Ravens

Quick Links

Golden era for QBs, with great stories around NFL

201301131657610388899-p2.jpeg

Golden era for QBs, with great stories around NFL

NEW YORK (AP) The two kids from Northern California burst from NFL afterthought to championship contender in eerily similar fashion a decade apart.

Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernick, each playing in a conference title game this weekend, are bookends to a fortuitous moment in quarterback history. On one side are the likes of Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, still scintillating in their mid-30s.

On the other are Kaepernick, a second-year player, and the brilliant class of rookies with Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson leading their teams to the playoffs.

Young, old and in between, the current crop of NFL quarterbacks is not only deep but dynamic and diverse.

``We're in a little bit of a boom right now. We're flowing a little bit, especially young players,'' Hall of Famer Steve Young said last week. ``If those guys continue to develop, we'll have a period of time here, kind of a Camelot of quarterbacking.''

The depth of the position shows in the other two guys joining the Patriots' Brady and the 49ers' Kaepernick in the conference championship games. Atlanta's Matt Ryan and Baltimore's Joe Flacco were first-round draft picks in 2008, and for all their successes, they're probably low on the list when fans think of the most dominant NFL quarterbacks.

Yet here they are a win away from the Super Bowl after leading stirring comebacks that answered many doubts about each.

Quarterback has long been the glamour position of all of sports, but it seems even a bit more glamorous right now. Rule changes favor a wide-open passing game, which makes a superior quarterback more valuable. Colleges and high schools run more sophisticated offenses, and the best athletes gravitate to quarterback then develop into polished passers who happen to be able to scramble.

``I can't remember - even though this is a quarterback-driven league - as many remarkable and compelling stories on the quarterback side as you're seeing this year,'' CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said.

There was that brief stretch less than 15 years ago when Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson won Super Bowls, and it seemed perhaps championship teams didn't need a star at the position. Since then, here's the roll call of victorious quarterbacks: Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, both Manning brothers, Brees and Aaron Rodgers.

Twenty-five of the 46 Super Bowl MVPs have been quarterbacks, but now it's five of the last six. In the half-dozen years before that, four were non-QBs, including two defensive players.

``It ebbs and flows, no question. There's some dark times where you have two or three guys that can truly do it,'' said Young, Kaepernick's forerunner as a dual-threat San Francisco QB and now an ESPN analyst.

Jimmy Johnson, who won two Super Bowls with future Hall of Famer Troy Aikman as his quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, was talking to Bill Belichick last summer about the recent shift. Belichick has won three championships with Brady, but even as of a few years ago, both coaches believed a title was possible behind a strong defense and running game.

Not anymore, they agreed.

``Now, the only thing that matters is if you get a great quarterback,'' said Johnson, now a Fox commentator.

Of this year's playoff teams, the only one without great stability at quarterback was Minnesota. And the Vikings had a guy named Adrian Peterson.

The bottom of the standings is full of clubs with uncertainty at the position: from the Chiefs and Jaguars to the Eagles, Cardinals and Jets.

This year, 20 quarterbacks started every regular-season game, nearly two-thirds of the league. That's by far the most since the NFL went to a 16-game season in 1978, according to STATS, four more than the previous high.

That record partly reflects a lack of injuries, in which all those rules protecting the QB may be a factor - along with, of course, sheer luck. But it also reflects how few teams benched their quarterbacks. Most clubs are quite happy with their current situation.

For all the quarterback intrigue in the playoffs, consider the big names who didn't qualify for the postseason: Brees, Eli Manning, Roethlisberger, Tony Romo, Cam Newton. And then there's Tim Tebow, who may never start again as an NFL QB but is still one of the most recognizable and polarizing athletes in all of sports.

This quarterback Camelot is about more than the deep field of effective starters. The playoffs oozed with stars popular not just for their performances but their personalities and pizazz.

``I marvel at how prepared these guys are - not only on the field, but the exposure they get off it,'' said Aikman, who will call the NFC title game for Fox. ``Whether it's through social networks or different platforms, they are given the opportunity to talk to the press and are much more well-rounded and prepared for all that comes with the scrutiny of the position than ever before.

``If you're on Park Avenue in New York (at league headquarters), you're pretty happy with the new representatives that will be the ambassadors for the league for the years to come.''

The quarterbacks in the postseason undoubtedly fascinate fans, but they do so in different ways.

``All with incredibly different kinds of stories, all with incredibly different ways of getting to the playoffs,'' said McManus, whose network airs next month's Super Bowl.

Nielsen/E-Poll calculates an ``N-Score'' to measure the endorsement potential of athletes. Peyton Manning has the top score of current QBs, but other players come out ahead in specific categories in the surveys.

In this high school yearbook of NFL quarterbacks, Brees is voted most appealing. Rodgers is the most confident, Newton the most dynamic, Griffin the most talented. Luck is considered the most intelligent and Brady the most attractive.

Their back stories sizzle. This season saw Manning return from neck surgery to lead the Broncos to the AFC's top seed and earn All-Pro honors. Brees was dealing with the fallout of the Saints' bounty scandal.

Unlike past rookie quarterbacks who reached the playoffs, Luck and Griffin were anything but caretakers riding a strong defense; both were vibrant leaders turning around franchises. And Wilson advanced deeper into the postseason than either of them.

Kaepernick is for the moment the best story of them all. The 2011 second-round draft pick opened the season as a backup to Alex Smith, who led the 49ers to the NFC championship game last year. Kaepernick played so well after Smith was injured that coach Jim Harbaugh took the gamble to stick with him - just as Belichick did with Brady 11 years earlier.

Now Brady is the grizzled veteran, though fans won't get that expected matchup with his longtime rival, Manning, after Baltimore stunned Denver.

``They're not going to last forever,'' Young said of the old guard, ``but you've got a feeling that there's some guys around that we're in pretty good shape in the next generation. Right now, as we speak, there's compelling stories all over the playoffs at the quarterback spot, which is kind of fun.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Ravens vs. Texans: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

flacco-texans-usat.png
USA TODAY Sports

Ravens vs. Texans: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Ravens are hosting Monday Night Football for the first time since 2012, when they welcome the Houston Texans to town.

The Ravens are coming off a much needed win against the Green Bay Packers, where the defense forced five turnovers and lifted the Ravens into the sixth and final wild card spot in the AFC. 

Not only did they regain playoff positioning, the defense got their third shutout of the season.

It even earned linebacker Matthew Judon AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

The 4-6 Texans have been struggling since losing rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. However, they did just end a three game losing streak with a 31-21 win over the Arizona Cardinals. 

The Ravens defense will be busy keeping an eye on wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins has 879 yards on the season for 9 touchdowns. The Texans are also ranked sixth in the league in rushing yards. Will they be able to keep that momentum going?

The Ravens and Texans have met nine times with the Ravens leading the series, 7-2. 

Week 12 Ravens vs. Texans Game Info:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans

What: Week 12 NFL regular season 

When: 8:30 p.m. ET, Monday, Nov. 27, 2017

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD

TV Channel: ESPN

Live Stream: fuboTV

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 

Point Spread: Baltimore, -7

Over/Under: 38

Weather: 41 degrees, clear skies

BALTIMORE RAVENS 2017 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1 (Sun, Sept. 10): 20-0  at Cincinnati Bengals (W)

Week 2 (Sun, Sept. 17): 24-10 vs. Cleveland Browns (W)

Week 3 (Sun, Sept. 24): 44-7 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (in London) (L)

Week 4 (Sun, Oct. 1): vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 5 (Sun, Oct. 8): at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m. (W)

Week 6 (Sun, Oct. 15): vs Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 7 (Sun, Oct. 22): at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 8 (Thur, Oct. 26): vs. Miami Dolphins, 8:25 p.m. (W)

Week 9 (Sun, Nov. 5): at Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 10 (Sun, Nov. 12): BYE week

Week 11 (Sun, Nov. 19): at Green Bay Packers, 1:00 p.m. (W)

Week 12 (Mon, Nov. 27): vs. Houston Texans, 8:30 p.m.

Week 13 (Sun, Dec. 3): vs. Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: (Sun, Dec. 10): at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:30 p.m.

Week 15: (Sun, Dec. 17): at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: (Sat, Dec. 23): vs Indianapolis Colts, 4:30 p.m.

Week 17: (Sun, Dec. 31): vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m

Quick Links

Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis named semifinalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 class

lewis-usat.png
USA TODAY Sports

Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis named semifinalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 class

Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has been named a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 class. 

Lewis, who is in his first year of eligibility, made the first set of cuts from 108 candidates to 27. 

First-year eligible players included on the semifinals list with Lewis are defensive back Ronde Barber, guard Steve Hutchinson, linebacker Brian Urlacher, wide receiver Randy Moss and defensive lineman Richard Seymour.

RELATED: THREE THINGS WE'VE LEARNED ABOUT THE RAVENS THIS SEASON

12 offensive players, 13 defensive players and two coaches made the cut. However, there are no quarterbacks on the list.

All ties for the 25th spot also advance. 

In January, members of the Hall of Fame committee will then narrow the modern-era list down to 15. Nominees must receive 80 percent "yes" votes to make the cut.

The selection committee will then meet for a final time on February 3, the day before Super Bowl LII, to select the 2018 class. 

RELATED: LEWIS CLAIMS RAVENS DIDN'T SIGN KAEPERNICK AFTER GIRLFRIEND'S TWEET

Lewis and Moss are considered shoo-ins.

Lewis played his entire 17-year career with the team after the Ravens drafted him 26th in the 1996 draft. During his 17 years, he won two Super Bowls, won Super Bowl XXXV MVP, was named to 13 Pro Bowls, a seven-time First-Team All-Pro, was a two-time Defensive Player of the year winner, won eight Defensive Player of the Week awards, played in 228 career games, made 1,336 tackles, had 41.5 sacks and 31 interceptions.

Players must be retired from the league for five years to be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.