 (Luke)
Fordham at Towson: Tigers 35-31 (Drew), Tigers 27-23 (Luke)

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Contender or pretender: Sizing up the AFC wild-card race

Posted on 03 December 2013 by Luke Jones

For the Ravens and a number of other AFC teams who’ve plodded along with a .500 record or slightly worse through the first three quarters of the 2013 season, the final sprint is here in determining who will grab the coveted second wild-card spot as Kansas City is all but guaranteed the No. 5 seed.

Of course, coach John Harbaugh and his team still hold hope that their Week 17 meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals will provide an opportunity to play for the AFC North title, but the Ravens will need their division counterpart to slip up to reduce the deficit to just one game entering that final contest at Paul Brown Stadium on Dec. 29. In the meantime, the Ravens simply must focus on winning games and securing their current grip on the No. 6 seed in the AFC as their 6-6 record equals the Dolphins — and an Oct. 6 victory over Miami gives them the tie-breaking nod.

Following this Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings that concludes the current three-game homestand, the Ravens have the most difficult path of any of the wild-card contenders over the final three weeks in playing three teams projected to land in the postseason. Baltimore figures to need to win three of its final four games in the final month for a good chance to maintain its grip on the No. 6 seed, meaning the Ravens will likely need to win two of three against Detroit, New England, and Cincinnati and only the Patriots game will be played at M&T Bank Stadium in Week 16.

The Ravens’ 6-4 conference record stacks up well with the rest of the field, but the outcome of their two remaining AFC games will loom large should they find themselves in a number of tie-breaking situations.

Here’s a look at the rest of the field as I determine who the contenders and the pretenders are:

Conference record: 5-3
Remaining schedule: at Pittsburgh, New England, at Buffalo, New York Jets
Skinny: It would have been unsurprising to see the Dolphins fold in November with the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin situation hanging over their heads, but Miami has rebounded from an embarrassing loss to Tampa Bay to win two of its last three. The Dolphins are in the best position to challenge the Ravens mathematically, but their next two games will make or break them as they go to Heinz Field before playing the Patriots at home. Just one win over the Steelers or New England would put incredible heat on the Ravens over the final two weeks against difficult opponents. Of course, the Dolphins’ Week 5 loss to Baltimore continues to doom them if those two teams finish tied for the No. 6 spot with no one else in the mix.

Conference record: 4-5
Remaining schedule: at Denver, Arizona, at Jacksonville, Houston
Skinny: Their current record and remaining schedule still suggest the Titans have a slim chance, but the season-ending injury to quarterback Jake Locker last month and two losses to a vulnerable Indianapolis team in their last three games have all but sealed their fate. Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick had been playing well before an awful performance this past Sunday, but the next two games figure to be the final nails in the coffin to the Titans’ playoff hopes. Tennessee started fast this season, but only two wins since the start of October clearly scream pretender in an already-mediocre field.

Conference record: 4-5
Remaining schedule: Miami, Cincinnati, at Green Bay, Cleveland
Skinny: Many eulogized the Steelers’ season following the Thanksgiving night result, but Pittsburgh could still be the biggest threat in the wild-card race with three remaining home games. A normally-intimidating trip to Lambeau Field in Week 16 to take on the Packers could also be easier should Aaron Rodgers be shut down for the rest of the season as some are speculating. A Steelers win over the Bengals in Week 15 would help the Ravens in their quest for the division title, but Baltimore’s season split with Pittsburgh creates a more complicated tiebreaker that could come down to division record or even record in common games. Perhaps more than anything else, Ravens fans begrudgingly know it’s never a good idea to count out Ben Roethlisberger, meaning the Steelers still have a shot.

Conference record: 3-6
Remaining schedule: New York Giants, at Denver, Oakland, Kansas City
Skinny: The Chargers’ home loss to Cincinnati on Sunday not only failed to do the Ravens any favors in the AFC North race but landed Mike McCoy’s team in the pretender category. San Diego has arguably looked better than any of the other wild-card contenders — the Ravens included — when playing at its best, but inconsistency has once again plagued the Chargers as it seems to annually. They have three remaining home games, but the Chargers have already lost three games at Qualcomm Stadium and are just as likely to lay an egg against the Giants or the Raiders than to pull off an upset over the Broncos or the Chiefs. Their abysmal conference record won’t do them any favors in a tie-breaking scenario, so San Diego’s only real hope is to run the table.

Conference record: 2-7
Remaining schedule: Oakland, at Carolina, Cleveland, at Miami
Skinny: Only two weeks ago we were talking about the Jets holding the No. 6 spot in the conference, but they’ve crashed and burned since then with a road loss to the Ravens and an embarrassing home defeat to Miami by 20 points this past Sunday. Their quarterback situation is the worst of any of the teams still vying for a wild-card spot as Geno Smith hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since before Halloween. The Jets’ remaining schedule isn’t awful, but they appear far more likely to lose their four remaining games than to go on a run necessary to land the No. 6 seed. New York was still better than many expected this year, but a dysfunctional offense has finally sunk the Jets after some impressive wins earlier in the season.

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J. Smith undergoing concussion protocol, Pitta decision “not 100-percent certain”

Posted on 02 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Earning one of their biggest victories of the season to seize control of the AFC’s No. 6 seed for now, the Ravens did not escape the 22-20 final over Pittsburgh unscathed from an injury standpoint.

However, three extra days of rest came at the opportune time with the Ravens concluding a three-game homestand Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Baltimore expects to have its full allotment of key players despite cornerback Jimmy Smith and wide receiver Brandon Stokley leaving last Thursday’s game with injuries and several others including linebacker Elvis Dumervil and wide receiver Torrey Smith getting banged up during the game.

“Everybody came out of the game with bumps and bruises,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I expect all those guys to be able to play on Sunday. We’ll just have to see if something flares up between now and then.”

Smith appears to be the most serious injury concern at the moment after he collided with Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell late in the game, which resulted in both players lying woozy on the field for a significant time. Bell appeared to receive the worst of the impact, but the Ravens will monitor the third-year cornerback’s status over the course of the week.

Harbaugh said Smith “should be OK” immediately after Thursday night’s win and confirmed that initial prognosis during his Monday press conference.

“Jimmy seems to be doing really well,” Harbaugh said. “He was doing well right after the game. He’s going through the concussion protocol now. That was what it was during the course of the game, but everything looks really, really good for Jimmy. [He] should be fine. You never know with that, but it looks like he’s going to be able to even practice on Wednesday, so we’re feeling good about that.”

Stokley’s knee sprain did not result in any concerning structural damage when he was examined on Friday — he did not return to the game after leaving late in the first half — and Dumervil’s ankle injury sustained late in the first half on Thanksgiving night may limit his practice time this week.

Dumervil returned to action after halftime and finished the game with three tackles, but he didn’t appear to make the same impact after hurting his ankle.

“He looks OK,” said Harbaugh about Dumervil’s status. “We’re going to have to nurse some things just like with a lot of different guys.”

The biggest health-related headline leading into Sunday’s game with the Vikings will be the status of tight end Dennis Pitta with all signs pointing to him making his 2013 season debut.

Pitta returned to the practice field on Nov. 20 and is currently in the midst of a 21-day window in which he can practice before the Ravens must either place him on the 53-man roster or leave him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. Should Pitta not be ready to play against the Vikings, the Ravens would have to place him on the active roster by Dec. 11 for him to be eligible to play the rest of the season.

The fourth-year tight end dislocated and fractured his hip on July 27 and has remained on IR with the designation to return since early September.

“It’ll probably come down to the end of the week,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve got a pretty good idea that he’s doing well. It’s just a matter of how well. Is he feeling good enough? Do the doctors feel like he’s ready to play? That’s what it’s going to come down to.

“He ran around well last week. We’ll go through the week and see how he does. If he can play, he will for sure. We want to get him up — that’s our goal. But it’s not 100-percent certain at this point.”

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Ravens don’t activate Pitta to play against Steelers

Posted on 28 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

The Ravens continue to take it slow with tight end Dennis Pitta after electing not to activate him by Thursday’s 4 p.m. deadline to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving night.

Pitta began practicing on Nov. 20 and was never considered a realistic possibility to play last Sunday against the New York Jets, but the organization had hoped in the weeks leading to the tight end’s return to the practice field that he’d be available to play against the AFC North rival Steelers. However, Pitta and coach John Harbaugh both expressed the need to take their time in evaluating how well the 2010 fourth-round pick’s hip holds up to the rigors of football-related activity and contact.

Harbaugh revealed little about Pitta’s status when he met with the media following Wednesday’s practice in Owings Mills and was asked whether he was nearing a return to game action..

“He’s closer — yes, he is,” Harbaugh said. “Dennis Pitta is closer.”

After Thursday’s game against the Steelers, the Ravens will not play again until Dec. 8 when they welcome the Minnesota Vikings to M&T Bank Stadium. Given the timing of Pitta’s return to practice, that Week 14 contest would seem like the logical date that he’ll play in a game barring any setbacks.

Pitta suffered a dislocated and fractured hip on July 27 but was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return in early September after the injury revealed no ligament or cartilage damage in the surrounding hip area.

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Picks and Comment – Week 13

Posted on 27 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

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

Luke Jones finished Week 12 with a 5-8 record while Drew Forrester was 8-5 on his picks. Entering Week 13, Jones is 103-72 on the season while Forrester is 104-71. Official standings are based only on the NFL picks.

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

Steelers at Ravens: Baltimore 26-20 (Drew), Pittsburgh 17-13 (Luke)
Packers at Lions: Detroit 27-20 (Drew), Detroit 27-17 (Luke)
Raiders at Cowboys: Dallas 31-14 (Drew), Dallas 34-21 (Luke)
Titans at Colts: Tennessee 23-21 (Drew), Indianapolis 27-20 (Luke)
Jaguars at Browns: Cleveland 13-9 (Drew), Cleveland 17-10 (Luke)
Buccaneers at Panthers: Carolina 24-16 (Drew), Carolina 23-10 (Luke)
Bears at Vikings: Minnesota 33-16 (Drew), Minnesota 26-17 (Luke)
Patriots at Texans: New England 38-13 (Drew), New England 31-15 (Luke)
Cardinals at Eagles: Arizona 21-20 (Drew), Arizona 24-23 (Luke)
Dolphins at Jets: New York 24-17 (Drew), Miami 20-16 (Luke)
Broncos at Chiefs: Denver 34-20 (Drew), Denver 28-17 (Luke)
Falcons at Bills: Buffalo 20-13 (Drew), Atlanta 21-20 (Luke)
Rams at 49ers: San Francisco 27-12 (Drew), San Francisco 24-14 (Luke)
Bengals at Chargers: Cincinnati 30-27 (Drew), San Diego 31-24 (Luke)
Redskins at Giants: Washington 24-17 (Drew), New York 24-17 (Luke)
Saints at Seahawks: New Orleans 21-17 (Drew), Seattle 24-23 (Luke)
Maryland at NC State: Wolfpack 17-16 (Drew), Wolfpack 24-16 (Luke)

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Picks and Comment – Week 12

Posted on 22 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

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

Luke Jones finished Week 11 with a 10-5 record while Drew Forrester was 10-5 on his picks. Entering Week 12, Jones is 98-64 on the season while Forrester is 96-66. Official standings are based only on the NFL picks.

Forrester and Jones correctly picked New Orleans to beat Atlanta to kick off Week 12.

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

Jets at Ravens: Baltimore 23-9 (Drew), Baltimore 19-12 (Luke)
Steelers at Browns: Pittsburgh 17-16 (Drew), Pittsburgh 20-17 (Luke)
Buccaneers at Lions: Detroit 30-10 (Drew), Detroit 27-14 (Luke)
Jaguars at Texans: Houston 24-13 (Drew), Houston 20-12 (Luke)
Vikings at Packers: Green Bay 27-20 (Drew), Green Bay 23-16 (Luke)
Chargers at Chiefs: San Diego 27-24 (Drew), Kansas City 24-21 (Luke)
Panthers at Dolphins: Miami 21-20 (Drew), Carolina 24-16 (Luke)
Bears at Rams: St. Louis 30-20 (Drew), Chicago 27-20 (Luke)
Titans at Raiders: Tennessee 17-10 (Drew), Oakland 20-16 (Luke)
Colts at Cardinals: Indianapolis 23-20 (Drew), Indianapolis 24-23 (Luke)
Cowboys at Giants: Dallas 33-30 (Drew), New York 26-21 (Luke)
Broncos at Patriots: Denver 34-23 (Drew), Denver 31-21 (Luke)
49ers at Redskins: San Francisco 24-20 (Drew), San Francisco 23-17 (Luke)
Boston College at Maryland: Eagles 20-14 (Drew), Terrapins 20-17 (Luke)
James Madison at Towson: Tigers 33-22 (Drew), Tigers 31-20 (Luke)
Navy at San Jose State: Spartans 28-23 (Drew), Midshipmen 24-20 (Luke)
Morgan State at Delaware State: Hornets 29-19 (Drew), Hornets 23-13 (Luke)

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Ngata only Ravens player missing from Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 20 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens received good news Wednesday with tight end Dennis Pitta’s return to the practice field, but Pro Bowl nose tackle Haloti Ngata remained sidelined with a left knee injury.

After missing Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears, Ngata was absent as the Ravens cranked up preparations for the New York Jets. The defensive lineman missed all three practices last week and was ruled inactive last Sunday, missing his first game of the 2013 season.

Coach John Harbaugh declined comment on the decision to hold Ngata out following Sunday’s game and would not reveal whether the weather conditions at Soldier Field contributed to the eighth-year defensive tackle being held out.

“I’m not getting in to all that. There’s no reason for us to put that out there publicly,” Harbaugh said during his Monday press conference. “What advantage would there be for us to comment on that? It wouldn’t help us. But, I appreciate you asking. I understand why you do. It’s fair, in all honesty. I just don’t want to put that out there right now.”

Linebacker Daryl Smith (thigh) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (abs) were both limited participants on Wednesday after both players missed practice time last week before playing against the Bears.

Rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown (knee) was a full participant after missing Sunday’s game as the poor field conditions were a factor in the decision to rule him inactive.

As announced earlier in the day, tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) took part in practice, playing catch and running routes at half-speed during the portion of practice open to reporters. The Ravens are not required to list Pitta on the injury report since he is not currently on the 53-man roster.

Pitta’s return to practice triggers the start of a 21-day window in which he can work with the team before a decision must be made on his roster standing. If the Ravens do not place Pitta on the active roster at the end of the three-week period — they may activate him sooner, of course — he must remain on injured reserve for the rest of the season.

“It’s impossible to say, really,” said Harbaugh when asked about a timetable for Pitta’s return to live-game action. “Withing getting ahead of ourselves here, as soon as possible. But safety is No. 1 and his ability to perform out there are the two factors in that.”

For the Jets, wide receiver Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring) and linebacker Garrett McIntyre (knee) did not participate in Wednesday’s practice.

Here is Wednesday’s injury report:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Haloti Ngata (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Daryl Smith (thigh), CB Lardarius Webb (Abs)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Marlon Brown (knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring), LB Garrett McIntyre (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow), TE Kellen Winslow (knee)
FULL PARTICIPATION: OL Willie Colon (calf), CB Antonio Cromartie (hip), DL Kenrick Ellis (back), QB David Garrard (knee), WR Stephen Hill (knee), WR Greg Salas (finger)

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Webb, Ngata, D. Smith missing from Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 13 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Fresh off their best defensive performance of the season in Week 10, the Ravens were without three defensive starters in returning to the practice field on Wednesday to continue preparations for the Chicago Bears.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, cornerback Lardarius Webb, and linebacker Daryl Smith were all absent during Wednesday’s practice. Ngata temporarily left Sunday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals with a left knee injury but returned to action and deemed himself fine in the Ravens locker room following the game.

Smith missed two days of practice last week while dealing with a hamstring injury and left the field gingerly in overtime of Sunday’s game, acknowledging to reporters afterward that his hamstring was still tight. The 31-year-old linebacker was listed as questionable on the final injury report for the Bengals game before finishing with nine tackles.

Webb (groin) recorded his first interception of the year against the Bengals and did not appear to be laboring when speaking to reporters after the game, making it possible that Wednesday was a simple day of rest for the No. 1 cornerback. Sliding inside to the nickel position in sub packages, Webb was an active blitzer and finished with five tackles and six pass breakups.

Safety James Ihedigbo (toe) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (groin) were limited participants after playing in Sunday’s game against the Bengals. They were listed as questionable on last week’s injury report.

Starting left guard A.Q. Shipley was present and working during Wednesday’s practice after temporarily leaving Sunday’s game with a neck stinger.

The Bears have already ruled out quarterback Jay Cutler (ankle) and linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field.

Here is Wednesday’s report:

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Haloti Ngata (knee), LB Daryl Smith (thigh), CB Lardarius Webb (groin)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: S James Ihedigbo (toe), CB Jimmy Smith (groin)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Bernard Pierce (toe/knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)

OUT: LB Lance Briggs (shoulder), QB Jay Cutler (ankle)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LS Patrick Mannelly (calf), DE Shea McClellin (hamstring), DT Jeremiah Ratliff (groin)

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Ravens-Bengals: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 10 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

BALTIMORE — Approaching must-win territory this early in a season for quite some time, the Ravens look to snap a three-game losing streak while narrowing the gap in the AFC North when they take on the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon.

At 3-5 and trailing Cincinnati by 2 1/2 games entering Week 10, the Ravens have little margin for error if they want to advance to the playoffs for a sixth consecutive year under head coach John Harbaugh. Baltimore is trying to avoid a third straight division loss and is off to its worst start through eight games since the 2005 season.

A banged-up Ravens defense will have the tall order of slowing Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green and the league’s seventh-ranked passing game, but defensive backs James Ihedigbo (toe), Jimmy Smith (groin), and Corey Graham (calf) are all active and will play. In addition, starting inside linebacker Daryl Smith was deemed active after dealing with what was listed as a thigh injury all week.

The Ravens ruled second-year cornerback Asa Jackson inactive, making you assume they’re confident in the health of both Smith and Graham in the secondary. Rookie defensive tackle Brandon Williams was the only other player ruled inactive that could be deemed a surprise as the Bengals average 106.8 rushing yards per game despite their passing game being their biggest strength.

Former Bengals running back Bernard Scott is a healthy scratch for the second straight week and will not have an opportunity to face his former team.

Meanwhile, the Bengals will be without starting tight end Jermaine Gresham, who tested out his injured groin during pre-game warmups but was deemed inactive. As expected, rookie running back Giovani Bernard (ribs) is active. Cincinnati is already reeling from the loss of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who suffered a torn ACL in the Week 9 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

The Bengals are also without starting inside linebacker Rey Maualuga, who continues to be sidelined by a knee injury.

The Ravens have won four of their last five games over the Bengals, with their only defeat over that stretch coming in Week 17 last season when they rested an overwhelming number of starters after wrapping up the AFC North title a week earlier. Baltimore leads the all-time series by a 19-15 margin and are 12-5 at home.

Sunday’s referee will be Walt Coleman.

The forecast calls for temperatures in the low 60s, but winds up to 20 miles per hour could wreak havoc for both teams’ passing attacks and kicking game at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens will wear purple jerseys with black pants while Cincinnati dons white jerseys with black pants.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

CB Asa Jackson
S Omar Brown
RB Bernard Scott
C Ryan Jensen
WR Brandon Stokley
LB John Simon
DT Brandon Williams

TE Jermaine Gresham
CB Chris Lewis-Harris
LB Michael Boley
LB Rey Maualuga
C Trevor Robinson
G Tanner Hawkinson
DT Devon Still

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the afternoon for updates and analysis as Nestor Aparicio, Drew Forrester, and I bring live coverage from Baltimore throughout the day.

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After post-bye clunker, “What now?” becomes Ravens’ biggest question

Posted on 03 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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

Coming off the Week 8 bye was supposed to be a chance for the Ravens to start anew after a rocky 3-4 start to the 2013 season.

With the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals losing on Thursday night and most of the AFC wild-card contenders looking mortal, the Ravens simply needed a win — no matter how it looked — to get back to .500 and begin the second half of the season on a positive note. A week off not only gave players a chance to rest but provided head coach John Harbaugh and his staff the time to make much-needed corrections in all phases of the game.

Instead, the Ravens responded with an ugly 24-18 loss to the Cleveland Browns, snapping an 11-game winning streak over their AFC North foe and digging an even bigger hole in their quest to advance to the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. Expecting the bye week to provide a much-needed tuneup, the Ravens instead stalled getting out of their driveway as they’re now off to their worst start since the 2005 season.

And the question echoing over and over in the closing seconds as the Browns finished a scoring drive lasting more than six minutes was a frightening one.

What now?

A running game averaging a league-worst 2.8 yards per carry entering Sunday produced only 55 yards on 21 carries with quarterback Joe Flacco accounting for 25 of those on three scrambles. The offensive line was once again dominated at the point of attack and Ray Rice finished with 17 yards on 11 carries, not looking any more explosive or elusive despite claims that he was once again 100 percent.

Though once again plagued with a running game that was a non-factor and suspect pass protection for much of the day, Flacco played poorly through much of the first half, missing several open receivers and throwing a head-scratching interception late in the second quarter. To his credit, the sixth-year signal caller rebounded over the game’s final 30 minutes, but his poor first-half showing was disappointing coming off the bye and was a major factor in the Ravens offense once again getting off to a slow start.

The defense allowed veteran Jason Campbell to throw for 262 yards and three touchdowns and, even worse, wasn’t able to get a stop at a crucial point in the second half for the third straight game — all losses. Dean Pees’ unit hasn’t been the biggest problem this season, but the Ravens defense simply hasn’t been able to come up with a big play when it needs it late in games unlike stellar units of the past that often carried inferior offenses.

Not to be outdone by the first two phases, the special teams were a major problem as well as normally sure-handed punt returner Tandon Doss muffed a punt at his own 11-yard line, setting up the Browns’ third touchdown of the game in the third quarter and putting the Ravens behind 21-10. And punter Sam Koch continued his rough season, failing to pin the Browns inside the 20 on three separate opportunities kicking inside Cleveland territory in a game in which field position loomed large.

Hoping for the light to come on after the bye, the Ravens looked like they did in the first seven games of the season — appearing to be a below-average football team.

How does it get fixed? Can it be fixed this season?

The Ravens are as healthy as they’re going to be until the expected return of Dennis Pitta later this month, but the talented tight end isn’t going to remedy all of the team’s problems. At this rate, the Ravens may not be in a position for Pitta’s return to matter in terms of their playoff hopes for 2013.

General manager Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh have already trimmed fat on the roster with the jettisoning of veterans Michael Huff, Marcus Spears, and Bryant McKinnie. Many are clamoring for the ax to fall on run-game coordinator Juan Castillo, but there have already been murmurs that his influence has waned since the bye week with offensive line coach Andy Moeller now having a louder voice.

If Castillo were to be fired — a move that would be very difficult to challenge at this point — do the likes of Marshal Yanda and Michael Oher suddenly start winning one-on-one battles that they’ve lost too often this season?

The answers aren’t simple when you have issues all over the place and that’s where the Ravens find themselves as they began the month of November with their third loss in the last four games. There’s a certain amount of understanding that comes with the struggles of unproven players like Gino Gradkowski and veteran newcomers who simply don’t fit, but a number of veterans who have been counted on year in and year out have been even bigger disappointments, which brings greater concern for the future.

Even with the problems along the offensive line, it’s getting more difficult every week to dispute the growing notion that Rice’s best days are behind him. He continues to struggle to break any tackles in the open field and no longer looks like the home-run hitter on which the Ravens relied for years. Rice has three years remaining on his current contract and is scheduled to account for $8.75 million on next year’s cap.

Oher and Yanda have appeared to be shells of their former selves, which might not be as problematic with the former scheduled to become a free agent, but the Pro Bowl right guard has a cap figure of $8.45 million next year and is under contract through the 2015 season.

Top cornerback Lardarius Webb was faked out of his shoes by Browns receiver Davone Bess on a 20-yard touchdown in the second quarter Sunday and has struggled to find his pre-injury form coming back from ACL surgery, but he certainly deserves some benefit of the doubt and should get stronger in the second half of the season. Still, he carries a $10.5 million cap figure in 2014 and is being paid as one of the best cornerbacks in the league.

Having arguably the worst season of his career, Koch carries a $2.8 million cap figure next year, which is a high number for a punter not getting the job done.

And perhaps the most disappointing and concerning of the group of standouts failing to deliver in 2013 is defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who holds a $16 million cap number next season and no longer looks like the game-wrecker he was before the Ravens signed him to a five-year, $61 million contract in 2011. For the third straight season, nagging injuries are limiting his impact in games.

Regardless of what happens over the final eight games in terms of the Ravens trying to rebound to extend their run of five consecutive playoff appearances to a sixth, Newsome and Harbaugh must be in evaluation mode when it comes to the aforementioned players. Some contracts have bigger cap ramifications than others, but it’s a scary proposition to be forced to reconsider your thinking on players who previously weren’t of any concern — and carry huge price tags.

The debate went on through much of the offseason whether the Ravens were rebuilding or simply reloading after a slew of personnel changes. The result to this point has been a flawed roster that will need to go 6-2 in the second half of the season just to give the Ravens a chance at 9-7.

And barring a drastic turnaround in the final eight games, the Ravens will be forced to start thinking about their offseason much sooner than anyone anticipated.

And they’ll definitely have their work cut out for them.

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