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Brady suspension will ripple through AFC

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Brady suspension will ripple through AFC

Ravens fans might not want to hear it, but the big winners coming out of the Tom Brady suspension handed down on Monday might be the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers play at New England in the Thursday night Week 1 opener, and now the Patriots starting quarterback in that game is likely to be Jimmy Garappolo, who will be making his first NFL start.

Winning in Foxborough is never easy, but the Steelers path to 1-0 just got a lot easier.

Granted, Brady's agent has already said Brady will appeal the suspenison, but if Brady is on the shelf for one quarter of the season, it could have a major impact on the AFC playoff picture.

Other potential winners from Brady's suspension:

* The Buffalo Bills. The Patriots play at Buffalo in Week 2, and even if Brady's suspension is cut in half on appeal, he would be on the sideline for that game, too. The Bills went 9-7 and like to think they've closed the gap on the Patriots, who have won the AFC East every year since 2009.

* The rest of the AFC East. The Patriots have owned the division, winning every year but one since 2003. That one year (2008) was also the one year in that stretch in which Brady missed any games. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1, and the Patriots still went 11-5 with Matt Cassel starting the final 15 games. After facing the Steelers and Bills, the Patriots host Jacksonville and then travel to Dallas after a Week 4 bye. How deep a hole, if any, will the Patriots be in by then?

* NBC. Wait, how does NBC win when Brady will miss that season opener against Pittsburgh? Because eyeballs will be glued to that game anyway since it's the nationally-televised season opener and people will be curious to see Life After Brady. Then, assuming the four-game suspension is upheld, Brady will return on a Sunday night (on NBC) against the Indianapolis Colts, the team that got the DeflateGate ball rolling in the first place. Ratings will be through the roof.

* The Ravens and every other potential AFC playoff team. The Ravens have played well in Foxborough in the playoffs, but don't think for a minute the Ravens wouldn't rather face the Patriots in the playoffs at M&T Bank Stadium. In three of the past four years, the Patriots have hosted the AFC Championship Game. But a 2-2 or 1-3 start without Brady makes it more likely the Patriots would have to hit the road for the playoffs.

Then again, maybe the demise of the Patriots has been greatly exaggerated. Last year, the Patriots started 2-2, including a divisional loss to Miami and an embarrassing 41-14 loss at Kansas City. They proceeded to win seven straight games and, ultimately, the Super Bowl. 

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Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

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USA Today Sports

Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

On Wednesday, February 14, a horrific school shooting claimed the lives of 17 innocent people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. 

The tragic event impacted people far and wide, and hit especially close to home for Ravens running back Alex Collins.

The former Arkansas star was born in Plantation, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale and went to high school just 15 miles south of Douglas High School. 

In the offseason, Collins took Irish dancing lessons to improve his footwork, and following the act of terror, the Ravens' tailback learned that one of his dance partners had been killed in the mass shooting.

17-year-old Cara Loughran attended The Drake school of Irish Dance with Collins in addition to two other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and was fatally shot by the gunman on Wednesday afternoon. 

Collins took to his Twitter account to issue this heartfelt message.

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“The school shooting yesterday hit home,” Collins wrote.

“We received confirmation a few hours ago we lost one of the girls, Cara Loughran. Two other girls saw and experienced unspeakable tragedy. My heart goes out to these girls, all their families and their teacher Chrissy.”

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Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears will launch the NFL's 99th season by playing in the annual Hall of Fame game on Aug. 2.

The Ravens' first appearance in the Hall of Fame game, which launches the league's 2018 Enshrinement Week. Former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis is among the inductees, along with former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Lewis, who played 17 seasons with the Ravens, and Urlacher, who played all of his 13 seasons with Chicago, both were elected on the first ballot.

Lewis joins Jonathan Ogden as the only Ravens in the Hall of Fame. Both were selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 1996 draft.

The other members of the Class of 2018 include Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. All will be inducted on Saturday, Aug. 4.

This will be the record-tying fifth time that the Bears will play in the Hall of Fame game. They won the previous four, most recently 27-24 over Miami in 2005.

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