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Three things we've learned from the Ravens so far this season

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Three things we've learned from the Ravens so far this season

It hasn't been pretty, that's for sure.

There were many questions for the Ravens heading into the 2017 season and halfway through, some of those questions still remain.

As rough as you may think it has been, the Ravens are only one game behind the Buffalo Bills for the sixth and final AFC playoff spot.

Wild, right?

Sitting at 4-5 with seven games to go, the season is far from over.

While there's been a lot of bad, there's also been some good. Let's start with the biggest issue.

1) Flacco, offense still trying to figure things out

Joe Flacco missed the entire preseason with a lingering back injury and many questioned how efficient he would be seeing game action for the first time in Week 1.

Well, the Ravens started off the season 2-0 and it seemed as if Flacco — in his tenth season — could just hop right back into things. But, since the 2-0 start, Flacco has been anything but "Joe Cool." In nine games, he's thrown for 1,551 yards, 8 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with a 72.7 QB rating.

Naturally, 32-year-old Flacco isn't going to be the fresh, young QB he was during his consecutive five-year playoff run. With a collapsing offensive line and no reliable receivers to throw to, it's difficult to put all of the blame on him.

Wide receivers Breshad Perriman, Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace have all missed playing time this season with injuries and concussions. The same applies to the Ravens' tight end group.

The team ranks dead last in the league in passing yards, but 10th in rushing yards.

However, their running back depth took a hit in July when Kenneth Dixon tore his medial meniscus in OTA's, ending his season.

Then Danny Woodhead suffered a hamstring injury in Week 1, but has returned to practice and could make his return against the Packers, and Terrance West hasn't played since Week 5 with a calf injury. 

In comes the Ravens' running back saint, Alex Collins. 

Prior to the start of the season you had probably never heard of Collins, but the 23-year-old has rushed for 521 yards this season. He gives some credit to his training in Irish dance, which he said has helped with his foot work.

And their O-line hasn't had much luck either. Starting guard John Urschel informed the team on Day 1 of training camp that he would be retiring from the game to focus on receiving his PhD in mathematics from MIT. The team then lost guard Marshall Yanda for the year with an ankle injury.

Between all of this, it's been a rough go-around for the Ravens offense. They can't seem to get much going but head coach John Harbaugh still has faith in offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

Now that the Ravens offense has had some time to regroup and recover, Flacco said he's ready to come back in attack mode.

REALTED: WEEK 10 NFL POWER RANKINGS

2) Defense still dominates, but not yet consistent

Spotty: spot·ty [ˈspädē/]. adj.: marked with spots. of uneven quality; patchy. See Also: 2017 Baltimore Ravens defense

The Ravens are known for their resilient defense and are currently ranking 6th overall in the league. Inside linebacker CJ Mosely leads the team in tackles, with 76 with Tony Jefferson trailing behind him at 43.

Even though the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals aren't two of the top teams in the league, the Ravens defense shut both of them out this season. A hard accomplishment in the NFL.

On the other hand, looking at games like Week 9's matchup against the Tennessee Titans, the Ravens defense allowed Marcus Mariota and company to drive down the field for a late Eric Decker touchdown. Something they were not happy about.

And in Week 6, they lost in overtime to the 3-6 Chicago Bears.

They are definitely still a dominate force in the league, but are working out some kinks.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

3) AFC mediocrity gives Ravens a fighting chance

The NFL in 2017 has been a bit strange. There is no core of dominating teams at the top.  More than any other season, this one appears as if success really is on a week-to-week basis. 

With the Ravens only one game behind the Bills for the sixth AFC playoff spot, there is still a glimmer of hope. And on top of that, the Ravens have the third easiest remaining schedule in the league.

After the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers in Week 11, they face the Deshaun Watson and JJ Watt-less Texans, followed by the Lions, Steelers, Browns, Colts and Bengals.

There are several winnable games there and with the team coming back from their bye week as healthy as they've been all year, it's time to rise to the occasion. 

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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