Tag Archive | "San Diego Chargers"

Bill Werndl

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Bill Werndl recaps Ravens 29-26 win over the Chargers

Posted on 02 November 2015 by WNST Staff

Bill Werndl

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Judson Richards talks all things San Diego Chargers with Nestor

Posted on 25 November 2014 by WNST Staff

Judson Richards, host of Chargers Power Hour, talked all things San Diego Chargers with Nestor. Having to travel to the east coast, this matchup for San Diego against Baltimore is not a favorable one for them. Their most recent cross country game ended in an embarrassing 37-0 loss in Miami. They look to avoid such a performance and extend their 2 game winning streak. LISTEN HERE.

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Bernie Wilson recaps the Chargers season thus far with Nestor

Posted on 25 November 2014 by WNST Staff

Nestor caught up with AP reporter Bernie Wilson to talk all things San Diego Chargers. They have had an up and down season thus far starting 5-1 and then losing 3 straight. They now sit at 7-4 looking to make it a third straight win as they roll into Baltimore Sunday. CATCH IT HERE.

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Hank Bauer previews the upcoming Ravens game vs. the Chargers

Posted on 25 November 2014 by WNST Staff

Nestor caught up with Hank Bauer to preview an AFC showdown Sunday when the Ravens host the San Diego Chargers. The Ravens and Chargers are coming off impressive wins and sit at 7-4. Both teams could use a win to keep pace in the AFC and their respective divisions. LISTEN HERE.

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Rarefied air of Steelers Week for Ravens is to be savored not soured

Posted on 26 November 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

With five games left in the 2012 campaign, the Baltimore Ravens’ 9-2 record is a textbook testament to never quitting and having some special, battle-tested leaders who stare down adversity undaunted — and never, ever become unnerved.

Somehow, someway – even on 4th & 29 – Joe Flacco can manage to walk into a huddle, call nothing but go routes and still throw a check down and the other 10 guys in the huddle including Ray Rice can buy in on saving the game with some kind of miracle. Once you’ve seen that play work, there’s a little part of you that believes that all things are possible for this beleaguered group of purple warriors.

Eleven games into this journey, there’s still a legitimate debate about the merits and quality of this year’s team. And on a play-by-play, drive-by-drive basis it’s almost inexplicable that this team could be 9-2 and holding an almost insurmountable three-game lead in the AFC North. Almost every facet of the Ravens’ production on the field has come under scrutiny or provided some inefficiency, ineffectiveness or failure at some point.

But there they are at 9-2 and still in the throes of possibility regarding home field advantage throughout the postseason.

Week after week the Ravens seem to be on the ropes. And week after week I enter the post-game press conference watching John Harbaugh try to explain how the team won another game when the previous 60 minutes of football looked like a sloppy box of chocolates in the sun.

You never know what you’re doing to get.

Clearly, no one wants to play the Ravens in Baltimore. The home field advantage in The Purple Crabcake is now the best in the football. Is that the noise of the fans? Is it home cooking? Is it the comfort level of Joe Flacco and the offense for play calling? Is it the visiting team(s) coming into M&T Bank Stadium knowing the odds are long simply on reputation?

We don’t have the answers to this Jekyll & Hyde act. We merely witness it and remain alternately flustered and floored after yet another unlikely victory.

It’s almost like watching the Baltimore Orioles this summer – you don’t question how it gets done, you simply enjoy the result. Just smile and hold on…

Other than knowing that over the history of the NFL home teams have always dominated and are always given three points in Las Vegas just for walking out of the home locker rooms, the Ravens’ bi-polar domination at home and sleepwalking on the road remains an unsolved mystery in progress.

On the road, the Ravens are an ugly bunch – a scuffling, stumbling, punting and yet more-times-than-not still victorious bunch. From Cleveland to San Diego, from Pittsburgh to Kansas City, the Ravens have been on the ropes and could’ve easily perished in the 4th quarter of all four games.

And 5-6 would look, smell and taste a whole lot different than 9-2.

But what we saw on Sunday was an all-timer.

The Ray Rice “Hey Diddle Diddle” 4th & 29 in San Diego will go down in history as one of the most amazing plays of this generation. (And we’re still not even sure if it really was a first down? And we’re pretty sure Anquan Boldin could’ve been flagged for a block to the back and unnecessary roughness. He still might hear from Park Avenue after that one.)

But when Flacco, Rice and Torrey Smith aren’t create miracles, they’re walking off the field far too often on the road frustrated after another failed 3rd and something. Or going 130 minutes at a clip without scoring a road touchdown.

The same offense and personnel that is so fluid in Baltimore routinely sputters on the road.

The defense, which over the years has earned a legendary status led by Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs, has been hit hard this season by a myriad

SEE PAGE 2

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harbaughs

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Ravens receive early Christmas gift with 49ers’ win over Pittsburgh

Posted on 20 December 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With Christmas only several days away, John Harbaugh and the Ravens couldn’t help but be in a jovial mood on Tuesday morning after receiving an early gift.

Just 24 hours after watching his Ravens suffer the worst defeat in his four years as the head coach in Baltimore, Harbaugh watched his younger brother Jim’s San Francisco 49ers knock off Pittsburgh on Monday night to put the Ravens right back in position for the AFC North title and a first-round bye should they win their remaining two games against Cleveland and Cincinnati.

Even players such as quarterback Joe Flacco, who chose extra sleep instead of watching the Steelers lose, could see their head coach’s enthusiasm at first glance on Tuesday. It was quite a contrast to the solemn demeanor he held following the 34-14 beating at the hands of the San Diego Chargers

“He asked me, ‘Did you watch the game?'” Flacco said. “And I [said], ‘No, I didn’t watch it.’ He got flustered from there. He didn’t know where to go with it once I told him I didn’t watch the game, so he was a little confused. But you could definitely tell he was excited, and we should be.”

The outcome doesn’t erase what happened to the Ravens in San Diego, but it does allow them to feel better about themselves, now knowing they once again control their own destiny in potentially earning a much-needed week off and a home playoff game in the divisional round of the postseason.

Harbaugh sent a text message to his brother Jim following San Francisco’s 20-3 win and spoke to him more extensively on the phone Tuesday morning. The 49ers’ efforts dropped the Steelers to 0-3 against Harbaugh-coached teams this season and, more importantly, put them in a first-place tie with Baltimore, who owns the head-to-head tiebreaker after sweeping the regular-season series.

Even with the game’s direct effect on the Ravens’ playoff destiny, the elder Harbaugh focused more on the impressive performance by the 49ers and less on what it meant to the Ravens. The Baltimore coach even made reference the power difficulties that forced two delays at Candlestick Park on Monday night.

“Man, it was a fun game to watch,” Harbaugh said. “It was the night the lights went out in Candlestick, right? It was pretty cool, but they did a great job.”

Yes, the Ravens are feeling quite fortunate to be in a similar position to the one they enjoyed prior to the weekend. Despite no longer controlling the inside track for the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, Baltimore can now assure itself of a postseason game at M&T Bank Stadium — where the Ravens are undefeated this season — with two wins to close the regular season.

And they owe it to the 49ers, whom the Ravens beat 16-6 in Baltimore on Thanksgiving night.

“They did us [a favor],” running back Ray Rice said. “I guess that’s what brothers do; they look out for each other.”

Despite the reversal of fortunes, linebacker Terrell Suggs offered a cautious reaction to the news from San Francisco. After proclaiming the Ravens were back in playoff “hell” and owned a vacation home in the red-hot establishment following the embarrassing loss to the Chargers, the star defensive player was not ready to proclaim his team to be saved.

“I think we’re still there,” Suggs said. “Like I said, these last two games, you drop it, you go from one place to another. We still have the lease on the vacation home, but hopefully, we don’t have to go there this year. We’ve just got to take care of business. We’re playing two teams that know us very well, two division foes, so it’s going to be interesting.”

The 29-year-old linebacker is absolutely right. The Ravens will now need to make an early New Year’s resolution to protect their early Christmas present.

As Harbaugh explained on Tuesday, nothing about the Ravens’ mission over the final two weeks of the regular season changed with the 49ers’ victory, but it did improve their wounded mindset in knowing they hadn’t kissed their ideal playoff positioning goodbye.

“We have to control what we have to control,” Harbaugh said. “And the beauty of that is, we can control a lot. We can control how we play, and we can control the outcome of these games.”

And thanks to Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers, they can once again manage where they’ll be playing to begin the playoffs.

INJURY UPDATE: The Ravens did not release an official injury report following Tuesday’s indoor practice that was conducted without helmets or pads. Defensive end Cory Redding (ankle) and kicker Billy Cundiff (left calf) were not present during the portion of practice open to the media. However, linebacker Ray Lewis (toe) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (toe) were both present and involved in the light workout.

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, and Terrell Suggs right here.

 

 

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Chris Pika takes a look inside the game notes for tonight's Thanksgiving feast in Baltimore.

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A look inside Thanksgiving feast of Ravens-49ers

Posted on 24 November 2011 by Chris Pika

One of the more-hyped games of the 2011 schedule once it came out in April is tonight’s Thanksgiving game in Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium when the broithers Harbaugh meet as the San Francisco 49ers take on the Baltimore Ravens (8 pm ET; NFL Network).

The 9-1 49ers have a stranglehold on the NFC West and can clinch the division with a victory and either a loss or tie by Seattle on Sunday or a tie and a Seattle loss.

The 7-3 Ravens lead the AFC North, and are tied for the AFC’s best record.

The combined 16-4 record (.800) of the two teams is tied for fourth-best between Thanksgiving Day combatants since 1970.

It will be Baltimore’s John vs. San Francisco’s Jim, and Jim, and according to NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, who will help call the game with Brad Nessler, this matchup is one to watch:

When you combine the surprising success of San Francisco, along with Baltimore being pretty much where you expect them to be, we’ve got one of the best games of the season on Thursday night.

In a national teleconference to promote the game earlier this week, Jim mentioned how brotherly love goes out the window once competition is involved:

Leading up to this, John has talked freely and openly about football with me. Now, it’s more talking in code. I’m being serious. I can see there are limitations to what he’s telling me. I thought love had no boundaries, but now I see that it does.

— Jim Harbaugh, on football communication with John since the 2011 NFL schedule was announced

For John’s part, it is a continuation of competition that has gone on since they were kids:

We were in the same room for 16 years, and we had to draw a tape line. If you stepped across, there was a fight. The last time we fought, I was 27. He was the quarterback for the Bears. He got up to 6-4, 230 pounds. I was 195, something like that. He takes us on vacation to Florida, we’re on the beach, and we get into this wrestling match. It’s getting a little aggressive and works its way over to the water. He gets a shot in; I get a shot in. I’m starting to think maybe I can hang with the big little brother. Next, he grabs me in a headlock, picks me up, and slams me into three feet of water. My head is on the sand underneath the water. Of course, he’s not going to drown me, but I’m thinking maybe he’s snapped. My dad’s trying to pull him off, but he’s too strong. I’m going to drown. Before I died, he pulled me up. He didn’t do mouth-to-mouth; that would have been against the rules. I then realized I’m never going to fight my brother again. He’s too big.

— John Harbaugh on his brother

The first-ever coaching matchup between two brothers in NFL history is a testament to their father, Jack, himself a former college head coach:

Their father gave them a gift; by making them and teaching them how to compete. If we can instill competition in our kids, that’s all we want. We want them to go out in the world and compete.

— NFL Network’s Marshall Faulk on the relationship between Jack Harbaugh and his sons, Jim and John

Baltimore is coming off a 31-24 victory over AFC North rival Cincinnati at home last Sunday:

NOTE OF THE WEEK: SMITH SOARS

  • Ravens rookie WR Torrey Smith leads the NFL with a 20.3 yardsper-catch average (29 receptions for 590 yards).
  • Impressively, 4 of Smith’s 5 TD receptions have covered at least 25 yards (74, 41, 38, 26 and 18 yards), and he’s averaging a sensational 39.4 yards per TD catch.
  • Smith now owns the Ravens’ single-season (590) and single-game (165 vs. Cin. last week) records for receiving yards by a rookie.
  • Never before has a Ravens’ wideout posted dual 150-yard receiving games in a season (165 vs. Cin. and 152 at STL).
  • Smith also owns the top two receiving yards performances by a rookie in the NFL this season.
  • Smith’s 590 receiving yards this season rank second in the NFL among all rookies (635, Cincy’sA.J. Green).
  • Last week, Smith joined Ken Burrow (2 in 1971) and Randy Moss (3 in 1998) as the only rookies in NFL history to have multiple games with at least 150 receiving yards and a touchdown catch.

WEEK 12 QUICK HITS:

  • The Ravens have won 15 of their last 16 games at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore is 24-5 at home under head coach John Harbaugh, tied (New England) for the NFL’s most home wins since 2008 (as of games played by 11/20).
  • The Ravens aim for their eighth consecutive win at home and sixth this season (5-0 in 2011).
  • Baltimore’s seven-game winning streak at home currently ranks as the NFL’s second longest (Green Bay is first at 10 games).
  • Baltimore aims to reach 8-3 for just the second time in team history (2010 season).

STOUT VS. NFC: Dating back to the 2008 campaign, when head coach John Harbaugh took over in Baltimore, the Ravens have posted a 10-5 record (.667) vs. the NFC, good for the fourth-best mark among AFC teams against the “other conference” during that span.

AFC’s BEST RECORDS VS. THE NFC
(since 2008)
1t. New England Patriots 12-2 .857
1t. Tennessee Titans 12-2 .857
3. Pittsburgh Steelers 10-4 .714
4. Baltimore Ravens 10-5 .667

San Francisco is working on an eight-game win streak, and beat NFC West rival Arizona 23-7 last Sunday at home:

WINNING WAYS: With the win last week vs. Arz. (11/20), head coach Jim Harbaugh became just the 3rd rookie head coach in franchise history to start his career with a 9-1 record.

  • The 49ers have won eight consecutive games, making Coach Harbaugh’s eight-game winning streak the fourth longest by a rookie head coach since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Jim Caldwell’s Colts won 14 in a row in 2009. Steve Mariucci’s 49ers won 11 in a row in 1997. Ted Marchibroda’s Colts won nine in a row in 1975. Bobby Ross’Chargers won seven straight in 1992.
  • With a 9-1 record to start 2011, the 49ers are tied for the 4th-best start since the team joined the NFL in 1950, behind 1984 (15-1); 1990 (13-1); 1997 (11-1); 1989 (9-1).
  • Harbaugh became the first rookie head coach in franchise history to inherit a team with a losing record and lead them to a 9-1 start in his first season.

GOLDEN NUGGETS:
A HOT START

  • With a 9-1 record to start 2011, the 49ers are tied for the 4th-best start since the team joined the NFL in 1950, behind 1984 (15-1); 1990 (13-1); 1997 (11-1); 1989 (9-1).

ROAD WARRIORS

  • With a 4-0 record on the road, the Niners join the Green Bay Packers as the only two teams in the NFL to remain undefeated away from home.

THAT’S THE DIFFERENCE

  • The 49ers have outscored their opponents 256-145. The +111 scoring differential ranks 2nd in the NFL.

A SHORT FIELD

  • The 49ers have started 25 drives in their opponents territory, ranking 1st in the NFL, and have scored 81 points on those drives, ranking 3rd in the NFL.

YOU WANNA START SOMETHING?

  • The 49ers average starting field position is at their own 33.1-yard line, ranking 1st in the NFL.

LONG WAY TO GO

  • The 49ers rank 1st in the NFL with an opponents average starting field position of the 24.3.

BRINGING IT BACK

  • The 49ers rank t-1st in the NFL with 7 PRs of 20+ yds, while ranking 2nd in the NFL with a KOR avg. of 28.0 yds.

POINTS HARD TO COME BY

  • The 49ers have allowed just 145 points on the season, ranking 1st in the NFL for the fewest points allowed.

SHORT AND TOUGH

  • The 49ers have allowed just 16 first downs on 3rd and less than 4 yds. (15 of 33 – 48.5 pct.), ranking 2nd in the NFL.

EFFICIENCY ON D

  • The 49ers defense has allowed opponents to score on just 24.0 pct. of their possessions, ranking 1st in the NFL.

STICKY FINGERS

  • The 49ers have only committed 9 turnovers on the year, ranking t-1st in the NFL for fewest turnovers (Houston – 9).

PRODUCTIVE ON FIRST

  • The 49ers offense has gained 4+ yds. on 52.2 pct. (142 of 272) of their first down plays, ranking 4th in the NFL.

THE COMEBACK TRAIL: Four, 4th quarter come-from-behind-win epitomizes the never quit attitude the 49ers embody this season. One player in particular can parallel his career to the theme, QBAlex Smith. Smith is now tied with NYG QB Eli Manning for the most comeback wins by an NFL QB this season.

Smith became just the second quarterback in franchise history to record 3, 4th qtr. comebacks on the road (QB Joe Montanta – 4 in 1989 and 3 in 1990).

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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Biting the leg .....

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Biting the leg …..

Posted on 18 March 2011 by Rex Snider

As the father of a teenager, I find myself in the position of imparting sage advice quite often. I urge my daughter to prioritize, while remembering that unconditional love only comes from family. I stress commitment, and not necessarily to friends.

I struggle when it comes to her relationship with the opposite sex. In short, I freakin’ HATE BOYS. There is nothing more dangerous than a male teenager, and I’m convinced of it.

How do I know? I was one …..

In giving that parental guidance, I have seized several opportunities to remind my daughter that life will present her with impulsive opportunities to display emotional frustrations for the world to see. And, with the advent of social media, she has more such opportunities than ever.

My advice has been simple and twofold:

A) Just remember you can’t take it back. Writing or saying something, publicly, is a horse that never finds its way back into the barn.

B) Be careful not to bite a leg that’s connected to an ass you might need to kiss someday.

My daughter is 15 years old and she is going to make some big mistakes in the immediate future of her life. Some of her misgivings will be directly tied to ignoring her father’s words and some will be totally independent.

But, nearly all of her mistakes will be avoidable with some common sense and rational thinking. We can expect such breakdowns with teenagers, but it’s harder to rationalize such errors when grown men do it.

And, this is where today’s blog is headed …..

Over the last few days, we’re beginning to see NFL players taking verbal swipes at Roger Goodell. A legitimate, articulable dissent is understandable. But, salacious and demeaning assertions are simply a stupid means to venting frustrations.

Such ramblings will grab fairly anonymous individuals some immediate relevance and a blurb or two on Sportscenter. But, they’ll eventually regret saying such things, regardless of whether they ever admit it.

A couple days ago, San Diego Chargers linebacker, Kevin Burnett, seized his appearance during a radio interview to label Goodell as a “blatant liar” while also questioning the commissioner’s commitment to the NFL’s future. Of course, the rant propelled Burnett into that immediate relevance I just referenced.

Yesterday, Seattle Seahawks Guard, Chester Pitts, told reporters that he urged fellow players to take a letter received from Goodell and “set it on fire.” I suppose he’s running out of money to burn?

A year from now, this labor strife will be an afterthought, at most. We’ll be talking about the upcoming NFL Draft, NCAA Tournament and a new Major League Baseball season.

Outside of San Diego and Seattle, NOBODY will really utter the names of Kevin Burnett and Chester Pitts. But, you can rest assured Roger Goodell will remember them and their juvenile comments.

Don’t misunderstand my message …..

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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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FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens stripes the ball from Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter of the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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Losing to good teams on the road ensures your postseason plight …..

Posted on 15 November 2010 by Rex Snider

If you’re a casual listener of my show, you probably know about my opinion regarding the intersection of LOSSES and EXCUSES.

I’m blunt about it whenever the discussion comes up.

It’s a belief that was drilled into my head when I was very young.  It’s a belief that I’ve taught my one and only child.  And, it’s a belief I’ll take to my grave …..

EXCUSES ARE FOR LOSERS

Offering a dismissive, half-hearted reason for losing is nothing less than acknowledging that failure is acceptable.  It also guarantees you’ll get more of it – unless you change something.

To be very honest, it insults an intelligent mind when winnable contests in New England and Atlanta are summed up with the customary “the Ravens lost to a very good team on the road” defense.

Call that line exactly what it is ….. an EXCUSE.

I didn’t buy it after the loss against New England and I’m certainly not buying it after last Thursday’s loss, in Atlanta.

Do you wanna guess how many 4th quarter comebacks Tom Brady has engineered this season?  The answer is ONE.  And, we know all about that game, huh?

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens stripes the ball from Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots during the first quarter of the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

I get the aura of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.  I know their careers very well, and I pay attention to that team.  But, I also know many football fans assume Brady pulls out last minute heroics every week, and that’s just not true.

In fact, Tom Brady has thrown only ONE game-impacting, 4th quarter touchdown, this season.  Once again, we know all about that game, right?

As for last Thursday’s loss in Atlanta, the Ravens defense orchestrated Matt Ryan’s elevation from budding star to full blown ROCK STAR, in just 80 seconds.

I’m pretty sure Ryan is being bestowed with the Congressional Medal of Honor on the front steps of the United States Capital, later this week.

But, here’s another meaningless stat for the excuse makers and believers …..

Do you know how many two-minute drives have been capped off with a winning touchdown in Matt Ryan’s season?  You are correct …. ONE FREAKIN’ GAME.

Of course, I think Tom Brady is approaching a legendary career.  And, I think Matt Ryan is one of the bright, young stars in the NFL.  But, I also think many fans and observers believe these quarterbacks are leading their teams to dramatic, come from behind wins, on a consistent basis – and, that’s simply not true.

But, they’ve made hay against the Ravens defense, recently.

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