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1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Steelers


1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Steelers

1. Ray Rice will not rush for 100 yards. ...

The Steelers bottled up Rice at Heinz Field two weeks ago, holding him to 40 yards on 20 carries. The Steelers rank fifth in the league in rushing defense, allowing 91.5 yards a game. Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley (ankle) is out, but the Steelers will bring their 'A' game defensively and make Rice earn every yard he gets.

2. ... but he will get his 20 touches.

Don't expect Rice to catch any check-downs on fourth-and-29, but expect him to have the ball in his hands plenty. Since 2010, the Ravens are 26-3 when Rice has at least 20 touches. This year, he's topped 20 touches in only six of 11 games. One was at Pittsburgh, where he had 20 rushes and five receptions (for 53 yards). Expect him to be effective as a rusher and receiver again.

3. Joe Flacco will complete at least 60 percent of his passes.

Maybe it's something in the water, but Flacco's throws simply seem to have more zip and more accuracy at home. This season, Flacco has a completion percentage of .665 at home and .553 on the road.  Flacco, though, was 20-for-32 (.625) for 164 yards at Heinz Field two weeks ago.

4. Anquan Boldin will have at least five receptions.

The Steelers bottled up Torrey Smith last meeting (one catch, 7 yards), but could not do the same with Boldin, who made eight catches for 79 yards. In six career games against the Steelers, Boldin has averaging 6.5 catches and about 91 yards

5. The Ravens will have a touchdown drive of fewer than 40 yards.

The Ravens are facing the league's No. 1-ranked defense, which is likely to have Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu back, but the Ravens are overdue to find the end zone. They have one offensive touchdown in their past two games, both on the road. Things just run more smoothly at home. Look for a turnover to set them up with a short field.

6. Jonathan Dwyer will have a rush of 20+ yards.

If the Steelers can keep the game close, expect them to try to keep the ball on the ground, and Dwyer is the starter this week. He had 12 carries for 55 yards against the Ravens two weeks ago and will test the Ravens' 26th-ranked run defense.

7. The Ravens will intercept Charlie Batch.

Making his first start of the season last week for the Steelers, Batch was picked off three times by the Browns. If the Ravens can get a decent lead, Batch will be forced to throw often, and the Ravens secondary will be ready to pounce.

8. The Ravens will win the turnover battle.

One major reason for the Ravens success, even when the offense is struggling, is that they aren't giving the ball away. The Ravens have just one turnover in their past four games and are at plus-12 in turnover differential for the season, fourth-best in the league. Not only did Batch throw three picks last week, but no Steelers running back could hold on to the ball. The Steelers fumbled eight times at Cleveland, losing five.

9. Charlie Batch will be sacked at least twice.

Paul Kruger dominated Steelers rookie tackle Mike Adams the last time these teams met, and Adams is out with an ankle injury. he will be replaced by rookie Kelvin Beachum, who has played in three games this season. Guard Willie Colon (knee) is questionable. The Ravens had six sacks last week, and they will pin their ears back and go after the 37-year-old Batch in passing situations.

10. Ravens 27, Steelers 13

If the Steelers can run the ball effectively -- and hold on to it -- they can stay in this game even without Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers inexplicably went away from that last time these teams met; Byron Leftwich threw 39 times, and the Dwyer-Mendenhall-Redman running trio totaled just 24 carries in a three-point game. The loss of Roethlisberger was too much to overcome at Heinz Field, and it will be in Baltimore as well. Five of the last seven in this series have been decided by three points. This time, though, the Ravens roll to their 16th straight home win.


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Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst


Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst

The Ravens have their entire 2018 draft class locked up.

The team agreed to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Hurst's rookie contract - like all first-round picks - is a four-year deal with a team option of a fifth year. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the 25th overall pick is due $11.1 million. 

The 24-year old, who was a walk on at South Carolina at 21-years old after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012, finished his three-year career with 100 receptions, 1,281 yards and three touchdowns.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Hurst will be a nice addition to the TE corps with Nick Boyle and third-round draft pick Mark Andrews. 

Fellow first-round pick Lamar Jackson signed his rookie contract on June 5th.

Training camp kicks off for the Ravens July 19th. 


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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

Since drafting Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have made it clear that Joe Flacco is their starter. That doesn't mean they're not experimenting with having them both on the field at the same time, however. 

During this week's minicamp, the team has been lining Jackson up at multiple positions. 

"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson during Tuesday's minicamp, via ESPN.com.

"If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."

While at Louisville, Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons. That's more rushing yards than No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley. That unique skill set could be the creative options the Ravens are looking for. 

While at the NFL Combine, however, Jackson refused to workout at any other position than QB. 

"I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and what they're going to come up with next," Jackson said. "We'll see where it goes. You have to use your good players."

The Ravens are already viewing Jackson as one of those 'good players.' 

"Once he gets out of the pocket, it's like watching a young Michael Vick," LB C.J. Mosley said after minicamp practice. "It's amazing to watch. When you're defending him, you just have to act like you're tagging off -- you don't want to be on the highlight reel."

Harbaugh has alluded to the fact that the rookie will be active on game days, just exactly how they get the most out of him is what's in play.

"There's a lot of considerations that go into that," Harbaugh said of using two QBs at the once. "Everybody has an opinion. I've read a few. You want to find a way to get the most out of all your guys."

While Flacco isn't the fasted QB in the league, he has shown glimpses of running ability in the past. Figuring out how to utilize Flacco when Jackson is under center is where things will get interesting.

Interesting - as long as it works - is what Ravens fans have been searching for over the last several seasons. 

"Joe has to be able to do other things if [Jackson is] throwing the ball," Harbaugh said. "It gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they've worked hard on that."