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Despite crowded wild-card picture, Ravens’ task clear over final month

Posted on 02 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens entered the weekend with the rare chance to not only rest but take a long look at the rest of a crowded AFC playoff picture.

Moving into the No. 6 spot in the conference by way of their 22-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last Thursday night, the Ravens could give thanks at the end of the holiday weekend for still holding the final wild-card position due to their tie-breaking win over the 6-6 Miami Dolphins earlier in the season. But four teams linger with 5-7 records, and different factors are working for and against them in the chase to play football in January.

There’s plenty of watching and wondering what will happen over the season’s final four weeks.

“Everybody is playing everybody right now,” coach John Harbaugh said. “With so many teams involved, it’s going to be the way it’s going to be. One team wins, another teams loses. A lot of times, it helps us either way, and it hurts us both ways — it doesn’t really matter.”

The Dolphins have only one game remaining against teams that are .500 or better (New England).

Pittsburgh plays three of its final four games at Heinz Field and only one of those four contests comes against an opponent with a winning record (Cincinnati).

Despite a crippling quarterback situation, the New York Jets play only one team with a winning record and it’s an NFC opponent (Carolina).

After a disappointing home loss to the Bengals that did no favors to the Ravens’ AFC North title hopes, the Chargers still play three of the final four games at home.

And even 5-7 Tennessee has games remaining against Jacksonville and Houston, two of the worst teams in the NFL.

It’s a lot to process as we start tracking conference marks, records against common opponents, and strength of victory, but Harbaugh and the Ravens choose to focus only on what they can control with so many scenarios still alive with four games to go. The hope of a division title will depend on the Bengals slipping at least once or twice leading into the Week 17 meeting between the teams in Cincinnati, but advancing to the postseason for a sixth consecutive season is a clear path if the Ravens can avoid treacherous detours along the way.

“What matters is us; we just have to win,” Harbaugh said. “If we win games, things are going to work out for us. If we don’t, things are going to be tough. That’s what we have to take care of; we have to take care of ourselves.”

Though facing the best running back on the planet in Adrian Peterson doesn’t sound like a layup, the Ravens will face their last opponent with a record below .500 Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings come to town to conclude a three-game homestand. After that, the road becomes bumpier than at any other point this season with a Monday night road game at NFC North-leading Detroit, a Sunday night home finale against AFC East-leading New England, and a regular-season finale in Cincinnati.

The Ravens hold the one-game edge over all No. 6 seed contenders after Miami, but they’ll still need to win three of their final four to get to the 9-7 mark, a standard that would very likely put them in the postseason. An 8-8 record could still conceivably land the No. 6 seed in the AFC, but such a path will depend on tie-breakers and considerable help from other results.

The good news is Baltimore appears to be getting hot at the right time. After winning two straight for only the second time all season, the Ravens are back at .500 and are on the verge of getting tight end Dennis Pitta back to provide a boost to a below-average offense. Experience is certainly on their side as they can simply point to last year to remember it’s all about clicking when the stakes are at their highest.

However, these Ravens are also 1-5 on the road and figure to need to win at least one of their final two road games. Only one of Baltimore’s six wins — their Nov. 10 home win over the Bengals — has come against teams currently holding a winning record and only one other victory — an Oct. 6 win at Miami — came against a team at the .500 mark.

The Ravens believe they’re getting better and are peaking at the right time. They’ll have every opportunity to show that in the month of December.

Their playoff lives will depend on it.

“We are in position to control our own destiny,” Harbaugh said. “That is what you try to accomplish going into December, so we’ve accomplished that. Now it’s up to us to make the most of it and to go ahead and control our destiny, win the games we have to win, starting with this one – and this is the only one that matters right now – and take it from there.”

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Ravens center Birk walks away after 15 NFL seasons, first Super Bowl triumph

Posted on 22 February 2013 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — After a 15-year NFL career and finally winning a Super Bowl earlier this month, Ravens center Matt Birk figured it was the perfect time and setting to reveal he was walking away from the game.

In lieu of a fancier press conference at the team’s Owings Mills facility next week, the 36-year-old offensive lineman announced his retirement on Friday morning while dedicating a literacy center at Battle Grove Elementary School in Dundalk. Wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “Finish Everything,” Birk couldn’t specify a time when he made his final decision but spoke to head coach John Harbaugh for roughly an hour last weekend and said he hadn’t made up his mind at that point. He phoned the coach and general manager Ozzie Newsome on Thursday afternoon to reveal his decision.

Taking questions from the Battle Grove students before opening up to the gathered media, Birk was asked why he was retiring. The quick-witted center didn’t disappoint in laying out his answer.

“Why am I retiring? I’m old, I have six kids, and it’s just time. I really enjoyed football. I got to play for a long time. I’ve been very fortunate, but I just feel like it’s time to do something else.”

Birk spent the last four seasons with the Ravens after playing for his hometown Minnesota Vikings for the first 11 years of his career. Named to six Pro Bowls in his career, the Harvard University graduate was selected in the sixth round of the 1998 draft and earned his first championship in being part of the Ravens’ 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3.

It was the perfect ending for a career that began with Birk struggling to make the Vikings’ 53-man roster in 1998 and ended with the grizzled veteran celebrating with teammates and his family on the turf of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans after finally reaching the pinnacle of the NFL for the first time.

“You can’t ask for anything more,” said Birk, who went to work out at the Ravens’ practice facility a final time Friday morning. “It is a great way to end it, but like I said, no one’s entitled to a Super Bowl. Certainly not me. I was just so grateful and fortunate that I was able to be part of this team. It is a special team and the run that we made — the championship that we won — is something that I’ll never forget. I was telling [Harbaugh], you get a reason to come back and get together and relive those days. You’re forever linked, and that’s pretty cool.”

Despite playing well this past season, Birk was expected by many to retire to spend more time with his family as the father of six children. He said Friday that his wife Adrianna had offered her blessing for him to continue playing if he wanted to return next season. Birk signed a three-year, $8.525 million contract after contemplating retirement last offseason, but the deal was structured in a way that many expected the longtime lineman to either retire or be released after the first year of the deal.

Asked whether he thought he had anything left in the tank to continue playing if he desired, Birk quipped that no one would be able to find out the truth.

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” said Birk as he laughed. “Anyone who wants to challenge me, yeah, I’ll tell them [I can still play] because there’s no way you’re going to find out. It was great. Last year, I felt great and that was a blessing. It’s a physical game; it’s a violent game. I was able to feel good about what I put out there on the field. It was just a good way for me to end.”

The Ravens will save $2.05 million in salary cap space with Birk’s retirement, which will provide some relief as they deal with limited space and hope to work out a long-term contract with quarterback Joe Flacco. Baltimore drafted Delaware’s Gino Gradkowski in the fourth round of last year’s draft with the intention that he’d eventually take over for Birk.

The retiring center expressed confidence that Gradkowski would be ready to take over at center in his second professional season.

“Gino will be fine. The biggest thing about football is it’s a character game because it’s hard,” Birk said of his 2012 understudy. “It’s different from other sports. Gino’s got that. He’s a great guy. Gino will do whatever it takes to be successful.”

Birk was named the NFL’s 2011 Walter Payton Man of the Year for his work in the community, which includes his HIKE foundation to improve literacy. His foundation’s goal is to “impact the lives of at-risk children by providing interactive programs and resources needed to guide a child through the key educational transitions between elementary, middle, high school and college.”

Several teammates expressed congratulations to Birk via social media on Friday morning as the veteran was considered one of the leaders in the locker room in a different way from the demonstrative and vocal leadership of Ray Lewis, who was the first member of the championship team to announce his retirement back in January.

Birk was touched by messages posted on Twitter from several teammates including Vonta Leach, Jameel McClain, and Torrey Smith.

“That means a lot,” Birk said. “You play the game for a lot of reasons, but the respect of your opponent and more so the respect of your teammates is probably the biggest thing you’re shooting for.”

Cognizant of player safety concerns in the NFL, Birk has said he will donate his brain to Boston University’s School of Medicine for research into concussions.

His post-football intentions remain unclear, but the Minnesota native predicted Baltimore hasn’t seen the last of him by any shot.

“I’ll continue to advocate for player safety and retired players’ rights — now that I am a retired player,” Birk said. “We’ll see. I don’t have any plans for what’s next. I certainly didn’t plan on playing football for 15 years. Kind of not having a plan has worked out for me so far. I’m going to stay with it.”

Making the difficult decision to leave the hometown team he grew up rooting for following the 2008 season certainly wasn’t part of any plan, but he was immediately impressed with Harbaugh’s vision for the Ravens despite the coach having only finished his first season in Baltimore.

It’s safe to say the gamble paid off in choosing a new football home after 11 seasons in Minnesota.

“At the time, I just said, ‘[With] the limited information I have about the Ravens, I’m going to bet on this guy and I’m going to come here,'” said Birk, who labeled Harbaugh a friend first and foremost. “I’m sure glad I did. From the beginning, the organization and the city just welcomed us with open arms.

“I don’t need to tell anybody what this team means to this city. It’s definitely a special connection. To have the honor of playing here for four years and playing under coach Harbaugh and his staff, it was truly an honor.”

 

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Panthers sign former Morgan TE Bryant

Posted on 12 June 2012 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE, Md. – Former Morgan State tight end Lamont Bryant has been signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Carolina Panthers and will take part in Carolina’s minicamp that begins today.
The 6-5, 225-pound Bryant started 11 games in 2012 and ranked as the team’s leading receiver with 21 receptions (371 yards) and two TDs. He capped the season by being selected to the All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference First-Team.
Bryant’s stock rose on draft boards with a standout performance at the Morgan State Pro Day held in March. Bryant measured in at 6’5, 225, had an 80 1/4″ wingspan, ran the 40 in 4.45 and put up 19 reps on bench. He also registered a 10’3″ broad jump, a ridiculous 43″ vertical jump, and ran the short shuttle in 4.38.
In 2010, he recorded five catches for 55 yards (11.0 avg) in eight games. In ’09, he caught 18 passes for 251 yards (13.9-yard average) and two touchdowns on his way to first-team all-conference honors in 10 games.
The Newport News, Va., native was moved from quarterback to tight end in ’08 and saw action in five games on special teams, where he blocked two punts.
The last MSU tight end to enter the NFL was Visanthe Shiancoe who was drafted in the third round (91st overall) in the 2003 NFL Draft by the New York Giants and currently plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

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Strong Pro Day Helped Morgan TE Bryant Get to Baltimore

Posted on 29 April 2012 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE, Md. – Morgan State tight Lamont Bryant has been selected by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent shortly after the conclusion of the three-day draft Saturday evening.

Bryant was the second of 12 undrafted free agent selections by the Ravens so far, joining North Carolina cornerback Charles Brown; Mississippi State offensive lineman James Carmon; Clemson fullback Chad Diehl; Georgia fullback Bruce Figgins; Slippery Rock wide receiver Devin Goda; UAB defensive tackle Elliott Henigan; Baylor defensive tackle Nick Jean-Baptiste; Tennessee fullback/linebacker Austin Johnson; Kent State defensive tackle Ishmaa’ily Kitchen; Alabama offensive lineman Alfred McCullough; and Western Kentucky running back Bobby Rainey.

The 6-5, 225-pound Bryant started 11 games in 2012 and ranked as the team’s leading receiver with 21 receptions (371 yards) and two TDs. He capped the season by being selected to the All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference First-Team.

Bryant’s stock rose on draft boards with a standout performance at the Morgan State Pro Day held in March. Bryant measured in at 6’5, 225, had an 80 1/4″ wingspan, ran the 40 in 4.45 and put up 19 reps on bench. He also registered a 10’3″ broad jump, a ridiculous 43″ vertical jump, and ran the short shuttle in 4.38.

In 2010, he recorded five catches for 55 yards (11.0 avg) in eight games. In ’09, he caught 18 passes for 251 yards (13.9-yard average) and two touchdowns on his way to first-team all-conference honors in 10 games.

The Newport News, Va., native was moved from quarterback to tight end in ’08 and saw action in five games on special teams, where he blocked two punts.

The last MSU tight end to enter the NFL was Visanthe Shiancoe who was drafted in the third round (91st overall) in the 2003 NFL Draft by the New York Giants and currently plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

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Ravens trade first-round pick to Minnesota Vikings for 35th and 98th picks

Posted on 26 April 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Despite a number of rumored targets still available when the 29th pick of the 2012 NFL Draft came around, the Ravens elected to trade out of the first round entirely.

Baltimore traded its first-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for their second-rounder (35th overall) and a fourth-round selection (98th overall). It’s the second time in three years the Ravens have traded their first-round pick.

“We had a couple teams call us, and we had several players that we liked that are still available for us tomorrow,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said following the end of the first round. “To be able to pick up that 98th pick from Minnesota, we think is just going to be another good player or we can take that pick to move up in the second or the third to get another good player.”

The Vikings used the 29th pick to select Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith while the Ravens passed on such available names as Alabama defensive end Courtney Upshaw, Wisconsin center Peter Konz, Georgia guard Cordy Glenn, Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin, and Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill.

The good news for Baltimore is none of those names came off the board in the final four picks of the first round, meaning the Ravens will be guaranteed a choice of at least three of those five — assuming they don’t have their eyes on someone else — when they pick at No. 35 on Friday.

Baltimore discussed the possibility of trading up for a couple players, but the price proved too costly, according to Newsome. One of the Ravens’ top targets, Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower, was selected by the New England Patriots with the 25th overall pick after a trade with Denver.

“You can’t control what’s going to happen, and as long as I’m here, hopefully I’m picking 29, 30, 31, or 32,” Newsome said. “Then, when you watch the board come off the way it did today, to have the ability to go back and acquire another player and still get a player that you probably would have taken at your [original] pick is good business for us.”

The Ravens now have nine total picks in the final two days of the draft, including two in the second, fourth, and fifth rounds.

In 2010, Newsome traded the 25th overall pick to Denver in exchange for three draft picks that were used on linebacker Sergio Kindle and tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. The Broncos used the first-round selection on quarterback Tim Tebow, who is now with the New York Jets.

The second and third rounds of the draft will be held on Friday night, beginning at 7 p.m.

Analysis: There are a couple basic ways of viewing the Ravens’ decision to move out of the first round. On one hand, director of player personnel Eric DeCosta described this as a “depth draft” earlier this month and the Ravens clearly haves several needs, both for 2012 and over the next few seasons. The trade adds a second fourth-round pick to the equation and another lottery ticket to hit in the middle rounds as Newsome did with Dickson and Pitta following the 2010 trade.

The five names mentioned about were all considered legitimate possibilities for the Ravens at the 29th pick, meaning they would get good value for any of those selections.

On the other hand, the skeptics can say Newsome and the front office didn’t think highly enough of any of the aforementioned names to fear the possibility of losing them, meaning they’re not really getting a “great” player. If you subscribe to the idea that the Ravens coveted Hightower or one of the other pass rushers such as Whitney Mercilus of Illinois, it’s fair to say they failed to secure one of “their guys” when they really wanted them.

As is always the case with the draft, we simply won’t know until all the picks are in and these players take the field for the 2012 season and beyond.

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Former Morgan TE Bryant Hopes to Join Shiancoe at NFL Level

Posted on 24 April 2012 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE, Md. — Keep an eye out for a Bear this week in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Former Morgan State Bear Lamont Bryant is ranked among the top prospected tight ends in the 2012 NFL Draft.
For Bryant, it is one more step after completing a solid collegiate career.
The Newport News, Va., native was moved from quarterback to tight end in ’08 and saw action in five games on special teams, where he blocked two punts. In ’09, he caught 18 passes for 251 yards (13.9-yard average) and two touchdowns on his way to first-team all-conference honors in 10
games.
In 2010, Bryant recorded five catches for 55 yards (11.0 avg) in eight games. He then led the Bears with 21 catches for 371 yards (17.7 avg) and two touchdowns and was selected to the First-Team All-MEAC Team last season.
Bryant’s stock rose on draft boards with a standout performance at the Morgan State Pro Day held in March. Bryant measured in at 6’5, 225, had an 80 1/4″ wingspan, ran the 40 in 4.45 and put up 19 reps on bench. He also registered a 10’3″ broad jump, a ridiculous 43″ vertical jump, and ran the short shuttle in 4.38.
Bryant is expected to be a late-round to priority free agent prospect, but that’s only a prediction. He most recently had workouts for the Oakland Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks.
The first round of the draft is Thursday, April 26.
*The last MSU tight end to enter the NFL was Visanthe Shiancoe who was drafted in the third round (91st overall) in the 2003 NFL Draft by the New York Giants and currently plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

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Ray Rice Advances To Final Eight in Madden Cover Voting

Posted on 04 April 2012 by WNST Staff

April 4, 2012 – Fans have come out in force to support their favorite Madden NFL 13 cover athlete candidates, casting 16 million votes to date. This year’s vote tally has already eclipsed last year’s 13 million votes, with three rounds still to go. Voting continues at ESPN.com/MaddenVote through April 25 when the next Madden NFL 13 cover athlete will be announced on ESPN’s SportsNation at 5 p.m. ET.

ROUND 3 BREAKDOWN OF MADDEN NFL 13 COVER VOTE CAMPAIGN 

§  Cam Newton vs. Larry Fitzgerald
§  Patrick Willis vs. Victor Cruz
§  Aaron Rodgers vs. Ray Rice

§  Calvin Johnson vs. Rob Gronkowski

 

 

Second round voting highlights include:

 

§  Upset of the Week

§      No. 6 seed Calvin Johnson (WR, Detroit Lions) over No. 3 seed Arian Foster (RB, Houston Texans)

 

§  Largest Voting Differential

§      No. 1 seed Cam Newton (QB, Carolina Panthers) over No. 8 seed Antonio Gates (WR, San Diego Chargers)

§      No. 2 seed Rob Gronkowski (TE, New England Patriots) over No. 7 seed Jared Allen (DE, Minnesota Vikings)

§  Closest Matchups

§      No. 5 seed Ray Rice (RB, Baltimore Ravens) over No. 4 seed Drew Brees (QB, New Orleans Saints)

§      No. 4 seed Larry Fitzgerald over No. 5 seed LeSean McCoy

 

Round 3 voting is now open and fans can make their selections exclusively atwww.ESPN.com/MaddenVote to determine which of the eight NFL players advance to the next round of the Madden NFL 13 cover athlete voting campaign. Every Wednesday throughout the campaign, fans can tune in to SportsNation at 5 p.m. ET for analysis and commentary on the competition.

Fans can visit the Madden NFL Facebook page (www.facebook.com/EASPORTSMaddenNFL) orSportsNation page (www.facebook.com/SportsNation) to join discussions surrounding the Cover Vote.  Fans are also encouraged to tweet their Cover Vote picks using the hashtag #MyMaddenCoverVote on Twitter.

To view or download assets* for the Madden NFL 13 cover athlete voting campaign including player screenshots, b-roll, and renders, please visit: http://maddennfl13.newslinevine.com/cover-vote.html 

NOTE – All player assets are taken from Madden NFL 12.

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Ed Reed, Bryant McKinnie inducted into University of Miami Hall of Fame

Posted on 30 March 2012 by Luke Jones

Members of the 2001 national championship team before moving on to successful NFL careers, Ravens safety Ed Reed and left tackle Bryant McKinnie were inducted into the University of Miami Hall of Fame on Thursday.

Reed was named a consensus first-team All-America in 2000 and 2001. The ball-hawking safety led the nation with nine interceptions for 209 return yards and three touchdowns in his senior season. The Big East named Reed as a co-winner of its Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2001, and the free safety was named National Defensive Player of the Year by Football News. Reed set multiple records at Miami, including interceptions (21), interception return yards (389), and interceptions returned for a touchdown (five). He also participated in track and field at Miami and was a Big East champion in the javelin.

McKinnie received first-team All-America honors in 2000 and was a consensus first-team All-America in 2001 in being recognized as the nation’s most dominant left tackle. The mammoth left tackle was the 2001 Outland Trophy winner, awarded to the nation’s best offensive lineman.

Both entering their 11th season in the NFL, Reed was selected by the Ravens with the 24th overall pick of the 2002 draft and is an eight-time Pro Bowl selection as well as the 2004 AP Defensive Player of the Year. The Vikings drafted McKinnie with the seventh overall pick in 2001, and the left tackle spent nine years in Minnesota before being cut last summer.

The Ravens signed McKinnie to a two-year contract last August to make him their left tackle, and he started 16 games for the 2011 AFC North champions.

The two Ravens join current teammate Ray Lewis as members of Miami’s Hall of Fame. The future Hall of Fame linebacker was inducted in 2006.

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Broncos SB Odds Improve, Ravens Drop After Start of Free Agency

Posted on 19 March 2012 by WNST Staff

Peyton Manning Odds

Peyton Manning – Total Passing Yards in the 2012 Regular Season? 

Over/Under                    4000    

Peyton Manning – Total TD Passes in the 2012 Regular Season?       

Over/Under                    28½

Peyton Manning – Completion % in the 2012 Regular Season?          

Over/Under                    65%

Peyton Manning – Total Interceptions in the 2012 Regular Season?   

Over/Under                    16½

Peyton Manning – Will his first pass of the season be complete, incomplete, or an Interception?

Complete                      -180     (5/9)

Incomplete                    +150     (3/2)

Interception                   +1000   (10/1)

Peyton Manning – Will he win 2012 NFL MVP?           

Yes                              7/1       

Peyton Manning – Will he win 2012 Comeback Player of the Year?   

Yes                              1/1       

Tim Tebow Odds

Tim Tebow – Which team will he be on for Week 1 of the Regular Season?     

Jacksonville Jaguars                  3/2

Denver Broncos                         7/4

Miami Dolphins                          7/4

New England Patriots                 7/1

Cleveland Browns                       12/1

Tim Tebow – Will he start as a QB in the NFL Week 1 of the Regular Season?          

Yes                  EVEN  

No                    -140     

Broncos Odds

Denver Broncos – Regular Season Wins         

Over                              10        

Will the Denver Broncos play against The New York Giants in the 2013 Super Bowl?           

Yes                              50/1     

Will the Denver Broncos win the AFC?

Yes                              6/1

Will the Denver Broncos win the AFC West?

Yes                              2/3

2013 SUPER BOWL XLVII ODDS  (odds current, 3/19/2012)                  (odds on 2/6/2012)

Green Bay Packers                                13/2                                          6/1

New England Patriots                             15/2                                          7/1

New Orleans Saints                               10/1                                          8/1

Denver Broncos                                     12/1                                          50/1

Houston Texans                                     12/1                                          12/1

San Francisco 49ers                              14/1                                          18/1

Baltimore Ravens                                   15/1                                          14/1

Philadelphia Eagles                                15/1                                          12/1

New York Giants                                    16/1                                          15/1

Pittsburgh Steelers                                18/1                                          12/1

Dallas Cowboys                                     20/1                                          18/1

San Diego Chargers                               22/1                                          16/1

Chicago Bears                                       25/1                                          30/1

Detroit Lions                                          25/1                                          18/1

Atlanta Falcons                                     28/1                                          22/1

New York Jets                                       30/1                                          16/1

Carolina Panthers                                  40/1                                          50/1

Cincinnati Bengals                                 40/1                                          40/1

Miami Dolphins                                      40/1                                          35/1

Seattle Seahawks                                  40/1                                          60/1

Arizona Cardinals                                   50/1                                          30/1

Kansas City Chiefs                                50/1                                          50/1

Oakland Raiders                                    50/1                                          50/1

Tennessee Titans                                   50/1                                          40/1

Washington Redskins                            50/1                                          60/1

Buffalo Bills                                           75/1                                          60/1

St. Louis Rams                                      75/1                                          75/1

Tampa Bay Buccaneers                         75/1                                          75/1

Indianapolis Colts                                   100/1                                        50/1

Jacksonville Jaguars                               100/1                                        100/1

Minnesota Vikings                                 100/1                                        75/1

Cleveland Browns                                   150/1                                        100/1

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv,  Twitter: @BovadaLV).

“Our Super Bowl odds have been down for a couple weeks until we knew where Peyton would go since this signing would have such a huge impact on every team’s odds.  Denver who we had at 50-1 before we closed the odds have dropped to 12-1 and as I expected the public is taking them regardless as soon as we opened this morning.  We were a bit lucky that Denver came out of nowhere in the Manning Sweepstakes so not too many people bet them at 50-1.”

-Kevin Bradley, Bovada.lv Sportsbook Manager

 

 

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Rice, Suggs In Running For Madden 13 Cover

Posted on 08 March 2012 by WNST Staff

EA SPORTS AND ESPN’S SPORTSNATION KICK OFF MADDEN NFL 13 COVER ATHLETE FAN VOTE

This Year’s Campaign Expands to 64 Players – With Play-In Round Featuring Two Athletes

From Each NFL Team Represented in Head-to-Head Matchups

March 7, 2012 – EA SPORTS™ and ESPN announced today the return of the award-winning Madden NFL Cover Vote campaign, where fans can cast their vote for the next athlete to grace the cover of one of the highest-selling videogame franchises in North America. Last year, nearly 13 million votes were cast through ESPNSportsNation.com and ESPN mobile in both companies’ most successful cross-platform activation. Tenth-seeded Cleveland Browns running back, Peyton Hillis, trucked through the six week competition all the way to the ultimate end zone – the Madden NFL 12 cover.

This year’s competition will incorporate more athletes and more chances to vote as the field has been expanded to 64 NFL players, putting even more control in the hands of the fans. Beginning today through March 21, fans can visit the SportsNation Facebook page to choose among the 64 candidates in a play-in round (each matchup features two players from the same NFL team) to advance to the official 32-player, seeded tournament.  The winners of the play-in round will be unveiled with the official seeded, 32-player bracket on March 21 on ESPN’s “Madden Cover Vote Special” from 5-6p.m. EST.  To ensure their favorite player advances to the next round, fans are encouraged to vote daily and tweet their picks using #MyMaddenCoverVote on Twitter.  Every Wednesday between March 21 and April 25, fans can tune into SportsNation on ESPN2at 5p.m. EST to check out the latest Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote standings.

In addition to the SportsNation Facebook page, fans will be able to vote in the play-in round via the open Web through widgets embedded on blogs, websites and more.  Each widget features an individual match-up for each of the 32 total teams in the league.  For the cover vote from March 21-April 25, all voting must be cast at ESPN.com/MaddenVote.

The star-studded list of candidates participating in the play-in round features past Super Bowl winners, perennial Pro Bowlers and some of the most popular players in the NFL including Drew Brees, Arian Foster and Rob Gronkowski. The full list of matchups featured in the play-in round are:

AFC

Ravens Terrell Suggs vs. Ray Rice Jets Mark Sanchez vs. Darrelle Revis
Steelers Troy Polamalu vs. Ben Roethlisberger Bills Stevie Johnson vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick
Browns Joe Thomas vs. Joe Haden Dolphins Reggie Bush vs. Brandon Marshall
Bengals Andy Dalton vs. AJ Green Patriots Wes Welker vs. Rob Gronkowski
Texans Arian Foster vs. Andre Johnson Chargers Phillip Rivers vs. Antonio Gates
Colts Dwight Freeney vs. Robert Mathis Broncos Tim Tebow vs. Von Miller
Jaguars Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Blaine Gabbert Chiefs Dwayne Bowe vs. Derrick Johnson
Titans Jake Locker vs. Chris Johnson Raiders Sebastian Janikowski vs. Shane Lechler

NFC

Bears Jay Cutler vs. Matt Forte Rams Chris Long vs. Brandon Lloyd
Lions Calvin Johnson vs. Matt Stafford 49ers Vernon Davis vs. Patrick Willis
Vikings Percy Harvin vs. Jared Allen Seahawks Marshawn Lynch vs. Earl Thomas
Packers Aaron Rodgers vs. Clay Matthews Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald vs. Patrick Peterson
Falcons Matt Ryan vs. Julio Jones Eagles Michael Vick vs. LeSean McCoy
Saints Drew Brees vs. Jimmy Graham Giants Victor Cruz vs. Jason Pierre-Paul
Panthers Cam Newton vs. Steve Smith Cowboys Jason Witten vs. DeMarcus Ware
Buccaneers Josh Freeman vs. LeGarrette Blount Redskins Brian Orakpo vs. Ryan Kerrigan

The Madden NFL 13 cover vote marks the third-consecutive year that EA SPORTS has asked fans to help shape the face of the Madden NFL franchise through a cover athlete voting campaign.  It also marks the second year of its collaboration with ESPN’s SportsNation.

Madden NFL 13 is developed in Orlando, Florida by EA Tiburon.  For more information about Madden NFL 13, please visit: http://www.ea.com/madden-nfl. To download assets pertaining to the Madden NFL 13 please visit http://maddennfl13.newslinevine.com.

All player participation has been facilitated by National Football League Players Incorporated, the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association.

EA SPORTS™ is one of the leading sports entertainment brands in the world, with top-selling videogame franchises, award-winning interactive technology, global videogame competitions and breakthrough digital experiences. EA SPORTS delivers experiences that ignite the emotions of sport through industry-leading sports simulation videogames, including Madden NFL football, FIFA Soccer, NHL® hockey, NBA basketball, NCAA® Football, Fight Night boxing, EA SPORTS MMA and Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® golf, and EA SPORTS Active.

For more information about EA SPORTS, including news, video, blogs, forums and game apps, please visit www.easports.com to connect, share and compete.

About Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) is a global leader in digital interactive entertainment. The Company’s game franchises are offered as both packaged goods products and online services delivered through Internet-connected consoles, personal computers, mobile phones and tablets. EA has more than 100 million registered players and operates in 75 countries.

In fiscal 2011, EA posted GAAP net revenue of $3.6 billion. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, EA is recognized for critically acclaimed, high-quality blockbuster franchises such as The Sims™, Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer, Need for Speed™, Battlefield™, and Mass Effect™. More information about EA is available at http://info.ea.com.

EA SPORTS, EA SPORTS Active, The Sims and Need for Speed are trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. Mass Effect is a trademark of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd.  Battlefield is a trademark of EA Digital Illusions CE AB.  John Madden, NFL, FIFA, NHL, NBA, NCAA, Tiger Woods, and PGA TOUR are trademarks of their respective owners and used with permission.  Twitter is a registered trademark of Twitter, Inc.  All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Officially Licensed Product of National Football League Players Incorporated.

About SportsNation

SportsNation is a live sports television show born from the Internet, fueled by fan interaction and focused on fun.  The show, which has the youngest and most male audience on the ESPN network, features discussions of the day’s hottest sports topics but also smaller stories that generate buzz on the Web but are overlooked by other shows.  Feeding off the theory that if two heads are better than one, 200,000 heads are better than two, SportsNation engages hundreds of thousands of sports fans across the country via ESPN.com’s SportsNation page (http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/).

About ESPN Games and EA

ESPN’s long-standing relationship with EA produces deep brand integrations into console gaming titles such as EA SPORTS NCAA Football 12 and Fight Night Champion.  Additionally, the relationship in 2011 produced the biggest ESPN poll vote ever for the Madden NFL 12 cover vote, logging nearly 13 million votes, the most ESPN votes ever for a joint collaboration.  The Emmy award-winning EA Virtual Playbook also most recently extended to boxing and golf in 2011.

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PLAY-IN ROUND VOTING THRU FACEBOOK & OPEN WEB

Thanks for your interest in SportsNation’s Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote.

EA Sports and ESPN’s SportsNation have chosen two players from each NFL team to be included in a social play-in round for the Madden NFL 13 cover.

Starting March 7th on SportsNation’s Facebook page and on voting matchups called ‘sapplets’ or ‘widgets’ embedded across open web (info below), fans will be able to vote on matchups from each NFL team to send one representative into the final bracket of 32 players at ESPN.com/MaddenVote on March 21st.

If you choose to embed one of the 32 individual voting ‘sapplets’, you can use the next page that includes all 32 embed codes for all 32 NFL teams. They post to your site much like a YouTube clip and can increase time spent on your site as well as traffic by generating debate about matchups.

The social Play-in vote launches on Wednesday, March 7th and closes two week later on Wednesday, March 21st. The Facebook tab and voting ‘sapplets’ will be live during those two weeks.

CHEAT SHEET:

WAY TO EMBED:

  • Go to page 2. Find your team.
  • Copy the embed code.
  • Paste the embed code onto your website where you would embed a YouTube clip.
  • The voting platform is ready and interactive on your page!
  • Please Note: do NOT embed on Tumblr and do NOT change the height & width

Canvas

NEW embed Code

49ers Vote

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Chiefs Vote

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Broncos Vote

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Chargers Vote

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Raiders Vote

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Cardinals Vote

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Rams Vote

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Seahawks Vote

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Dolphins Vote

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Jets Vote

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Bills Vote

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Patriots Vote

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Giants Vote

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Redskins Vote

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Eagles Vote

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Cowboys Vote

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Texans Vote

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Colts Vote

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Titans Vote

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Jaguars Vote

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Falcons Vote

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Panthers Vote

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Buccaneers Vote

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Saints Vote

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Browns Vote

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Ravens Vote

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Bengals Vote

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Steelers Vote

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Vikings Vote

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Lions Vote

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Bears Vote

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Packers Vote

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