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Offseason Predictions: What changes should the Ravens make?

Offseason Predictions: What changes should the Ravens make?

The Ravens season did not finish in the manner they were hoping, so it's time to look to the offseason to make the neccessary improvements.

With Steve Smith Sr. and Zach Orr retiring, the team has some major areas of need.

Here are five offseason predictions for the Ravens, as they try to build a playoff team for 2017:

RELATED: 2017 SUPER BOWL ODDS

1. The Ravens will add a veteran wide receiver.

Whether it’s a free agent like Pierre Garcon of the Redskins, or a cap casualty from another team, look for the Ravens to add a veteran presence at wide receiver. They only have four wide receivers under contract, and the retirement of Steve Smith Sr. leaves a void that needs to be addressed.

2. Joe Flacco will get together with some wide receivers for private throwing sessions.

Flacco needs to build chemistry with Breshad Perriman in particular, and the Ravens need a better Flacco in 2017 for the offense to reach its full potential. A year removed from knee surgery, Flacco can concentrate less on rehab, and more on getting quality offseason reps.

3. On either Day 1 or Day 2 of the draft, the Ravens will take a cornerback.

Drafting a top cornerback is overdue for the Ravens, who haven’t taken a corner in the first three rounds since Jimmy Smith in 2011. Lack of depth at cornerback has been a major issue for years. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Ravens take two corners in this year’s draft.

4. The Ravens will re-sign free agent defensive tackle Brandon Williams.

It will take deep pockets to re-sign Williams, who turns 28 years old February 21, and whose career arc is ascending.

But losing Williams in his prime would be a major blow to a defense that can’t afford to be vulnerable against the run.

5. The Ravens will explore adding a veteran offensive lineman, via free agency or trade.

Right tackle Rick Wagner is a free agent, and starting center Jeremy Zuttah could be replaced.

The Ravens are serious about becoming a team that runs the football more effectively. They need a more physical offensive line to accomplish that goal.

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 2.0

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Steelers clinch AFC North with tight win over Ravens

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USA Today Sports

Steelers clinch AFC North with tight win over Ravens

PITTSBURGH -- Ryan Shazier was everywhere. His helmet rested on the Pittsburgh Steelers' bench. His jersey too. His face and #Shalieve stitched on specially-designed cleats. His familiar No. 50 printed in white in the middle of a gold circle on T-shirts worn by teammates searching for a way to let Shazier know he is never far from their mind as he recovers from a spinal injury that put the linebacker's blossoming career in jeopardy.

Shazier may never play football again. That doesn't make him any less of a Steeler. And the men who have taken so much from him over the last three-plus years decided it was time they gave him something back in return: the AFC North title he ordered them to lock down without him.

Chris Boswell made a 46-yard field goal with 42 seconds left and Pittsburgh's defense overcame a shaky night without their most dynamic player to shut down Baltimore's last-gasp drive and hold on for a 39-38 victory on Sunday night to capture their third division title in the last four years.

"We are riding with that guy," head coach Mike Tomlin said of Shazier. "He is strong. He is strengthening us."

Looked like it.

RELATED: RAY LEWIS ONE STEP CLOSER TO HALL OF FAME

The Steelers (11-2) trailed by 11 points going into the fourth quarter but capped an emotionally draining week to rally for their eighth straight victory, one they couldn't wait to share with Shazier, who joined the giddy postgame celebration via Facetime.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 506 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to top 500 yards passing three times. Antonio Brown caught 11 passes for 213 yards, including two long gains in the fourth quarter that allowed the Steelers to recover after blowing an early 14-point lead. Le'Veon Bell had 125 yards of total offense and scored three touchdowns .

"We can win a shootout against anybody," Bell said. "I feel like we can score points whenever we need to."

Good thing, because Pittsburgh might have to. The Ravens (7-6) rolled up 414 yards against the NFL's fourth-ranked defense and recovered from a slow start to score on five consecutive drives and six out of seven to take a 38-29 lead on Javorius Allen's second touchdown with 6:44 left.

Not much time against most teams. Far too much against the Steelers.

Roethlisberger and Brown, who is mounting a legitimate MVP candidacy, hooked up on a 57-yard connection set up an 11-yard sprint by Bell with 3:29 to go. The Steelers forced the Ravens into a three-and-out and Roethlisberger calmly led Pittsburgh within field goal range, including a 34-yard lob down the sideline to Brown that set up Boswell's winner.

RELATED: TONY JEFFERSON PAYS TRIBUTE TO SEAN TAYLOR

Baltimore's Joe Flacco threw for 269 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception but was strip-sacked by rookie linebacker T.J. Watt on the Ravens' final snap.

"This one hurts," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "We lose to them the same way we did last year. This one sucks, but we've got to get over it. Yeah, this one's going to hurt but it's best for us to have a short memory on this one because if we win out there's a good chance we'll be in (the playoffs)."

Shazier, who's been in the hospital since injuring his spine in the first quarter of last week's victory over Cincinnati, told his teammates to finish the work he helped start. Even as they celebrated an important step in a journey they hope will carry them deep into the postseason, they were making plans to keep Shazier involved, starting with a late-night trip to the hospital to deliver him his AFC North champions' swag.

"We are going to give him the hat and T-shirt tonight," good friend and fellow inside linebacker Vince Williams said.

When someone mentioned visitor's hours were probably over, Williams repeated "tonight." Then, it was home to rest before preparing for a showdown with New England next Sunday.

"That's the crazy part about the NFL, things constantly change and you've got to keep rolling," Williams said. "So you've got to find a way to roll with the punches even though it may be a haymaker, got to find a way to recover."

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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