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Playoff picture getting clearer for Ravens


Playoff picture getting clearer for Ravens

With Thanksgiving behind us and December nearly here, the playoff picture is starting to get a lot clearer, and the Ravens have to like the looks of it.

After their come-from-behind, 16-13 overtime win at San Diego, coupled with the Steelers' loss at Cleveland, the Ravens (9-2) hold a three-game lead in the AFC North with five games to play.

The Ravens face the Steelers (6-5) again Sunday and can pretty much put a stranglehold on their second straight AFC North title with a win.

The Bengals (6-5) are suddenly tied with the Steelers for second place in the AFC North, but they still have yet to show they belong; they have one win over a team with a winning record, and are 0-6 against the Ravens and Steelers in the past two years. They will face those two teams to close the season, and that could determine whether they return to the playoffs.

As of now, the Ravens hold the No. 2 seed behind 10-1 Houston, which also holds any tiebreaker over the Ravens by virtue of their 43-13 drubbing of the Ravens.

That would give the Ravens a first-round bye and a home game in the Divisional Round, just as they had last season.

New England and Denver are both 8-3, and the Ravens hold the tiebreaker over the Patriots thanks to their 31-30 win over New England in September. The Ravens host Denver on Dec. 16 in a game that could determine the AFC's No. 2 seed.

The surprising, resurgent Colts (7-4) would also return to the playoffs if the season ended today, with the Bengals and Steelers possibly fighting for the sixth and final playoff spot. San Diego's postseason hopes -- and Norv Turner's future there -- likely flew away when Justin Tucker's game-winner went through the uprights and sent the Chargers to 4-7 with their sixth loss in seven games.

The Dolphins (5-6) are just a game behind Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in an AFC that is looking incredibly ordinary.

Either way, the Ravens are well positioned for the AFC North title and at least one home game, no small factor given that the Ravens have won a league-best 15 straight home games.


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

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.


“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

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.