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Ravens' NT Brandon Williams ranked among top 10 free agents

Ravens' NT Brandon Williams ranked among top 10 free agents

Ravens nose tackle Brandon Williams is ranked among the top 10 free agents on the market in a list compiled by NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal, and tackle Rick Wagner also makes the top-25 list, checking in at No. 24.

That only underscores what was already conventional wisdom around Baltimore: The Ravens will have a tough time holding on to either player given interest around the league and their typically thin amount of salary cap space.

At the "State of the Ravens" address on Tuesday, general manager Ozzie Newsome said the team has had preliminary discussions with some agents representing their pending free agents.

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"We have talked to some of the players before they left and let them know that we really would like to retain them," Newsome added. "A lot of the legwork has been done."

Williams and Wagner headline a pending free agent group for the Ravens that includes fullback Kyle Juszczyk, special teams ace Anthony Levine and safety Matt Elam.

Williams comes in at No. 9 on the NFL.com free agent list, and at this point, it would seem likely he will test the market and see what offers are out there. He is going to like what he sees.

"Williams is a one-man solution to your favorite team's run-stopping problems," Rosenthal wrote. "Damon Harrison paved the way last season for nose tackles to get paid like pass rushers."

Harrison signed with the New York Giants for five years and $46.2 million, with $24 million guaranteed.

Can, or would, the Ravens offer Williams a similar deal? Probably not, and that's nothing against Williams, who is a popular and respected player. He has probably been the Ravens most consistent defensive player over the past couple of seasons. But the Ravens have undrafted rookie Michael Pierce available at a fraction of that cost, and they could then turn their attention and resources to more pressing needs.  

As for Wagner, Rosenthal ranks him as the 24th-best available free agent, and he predicts that Wagner could command "north of $10 million per season in this market."

The salary cap, while not set yet, is expected to rise by $10 million or more. So the Ravens will have more money to work with. Then again, so will everyone else.

"With the salary cap escalating as it is, then the salaries of the players are escalating also," Newsome said. "You have to play the game."

RELATED: RAVENS DB COACH HEADS TO BUFFALO TO TAKE COORDINATOR JOB

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Ravens keep AFC playoff hopes alive with win over Cleveland Browns

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USA Today Sports

Ravens keep AFC playoff hopes alive with win over Cleveland Browns

CLEVELAND -- When he looked up and saw hundreds of purple-and-black clad Baltimore fans ringing the tunnel entrance, coach John Harbaugh was moved to return the love.

He tossed his baseball cap into the stands and peeled off two sweat shirts that he handed out as souvenirs.

"Well worth it," Harbaugh said of his generosity.

The Ravens didn't give up anything else Sunday.

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Joe Flacco threw a touchdown pass, ran for a score and beat Cleveland again as Baltimore stayed on track for a spot in the AFC playoffs with a 27-10 win over the Browns, now two losses from becoming the NFL's second 0-16 team.

Flacco scored on a 2-yard run and threw a 33-yard TD pass to tight end Benjamin Watson as the Ravens (8-6), coming off a heartbreaking loss to rival Pittsburgh, took control with two touchdowns in the final 3:01 of the first half.

Baltimore's opportunistic defense also contributed by forcing four more turnovers, with tackle Brandon Williams recovering a fumble and rolling into the end zone for a TD in third quarter to put the Ravens up 24-10.

"We've been doing some good things for a few weeks now and obviously it's getting our confidence rolling," said Flacco, who improved to 17-2 against the Browns. "Guys are starting to get some mojo and really starting to feel it."

The Browns (0-14) went 0-8 at home -- 0-7 in Cleveland, 0-1 in London -- for the second time and must win at either Chicago or Pittsburgh to avoid joining the 2008 Detroit Lions in the notorious 0-16 club. Last season, the Browns avoided infamy by winning their final home game and finishing 1-15.

Cleveland is 1-29 in two seasons under coach Hue Jackson, who is expected to be back despite his .033 winning percentage. Following the game, Jackson addressed speculation he might be interested in going Cincinnati, where Marvin Lewis is expected to leave at the end of the season.

"I'm not running from this," Jackson said. "I have never gone any place and left it worse than when I found it. I'm not going to run from this. I'm going to be here and I need to get this fixed as fast as I can because I think it is important."

Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer threw two more interceptions, the last into a group of defenders in the fourth quarter.

RELATED: PREDICTING AFC PLAYOFF PICTURE

Harbaugh wasn't concerned about his team overlooking the Browns with so much on the line. Baltimore was coming off a punch-in-the-gut, last-second loss to the Steelers, and while the Ravens weren't at their best, they didn't do anything to help Cleveland's cause.

And as long as they take care of business at home against Indianapolis and Cincinnati in their last two games, the Ravens will return to the postseason after a two-year absence.

With the Ravens leading 17-10, Baltimore's defense put away the Browns.

Kizer was stripped in the end zone on his blindside by Za'Darius Smith and the loose ball was pounced on by Williams, who shimmied his 340-pound frame across the goal line.

"I had to do a little scooch, but it was good," Williams said, adding it was his first TD since high school. "I'm happy they didn't call it back. I would have been upset."

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Ravens vs. Brown: Week 15 time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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USA Today Sports

Ravens vs. Brown: Week 15 time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Ravens must forget about what happened Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 39-38 loss and shift their focus on securing a playoff spot.

Their game Sunday against the 0-13 Cleveland Browns should be an easy win with the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals as their remaining opponents down the stretch.

After a rocky start to the season, the Ravens offense has finally gotten it together. Against the Steelers, Joe Flacco threw for 269 yards,1 TD and 1 INT.

RELATED: WEEK 14 NFL POWER RANKINGS 

The star of the season, however, has been running back Alex Collins. Collins plowed through the Steelers defense for 18 carries, 120 yards and 1 TD. 

What failed the Ravens at Heinz Field was the defense, who has been strong for the majority of the season. The Browns are ranked dead last in the league in points, something the Ravens defense should be capable of walking all over. 

The winless Browns were so close to getting their first win of the season against the Green Bay Packers in Week 14, but blew it in OT. 

Quarterback DeShone Kizer was 20/28 for 214 yards, 3 TD and 2 INT.

Running back Isaiah Crowell had 19 carries for 121 yards averaging 6.4 yards per carry. Wide receiver Josh Gordon had 3 receptions, 69 yards and 1 TD. 

While the stats are decent, they were playing against an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers and allowed 14 points in the fourth, blowing their lead and not securing a win in OT. 

The Ravens may have lost Sunday's game to the Steelers, but they showed they could go into enemy territory and give the top seeded team in the AFC a run for their money. 

The Ravens and Browns have met 37 times with the Ravens leading the series by an astounding 28-9 and have outscored them 865-552.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of Sunday's matchup.

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Week 15 Ravens vs. Browns:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns

What: Week 15 NFL regular season 

When: 1:00 p.m.. ET, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017

Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio

TV Channel: CBS

Live Stream: CBS All Access

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

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 

Point Spread: Baltimore, -7

Over/Under: 40

Weather: 39 degrees, rain

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. (L)

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