Tag Archive | "Cedric Benson"

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Ranking the Ravens’ biggest offensive needs

Posted on 13 February 2012 by Luke Jones

If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward, or so the saying goes.

It’s been three weeks since the Ravens fell a few tenths of a second short — how much longer Lee Evans needed to hold the ball in the end zone — of advancing to Super Bowl XLVI. The organization is now faced with difficult decisions while trying to improve but also acknowledging just how excruciatingly close it came to reaching the pinnacle contest of the NFL.

With free agency set to begin in one month (March 13 at 4:00 p.m.) and the draft just over two months away, the Ravens are evaluating their biggest needs in all three phases of the game. In the first of a three-part series, I offer thoughts on the offensive side of the football and rank the positions of greatest need entering the offseason.

1. Left guard

I’ve tried to think of as many conceivable scenarios as I can for the Ravens to re-sign Pro Bowl left guard Ben Grubbs while not putting their future salary cap space in jeopardy, but I continue to come back to the same theme over and over.

In the modern era, NFL teams simply cannot and do not spent an extraordinary amount of money at the guard position. And after signing Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda to a $32 million contract with $10 million guaranteed, it’s difficult envisioning general manager Ozzie Newsome forking over even more money for Grubbs, especially with quarterback Joe Flacco and cornerback Lardarius Webb set to become free agents following the 2012 season.

Neither the Ravens nor Grubbs have spoken with any level of confidence that the 2007 first-round pick will be back in Baltimore, so a hometown discount appears unlikely. Though Baltimore has retained all but one (2005 selection Mark Clayton) of its first-round picks since 2002, it appears Grubbs will find a new home in 2012.

So, how do the Ravens replace him? The only viable in-house candidate might be 2011 third-round tackle Jah Reid, who practiced at both tackle and guard last season, but his 6-foot-7 frame isn’t ideal inside and he’d be making the transition from the right tackle position.

The draft would figure to be the logical outlet, with a young guard such as Stanford’s David DeCastro or Georgia’s Cordy Glenn potentially available at the end of the first round. However, the Ravens could elect to address other positions of need in the early rounds and roll the dice in finding a competent veteran on the free-agent market.

2. Center

On the surface, the center position would appear to be an urgent need with no veteran currently under contract for 2012, but the Ravens have short-term veteran options in Matt Birk and Andre Gurode.

Birk has yet to decide whether he’ll play in 2012 or retire, but the Ravens could elect to re-sign the five-time Pro Bowl center Gurode, who is three years younger. Regardless of which way the Ravens go, they will need to think about the future at the position with both players close to the end of their respective careers.

Former Ohio State product Justin Boren finished the season on the practice squad and could be a center to groom for 2013 and beyond. Should the Ravens elect to draft a center in April, it likely wouldn’t be until the middle or late rounds unless Wisconsin’s Peter Konz would strike their fancy at the end of the first round.

3. Wide receiver

The receiver position has seemingly showed up on the list every year, but this unit appears to be in better shape than it has in quite some time.

Veteran Anquan Boldin is clearly not a No. 1 receiver at this point in his career, but it’s not unreasonable to expect a better season in 2012 after he played with a partially-torn meniscus for most of 2011. When he returned for the postseason after late-season surgery, Boldin appeared more effective, catching 10 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown in two playoff games.

Torrey Smith figures to only get better with a full offseason to work on his route-running and build a stronger rapport with Flacco. If he can become a bigger threat in the short-to-intermediate passing game, Smith might become the No. 1 receiver the Ravens have lacked since the infancy of the franchise.

The disappointing Evans is under contract for the 2012 season, but it’s hard to envision the Ravens paying the receiver a $1 million roster bonus in March and tolerating his near-$6 million cap number for the upcoming season. He’ll likely be released, with a small chance for a return at a reduced rate.

The Ravens would love a young receiver with height to complement the speedy Smith moving forward, but it’s easier said than done in the pass-happy NFL where every team is looking for big, speedy targets on the outside. A veteran free agent such as Reggie Wayne, Marques Colston, or Dwayne Bowe would provide another threat at receiver but would not provide the height the Baltimore receiving group lacks. San Diego wideout Vincent Jackson would be the ideal 6-foot-5 name in free agency, but his price tag will be hefty.

Adding another impact wide receiver might be the only way to truly gauge whether Flacco can take the passing game to the next level, and the Ravens will try their best to do it this offseason.

4. Running back

(see next page)

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Ravens Get Long Odds to Win Super Bowl

Posted on 05 January 2012 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv). Below are wild card team props, exact playoff results for each team, players stats for the four wild card games this weekend, and odds for defensive player of the year. There’s also a quote from Bovada.lv Sportsbook Manager Kevin Bradley on the playoffs.

“A few weeks back the New York Giants were up to 100-1 to win the Super Bowl and we could not write a bet on them, but with their resurgence the last few weeks they are the fancy pick going into the playoffs with the bettors at 20-1 and now we even had to drop them to 18-1 because of the volume we are taking on them. They have gone from one of our biggest winners on Super Bowl futures to our biggest loser, so even though I like the way they have been playing especially on D with Pierre-Paul and think they are peaking at right time I could not be more of a Falcons fan this weekend!”-Kevin Bradley, Bovada.lv Sportsbook Manager

Wild Card Team Props
2012 NFL Playoffs – How many Wild Card teams will win this weekend?        Over      1.5        -180    
Under    1.5        +150           

2012 NFL Playoffs – How many Wild Card teams will win this weekend?        0                      10/1
1                      9/5
2                      7/4
3                      4/1
4                      30/1

2012 NFL Playoffs – Will a Wild Card team win the Super Bowl?       
Yes                  6/1
No                    1/10

2012 NFL Playoffs – Will a Wild Card team play in the Super Bowl?  
Yes                  +220
No                    -280

Exact Playoff Results For Each Team
2012 NFL Playoffs – Green Bay Packers Playoff Progress       
Eliminated in NFC Divisional Round                     13/4
Eliminated in NFC Championship Game               3/1
Super Bowl Runner Up                                       3/1
Super Bowl Champion                                        9/5

2012 NFL Playoffs – New England Patriots Playoff Progress    
Eliminated in AFC Divisional Round                     3/1
Eliminated in AFC Championship Game               2/1
Super Bowl Runner Up                                       2/1
Super Bowl Champion                                        4/1

2012 NFL Playoffs – San Francisco 49ers Playoff Progress      
Eliminated in NFC Divisional Round                     11/10
Eliminated in NFC Championship Game               6/5
Super Bowl Runner Up                                       10/1
Super Bowl Champion                                        11/1

2012 NFL Playoffs – Baltimore Ravens Playoff Progress          
Eliminated in AFC Divisional Round                     2/1
Eliminated in AFC Championship Game               5/4
Super Bowl Runner Up                                       15/4
Super Bowl Champion                                        15/2

2012 NFL Playoffs – New Orleans Saints Playoff Progress       
Eliminated in NFC Wild Card Round                    9/2
Eliminated in NFC Divisional Round                     11/4
Eliminated in NFC Championship Game               7/5
Super Bowl Runner Up                                       8/1
Super Bowl Champion                                        9/2

2012 NFL Playoffs – Houston Texans Playoff Progress            
Eliminated in AFC Wild Card Round                    7/5
Eliminated in AFC Divisional Round                     1/1       
Eliminated in AFC Championship Game               6/1
Super Bowl Runner Up                                       20/1
Super Bowl Champion                                        40/1

2012 NFL Playoffs – New York Giants Playoff Progress            
Eliminated in NFC Wild Card Round                    7/4
Eliminated in NFC Divisional Round                     5/6
Eliminated in NFC Championship Game               9/1
Super Bowl Runner Up                                       16/1
Super Bowl Champion                                        18/1

2012 NFL Playoffs – Denver Broncos Playoff Progress             
Eliminated in AFC Wild Card Round                    1/4
Eliminated in AFC Divisional Round                     9/2
Eliminated in AFC Championship Game               14/1
Super Bowl Runner Up                                       25/1
Super Bowl Champion                                        50/1

2012 NFL Playoffs – Atlanta Falcons Playoff Progress             
Eliminated in NFC Wild Card Round                    5/8
Eliminated in NFC Divisional Round                     11/4
Eliminated in NFC Championship Game               9/2
Super Bowl Runner Up                                       22/1
Super Bowl Champion                                        35/1

2012 NFL Playoffs – Pittsburgh Steelers Playoff Progress        
Eliminated in AFC Wild Card Round                    3/1
Eliminated in AFC Divisional Round                     6/5
Eliminated in AFC Championship Game               3/1
Super Bowl Runner Up                                       13/2
Super Bowl Champion                                        11/1 2012

NFL Playoffs – Detroit Lions Playoff Progress      
Eliminated in NFC Wild Card Round                    1/6
Eliminated in NFC Divisional Round                     5/1
Eliminated in NFC Championship Game               16/1     
Super Bowl Runner Up                                       30/1
Super Bowl Champion                                        40/1

2012 NFL Playoffs – Cincinnati Bengals Playoff Progress        
Eliminated in AFC Wild Card Round                    2/3
Eliminated in AFC Divisional Round                     8/5
Eliminated in AFC Championship Game               10/1
Super Bowl Runner Up                                       30/1
Super Bowl Champion                                        65/1

CIN vs. HOU Player Stats
Total Rushing Yards – Cedric Benson (CIN)    
Over./Under                   62½ 

Total Receiving Yards – A.J. Green (CIN)        
Over/Under                    67½ 

Total Rushing Yards – Arian Foster (HOU)       
Over/Under                    105½ 

Who will record more Passing Yards in the game?    
Andy Dalton (CIN) QB                -9½     
T.J. Yates (HOU) QB                  +9½      

Who will record more TD Passes in the game?          
Andy Dalton (CIN) QB                8/5
T.J. Yates (HOU) QB                  8/5
Tie                                            2/1

Who will record more Interceptions in the game?     
Andy Dalton (CIN) QB                3/2
T.J. Yates (HOU ) QB                 7/4
Tie                                            2/1

DET vs. NO Player Stats
Total Passing Yards – Matthew Stafford (DET)            
Over/Under                    300½ 

Total TD Passes – Matthew Stafford (DET)      
Over                              2½ (+135)
Under                            2½  (-165)

Total Interceptions – Matthew Stafford (DET)  
Over                              ½  (-200)
Under                            ½ (+160)           

Total Completions – Matthew Stafford (DET)   
Over/Under                    26½ 

Total Receiving Yards – Calvin Johnson (DET)           
Over/Under                    100½ 

Will Calvin Johnson (DET) score a TD in the game?   
Yes                  -190    
No                    +155     

Will Ndamukong Suh (DET) get a 15 yard penalty in the game?         Over                              2/1                   

Total Passing Yards – Drew Brees (NO)          
Over/Under                    330½ 

Total TD Passes – Drew Brees (NO)    
Over                              2½  (-165)
Under                            2½ (+135)

Total Interceptions – Drew Brees (NO)            
Over                              ½  (-175)
Under                            ½ (+145)

Total Receiving Yards – Marques Colston (NO)           
Over/Under                    80½ 

Total Receiving Yards – Jimmy Graham (NO)
Over/Under                    80½                                    

Will Jimmy Graham (NO) score a TD in the game?    
Yes                  -150    
No                    +120     

Which team will have more time of possession in the game?           
Detroit Lions                  +120
New Orleans Saints       -150

New Orleans 3rd down conversion % in the game     
Over/Under                    50%      

ATL vs. NYG Player Stats
Total Passing Yards – Matt Ryan (ATL)           
Over/Under                    265½            

Total Rushing Yards – Michael Turner (ATL)   
Over/Under                    75½ 

Total Receiving Yards – Roddy White (ATL)   
Over/Under                    77½                                    

Total Receiving Yards – Julio Jones (ATL)      
Over/Under                    70½ 

Total Passing Yards – Eli Manning (NYG)        
Over/Under                    295½ 

Total Receiving Yards – Hakeem Nicks (NYG)
Over/Under                    80½ 

Total Receiving Yards – Victor Cruz (NYG)     
Over/Under                    85½ 

Longest Reception – Victor Cruz (NYG)           
Over/Under                    45.5 Yards        

DEN vs. PIT Player Stats
Total Passing Yards – Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)          
Over/Under                    265½            

Total Rushing Yards – Isaac Redman (PIT)     
Over/Under                    79½ 

Total Receiving Yards – Mike Wallace (PIT)   
Over/Under                    70½ 

Total Passing Yards – Tim Tebow (DEN)         
Over                              150½ 

Total TD Passes – Tim Tebow (DEN)   
Over                              1 (+120)
Under                            1  (-150)

Total Interceptions – Tim Tebow (DEN)           
Over/Under                    1/2 

Total Rushing Yards – Tim Tebow (DEN)         
Over/Under                    45½ 

Total Rushing Attempts – Tim Tebow (DEN)    
Over/Under                    8½ 

Total Completions – Tim Tebow (DEN)            
Over/Under                    10½ 

Will Tim Tebow (DEN) score a Rushing TD in the game?       
Yes                  +145    
No                    -175     

(PIT vs DEN) Total Offensive Yards allowed by the Steelers    Over/Under                    265½ 

Awards Odds
Who will win NFL Defensive Player of the Year?       
Terrell Suggs (BAL)                    5/6
Jason Pierre-Paul (NYG)             5/4
Jared Allen (MIN)                       5/1
Darrelle Revis (NYJ)                   7/1
DeMarcus Ware (DAL)               7/1
Charles Woodson (GB)               10/1

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Ravens 10-Pack: Baltimore feeling Super at 4-1

Posted on 12 October 2010 by Luke Jones

Even with the daunting task of traveling to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots this Sunday, you have to feel good about the Ravens’ 4-1 start and the early lead atop the AFC North with the first month of the season already in the books.

With three of the first four on the road (two of them division games), you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thought the Ravens would fare better than they have after road victories against the Jets and Steelers. And when you take a look around the rest of the league, the Ravens’ accomplishments look even more impressive.

Parity is a word all-too-familiar to NFL fans, but the notion seemed to be waning over the last few seasons with the regular-season success of the 2007 Patriots and extended runs at perfection by the Colts and Saints last year. However, with the 1972 Dolphins uncorking the champagne before Columbus Day — with no 4-0 teams in the NFL since 1970 — and only eight teams sporting one loss through the first five weeks of the season, 2010 appears up for grabs in mid-October.

Are the Ravens the best team in the NFL?

Being this early, who cares? But it’s difficult to argue any team has looked better than Baltimore.

If the Ravens can beat New England (3-1), it will mark just the second 5-1 start in franchise history, the other coming in the 2000 season.

However, for some perspective, at the time of the 5-1 start, Tony Banks was the starting quarterback and the Ravens had just won their second straight game without scoring a touchdown.

Things changed very quickly — in a bad way — before a historic run began and Trent Dilfer and the Ravens found themselves holding the Lombardi Trophy at the end of January.

1. Since taking over as head coach in 2008, John Harbaugh has shown the uncanny ability to take care of business against inferior teams, home or away.

In 37 regular season games under Harbaugh, the Ravens have never lost to a team that finished the season with a losing record. As unimpressive as that might sound to the casual observer, you’ll find a “bad” loss by a playoff-caliber team nearly every week in the NFL.

Of course, the opposite argument can be made that the Ravens have fallen short too many times against quality opponents — especially last season when they struggled to get to the playoffs at 9-7 — but winning the games you’re supposed to win and holding your own against winning teams will put you in an enviable position.

The postseason.

Time will determine whether their Week 2 loss in Cincinnati breaks the string, but the Harbaugh-led Ravens have managed to avoid the unwarranted defeats the team suffered in previous seasons.

2. All eyes will be on Bill Belichick and the Patriots in their first game since trading disgruntled receiver Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings and re-acquiring former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks. The removal of Moss will undoubtedly impact the New England offense, but how much?

Expect a little gadgetry on Sunday as Tom Brady deciphers where everyone fits in the post-Moss era.

Of course, Belichick had an extra week to figure it out with the Patriots’ Week 5 bye, and his record in New England coming off the bye week is an impressive 8-2, including seven straight wins. But before we write off the Ravens at Gillette Stadium and bow to the genius of Belichick, we should remember that four of the last six have come against the Buffalo Bills.

Not to belittle an impressive feat, but game-planning against a team led in recent years by the likes of Dick Jauron and Mike Mularkey is a bit easier than facing the team that blasted you in the playoffs just nine months ago.

In the Harbaugh era, the Ravens are 2-1 when playing teams coming off their bye week. All three games were last season, which included wins against Cleveland and Denver as well as a road loss to Cincinnati.

3. Putting aside the obvious threat of Brady to Wes Welker, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison’s biggest concern might be a pair of rookie tight ends.

Through the Patriots’ first four games, Welker leads the team in receptions (26), but not receiving yards. That distinction belongs to Aaron Hernandez (18 catches for 240 yards) despite being the second tight end drafted (fourth round) by New England in April. Rob Gronkowski, a second-round selection, has posted modest numbers (six catches for 62 yards) but was an impressive talent eyed by the Ravens leading up to the draft.

The Ravens have struggled covering the intermediate middle of the field in recent years, so the inside linebacker corps of Ray Lewis, Jameel McClain, and Dannell Ellerbe will need to keep a close eye on these rookie targets.

4. As much as we lamented the absence of Matt Stover a season ago, let’s tip our caps to Billy Cundiff. His ability to boot the football deep into the end zone on kickoffs is an underappreciated factor in the Ravens being 4-1.

His four touchbacks against the Broncos on Sunday matched the total number by Baltimore kickers all of last year.

Whispers of Stover will not dissipate — if they ever do — until we see Cundiff make a 47-yarder to win a late-season game, but the distinct upgrade on kickoffs cannot be overlooked.

As great as Stover was with the game on the line, fans easily forget his kickoffs barely traveling inside the 10-yard line, often setting up the opponent with good field position.

5. Plenty has been said about Cam Cameron’s choice to use Haloti Ngata at tight end on Sunday’s opening drive and the near-disaster that followed with the defensive tackle down on the field.

I offer you three names: James Jones (1996), Herman Arvie (1996), and Jonathan Ogden (1996 and 2003), three linemen who all registered touchdown catches with the Ravens.

The difference in this case? Cameron and Harbaugh have too many offensive weapons at their disposal to risk losing one of the greatest defensive players in the game today. Why spend draft picks on two tight ends to complement Todd Heap and then risk your best defensive player trying to be too cute?

Ngata playing offense was a fun spectacle until we saw what nearly happened with the Ravens’ season flashing before the eyes of 71,000 people at M&T Bank Stadium.

Lesson learned — hopefully.

6. It was natural for questions to arise whether the Ravens had any interest in bringing back Antwan Barnes after he was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles last week, but  Harbaugh promptly shot down the idea on Monday. (Update: Barnes signed a contract with the San Diego Chargers on Wednesday afternoon)

In three years with the Ravens, the linebacker-defensive end managed only five sacks and sealed his fate last October when he whiffed on a tackle of Cedric Benson that led to a 28-yard touchdown run and an eventual loss to the Bengals.

Barnes is too small to provide help at defensive end, where the Ravens need a consistent pass-rush threat, and not athletic enough to play linebacker on every down. If they didn’t want him before the season, what would have changed a month later?

“I haven’t had a conversation with him,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “We don’t really have a roster opportunity right now for that. We wouldn’t be opposed to it. Antwan’s a good person, a good player. Obviously, he’s done some good things here. But, right now, there’s no way roster-wise we could pull that off.”

In other words, “Thanks, but no thanks — we’ve moved on.”

7. If all goes to plan and you believe the recent comments made by Harbaugh, Sunday will mark the final game before All-Pro safety Ed Reed returns to the 53-man roster after beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list.

During training camp, I said Tom Zbikowski would do an adequate job at free safety in Reed’s absence, and the third-year safety has done just that. So with the Ravens currently having the second-best pass defense in the NFL (behind only the New York Giants), the question must be asked:

How well will Reed fit into the secondary when he returns to the starting lineup?

The Baltimore defense no longer plays the exotic, aggressive schemes of Rex Ryan, but employs a conservative, “bend, but don’t break” style under Mattison. Reed has always gambled in the defensive backfield, at times leaving teammates out to dry in coverage while also making some of the greatest plays in NFL history.

With the 32-year-old returning from hip surgery, it will be interesting to see whether Reed takes a more conservative approach in coverage or returns with a bigger chip on his shoulder to prove he’s still one of the best defensive players in the league and deserving of the new contract he so desperately wants. If Reed proves to be a lesser player than he was prior to the hip procedure but plays with the same aggressive style, the secondary could be more vulnerable to the big play.

That said, it is hard to doubt a player who will one day be enshrined in Canton.

8. Speaking of injured players, you have to wonder how long the Ravens will continue to wait for Jared Gaither to return. Other than being a limited participant in one practice a couple weeks ago, the offensive tackle has been out with a thoracic disc injury since training camp.

With roster decisions looming with Reed and fellow PUP list members Brendon Ayanbadejo and Matt Lawrence, Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh may need to pull the plug on the projected starter at right tackle.

The improved play of Marshal Yanda at right tackle and Chris Chester at right guard has eased concerns on the right side of the line. Cohesion upfront is difficult to develop, so Gaither’s potential return would require another period of adjustment, something the coaching staff might be uncomfortable with later in the season.

Keep in mind, Gaither has not played right tackle regularly since the early part of his collegiate career at Maryland, so this isn’t a savvy veteran who can step right in to his regular position when healthy.

If Gaither does not make significant progress by the bye week, his season will likely come to a disappointing end.

9. Much has been said about the return of the three-headed running attack and the 2008-like feel to Sunday’s win over the Broncos, but don’t expect it to last.

Like it or not, the Ravens’ current profile is a pass-first team that runs the ball efficiently. The dominating 233-yard rushing performance against Denver was more the effect of a comfortable lead than some epiphany for Cameron.

Of Joe Flacco’s 97 completions through five games, 50 have been for under 10 yards, looking a little like the “running” game of the Patriots with Brady under helm. However, his 6.6 yards per attempt (the lowest of his career) needs to increase for the offense to continue growing.

Despite the profile change — which really began last season — the ability to pound the football looms large when the elements grow harsh, and the Ravens will use it when appropriate.

10. Ranking 19th in the league in total offense (328.2 yards per game) and tied for 17th in points scored (18.4 per game), the Baltimore offense has room for improvement with Cameron and Flacco trying to distribute the ball to keep a plethora of talented players — and egos — happy.

As well as the defense has played, it hasn’t done its counterpart any favors in the turnover department with only three takeaways and a -6 turnover differential, both last in the AFC.

Nothing gives an offense more confidence than starting drives on a short field, and a few more turnovers might be the serum the offense needs to excel. Fortunately, the defense and kick coverage has played well enough to win the field-position battle in most instances, but the turnover differential must improve if the Ravens are to take a step toward elitism, offensively and as a team.

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Peyton Hillis Joins Elite Company .....

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Peyton Hillis Joins Elite Company …..

Posted on 28 September 2010 by WNST Interns

With Sunday’s virtual “field day” of running and doing as he pleased, Peyton Hillis joined an exclusive and rare group of running backs who’ve experienced a BIG GAME at the expense of the Baltimore Ravens Defense.

Trust me, I understand the overall importance of each game. Winning supercedes anything and everything. But, on Sunday we witnessed something that sparingly occurs. In 14+ seasons, only 23 running backs have posted triple digits in rushing against the Ravens.

Perhaps, one of the most meaningful distinctions of this reality has been the abilities of Ray Lewis and his castmates to shut down some of the best running backs in the NFL. With Sunday’s 144 yard ground game, Peyton Hillis joins a select group of players who’ve overcome a very aggressive defensive attack, as well as the 100 yard threshhold …..
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Terrell Davis – Broncos
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Karim Abdul Jabbar – Dolphins
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James Allen – Bears
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Marshall Faulk – Colts
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Eddie George – Titans
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Amos Zereoue – Steelers
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Deuce McAllister – Saints
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Fred Taylor – Jaguars
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Ricky Williams – Dolphins
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Ladanian Tomlinson
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Jerome Bettis – Steelers
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Corey Dillon – Patriots & Bengals
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Curtis Martin – Jets
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Priest Holmes – Chiefs
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Domanick Williams – Texans
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Rudi Johnson – Bengals
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Greg Jones – Jaguars
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Thomas Jones – Bears
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Larry Johnson – Chiefs
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Travis Henry – Titans
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Adrian Peterson – Vikings
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Cedric Benson – Bengals
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Peyton Hillis – Browns
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Of the above list, some fun trivia questions are born …..

Have the Ravens ever allowed a 200 yard rushing performance? No

Can you name the running back who’s gained the most single-game yardage against the Ravens? Terrell Davis – 194 yards (1996)

The only running back to rush for more than 100 yards against the Ravens, while playing for two different teams? Corey Dillon – Bengals & Patriots

Which running back has rushed for the most 100 yard games against the Ravens? Jerome Bettis – 5 times

Has a Hall Of Famer ever rushed for 100 yards against the Ravens? As of today, the answer is NO. However, that will change with the future enshrinements of Curtis Martin, Marshall Faulk, Jerome Bettis and Ladanian Tomlinson.

And, finally, you’ll have to wait a couple years to allow the most recent event to escape our short-term memories, before asking this question …..

Has a white running back ever rushed for 100 yards against the Ravens? Yes, Peyton Hillis

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Ravens vs. Bengals  -  5 Keys To The Game

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Ravens vs. Bengals – 5 Keys To The Game

Posted on 19 September 2010 by WNST Interns

Well, after months of dissecting the New Yorks Jets, followed by an emotionally draining Monday night contest in the Meadowlands, it’s time to get back to SUNDAY football.

The Ravens travel to the Queen City, this afternoon, for a 1pm matchup against the Bengals. It should be another tough, close game …. albeit from a diiferent perspective than the struggle against the Jets. The Bengals will most certainly feature a better passing game, while offering weaker resistance than Gang Green’s defensive attack.

Here are my FIVE KEYS to today’s game …..

1) STOP CEDRIC BENSON
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This was the one thing the intimidating Ravens defense could not achieve, in 2009. Benson rushed for 120 and 117 yards, respectively, in both meetings. And, he broke runs of 20+ yards both times, as well. This cannot happen today.

Cedric Benson’s success is undoubtedly tied to his large, athletic offensive line. Each lineman weighs in excess of 320 pounds and they provided a formidable shield for 100 yard gains, 8 times, in 2009. The Ravens must find a way to stop the running attack – if Benson is successful, again, it will leave the Ravens defense languishing on the field for long drives.

It would be nice to see “Mount” Cody helping to plug up the middle. Perhaps, we’ll see Paul Kruger – who runs around like his hair is on fire, as well. Regardless, they MUST stop Benson.
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2) WATCH RAY RUN
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It’s simple, see Key #1. Just as Cedric Benson succeeded against the Ravens, in 2009, Ray Rice realized lesser success. He managed 69 and 48 yards, respectively, in both games. The second matchup, in Cincinnati, exploits some misleading numbers. Rice had only 12 touches, with an average gain of 4 yards, per carry.

While the improved Ravens passing game will be a factor in today’s game, Ray Rice figures to offer that same ability to grinding positive yardage and keeping the Bengals defense on the field. It’s going to be 86 degrees and humid, in Cincinnati, today. It will undoubtedly be tiring conditions for each team’s defense.
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3) SHUT DOWN CARSON PALMER’S ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS
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Chad OchoCinco and Terrell Owens will make catches in today’s game. That’s fine. I worry more about the likes of Jordan Shipley, Andre’ Caldwell (remember him?) and Jermaine Gresham. Each of these guys offer varying targets for Palmer. And, I’m suspicious of rookie Gresham’s possible success across the middle. He’s a lot BIGGER than Dustin Keller and he’s quite athletic.

With Ray Lewis nursing a sore foot, I’ll be watching the middle pretty closely.
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4) FLACCO OUTGUNS PALMER
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Perhaps, today can be the DAY that Joe Flacco serves notice as the most prolific passer in the AFC-North. He now has a surrounding cast comparable to the likes of Carson Palmer. Translation – NO EXCUSES.

The additions of Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh were evident, last week. However, they can STAND OUT today. And, with Todd Heap hurting, we can rely on better backups than names like L.J. Smith and Quinn Sypniewski. Welcome to the show, Ed Dickson. We just might see some fireworks from one of the NFL’s next rockstar tight ends.

But, it rests upon the shoulders (and arm) of Joe Flacco. With Keith Rivers also nursing a sore foot and Jonathan Fanene OUT, the Ravens will likely benefit from a weakened pass rush. Flacco delivers today …..
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5) OUTCOACH ‘EM
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He absolutely did it to Rex Ryan, just 6 nights ago. Today, John Harbaugh is tasked with outsmarting Marvin Lewis in the strategical side of the game. Can it happen? Heck yeah …..

Say what you want, a big part of the Bengals embarrassing performance against New England can be attributed to being OUTCOACHED. Bill Belichick was hellbent on putting the Bengals in an early hole, while removing Cedric Benson from a revamped comeback agenda. It worked perfectly.

Today, Harbaugh & Company will need to have a shrewd strategy as the team enters enemy territory for the 2nd time in as many weeks. It starts with DISCIPLINE, and there is little doubt the Ravens will have that angle covered. Now, lets be smart …..
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Ravens 27 Bengals 24

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br

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Ravens (1-0) @ Bengals (0-1)

Posted on 18 September 2010 by WNST Interns

Next up in the “teams whose head coach owes their job to Ray Lewis” are the Cincinnati Bengals. Now we just need the Jacksonville Jaguars (Jack Del Rio) and the 2005-2008 San Francisco 49ers (Mike Nolan) to complete the “#52’s head coach’s tree.” Marvin Lewis’ team is still licking their wounds from that 38-24 drubbing at the hands of the New England Patriots (a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score) in Week 1, and will look to rebound against a team that they had plenty of success against in 2009.

Those 2009 losses to Cincy were especially surprising for the Ravens and their fans not necessarily because of the outcomes, but because of the manner in which the Bengals were victorious. Running back Cedric Benson rad roughshod over B’More’s usually stout run defense, breaking their streak of 40 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher on his way to 120 yards in Week 5, and duplicating the feat with 117 yards just four weeks later. Benson managed just 43 yards on 15 carries in Week 1, but his opportunities were quite limited due to his team getting blown out of the water early and being forced to play catch-up.

The Ravens will be looking for some revenge against Benson Sunday. If rookie defensive tackle Terrence Cody is able to suit up (he practiced this week), it will go a long way to exacting said revenge. Along with Haloti Ngata and Cory Redding up front, Benson will be hard pressed to find even a sliver of daylight. Even without Cody, the Ravens did well against the Jets’ vaunted rushing attack last week, as RBs Shonn Green and LaDainian Tomlinson managed 80 yards on 16 carries.

“Well, wait a minute, that’s 5 yards per carry,” you might be saying. The stat is a bit misleading, as Tomlinson ripped off two 21-yard runs in the game. Take away those two, and the numbers drop to 38 yards on 14 carries, a 2.7 ypc average. Of course, you can’t just “take away” big plays – the Ravens need to avoid giving up similar big plays to Benson and Bengals’ “change-of-pace” back Bernard Scott.

Which of course, isn’t to say that stopping the run = Ravens win. Quarterback Carson Palmer has always done well against our Ravens, putting up a career record of 8-3. Even after throwing a pick-6 to Ed Reed last year, Palmer bounced back and led his team to a last-minute game-winning touchdown in Baltimore.

Palmer threw for 345 yards and 2 touchdowns last week in New England, but again – they were in catch-up mode all day after falling behind 31-3. He again has a full compliment of weapons to throw to, including two reality TV stars.

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Along with those two, rookie WR Jordan Shipley is dangerous, and Andre Caldwell (though I ripped Mike Preston earlier this week for bringing him up) is set to return from a groin injury and has hurt the Ravens in the past.

Just as getting Cody back could help the run defense, a return from injury in the secondary could greatly improve the Ravens’ chances Sunday. Lardarius Webb has been removed from the injury report, but is still “working out the kinks,” after ACL surgery. With Webby in there, the much maligned Ravens’ secondary is instantly better. Without him, newcomer Josh Wilson and safety Haruki Nakamura will be forced to line up against the Bengals’ receivers, matchups that favor Cincy.

The Bengals also gave the Ravens fits on defense last year, holding them to 14 and 7 points, respectively, in the two meetings. This despite Ray Rice racking up 143 and 135 yards from scrimmage (mostly receiving). The problem was that Rice was the team’s leading receiver in both games, as cornerbacks Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph gave Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ wideouts fits.

2010 is a new year, though, and now Hall and Joseph have to deal with Anquan “Q” Boldin and former teammate T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who weren’t there last year. Hopefully Housh can also bring some “insider info” to the Ravens in practice this week – the offense and defense could both use all the help they can get after being swept last season. Tom Brady had no trouble finding his wideouts last week, as both Wes Welker (8 catches, 64 yards, 2 TD) and Randy Moss (5, 59, 0) had better days than any Ravens WR had against the Bengals in 2009.

Of course, he’s Tom Brady. While Flacco looked like Brady on occasion last week, skillfully avoiding the Jets’ pressure and converting key 3rd-and-long situations, but looked downright awful at other times, holding the ball too long in the pocket, overthrowing a wide open Le’Ron McClain in the end zone, and throwing from his back foot. To show that he really is ready to step into the next tier of NFL quarterbacks, as so many experts see him doing, Joe needs to start beating quality QBs – not just the likes of Mark Sanchez and Jay Cutler – in head-to-head matchups. He has the weapons to do it now, so the time for excuses is over. In his defense, he had a perfect touchdown pass dropped last week (by Todd Heap) and another likely touchdown just flat out missed (by Derrick Mason). But he also underthrew Mason on another deep route, underthrew Boldin from his back foot, and missed Ray Rice on a slant that would have given the Ravens a 1st-and-goal inside the 5. We know he can make the throws. What we need to see now is consistency from #5.

The Ravens have revenge on their minds after being embarrassed by Cincy in 2009. The Bengals have redemption on theirs, after being blown out in Week 1.

I think the Bengals do bounce back this week…just not quite high enough.

Ravens 24 Bengals 20

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I Accept Chad Ochocinco's Offer .....

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I Accept Chad Ochocinco’s Offer …..

Posted on 15 September 2010 by WNST Interns

The Ravens are just four days away from meeting the Cincinnati Bengals in the first of two power-packed showdowns in this 2010 season. Since it’s Bengals week, we know what to expect, right? You can readily depend on the following …..

A) Talk of increased pressure in a divisional matchup, especially as it involves the defending AFC-NORTH Champions

B) Discussion of whether the Ravens can contain Cedric Benson, given he rushed for 100+ yards in both 2009 contests

C) A colorful gesture or offer to Baltimore, courtesy of Chad Ochocinco

Of course, we’ve already started talking about the first two topics. And, with special thanks to Twitter, we have been graced with Chad’s good natured and generous offer to Baltimoreans. Yesterday evening, Chad tweeted the following message …..

Anybody want to fly and watch this weeks game in Cincy, my treat? Ravens n Bengals = great football

Let me use this occasion to take Chad up on his offer. I would absolutely LOVE to fly to Cincinnati for the Ravens/Bengals game, especially if it’s on Chad’s dime. In fact, I would be honored.

But, why me? Why should he extend the privilege to a middle-aged, balding, slightly overweight talk show host?

Well, it makes perfect sense from a promotions standpoint. Chad loves marketing and promotion ….. and I would certainly promote this little excursion like a rockstar. Self indulgent? That’s me !!!!

That said, I realize there must be something that sets me apart from others. And, this is where my creativity comes into play. If Chad selects me, I will dress like this on the plane to Cincinnati …..
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That’s right, in the spirit of all things INES SAINZ, I will sport a sexy, revealing halter top, man boobs included. I will force myself into the tightest possible, low cut jeans. And, I will even apply some cakey blush and smokin’ sheer pink lipstick. I will be one UNSEXY sight. But, I’ll do it …..

How’s that for original?

However, in full disclosure, I wanna be 100% upfront in proclaiming that upon leaving Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, I will stop by the nearest fast food joint’s bathroom to slip out of (or cut off) the ridiculous outfit and put my Ravens gear on. After all, I’m in town for a smash mouth football game !!!!

Well, that’s it. This is my official acceptance and response to Chad’s offer on Twitter. Do you think he’ll bite?

You can certainly support it, especially if you wanna see me walking through BWI Airport dressed like Ines Sainz …..

It’s simple, just tweet Chad :  OGOchocinco

You can also Facebook Chad :  Chad Ochocinco

We’re just four days away from the Ravens and Bengals sqaring off in this heated AFC-NORTH rivalry. Let the fun begin !!!!

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Perhaps, Michael Vick Just Won't Get It ....

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Perhaps, Michael Vick Just Won’t Get It ….

Posted on 28 June 2010 by WNST Interns

While I’m not a passionate fan of Michael Vick’s play on the football field, I have been quietly rooting for him since last season’s return.

To be honest, my hope in seeing him overcome his past has no real tie to football or athletic achievements, at all. I’ve really hoped he would leave his sordid transgressions and the associated lifestyle in the rear view mirror, while proving to himself and others that he is indeed a “CHANGED MAN.”

Better yet, I thought Michael Vick could motivate a growing generation of adolescents who’ve made poor personal choices in their young lives. Maybe, just maybe, his story and ultimate rise from self-destruction would help others in an inspirational way.

There is just one “catch” ….. this anticipated story of a compassionate comeback needs to stay on track.

As recently as a couple weeks ago, things were looking very opimistic.

Today, I’m not so sure.

As the world now knows, Michael Vick celebrated his 30th birthday with a BIG BASH at a Virginia Beach nightclub, on Thursday night. It was promoted and advertised to the general public, via Facebook, Twitter and informal means.
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While some people might think that hosting parties and momentous celebrations are an expressed inclusion of our freedoms, many of us also realize that such events are an invitation to more than just dancing, drinking and eating birthday cake.

And, discerning between these two considerations is probably where Michael Vick screwed up.

I don’t care that he’s a convicted felon and federal parolee; I don’t simply assume he’s done something illegal. He’s paid his debt to society – he has every right to attend charity functions at Martins West, movie premieres in Hollywood and parties thrown in his honor.

However, a clearly distinct line distinguishes the difference between the “RIGHT” to do something, and whether it’s “RIGHT” to do something. I’m certain celebrities employ such decision making methods when considering their presence and involvement at events – both public and private in nature.

It doesn’t matter if they organize or host the event, if a BIG NAME is in attendance and something goes wrong, they’ll be forever tied to it. Just ask TMZ’s Harvey Levin …..

When is the last time this guy did something DUMB or ill-advised in a social setting?
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Good luck finding such an incident. You’ll likely search for days and still never find any smoking guns. And, there is a very plausible reason behind striking out on any quest in finding dirt on Peyton Manning – HE KNOWS BETTER.

Peyton Manning is aware of his image, reputation and obligation to an array of different people. The list includes …..
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His Team
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His Wife
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His Business Partners
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His Family’s Name
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I’m sure you see my point – even if you disagree. But, the names go beyond Peyton Manning. I’m confident this list of guys will not be arrested, accused of criminal conduct or attending a party where another attendee is SHOT, in 2010 ….. Drew Brees, Derek Jeter, Steve Nash, Donovan McNabb, Andy Roddick, Albert Pujols, Hines Ward, Tim Duncan, Jeff Gordon, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco …..

How about this ….. I can think of a list of guys who have endured legal troubles, while making some very poor choices in their respectives pasts. But, they’ve given us every reason to believe we won’t be seeing their name associated with crime and punishment, by year’s end. For me, the list starts with Ray Lewis.

It’s been a decade since Ray ran afoul of the legal system or found himself in a public meltdown of poor judgement. He’s way beyond such indiscretions – he values his reputation and image. He has plenty of company among those who’ve had troubles and overcame them, like ….. Kobe Bryant, Ricky Williams, Josh Hamilton, Kurt Busch, Bernard Hopkins, Brett Favre and Jamal Lewis.

Of course, the final group is those who’ve committed multiple transgressions. Arrested? Yes. Stupid decisions? Yes. Numerous occurences of one or both? Yes. These are the guys you’re most likely going to be hearing about during a BREAKING NEWS segment, early in the morning. This is where you’ll find Brandon Marshall, Elijah Dukes, Sidney Ponson, Marshawn Lynch, Mike Tyson, John Daly, Jeremy Mayfield, Cedric Benson, Allen Iverson, Matt Jones, Delonte West and Michael Vick.

Hey, it’s accurate.

Michael Vick may very well have intended to celebrate an innocent occasion, last Thursday. In fact, I’d be willing to bet on it. He doesn’t want to screw up – he doesn’t want to be out of a job – he doesn’t want to go back to prison. I honestly believe these things.

However, I also believe Michael Vick lacks the sensibility to dissect a proposed action or decision, while considering the ramifications of the FALLOUT if something goes wrong. That’s exactly what he should’ve done when the idea of his birthday party being held at a nightclub, and open to the general public was tabled.
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Why?

Well, there are a few reasons. Foremost, there is very little positive exposure to be gained in a nightclub environment. While nightclubs attract girls dressed in their sexiest wares, they also serve as a hotspot for people with checkered characters. Say what you will – Mike should be whoring himself to more “feel good” opportunities than President Obama, Tom Cruise and the CEO of BP, combined.

Another consideration is Michael Vick should not host, endorse or attach his likeness to ANY EVENT, unless he has direct control over it. I don’t care if a promoter really handled the party, its got the name MICHAEL VICK forever stamped to it. In the future (or in hindsight), he should celebrate his birthday with a party at home or in an establishment that can offer a respected reputation and a high degree of decorum.

If he wants to get CRAZEE and dance with some hotties, while fondling an expensive champagne bottle, he should have the party at home – and make all guests leave their cellphones at the door. Be assured, that’s what happens at Diddy’s house. And, he has much less to worry about than Mike does.

You don’t think Alex Rodriguez enjoyed the arrival of his 30th birthday? How about Ladanian Tomlinson? Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Shaq? They just make good decisions when it comes to enjoying themslves.

As we sit here today, Michael Vick has problems. He might not face any legal sanctions with his Probation Officer. But, I think that everything else is in limbo. I’d bet my HOUSE that a certain group of individuals are angry as HELL. They’ve attached themselves to Michael Vick and he has let them down. Of course, the most important one is obvious …..
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However, you can also include Jeffrey Lurie, Andy Reid, Tony Dungy and Arthur Blank. Each of them went to bat for him, helped him or had a HUGE part in giving him this most recent chance to make a living as a member of the National Football League.

What could they do differently, specifically ask “Michael, will you be celebrating your 30th birthday in a nightclub” ??? They should’ve expected that he would exercise better judgement. No doubt, they rightfully expected it from him.

With each passing hour, more and more details regarding the NIGHTLIFE of Michael Vick are surfacing. Welcome to the age of Twitter, Facebook and online tabloids. We now know Vick hosted parties in May, as well as April.

I wonder if dog fighting co-defendant, Quanis Phillips, attended those events. Probably not. Why did he attend this one? Well, it was held near his home. But, most importantly, he attended last Thursday’s party, because he could.

NOBODY and/or NO PLAN was in place to stop such a situation. And, if they did plan for it, they failed …. which is even worse, if you really think about it.

Thursday’s incident is a loud, distinct message to one of Michael Vick’s former endorsers, as if they have really considered resurrecting his marketability …..
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You can bet the folks in Beaverton, Oregon, are thinking one thing …. “MIKE AIN”T WORTH THE RISK.” And, if Nike is scared off, so is McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Visa and Under Armor. Like humans, corporations are known to forgive and reconcile, but they arguably take far less chances than people do.

Over the last few days, we’ve heard the typical “we will wait until all the facts are known before addressing the situation” line. It’s the SAFE thing to say …. and it may very well apply to the United States Justice Department’s role in the life of Michael Vick.

But, rest assured, NFL spokeman, Greg Aiello, was better off giving the politically correct statement, rather than saying “Roger is done with this experiment.”

As for the Eagles, did you expect them to say “Mr. Lurie is knee deep in trying to void Michael Vick’s contract.” Oh and “Jeff Garcia is visiting team headquarters, later this week.”

Perhaps, both Mr. Goodell and Mr. Lurie haven’t exercised such drastic measures. But, you can bet they’re not sitting on their hands while waiting for an outcome, either. Not a chance …..

They know what they need to know.

Michael Vick may never, EVER be involved in another incident of violence. He may never pose for another mugshot in his life.

But, he cannot be trusted to really think about a potential outcome to the hair-brained ideas of family, friends and cohorts. No doubt, he’s as spontaneously reactive to his cultural ideals as Paris Hilton is to shopping for shoes.

He’s evidently incapable of change. He is who he is …..

He just can’t be trusted to do the RIGHT thing.

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gregg

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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (12/1/09)

Posted on 01 December 2009 by WNST Interns

BREAKING NEWS: Ralph Friedgen will RETURN next season.

9:36-

Charles Davis from Fox is up to chat with Drew. He begins by talking about the upsets in rivalry games this weekend. When it comes to instate rivalries, records often do not matter. No matter how much coaching is done, young players will look forward to the more meaningful games the week after. He next discusses the upcoming search for a coach at Notre Dame, now that Charlie Weis has officially been fired.
9:31-

There has been a lot of discussion this morning about Mike Preston’s comment about Paul Kruger. Drew and Glenn discuss the role of race in the rooting interest for local fans. It is brought up that although Kelly Gregg is not a Pro Bowl player, you see many Gregg jerseys at M&T Bank Stadium each game.

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9:03-

Lomas Brown joins drew to talk some football. He starts off by talking about his Lions. He explains that Detroit recognizes the team’s improvement despite only having 2 wins. He states that the team still must learn to finish games more consistently. The city is united in support of Maryland-native Jim Schwartz as head coach. On the topic of the Monday Night Football game, Brown expresses how impressed he is with the Saints. He states that right now the Saints do not look like they will lose this season. Moving on the Ravens, Brown talks about the lack of fear the Ravens defense strikes into opponents this season. This has been a trend throughout the league. Parity has caused every team to compete week in and week out.

8:54-

A caller brings up the Saints’ high-powered offense. Drew talks about the other strong offenses around the league. He points out that the Bengals have lost to the Raiders and scored only one offensive touchdown against the Browns since the loss of Cedric Benson.

8:35-

Patrick Stevens of the Washington Times is on to talk about the Terps. He first discusses the future of head football coach Ralph Friedgen. He states that the longer the situation drags on the more Maryland’s recruiting will be impacted. Stevens also explains that even if Friedgen is fired, it will be difficult for Maryland to make a big-time coaching hire. The school is in the middle tier of the ACC at best.
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RiceTigers

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Bengals 17 Ravens 7 (The WHICH TEAM IS THE BUNGLES, AGAIN? Game)

Posted on 09 November 2009 by WNST Interns

After a week in which they reassured us that the sky was, in fact, not falling, the Ravens pulled a complete 180 with their worst performance of the season in Cincinnati yesterday. It was the first of the Ravens’ 4 losses where they were absolutely, unquestionably, without a doubt, outplayed and outcoached for 60 minutes. The first of the four where you can’t look back, point to any one or two particular plays, and say, “yup, that was the one that lost it.” It was a flat-out, thorough butt-whipping at the hands of the “Don’t call us the Bungles.”

RiceTigers

To any Ravens fan watching, flashbacks to Minnesota in Week 5 were unavoidable, as the purple team came out as flat as could possibly be, on both sides of the ball, en route to digging themselves a quick 14-0 hole. There would be no late-game near-miracle comeback at Paul Brown Stadium though, even if there would be an all too familiar Steve Hauschka “wide left,” thrown in as a little salt on the wound. Even though the defense did buckle down after the Bengals’ first two drives (both touchdowns), allowing just a field goal for the final 47:26, you still came away from this one feeling like it was a steamrolling.

Where to begin?

On offense, Bengals’ defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer now has Cam Cameron’s number in 2009 the way that Dick Lebeau of the Steelers did in 2008 (yet to be seen if it carries over to this year). In six games against the rest of the league this year, the Ravens offense is averaging 30.8 points and 399 yards off offense per game. In two contests against Cincy, those numbers drop to 10.5 and 236. Against the “not Bengals,” Joe Flacco has thrown 11 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, and compiled a passer rating of 100. But when the striped team lines up on the other side of the ball, his numbers have read a dismal 1 touchdown, 4 interceptions, and 59.2 rating.

That there are now not 1, but TWO teams in the division who seem to have figured out Cameron/Flacco is a bit unnerving.

As bad as Joe was yesterday, he got absolutely zero help from his offensive line, who need to take their share of the blame. The group that had played so solidly all season had their worst outing, as Flacco was under constant pressure and holding and false start flags were rampant. After allowing 12 sacks in 7 games, the Ravens gave up 4 to the Bengals, even without Antwan Odom. Three of these came on the final drive when they were able to tee off on Flacco, but the pressure was there all day. And, for his part, Joe needs to do a much better job of identifying his hot read and getting the ball out quickly when the blitz comes. Several times yesterday he had time to throw, but instead patted the ball and ended up on his butt.

Derrick Mason did absolutely nothing to back up his “nobody can cover me 1-on-1” talk leading up to the game, as he caught just 3 of the 13 balls thrown to him, for a measly 31 yards. Mark Clayton and Kelley Washington had only 1 catch apiece, as the Ravens converted just ONE OF TEN 3rd down opportunities. A terrible effort by all.

All except Ray Rice of course, who was the only thing even resembling a weapon the Ravens had all day. He finished the day with 8 catches for 87 yards and 12 carries for 48 and the team’s only score.

On defense, all the problems that seemed to have been corrected against Denver came flooding back in force against the Bengals. The pressure that was there from the front seven against Kyle Orton was nowhere to be found when Carson Palmer dropped back. The gap integrity that held the Broncos’ ground game in check was instead replaced with more gaping holes for Cedric Benson, who racked up 117 yards. The sure tackling that negated Denver’s short passing attack regressed to the tune of more arm tackling FAILs and inability to wrap up the ballcarrier (with the pleasant exception of Lardarius Webb).

The few times Greg Mattison did dial up the blitz, it was largely ineffective. They forced some early, errant throws from Palmer in the 2nd half, but during the game’s decisive opening quarter, ginger boy had all day and then some. Cincy was a disgusting 5/5 on 3rd downs on their two touchdown drives, which included an 11-yard gain on 3rd-and-10 with the score 0-0, and an illegal contact call on Chris Carr that gave them another try despite an offensive holding flag being thrown on the play. Other critical mistakes on those two possessions included Fabian Washington dropping what should have been an easy interception on a deep pass and a pass interference flag on Dawan Landry negating a Ravens’ fumble recovery (because, despite interfering, Landry was STILL unable to keep Chad Ochocinco from making the catch…UN-AC-CEPT-AB-LE!)

Ed Reed’s strip of Ochocinco (for the 2nd straight game) could have made this one interesting, had he been able to take it to the house OR had the Ravens’ O been able to score a TD for the 2nd consecutive drive OR had Hauschka not CH-CH-CHOKED again, this time from only 38 yards and the middle of the field.

Of course, none of those things happened, but the Ravens really didn’t deserve this one anyway. Not in the least.

I’ll search in vain for a bright spot for this week’s “Play Like a Raven” feature, but it won’t be easy. This one was just bad all around.

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