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Clifton Brown's NFL playoff predictions and reactions to coaching carousel

Clifton Brown's NFL playoff predictions and reactions to coaching carousel

My predictions for the divisional round, thoughts on the Ravens’ coaching staff, and my reaction to new head coaches:

1. This weekend’s winners:

Falcons over Seahawks: I could see Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan having a playoff run like Joe Flacco had in 2012.

Patriots over Texans: If Tom Brady makes it to the stadium, the Patriots should make it to the AFC championship game.

Steelers over Chiefs: Ask the Ravens how difficult it is to contain Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Ben Roethlisberger for 60 minutes. As well as they are playing, I think the Steelers keep rolling.

Cowboys over Packers: Even with Aaron Rodgers doing his thing, losing Jordy Nelson hurts, and the Cowboys’ offensive line will allow Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant, and Ezekiel Elliott to take over.

2. The Ravens coaching staff:

Offensive line coach Juan Castillo will be leaving to join the Bills’ staff under new head coach Sean McDermott, according to the Baltimore Sun. With a running game guru like Greg Roman joining the Ravens’ staff, perhaps Castillo felt the Bills would be a better fit for him, and for the Ravens.

A name to watch for the Ravens is former Broncos offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, who will not be kept on Denver’s new staff according to the Denver Post. Dennison was the Ravens quarterbacks coach in 2014 when Flacco had one of his best seasons. Flacco would welcome Dennison’s return to the Ravens staff, regardless of his role.

3. New NFL head coaching blood:  

I’m all for Anthony Lynn (Chargers), Sean McVay (Rams), Sean McDermott (Bills), and Vance Joseph (Broncos) getting their head coaching opportunity. Success isn’t guaranteed for any of them. But this year, NFL owners seemed willing to choose the person they believed would perform the best, regardless of their age, their race, or whether they had been a head coach before.

Related: Ravens have two of the NFL's top 25 free agents

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Ravens vs. Steelers: Week 14 time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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USA Today Sports

Ravens vs. Steelers: Week 14 time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Strike up the band because it's Steelers Week and both teams have something to play for.

With a win Sunday night, the Steelers will have clinched their third AFC North title in four seasons. For the Ravens, it messes up the Steelers home field advantage against the Patriots in the postseason and continues to secure a wild card spot for them.

Though it's never easy to win in Pittsburgh, the Ravens are coming off of a 44-20 win against the Detroit Lions where quarterback Joe Flacco had a 63. 9% completion rate, threw for 2 TD and 0 INT. For the first time, in a long time, it seemed as if the Ravens offense was starting to click.

The Ravens defense has been strong all season, shutting out the Bengals, Dolphins and Packers, but will be lacking just a bit after cornerback Jimmy Smith suffered a season-ending Achilles injury against the Lions. It was also announced Smith violated the leagues PED policy and will serve a four-game suspension.

The Steelers are coming off a 23-20 win against the Bengals that lifted them to 10-2, but they also took a lot of 'L's' during Monday's chippy game.

RELATED: WEEK 14 NFL POWER RANKINGS

Linebacker Ryan Shazier was taken to a nearby Cincinnati hospital after colliding with Bengals receiver Josh Malone. After the impact, Shazier immediately grabbed his back and couldn't move his lower extremedies. He was eventually carted off the field and underwent a MRI and CT scan. The back injury will not require surgery, but it can be expected he will miss some time.

Shazier leads the team in tackles, interceptions and forced fumbles. His absence will be something the Ravens offense will need to take advantage of.

They will also be without reciever JuJu Smith-Schuster after he was suspended for one game for his hit on Bengals' Vontaze Burfict.

The Steelers are on a seven game winning streak while the Ravens have won their last three. Points per games are basically identical with the Ravens averaging 23.3 PPG and the Steelers averaging 23.4. The Ravens have allowed 330.5 yards, while the Steelers allowed 318.5. Click here for a full list of stats and injury report.

The Ravens and Steelers have met 47 times with the Steelers leading the series 26-21.

Ahead of Sunday night's game, here's everything you need to know.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

Week 14 Ravens vs. Steelers:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

What: Week 14 NFL regular season 

When: 8:30 p.m.. ET, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017

Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

TV Channel: NBC

Live Stream: NBC Sports Live

Online with no Cable TV: fuboTV (Try for free)

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 

Point Spread: Pittsburgh, -5

Over/Under: 43.5

Weather: 29 degrees, partly cloudy

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.(W)

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

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

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Flacco, Ravens crank up the offense in 44-20 win over Lions

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Flacco, Ravens crank up the offense in 44-20 win over Lions

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens got another ball-swiping performance from their opportunistic defense, and this time -- for a change -- the offense also contributed to a significant victory.

Joe Flacco threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns, and the Ravens forced three pivotal turnovers Sunday in a 44-20 win over the Detroit Lions.

Flacco helped Baltimore take a 20-0 halftime lead and directed three scoring drives in the fourth quarter to keep the Ravens in front.

After relying heavily on their defense for much of the season, the Ravens (7-5) finally received an ample boost from the league's 31st-ranked offense.

RELATED: RAY LEWIS NAMED SEMIFINALIST FOR 2018 PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS

Flacco went 23 for 36, Alex Collins ran for 75 yards and two scores, and Baltimore stretched its season-high winning streak to three games with its most complete performance of the season.

"The offense kept answering. That's what team victories are all about," coach John Harbaugh said. "It was a team victory across the board."

Matthew Stafford completed a team-record 20 straight passes in the second half, twice cutting the deficit to a touchdown. But Detroit (6-6) lost a second straight following a three-game winning streak.

"Get within one score, and the bottom falls out," coach Jim Caldwell said.

Stafford left late in the fourth quarter with a bruised right hand after being stepped on. He went 24 for 29 for 292 yards.

"You know, that's a really, really good defense we just played," Stafford said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game and we knew there were going to be times we were going to struggle on offense. We just had to keep trying to plug away."

Despite getting the Lions within 20-13 and 27-20, Stafford never could quite make up the difference.

Maybe it's because Flacco wouldn't let him.

"I really felt good about how we responded to them scoring some points in the second half, and we were able to keep getting into the end zone as well," Flacco said.

"We've struggled to get the ball into the end zone at times, so it was really big to get the touchdowns today when we really needed them."

RELATED: TONY JEFFERSON PAYS TRIBUTE TO SEAN TAYLOR 

The Ravens came in with three shutouts and an NFL-best 26 takeaways.

They upped that total to 29 with three huge plays: A strip-sack of Stafford by Eric Weddle that led to a touchdown in the second quarter; a fourth-quarter interception that set up a game-clinching TD run by Collins with four minutes to go; and a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown by Weddle against Jake Rudock with 2:26 remaining.

Baltimore's third straight victory came at a price. Standout cornerback Jimmy Smith left in the second quarter after hurting his Achilles tendon without being touched.

"Looks like Jimmy has a torn Achilles," Harbaugh said. "That's tough. It looks like he'll be out the rest of the year."

Smith has been bothered by a sore Achilles for much of the season. The seven-year veteran has missed several practices, but started all 12 games and is second on the team with three interceptions.

He was replaced by rookie Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore's top draft choice. Humphrey intercepted Stafford in the fourth quarter.