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Battle shaping up for WRs

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Battle shaping up for WRs

The Ravens' top three receivers appear all set. Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith return as starters, and Jacoby Jones has established himself as the No. 3 receiver this team was lacking last season.

After that? It figures to be a battle royale for the final spots, with the Ravens likely to keep five, perhaps six receivers on the final 53-man roster.

There could be some difficult decisions when it comes cutting time.

Baltimore native LaQuan Williams has had a strong camp and appears likely to make the team. Tandon Doss, who played sparingly last season and has been slowed by a hamstring injury this preseason, is listed ahead of Williams on the depth chart (for what that's worth.)Then there are the rookies, undrafted Deonte Thompson, whose raw speed has been on display frequently, and sixth-round pick Tommy Streeter, the 6-foot-5 project out of Miami. Then there's Logan Payne, who at least has limited NFL experience, and rookie Devin Goda, and...you get the idea.

The Ravens' 90-man roster includes a dozen receivers, and it's likely that no more than half will make the final roster.

For those on the bubble, special teams play could be their ticket to the final roster.When asked on Sunday about keeping six receivers, coach John Harbaugh said one determining factor would be special teams play.

"Those guys are going to play important roles on special teams," he said.

Indeed, special teams play probably helped Williams stick with the Ravens last season. He showed some flashes as a return man in preseason, but his main contribution during the season was in coverage. He finished the season with four special teams tackles and forced a fumble on a punt return in the AFC Championship Game at New England.

Special teams drills such as punt coverage aren't the most flashy or exciting. But for these receivers fighting for a spot in the Ravens locker room come Week 1, they just might be the most important.

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NFL Playoff Picture: A lot on the line for the Ravens heading into Week 16

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NFL Playoff Picture: A lot on the line for the Ravens heading into Week 16

Week 15 in the AFC was verrrryy interesting.

The Los Angeles Chargers went into Kansas City and handed Patrick Mahomes a loss.

Tom Brady may have to play during Wild Card weekend for just the third time in the Brady-Belichick era, and the sixth a final playoff spot is still up for grabs as the Baltimore Ravens could be eliminated this weekend.

Here's a look at where things stand in the AFC heading into Week 16.

AFC Playoff Standings:

1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3, 4-1)

The Chiefs have already clinched a playoff berth, but their Thursday night loss to the Chargers made things much more interesting in the AFC West. 

If they win out, the Chiefs will still claim the AFC West and the No. 1 seed. A loss over the next two weeks, however, could shift their seeding around. 

Remaining Games: @Seahawks (8-6), Raiders (3-11)

2. Houston Texans (10-4, 3-2)

The Texans moved up in the standings thanks to the New England Patriots losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Deshaun Watson closing out a win against the New York Jets.

The Texans could easily finish 12-4 after their remaining two matchups.

Remaining Games: @Eagles (7-7), Jacksonville (4-10)

3. New England Patriots (9-5, 3-1)

The Patriots' loss to the Steelers Sunday has put them in a sticky situation. 

A first-round bye is potentially in jeopardy, something Tom Brady and Bill Belichick aren't used to, and a road game in the second-round seems plausible. Their remaining games, however, could easily bounce them back from their two-game losing streak.

Remaining Games: Buffalo (5-9), Jets (4-10)

4. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5-1, 3-1-1)

A win Sunday over the Patriots didn't move the Steelers any in playoff seeding, but did keep them half a game up of the Ravens for the AFC North.

It will be a race to the finish line for Ben Roethlisberger and co. as the AFC is anything but steady and they face Drew Brees and the Saints in Week 16.

Remaining Games: @Saints (12-2), Bengals (6-8)

5. Los Angeles Chargers (11-3, 3-2)

The Chargers secured a spot in the playoffs with their 29-28 win over the Chiefs in unexpected fashion.

They could also ruin the Ravens' season Saturday as a win will knock them out of the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.

Remaining Games: Ravens (8-6), @Denver (6-8)

6. Baltimore Ravens (8-6, 2-3)

There are so many scenarios for the Ravens heading into Saturday's game against the Chargers. One of those includes them taking over the AFC North, and the other involves missing the postseason for the fourth year in a row.

If the Ravens win Sunday and the Steelers lose to the Saints, they will lead the AFC North. But if the Ravens lose and the Steelers, Colts and Titans all win the Ravens head back to Baltimore with nothing to show for their 2018 season. 

Not only do the Ravens have to travel across the country on a shorter week, but it will be the first time Lamar Jackson faces a top-10 defense. It's all in their hands.

Remaining Games: @Chargers (11-3), Browns (6-7-1)

In The Hunt:

7. Indianapolis Colts (8-6, 3-2)

The Colts slowed down the Dallas Cowboys hype train in their shutout win Sunday. 

The Colts will need some help to make it to the playoffs and a Ravens loss on Sunday could do just that.

Remaining Games: Giants (5-9), @Tennessee (8-6)

8. Tennessee Titans (8-6, 3-2)

A shutout win over the New York Giants kept the Titans' playoff hopes alive.

The Colts have the advantage over the Titans at the moment based on their head-to-head record, but that could all change in Week 17 when the two faceoff against one another. 

Remaining Games: Redskins (7-7), Colts (8-6)

9. Miami Dolphins (7-7, 4-1)

Miami has been able to stay in the mix, but their 41-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings Sunday could have spelled the end.

They now must win out and need a lot of help from other teams to see January football. 

Remaining Games: Jacksonville (4-10), @Bills (5-9)

10. Cleveland Browns (6-7-1, 2-1-1)

The Browns need somewhat of a miracle to make the playoffs, but their season certainly hasn't been boring.

In order to make it to the postseason, the Browns have to win out AND the Titans and Colts both have to lose Week 16 AND the Titans and Colts have to tie in their Week 17 matchup. 

Eliminated: Oakland Raiders (3-11), New York Jets (4-10), Jacksonville Jaguars (4-10), Buffalo Bills (5-9), Cincinnati Bengals (6-8, and the Denver Broncos (6-8). 

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4 must-see moments from the Ravens' Week 15 win over the Bucs, including Marlon Humphrey's big day

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4 must-see moments from the Ravens' Week 15 win over the Bucs, including Marlon Humphrey's big day

It was a wet and dreary day in Baltimore as the Ravens earned a 20-12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Winning four of their last five games, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens extended their run to the postseason in a total team effort.

Here are four must-see moments from the Week 15 win.

1. Humphrey's big day

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey further cemented he's worthy of a Pro Bowl nomination during Sunday's game. The 2017 first-round draft pick laid a huge hit on Bucs running back Ronald Jones in the first quarter for a loss.

Then Humphrey picked off quarterback Jameis Winston early in the fourth quarter to earn his first interception of the season and a career-high four passes defensed on the day. 

2. Chris Moore puts Ravens on the board

After a slow start, the Ravens finally got on the board late in the second quarter thanks to a five-yard touchdown by wide receiver Chris Moore.

Jackson ran to the left to throw off the Bucs defense before shovel passing that ball to Moore who ran it into the endzone from the right. Simple yet effective.

3. Gus 'the bus' drives to the endzone

Running back Gus Edwards has taken the Ravens' running game to new levels. Ranked 27th in the league heading into Week 11, the teams run game is now ranked second in the NFL after Sunday's performance. 

This 10-yard touchdown run gave the Ravens some breathing room early in the third quarter as they took a 17-9 lead. An introvert in the locker room but an extrovert on the field, Edwards has 100 consecutive rushes without a loss of a yard marking the longest active streak in the NFL.

Edwards finished the day with a game-high 104 yards on 19 carries and his third 100-yard game this season.

4. Jackson in action...again

Five games as the starter and we know for certain that Jackson can, and will, run the ball down the field.

Facing 3rd-and-seven, the QB magically avoided a sack and ran for 11 yards to pick up the first down.

Even though Jackson's effort was offset by a 15-yard unecessary roughness penalty against running back Kenneth Dixon, the play was still impressive.

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