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Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis named semifinalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 class

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Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis named semifinalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 class

Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has been named a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 class. 

Lewis, who is in his first year of eligibility, made the first set of cuts from 108 candidates to 27. 

First-year eligible players included on the semifinals list with Lewis are defensive back Ronde Barber, guard Steve Hutchinson, linebacker Brian Urlacher, wide receiver Randy Moss and defensive lineman Richard Seymour.

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12 offensive players, 13 defensive players and two coaches made the cut. However, there are no quarterbacks on the list.

All ties for the 25th spot also advance. 

In January, members of the Hall of Fame committee will then narrow the modern-era list down to 15. Nominees must receive 80 percent "yes" votes to make the cut.

The selection committee will then meet for a final time on February 3, the day before Super Bowl LII, to select the 2018 class. 

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Lewis and Moss are considered shoo-ins.

Lewis played his entire 17-year career with the team after the Ravens drafted him 26th in the 1996 draft. During his 17 years, he won two Super Bowls, won Super Bowl XXXV MVP, was named to 13 Pro Bowls, a seven-time First-Team All-Pro, was a two-time Defensive Player of the year winner, won eight Defensive Player of the Week awards, played in 228 career games, made 1,336 tackles, had 41.5 sacks and 31 interceptions.

Players must be retired from the league for five years to be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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Ravens' defense earns third shutout of season, force 5 turnovers against Packers

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Ravens' defense earns third shutout of season, force 5 turnovers against Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Baltimore Ravens forced five turnovers in their third shutout of the season, blanking the Green Bay Packers 23-0 Sunday.

Baltimore last accomplished the feat when the Ray Lewis-led defense had four shutouts for the Super Bowl-winning team in 2000; the last NFL team to have three was New England in 2003. Jimmy Smith, Eric Weddle and Marlon Humphrey each picked off passes for Baltimore (5-5), which led the NFL in interceptions entering the weekend.

"It doesn't mean (anything) if we don't make the playoffs," veteran edge rusher Terrell Suggs said about the shutouts. "If we don't get in, you won't remember them."

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A problematic offense couldn't generate a touchdown drive until Joe Flacco's perfect deep ball to Mike Wallace over two defenders for a 13-point lead nearly two minutes into the third quarter. Flacco threw for 183 yards, going 22 of 28 with an interception.

His lone touchdown pass was still enough of a cushion against a Packers team struggling without two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers, out with a broken collarbone.

The Packers were last shut out on Nov. 19, 2006, when then-starter Brett Favre left with an elbow injury in the first half of a 35-0 loss to New England. Rodgers, then in his second year in the league, finished off that loss in relief.

Hundley, Rodgers' replacement this season, didn't fare any better.

He was 21 of 36 for 239 yards. But he threw interceptions on the Packers' first two series. On the third drive, backup running back Devante Mays fumbled on his first carry of the season.

"Our guys were playing so fast and covering so well, it just made it tough on" Hundley, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

Any big gains the rest of the day were negated by busted plays or penalties. The Packers (5-5) have lost four of their past five games.

"You have to take care of the football," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Offensively, that was way too much for us to overcome."

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Davante Adams was a lone bright spot, torching the Ravens' strong secondary for 126 yards on eight catches. The Packers actually outgained the Ravens 265-219. But turnovers sapped any momentum.

"We're not in panic mode, everything is still in front of us," Adams said. "We've got to get a grip of it real quick here. Otherwise we will be in panic mode."

Justin Tucker kicked three field goals for Baltimore. Alex Collins added a 3-yard touchdown run with 2:12 left. That score came a play after Hundley threw his third interception, returned 15 yards by Humphrey.

Collins had 49 yards on 20 carries, while Wallace finished with 56 yards on four catches.

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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.

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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.

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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.