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Ravens' red zone defense among best

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Ravens' red zone defense among best

The dropoff for the Ravens defense has been alarming this season, Perennially among the best defenses in the NFL, the Ravens through the first half of this season rank 26th overall,  allowing 386.3 yards a game, and 28th against the run (139.5).

But one area where the Ravens have hardly slipped at all is in red zone defense. Playing without Terrell Suggs for much of the season so far, and without Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb now, this might not be the Ravens defense of yesteryear, but get inside their 20-yard line and it's still tough sledding.

The Ravens rank third in the league in red zone defense, yielding touchdowns on 39.4 percent of opposing drives inside the Ravens' 20-yard line. Last season the Ravens led the league in that department at 38.8 percent.

Last week, the Browns advanced inside the Ravens 20-yard line five times, and were stuffed five times. Once inside the 20, the Browns never recorded a first down and had to settle for five field goals.

Running back Ray Rice said that during the game, while the offense was in deep freeze -- failing to record a first down for nearly two quarters -- Suggs came to the offense and told them that, "We’ll hold them from scoring touchdowns. You guys go ahead and put a drive together and let’s win this game.”

That's what happened, as the Ravens marched 81 yards in nine plays for the eventual winning score in their 25-15 win.

“Our guys take (red zone defense) seriously," coach John Harbaugh said at his Wednesday news conference. "They  understand how important it is. We work on it all the time. We work on it every practice, from minicamp right til now.

" It’s the most important part of the field," he added. "It determines whether points are scored, so it's an important part of the game. It’s probably been one of the major keys, along with turnovers ... to our success so far."

The Ravens also held the Chiefs out of the end zone on all three of their red-zone chances in a 9-6 Ravens win.

Suggs, who has played in just two games since returning from an offseason Achilles injury, says the defense espouses a "bend but don't break" philosophy.

Plus, he says, having Ed Reed patrolling the back of a shortened field in the red zone certainly helps.

"We have probably one of the best safeties ever to play the game. and when he gets too close, when he gets constricted room back there, he don't like it," Suggs said on Wednesday, "so the fire kind of gets lit again and we're ready to go."

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Baltimore Ravens' 2018 regular season matchups, dates and times

Baltimore Ravens' 2018 regular season matchups, dates and times

We've known the Ravens' 2018 preseason and regular season opponents for some time now, but the NFL finally released their full schedule with exact dates and times.

As they do every year, the Ravens will be seeing the Bengals, Steelers and Browns twice. 

For the ninth consecutive year, Week 16 and 17 will be divisional games with playoff implications.

The Ravens will also be playing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame preseason game against the Chicago Bears in Canton, Ohio, bringing an extra preseason game to their schedule.

In the regular season, the birds will be flocking south to take on the Panthers, Falcons and Titans. They haven't seen the Panthers or Falcons since 2014 - both ending in wins - and came up just short against the Titans in their 23-20 loss last season.

The Ravens will only have to travel to the west coast once when they take on the Los Angeles Chargers, who they last saw in 2015 and earned a 29-26 win.

Not including AFC North rivals, the last time the Ravens saw their remaining five home opponents they came away with wins. Hopefully history will repeat itself.

Prime-time games, which the Ravens have two of, will kick off at earlier times than in the past. Monday Night Football will now start at 8:15 p.m. while Thursday and Sunday Night Football will start at 8:20 p.m.

Ravens 2018 Regular-Season Schedule:

Week 1: Sunday, 9/9 vs. Bills, 1:00 p.m.

Week 2: Thursday, 9/13 @ Bengals, 8:20 p.m.

Week 3: Sunday, 9/23 vs. Broncos. 1:00 p.m.

Week 4: Sunday, 9/30 @ Steelers, 8:20 p.m.

Week 5: Sunday, 10/7 @ Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 6: Sunday 10/14 @ Titans, 4:25 p.m.

Week 7: Sunday, 10/21 vs. Saints, 4:05 p.m.

Week 8: Sunday 10/28 @ Panthers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 9: Sunday 11/4 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 10:  BYE week

Week 11: Sunday 11/18 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12: Sunday 11/25 vs. Raiders, 1:00 p.m.

Week 13: Sunday 12/2 @ Falcons, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday 12/9 @ Chiefs, 1:00 p.m.

Week 15: Sunday 12/16 vs. Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: Saturday 12/22 or Sunday 12/23 @ Chargers, TBD

Week 17: Sunday 12/30 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m.


PRESEASON 

Hall of Fame Game: Thurs., 8/2, vs. Chicago Bears (Canton, OH), 8:00pm (NBC).

Week 1: Thurs., 8/9, vs. Los Angeles Rams

Week 2: Mon. 8/20,  at Indianapolis Colts (Monday Night Football, ESPN).

Week 3: at Miami Dolphins*

Week 4: Thurs., 8/30 at Washington Redskins

* - Game date and time not yet determined

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As 2018 NFL Draft approaches, Ravens to host QB Lamar Jackson per report

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As 2018 NFL Draft approaches, Ravens to host QB Lamar Jackson per report

With 10 days until the 2018 NFL Draft, quarterback Lamar Jackson is set to visit the Ravens this week, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. 

The former Heisman Trophy winner is a projected first-round pick as he has proven to have success in the air and on the ground. 

While at Louisville, Jackson had 9,043 passing yards and 69 touchdowns. He also rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns. His NFL draft profile compares him to Michael Vick. 

RELATED: BEST QUOTES FROM RAVENS PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE

The Ravens are in search of Joe Flacco's successor, but spending a first-round pick on a quarterback when there are other glaring needs is up in the air. However, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta isn't ruling out the possibility

"I feel like if there is a guy there that we think is really too good to pass up, we're going to take him," DeCosta told the team's website on the chance of drafting a quarterback in the first-round.

At their pre-draft press conference, GM Ozzie Newsome and DeCosta kept reiterating we could be surprised by who they pick at No. 16, if they do at all. 

While Jackson's numbers are impressive, he continues to be considered a late first-round pick as his build isn't up to typical NFL QB standards and scouts are concerned with his accuracy. What he does have in his favor is speed.

While fans are hoping for an offensive weapon, having Jackson learn under Flacco for a year (and maybe RGIII?) could rev up some excitement. 

RELATED: RGIII READY TO MOVE FORWARD AS NEW, GROWN PLAYER