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Ravens-Steelers: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Steelers: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 11 September 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — After experiencing perhaps the most tumultuous week in franchise history, the Ravens return to M&T Bank Stadium trying to avoid an 0-2 start by welcoming the AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers to town for a nationally-televised Thursday night game.

While the rest of the nation continues to focus on the fallout of the Ray Rice situation, the Ravens must turn their focus toward the field in trying to win their first divisional game. According to NFL Network research, no team has ever started with two divisional home losses to begin a season and gone on to make the playoffs.

Unfortunately for the Ravens, cornerback Lardarius Webb will not play as he continues to knock off rust and go through practices to make sure his back is 100 percent. Webb told reporters on Tuesday that he expected to play against Pittsburgh, and he has practiced fully for the last two weeks. The sixth-year defensive back was stricken with back spasms on the second day of full-squad workouts on July 25 and missed the entire preseason, making concerns more about rust than how his back feels at this point with so little time to get in playing shape.

“I’m ready to get it going,” Webb said on Tuesday. “Who better than Pittsburgh? I’m ready. I’m feeling good. I’m just ready to get out there and get everything going and just play some football.”

His absence once again leaves the Ravens with only three true cornerbacks on the 46-man game-day roster — Jimmy Smith, Chykie Brown, and Asa Jackson. Safety Anthony Levine is capable of playing cornerback in the event of an injury, and rookie safety Terrence Brooks saw extensive playing time at the inside nickel spot during the preseason.

The Ravens announced prior to the game that Brown would start in Webb’s place for the second straight week.

The only other player who appeared on the Ravens’ final injury report this week was right guard Marshal Yanda (foot), who was listed as probable and was active for Thursday’s game.

Other than defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi — who replaced running back Fitz Toussaint on the 53-man roster earlier in the week — the rest of the Ravens’ inactives remain unchanged as inside linebacker Arthur Brown is once again a healthy scratch.

For Pittsburgh, running back Dri Archer (ankle/knee) and wide receiver Lance Moore (groin) were officially ruled out on Wednesday.

Baltimore is meeting Pittsburgh for the 37th time in the regular-season history of the franchise. The Steelers hold the 20-16 edge in the all-time series and are 3-0 in the postseason, but the Ravens are 9-9 against them in Baltimore. Including the postseason, 11 of the last 14 games between these AFC North rivals have been decided by four or fewer points.

The Ravens will be wearing purple jerseys with white pants while Pittsburgh sports white tops and gold pants for Week 2.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Ed Hochuli.

The forecast in Baltimore called for temperatures to drop into the high 70s shortly after kickoff with no sizable chance of precipation and winds below 10 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.

Here are Thursday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
CB Lardarius Webb
WR Michael Campanaro
LB Arthur Brown
OL John Urschel
OL Jah Reid
WR Deonte Thompson
DT Christo Bilukidi

PITTSBURGH
QB Landry Jones
WR Martavis Bryant
RB Dri Archer
WR Lance Moore
C Wesley Johnson
G Chris Hubbard
NT Daniel McCullers

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the evening for updates and analysis as Nestor Aparicio and I bring live coverage from M&T Bank Stadium.

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Ravens-Steelers: Five predictions for Thursday night

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Ravens-Steelers: Five predictions for Thursday night

Posted on 11 September 2014 by Luke Jones

All eyes will be on Baltimore as the Ravens welcome the hated Pittsburgh Steelers to M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday night.

However, few outside Baltimore and Pittsburgh are thinking about the game itself as the Ravens continue to deal with the fallout stemming from the release of the second Ray Rice video and the subsequent decision to terminate the running back’s contract Monday afternoon. This meeting is normally regarded as one of the best rivalries in the NFL, but you’d have to think long and hard to find another example of a Ravens-Steelers game with so little buzz surrounding the actual play on the field.

But that doesn’t make it any less important for the Ravens as they try to avoid what would be a very disheartening 0-2 start in the AFC North. According to NFL Network research, no team in NFL history has ever made the postseason after dropping two straight divisional home games to begin a season, making Thursday’s game as close to a “must-win” affair as you can have in Week 2.

Head coach John Harbaugh has earned a reputation for rallying his teams to play at their best when dealing with adversity, but the Ravens have never dealt with a situation quite like this, making you wonder how mentally and emotionally fresh they’ll be on what was already a short week.

Thursday marks the 37th time these AFC North rivals have met in the regular season with Pittsburgh holding a 20-16 advantage. The Ravens are 9-9 against the Steelers in Baltimore and have won two of the last three played at M&T Bank Stadium.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens try to even their record at 1-1 and bounce back from their disappointing season-opening loss to Cincinnati …

1. Running back Bernard Pierce will lead the Ravens in carries and pick up 70 yards with a touchdown. It was easy for Harbaugh to send a message to Pierce after his fumble late in the second quarter last week when he was still working under the assumption that Rice would be returning for Week 3, but the Ravens now need Pierce to be a large part of what they do with their running game all season. Veteran Justin Forsett and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro will get their opportunities — the former was very good in pass protection last week in addition to running for 70 yards — as Harbaugh says he will go with the hot hand moving forward, but Pierce still gives the Ravens the best chance to have a successful running game in the short-term future and is a good fit on paper for Gary Kubiak’s one-cut zone stretch scheme.

2. Outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil will take turns exploiting the tackles on the Pittsburgh line to record a combined three sacks. Suggs may have provided more of an impact than the completely-invisible Dumervil did against the Bengals, but neither were able to disrupt the timing of Andy Dalton, something that can’t be repeated against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. As always, the pass rush needs to be careful not to simply chase Roethlisberger from the pocket where he’s at his best improvising down the field, but more help needs to be provided to a secondary that should have cornerback Lardarius Webb available. Steelers tackles Kelvin Beachum and Marcus Gilbert are weak links on the offensive line, giving Suggs and Dumervil no excuse not to feast on Thursday night.

3. Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell will pick up where Cincinnati’s Giovani Bernard left off, registering 120 total yards and a touchdown while giving the Ravens problems as a receiver out of the backfield. Though much bigger than the shifty Bernard, Bell caught 45 passes for 399 yards out of the backfield in 13 games as a rookie and added six receptions for 88 yards against the Browns in Week 1. The Ravens struggled against screens and underneath throws while protecting against the deep ball last week, so Pittsburgh will test them again with those types of plays until Baltimore shows it can stop them. And with Pittsburgh being another team that likes using the no-huddle offense, you do wonder if a bigger back like Bell will start to wear down an old front seven as the game progresses.

4. The Ravens will use more up-tempo offense and quarterback Joe Flacco will go to tight ends Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels early in this one. Just as the Steelers undoubtedly saw how the Ravens defense struggled to defend screens and other underneath throws, Kubiak had to take notice of the Browns’ success using the no-huddle attack against Pittsburgh in the second half and should use that to his advantage in hopes of getting Flacco going early. You’d never know it from the final numbers when he targeted Pitta and Daniels a combined 20 times, but Flacco threw to the tight-end duo only once before the final drive of the first half. Ravens wide receivers cannot have a case of the drops like they did last week, but look for Flacco to throw more short stuff to Pitta, Daniels, and Kyle Juszczyk to get into an earlier rhythm before taking some longer shots down the field.

5. It will be close with Pittsburgh as it always is, but the home-field edge gives the Ravens just enough to pull out a 24-21 win that they really need. Only four of the 14 Ravens-Steelers games in the Harbaugh era have been decided by more than three points and the last five meetings have all been determined by three or fewer. The Ravens have dealt with plenty of distractions away from the field this week, but they know they cannot afford to fall to 0-2 with both games against AFC North foes. The best teams are able to rise to the occasion and come together under trying circumstances like these while lesser teams fold and begin looking for excuses. You get the sense that Thursday night will tell us a lot about who the Ravens are as a football team in 2014 — good or bad.

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Webb questionable, Yanda probable for Thursday night game

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Webb questionable, Yanda probable for Thursday night game

Posted on 10 September 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens listed cornerback Lardarius Webb as questionable for the second straight game as they made final preparations for Thursday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After practicing fully for a second straight week, Webb was given the same designation as he did leading into the season-opening game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The sixth-year defensive back did not play in Week 1 despite looking good in a pre-game workout roughly two hours before kickoff.

Webb told reporters earlier this week that he expected to make his 2014 debut on Thursday night. He missed the entire preseason after initially suffering back spasms on July 25 and did not return to the practice field until Aug. 30.

“I’m ready to get it going,” Webb said Tuesday. “Who better than Pittsburgh? I’m ready. I’m feeling good. I’m just ready to get out there and get everything going and just play some football.”

Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda was listed as probable after missing Monday’s practice while dealing with a blister on his foot. He practiced fully on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Steelers ruled out running back Dri Archer (ankle/knee) and wide receiver Lance Moore (groin) and listed 14 others as probable for Week 2.

Here is the final injury report of the week:
(Editor note: NIR is an abbreviation for non-injury related)

BALTIMORE
QUESTIONABLE: CB Lardarius Webb (back)
PROBABLE: G Marshal Yanda (foot)

PITTSBURGH
OUT: RB Dri Archer (ankle/knee), WR Lance Moore (groin)
PROBABLE: RB Le’Veon Bell (NIR), WR Antonio Brown (NIR), WR Martavis Bryant (shoulder), DE Brett Keisel (NIR), CB Brice McCain (groin), DT Steve McLendon (stinger), TE Heath Miller (NIR), S Troy Polamalu (NIR), QB Ben Roethlisberger (NIR), CB Ike Taylor (NIR), S Shamarko Thomas (achilles/ankle), C Cody Wallace (finger), WR Markus Wheaton (NIR), LB Vince Williams (NIR)

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Will Ravens rise to occasion after tumultuous week?

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Will Ravens rise to occasion after tumultuous week?

Posted on 10 September 2014 by Luke Jones

A national audience will be hoping the Ravens fail when they take on the rival Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night.

Virtually everyone outside Baltimore will be rooting against an organization viewed in a negative light for its handling of the Ray Rice saga over the last seven months before the ultimate release of the disgraced running back earlier this week. The integrity of the organization has come into question as owner Steve Bisciotti acknowledged in a letter Tuesday that the Ravens needed to do more to investigate what happened between Rice and then-fiancée Janay Palmer instead of simply deferring to the New Jersey legal system.

Needless to say, it’s been a rocky 19 months for the Ravens since winning Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, 2013. In addition to Rice, four players on the current 53-man roster were arrested this offseason while there have been other examples of questionable choices — don’t tell me you’ve forgotten the “Sweet Pea” saga — over the last 12 months or so.

The former heart and soul of the Ravens — Ray Lewis and Ed Reed — have both questioned leadership at different times over the last calendar year. The roster turnover has been clear with only 25 members of the current 53-man roster having been with the organization for Super Bowl XLVII. Veteran leaders have departed in addition to Lewis and Reed, including Anquan Boldin and Matt Birk.

And even if too much emphasis is put on the impact of leadership and off-field issues in terms of on-field results, Baltimore has gone a mediocre 8-9 in the regular season since raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy in New Orleans. However you want to explain it, the Ravens haven’t been particularly good since winning their second NFL championship.

Is it fair to ask if the Ravens, who long held an excellent reputation, have lost their way? There’s little disputing that the aura of the organization has taken a severe hit over how it handled the Rice situation over these last seven months.

“I don’t think of it that way,” said head coach John Harbaugh when asked if he’s concerned about the Ravens’ image taking a hit. “You do your best with the situations that are put before you and try to handle things the right way and do the right thing.”

Shifting their attention back to the field after a few difficult days, the Ravens are as close as you get to facing a “must-win” game in Week 2 as they’ve already lost to the Cincinnati Bengals and would fall to 0-2 with a defeat to the hated Steelers Thursday night. According to NFL Network research, no team has ever made the playoffs after dropping two divisional games at home to start a season.

Under Harbaugh, the Ravens have dealt with difficult losses before and have consistently answered the bell in the face of adversity. But Rice’s release stems from something that goes beyond football or the business of the salary cap. It isn’t the loss of a standout player because of retirement or a season-ending injury but due to his cruel actions that the entire world saw on video Monday morning.

And players have faced more questions about Rice than ones about what it will take to slow Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers this week. The focus began to shift on Tuesday when some semblance of normalcy — in the context of preparing for a football game, of course — returned to the facility in Owings Mills, but the challenge of playing on a short week is hefty enough despite the Ravens owning the home-field advantage and seeing a familiar opponent.

“We’re going to be playing really soon, so we have to get our minds right,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “But more importantly, we have to do everything we can to physically feel good by the time that whistle blows on Thursday night, and that’s what we’re doing.”

While everyone else will be talking about the individual who is no longer with the organization on Thursday night, the Ravens must focus on getting off to a much quicker start offensively while also trying to slow a Steelers offense that produced 30 points and 490 yards against what was expected to be a good Cleveland defense last week. The general consensus among the so-called experts before the season was that Baltimore and Pittsburgh were fairly evenly matched — both finished 8-8 last year — so the the Ravens will need to hold serve on their home field and put the bad taste of last week’s loss behind them.

Over the course of his seven-year run in Baltimore, Harbaugh has typically been able to rally his team in these types of games to perform at their best and secure a much-needed win. But he hasn’t dealt with a situation quite like this before.

And there is evidence of cracks in the foundation — both on and off the field — since the Ravens reached the pinnacle of the NFL less than two years ago. We saw it late last year when the Ravens were 8-6 and needed only one win to secure their sixth consecutive trip to the postseason before losing their final two games by a combined 51 points.

A win calms nerves and puts the Ravens back at .500 as they receive the extra rest that follows a Thursday night game before preparing for a third straight division game. A defeat puts the Ravens in an early-season hole in the AFC North while the rest of the world mocks their misfortune.

The best teams come together under these circumstances, even when their organization is guilty of its own mistakes as the Ravens were with Rice. The lesser ones wilt under such adversity.

The Ravens know they already face a crucial game Thursday with the season less than a week old. They’re out to prove they haven’t lost their way on the field.

“It’s everything. You don’t want to come out of an 0-2 hole, especially giving up two at home,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “Wins in the NFL are hard to come by, so that’s why you’ve got to win your home games. We unfortunately dropped one; [the Bengals] cashed in and they won one — a division game. We’ve definitely got to cover up some ground, but it all starts with this one on Thursday.”

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Webb primed to make 2014 season debut against Steelers

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Webb primed to make 2014 season debut against Steelers

Posted on 10 September 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After nearly two weeks of practice to get himself in playing shape, Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb appears primed to make his 2014 season debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night.

The sixth-year defensive back has been practicing fully since last week, but it was just a matter of shaking off rust and logging some field time after missing nearly all of training camp. Webb was stricken with back spasms on the second day of full-squad workouts on July 25 and did not return to practice until Aug. 30.

“I’m ready to get it going,” Webb said on Tuesday. “Who better than Pittsburgh? I’m ready. I’m feeling good. I’m just ready to get out there and get everything going and just play some football.”

Webb went through a pre-game workout prior to last Sunday’s season opener against Cincinnati, but the Ravens elected to hold him out with better thoughts toward Week 2 being on a short week. If fully healthy and ready, Webb will clearly start opposite Jimmy Smith in the base defense, but it remains to be seen how the Ravens might use him in the nickel package.

Over the course of his career, Webb has been more dynamic covering the slot and playing inside in the nickel package, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees will need to decide whether he wants to use Chykie Brown on the outside as the No. 3 corner or Asa Jackson, who is also better suited to play inside. Last year, Pees used Webb and former Raven Corey Graham both inside and outside, but the Ravens are far less settled in their secondary this season.

After Webb underwent sports hernia surgery early in the offseason and then missed all of training camp, the Steelers will surely test Webb’s ability in coverage as well as his stamina with so little practice time under his belt since spring organized team activities. And the veteran cornerback is fine with having a target on his back, expecting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to throw in his direction early and often.

“I would, wouldn’t you?” Webb said. “That’s a good thing, because they don’t know how hurt I was. I hope they do [test me].”

The Baltimore defense certainly hopes Webb’s return will bring more stability to a secondary that allowed 301 passing yards in the Week 1 loss to the Bengals.

Suggs sends message to Tomlin

Never one to shy away from the theatrical side of the Baltimore-Pittsburgh rivalry, linebacker Terrell Suggs walked to the podium with a clear message for Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on Tuesday.

Sporting a t-shirt (below) with the words “We Will Never Forget” and the image of Tomlin stepping on the field of play and forcing Jacoby Jones to change direction on a long kickoff return, Suggs made it obvious he hadn’t forgotten about the Steelers coach’s sideline tactics. Intentional or not, the move resulted in a $100,000 fine for Tomlin while pumping new life into a rivalry that’s seen major characters such as Ray Lewis, Hines Ward, Ed Reed, and James Harrison move on in recent years.

Photo courtesy of BaltimoreRavens.com

“We just wanted to let their head coach know, we will never forget what transpired here in this game last year,” Suggs said.

Tomlin talked with the Baltimore media via conference call and even had his own fun with what happened on Thanksgiving last year when asked if he expected to be on the kickoff team Thursday night.

“I won’t be,” said Tomlin as he laughed. “Tell Jacoby he’s safe.”

Tuesday’s injury report

All 53 players on the active roster practiced fully on Tuesday as Webb and right guard Marshal Yanda were the only Ravens players even listed on the injury report.

Yanda missed Monday’s walk-through while resting a blister on his foot, but he was a full participant along with Webb a day later.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh had seven players missing from practice on Tuesday, but four were listed for non-injury reasons. With a very short week, that’s a common practice for teams trying to rest as many veterans as possible.

BALTIMORE
FULL PARTICIPATION: CB Lardarius Webb (back), G Marshal Yanda (foot)

PITTSBURGH
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: RB Dri Archer (ankle/knee), DE Brett Keisel (NIR), TE Heath Miller (NIR), WR Lance Moore (groin), S Troy Polamalu (NIR), CB Ike Taylor (NIR), C Cody Wallace (finger)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Le’Veon Bell (NIR), WR Antonio Brown (NIR), WR Martavis Bryant (shoulder), CB Brice McCain (groin), DT Steve McLendon (stinger), QB Ben Roethlisberger (NIR), S Shamarko Thomas (Achilles/ankle), WR Markus Wheaton (NIR)

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Bovada makes Ravens third choice to win AFC North

Posted on 31 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV). The Super Bowl odds are from the day after the Super Bowl, the day after the draft, and today before the first set of games before the pre-season.

 

Odds to win the 2015 Super Bowl XLIX (Teams in red have longer odds, teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same…the colors are from one date to the next) 

Odds on 2/3/14             Odds on 5/12/14           Current Odds               Notes

Denver Broncos                                    8/1                    7/1                                13/2                              Broncos are now the favorite after trailing the Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks                                  9/2                    6/1                                7/1                                Odds have slowly gotten longer

San Francisco 49ers                              15/2                  15/2                              15/2                              One of three teams whose odds didn’t move

New England Patriots                            14/1                  15/2                              8/1                                Much shorter after initial SB odds, a little longer since

Green Bay Packers                                16/1                  12/1                              10/1                              Odds have gotten shorter each time

Chicago Bears                                      25/1                  20/1                              14/1                              Odds have gotten shorter each time

Indianapolis Colts                                  28/1                  20/1                              14/1                              Odds have gotten shorter each time

New Orleans Saints                               18/1                  20/1                              14/1                              Odds went longer then shorter

Philadelphia Eagles                               25/1                  22/1                              25/1                              Odds went shorter then longer

Pittsburgh Steelers                                33/1                  33/1                              28/1                              Odds were stagnant, then shorter

Detroit Lions                                         33/1                  50/1                              33/1                              Odds flip flopped

Arizona Cardinals                                  33/1                  40/1                              40/1                              Odds went longer, now stagnant

Atlanta Falcons                                     25/1                  40/1                              40/1                              Odds went longer, now stagnant

Baltimore Ravens                                  40/1                  40/1                              40/1                              One of three teams whose odds didn’t move

Carolina Panthers                                  25/1                  28/1                              40/1                              Odds went longer each time

Cincinnati Bengals                                 25/1                  40/1                              40/1                              Odds went longer, now stagnant

New York Giants                                   33/1                  40/1                              40/1                              Odds went longer, now stagnant

San Diego Chargers                              33/1                  40/1                              40/1                              Odds went longer, now stagnant

Dallas Cowboys                                    33/1                  40/1                              50/1                              Odds went longer each time

Kansas City Chiefs                                28/1                  33/1                              50/1                              Odds went longer each time

St. Louis Rams                                     40/1                  50/1                              50/1                              Odds went longer, now stagnant

Washington Redskins                            40/1                  50/1                              50/1                              Odds went longer, now stagnant

Houston Texans                                    40/1                  40/1                              66/1                              Odds were stagnant, now longer

Miami Dolphins                                     50/1                  50/1                              66/1                              Odds were stagnant, now longer

New York Jets                                       50/1                  66/1                              66/1                              Odds went longer, now stagnant

Tampa Bay Buccaneers                         50/1                  50/1                              66/1                              Odds were stagnant, now longer

Buffalo Bills                                          75/1                  75/1                              75/1                              One of three teams whose odds didn’t move

Cleveland Browns                                  66/1                  50/1                              75/1                              Odds went shorter, then longer

Minnesota Vikings                                 75/1                  50/1                              100/1                            Odds went shorter, then longer      

Oakland Raiders                                    75/1                  100/1                            100/1                            Odds went longer, now stagnant

Tennessee Titans                                   50/1                  75/1                              100/1                            Odds went longer each time

Jacksonville Jaguars                             100/1                100/1                            250/1                            Odds were stagnant, now much longer

Odds to win the 2015 AFC Conference  

Denver Broncos                        9/4

New England Patriots                3/1

Indianapolis Colts                      6/1

Pittsburgh Steelers                    12/1

Cincinnati Bengals                     16/1

Baltimore Ravens                      18/1

San Diego Chargers                  18/1

Kansas City Chiefs                    22/1

Houston Texans                        28/1

Miami Dolphins                         28/1

New York Jets                           28/1

Cleveland Browns                      33/1

Buffalo Bills                              40/1

Tennessee Titans                       40/1

Oakland Raiders                        50/1

Jacksonville Jaguars                 100/1

 

Odds to win the 2015 NFC Conference  

Seattle Seahawks                      17/4

San Francisco 49ers                  9/2

Green Bay Packers                    6/1

Chicago Bears                          15/2

New Orleans Saints                   15/2

Philadelphia Eagles                   14/1

Detroit Lions                             18/1

Arizona Cardinals                      22/1

Atlanta Falcons                         22/1

Carolina Panthers                      22/1

New York Giants                       25/1

St. Louis Rams                         25/1

Washington Redskins                25/1

Dallas Cowboys                        28/1

Tampa Bay Buccaneers             33/1

Minnesota Vikings                     40/1

 

Odds to Win the 2014 NFC East (Teams in red have longer odds, teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same)          

Odds on 5/28/14           Current Odds

Philadelphia Eagles                   3/2                                5/4

New York Giants                       11/4                              3/1                               

Washington Redskins                4/1                                15/4

Dallas Cowboys                        13/4                              4/1

 

Odds to Win the 2014 NFC North (Teams in red have longer odds, teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same)          

Odds on 5/28/14           Current Odds

Green Bay Packers                    4/5                                10/11

Chicago Bears                          11/4                              5/2

Detroit Lions                             17/4                              4/1

Minnesota Vikings                     12/1                              10/1

 

Odds to Win the 2014 NFC South (Teams in red have longer odds, teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same)          

Odds on 5/28/14           Current Odds

New Orleans Saints                   7/5                                5/7

Carolina Panthers                      11/4                              9/2

Atlanta Falcons                         11/4                              17/4

Tampa Bay Buccaneers             5/1                                11/2

 

Odds to Win the 2014 NFC West (Teams in red have longer odds, teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same)          

Odds on 5/28/14           Current Odds

Seattle Seahawks                      11/10                            5/4

San Francisco 49ers                  7/5                                7/5

Arizona Cardinals                      7/1                                7/1

St. Louis Rams                         9/1                                7/1

 

Odds to Win the 2014 AFC East (Teams in red have longer odds, teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same)          

Odds on 5/28/14           Current Odds

New England Patriots                1/2                                1/3

Miami Dolphins                         4/1                                13/2

New York Jets                           15/2                              13/2

Buffalo Bills                              15/2                              9/1

 

Odds to Win the 2014 AFC North (Teams in red have longer odds, teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same)          

Odds on 5/28/14           Current Odds

Pittsburgh Steelers                    2/1                                2/1

Cincinnati Bengals                     2/1                                11/5

Baltimore Ravens                      5/2                                11/4

Cleveland Browns                      5/1                                5/1

 

Odds to Win the 2014 AFC South (Teams in red have longer odds, teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same)          

Odds on 5/28/14           Current Odds

Indianapolis Colts                      5/6                                1/2

Houston Texans                        9/4                                3/1

Tennessee Titans                       4/1                                7/1

Jacksonville Jaguars                 20/1                              14/1

 

Odds to Win the 2014 AFC West (Teams in red have longer odds, teams in blue have shorter odds, and teams in black stayed the same)          

Odds on 5/28/14           Current Odds

Denver Broncos                        4/11                              1/3

San Diego Chargers                  11/2                              5/1

Kansas City Chiefs                    5/1                                6/1

Oakland Raiders                        18/1                              18/1

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Ravens release 2014 schedule featuring three primetime games

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Ravens release 2014 schedule featuring three primetime games

Posted on 23 April 2014 by Luke Jones

For the first time in franchise history, the Baltimore Ravens are scheduled to meet AFC North rival Pittsburgh in primetime for both regular-season meetings.

After opening the season at M&T Bank Stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept 7., the Ravens will welcome the Steelers to Baltimore four days later in their lone Thursday night game of the season. Baltimore is then slated to travel to Pittsburgh for a Sunday night game on Nov. 2, which would mark the third time in four years that the division rivals have played at Heinz Field on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

The Ravens’ third primetime appearance will fall on Nov. 24 when they travel to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to take on the New Orleans Saints, which will be Baltimore’s lone Monday night game of the 2014 season.

Other highlights of the 2014 schedule include a Sept. 28 meeting with the Carolina Panthers in which new wide receiver Steve Smtih will welcome his former team to Baltimore. New offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and the Ravens travel to Houston to take on the Texans on Dec. 21.

Their Week 11 bye is the latest the Ravens have had in the regular season since 2001, which will likely please head coach John Harbaugh in trying to get back to the playoffs after last season’s 8-8 finish. Baltimore will finish the regular season with four contests against non-playoff teams who went a combined 18-46 a year ago.

The Ravens will play six games against playoff teams from last season: Carolina, Cincinnati (twice), Indianapolis, New Orleans, and San Diego.

For the first time since the 2009 season, the Ravens will not conclude the regular season against the Bengals, instead hosting the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 28. Five of Baltimore’s six divisional games fall in the first nine weeks of the 2014 season with the season finale against Cleveland wrapping up the Ravens’ slate of AFC North games.

The Ravens open the year with three straight division games for the third time ever after previously doing it in 2004 and 2008. This makes a good start imperative if a third AFC North title in four years is in Baltimore’s plans.

This year marks only the third time in franchise history that the Ravens will open the season with consecutive home games after previously enjoying that luxury in 1997 and 2008.

2014 SCHEDULE

Sunday, Sept. 7 vs. Cincinnati Bengals – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: This year is certainly big for quarterback Andy Dalton, but the Bengals are the only team in the AFC North to have made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons.

Thursday, Sept. 11 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:25 p.m. (CBS)
Skinny: The rivalry has lost some of its shine with so many big-name players exiting in the last couple years, but Mike Tomlin’s sideline trick last Thanksgiving has created new animosity for Ravens fans.

Sunday, Sept. 21 at Cleveland Browns – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The Ravens lost in Cleveland last year for the first time since 2007 and will be coming off extra rest following their Week 2 contest, which spells trouble for Mike Pettine’s Browns.

Sunday, Sept. 28 vs. Carolina Panthers – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The NFL has to wish this game were scheduled to be played in Charlotte instead, but wide receiver Steve Smith will provide plenty of material in the buildup to playing his former team.

Sunday, Oct. 5 at Indianapolis Colts – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The Ravens will find plenty of familiar faces in Arthur Jones, Cory Redding, and Chuck Pagano, but a trip to play the defending AFC South champions won’t be easy.

Sunday, Oct. 12 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: New center Jeremy Zuttah doesn’t have to wait long to play his former team, but it will be interesting to see what head coach Lovie Smith and quarterback Josh McCown can do for that franchise.

Sunday, Oct. 19 vs. Atlanta Falcons – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: In a meeting of first-round quarterbacks from the 2008 draft, Matt Ryan has been better statistically, but Joe Flacco and the Ravens will gladly take the superior postseason resume.

Sunday, Oct. 26 at Cincinnati Bengals – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: Contrary to what we saw in the last three seasons, there is no NFL mandate that the Ravens conclude the regular season in Cincinnati, but this one figures to be pivotal in the AFC North race.

Sunday, Nov. 2 at Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Skinny: This meeting will mark the third time in the last four years that the Ravens and Steelers will meet in a Sunday night game at Heinz Field.

Sunday, Nov. 9 vs. Tennessee Titans – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The memory of what was once the Ravens’ best rivalry continues to fade over the years, but the return of hard-hitting safety Bernard Pollard should be an interesting story.

Sunday, Nov. 16 – BYE

Monday, Nov. 24 at New Orleans Saints – 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Skinny: Baltimore won its only regular-season trip to the Superdome in 2006, but dealing with Drew Brees and that offense indoors is a tall order for Dean Pees’ defense.

Sunday, Nov. 30 vs. San Diego Chargers – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: These teams haven’t met at M&T Bank Stadium since 2006, but San Diego’s late-season run to the postseason gives them plenty of momentum going into 2014.

Sunday, Dec. 7 at Miami Dolphins – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The Ravens travel to Sun Life Stadium for the second straight year in a meeting between two teams who collapsed down the stretch to miss the playoffs last year.

Sunday, Dec. 14 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The Jaguars appeared on their way to the No. 1 pick before winning four of their last eight games in 2013, but head coach Gus Bradley needs a quarterback for this team to become a threat.

Sunday, Dec. 21 at Houston Texans – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: Meeting for the fifth straight season, the Ravens and Texans now share a new link with former Houston head coach Gary Kubiak now roaming the Baltimore sideline as offensive coordinator.

Sunday, Dec. 28 vs. Cleveland Browns – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The Browns haven’t won a game in Baltimore since George W. Bush was president and will remain the doormat of the division until they can find a franchise quarterback.

Notes: For the first time, flexible scheduling can be applied in Weeks 5 through 10. During that period, flexible scheduling can be used in no more than two weeks by moving a Sunday afternoon game into primetime and moving the Sunday night game to the afternoon.

Another new wrinkle will be a select number of games being “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring some games to wider audiences.

Flexible scheduling will still be used in Weeks 11 through 17 as it has been in past year years. In Weeks 11-16, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time. Flexible scheduling cannot be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday, or Monday nights.

A scheduling move would be announced at least 12 days before the game. For Week 17, the Sunday night game is announced no later than six days prior to December 28.

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Steelers won’t be docked draft pick for Tomlin sideline incident

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Steelers won’t be docked draft pick for Tomlin sideline incident

Posted on 20 March 2014 by Luke Jones

Nearly four months after Mike Tomlin’s controversial sideline incident in a game against the Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers learned Thursday that they will not be docked a draft pick by the NFL.

The head coach was fined $100,000 but not penalized for stepping onto the field of play and interfering as Jacoby Jones appeared on his way to a touchdown on a second-half kickoff return. Tomlin’s presence on the field caused Jones to cut inside where he was eventually caught from behind, but the Ravens still won 22-20 over their AFC North rivals on Thanksgiving night.

“I take full responsibility for my actions, and I apologize for causing negative attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization,” Tomlin said in a statement after the fine was announced in early December. “I accept the penalty that I received.”

In the days following the incident, the league left open the possibility of the Steelers’ 2014 draft compensation being impacted due to Tomlin’s behavior, especially if the four extra points the Ravens may have scored — they only converted a field goal on the drive — would have impacted tiebreaker scenarios for the playoff race.

Of course, the Steelers missed the playoffs after receiving no favors at the end of the Week 17 game between San Diego and Kansas City in which a penalty call was missed that would have given Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop another try at a game-winning field goal that would have knocked out the Chargers and landed 8-8 Pittsburgh in the AFC playoffs as the No. 6 seed. Instead, Pittsburgh joined Baltimore in missing the postseason in what many Ravens fans viewed as poetic justice from what had happened a month earlier.

At the very least, the incident provided the latest chapter in what’s been regarded by many as the best rivalry in the NFL over the last decade.

“It’s not my job to figure out intent. I’m glad we won the game,” said Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti about the incident at the end of the season. “My feelings for that move might have been a lot different [had we lost]. But, [it was] bizarre, weird, strange, unexplainable, and I think Mike was embarrassed about it. And I like Mike a lot. He’s a really good guy. His intent — that is completely in his court. He got fined for it, and again, he’s embarrassed as a competitor.”

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The 15-7-0 is still mathematically alive to win the NFC East

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The 15-7-0 is still mathematically alive to win the NFC East

Posted on 16 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

15 positive observations from the weekend of football, seven not so positive observations and we acknowledge a “zero” from outside the world of football. A reminder, there’s never any Ravens game analysis here. We do plenty of that elsewhere. It’s a trip through the weekend of football via videos, GIFs, memes, pictures, links, Tweets and shtick.

The 15-7-0 was unthinkably overlooked when the list of the Golden Globe Award nominees was announced. And to think, the performance it gave as “Cord Phelps” in “You Mean You Don’t See It?: The Emotional Story of the Orioles’ Offseason” was particularly breathtaking.

15 Positive Observations…

1. Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way so that we can take like twelve showers and then move on with our lives. We don’t want to say it but we know we have to considering the playoff picture. Okay. Here goes. This is going to suck. Ahem. “Thank You Ste………………………..ve Jobs for inventing the iPad that told me the Bengals lost Sunday night.” Look. You and I both knew this was going to be far too weird to actually say.

Has there ever been a more awkward 10 seconds in the history of television than when NBC  panned to Dan Rooney and no one knew if he was alive?

The Bengals had to spend the night in Pittsburgh getting their asses kicked by a rival and yet somehow it was worse for their punter.

Here’s a two time Super Bowl champion rocking sweatpants.

2. Jamaal Charles posted something in the neighborhood of 5,698,432,921,023,557,806 fantasy points Sunday. It’s more fun to talk about it because when we get to this part of the show Monday I will be able to watch the depressed expression on Ryan Chell’s face when he discusses the guy who knocked him out of the fantasy football playoffs. I live a twisted life.

Charles had three more TD’s than this Raiders fan had middle fingers.

Chiefs fans? Not much friendlier.

The game was lopsided, then not lopsided, then lopsided again so KC’s coaching staff tried to poke in and watch the end of the Patriots game instead.

3. Make it 12 in a row for Navy over Army now. Or as Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus told me Saturday, “we’re going to be very humble about this and take it one decade at a time”. Yes, the entire point of #3 was to remind you guys that I talked to the Secretary of the Navy Saturday. ARE YOU PROUD OF ME NOW, DAD? What’s that? You are? You always have been? You tell me you’re proud of me most every day? I should probably have gone another direction in my comments. Carry on.

Here’s proof!

Now here’s the most patriotic picture you’ll ever see.

Except for this one.

4. Jay Cutler really put things together nicely in the second half after struggling early to lead the Bears to a really important win over the Browns. In fact, he was so good that he reminded me of a guy that used to play for Chicago awhile back. You ever heard of this guy? Josh McCown? That guy was really good. Whatever happened to him? I bet a team pushing for the playoffs would want to have him.

Bears fans were told not to wear their jerseys when they went to Cleveland. They didn’t fully understand the message.

Jay Cutler got a kiss from Brandon Marshall, which we can only hope isn’t B-Marsh trying to throw him off the scent of secretly stealing his wife’s breast milk.

Alshon Jeffery is stupid good. STUPID GOOD.

5. I wouldn’t necessarily encourage other coaches to use Joe Philbin’s “mass turmoil because of one of the biggest scandals in the history of the sport that lead to losing almost half of our offensive line in order to make us better” strategy with their own teams, but you have to applaud his boldness to try something different.

They won the game, so they can laugh at this-right?

Is hugging the guy who just scored the winner for your team worth losing your beer over?

Something we learned in this game? Julian Edelman dresses the same as Lingerie Football League quarterback Angela Rypien.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Playoffs?!?!?!?!?

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Playoffs?!?!?!?!?

Posted on 11 December 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

There are 3 weeks remaining in the season for the Ravens, and all other teams for that matter. The good news is that the Ravens are very much in control of their own playoff destiny; if they win their remaining 3 games nothing can keep them from the playoffs. There is however, still little reason to believe that the Ravens will win all 3 games. The other good news is that they probably won’t have to. The bad news then, is that there are a myriad of possibilities on how the season plays out and what it might mean from a Ravens perspective.

 

Here is a comprehensive breakdown of all scenarios and possible tie-break situations the Ravens might face as the season winds down:

 

Ravens

Record 7-6     Conference Record 6-4     Division Record 3-2

Remaining Games: @DET, vs NE, @CIN

 

Bengals

Record 9-4     Conference Record 7-3     Division Record 2-2

Remaining Games: @PIT, vs MIN, vs BAL

This one is pretty straightforward, if the Ravens are going to catch the Bengals they have to beat the Bengals…they’ll also need Cincinnati to lose at least one other game. Any tie between the Ravens and Bengals would go to the Ravens because it will require the Ravens to beat the Bengals for the second time this season, thereby giving Baltimore the head-to-head tiebreaker.

 

Steelers

Record 5-8     Conference Record 4-6     Division Record 2-2

Remaining Games: vs. CIN, @GB, vs CLE

At 8-8 Ravens would lose the tiebreaker, either by division record if they failed to beat CIN (they’d be 3-3 to PIT’s 4-2) or by common opponents The Ravens beat HOU lost to DEN, the Steelers lost to OAK & TEN, meaning the Ravens would be 7-7 vs common opponents and the Steelers would be 8-6.

At 7-9 the Ravens would win the tiebreaker if they beat the Bengals and the Steelers lost to either the Bengals or Browns with a 4-2 division record to Pittsburgh’s 3-3. The Steelers would win the tie breaker by common opponents if the teams wound up with the same divisional record.

 

Dolphins

Record 7-6     Conference Record 6-3

Remaining Games: vs NE, @BUF, vs NYJ

The Ravens have the tiebreaker vs the Dolphins by virtue of their head-to-head victory over Miami. That could change though if the tie is between more than just 2 teams.

 

Jets

Record 6-7     Conference Record 3-7

Remaining Games: @CAR, vs CLE, @MIA

The Ravens have the tiebreaker vs the Jets by virtue of their head-to-head victory over New York. That could change though if the tie is between more than just 2 teams.

 

Titans

Record 5-8     Conference Record 4-6

Remaining Games: vs AZ, @JAX, vs HOU

At 8-8 Ravens would win tie-breaker by conference record if they win 1 more AFC game. If Ravens lose to CIN & NE but beat DET the tie-breaker becomes strength of victory (common opponents are PIT, HOU, NYJ & DEN both teams would be 3-2).

Right now the Titans 5 victories are over teams with 26 combined wins and they’d have to win their final 3 games accounting for 14 more wins so far for a total of 40 opponents’ wins. The teams that the Titans have beaten and would have to beat have 21 combined games remaining.

The Ravens 7 wins are over teams with a combined 36 wins and 1 tie and would have to win one of their last 3 games over a team with 7, 9 or 10 wins. That plus the 26 games that those opponents have remaining would seem to position the Ravens in control of the tiebreaker over Tennessee at 8-8.

At 7-9 the Ravens would win the tiebreaker by conference record with a Titans loss to Jacksonville or by common opponents with a loss to Houston. If the Titans lost to Arizona instead the tiebreaker would instead go to strength of victory where the Ravens wield a heavy advantage.

*At 7-9 there would also seem to be a likelihood that more than 2 teams would be vying for the spot.

 

Chargers

Record 6-7     Conference Record 3-6

Remaining Games: @DEN, vs OAK, vs KC

At 9-7 the Ravens would win the tiebreaker over San Diego by conference record 7-5 or 8-4 to the Chargers 6-6.

At 8-8 the Ravens would win the tiebreaker over San Diego by conference record 7-5 or 6-6 to the Chargers 5-7.

At 7-9 The Ravens win the tiebreaker over San Diego 6-6 to the Chargers 4-8.

 

3-Way Ties

*Multi-team ties require divisional ties to be broken first. Refer to above for Ravens Steelers tie break scenarios.

 

Ravens, Dolphins & Titans

At 8-8 if Ravens beat DET, lose to CIN & NE tiebreaker goes to MIA by conference record.

If Ravens lose to Detroit beat CIN or NE, TEN eliminated by conference record, then Ravens win head-to-head vs Dolphins.

At 7-9 Tennessee is eliminated on conference record unless their loss is to AZ. If TEN loses to AZ and all teams are 7-9 with 6-6 conference records and strength of victory would decide the tie. Here’s a strength of victory refresher:

-The Titans 5 victories are over teams with 26 combined wins. They’d have to beat Jacksonville and Houston with a combined 6 wins so far.

-The Ravens 7 wins are over teams with a combined 36 wins and 1 tie.

-The Dolphins 7 wins are over opponents with 41 wins so far.

The 3 weeks remaining in the season and the successes and failures of the teams beaten by the Ravens, Dolphins & Titans in those 3 weeks could change a lot, but for now advantage Dolphins.

 

Ravens, Dolphins & Chargers

Chargers eliminated by conference record. If Ravens and Dolphins are tied in conference records then Ravens win head-to-head vs Dolphins, if conference records are not equal winner is determined by conference record.

Ravens, Titans & Chargers

Chargers eliminated by conference record, revert to Ravens Titans tiebreakers above.

Ravens, Jets & Titans

Jets eliminated by conference record, revert to Ravens & Titans tiebreakers above.

Ravens, Jets & Chargers

Ravens win by virtue of conference record.

4-Way Ties

Ravens, Jets, Titans & Chargers

Jets and Chargers eliminated on conference record. Refer to Ravens & Titans tiebreakers for the rest.

Ravens, Dolphins, Titans & Chargers

Chargers eliminated by conference record. Refer to Ravens, Titans & Dolphins 3-way tiebreaker for the rest.

 

 

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