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BC-Sports Preview Digest

BC-Sports Preview Digest

Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Wednesday. A full Sports Digest will be sent about 3 p.m. All times EST:

- A day before Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey airs, the sports world knows that he confessed to doping. Still a mystery is exactly what he admitted to.

- FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Tom Brady has faced some tough times against the Baltimore Ravens. His passer rating is lower against them than against any other team. On Sunday, he gets a chance to turn that around when the New England Patriots play the Ravens in the AFC championship game.

- SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Despite all those gaudy statistics and impressive physical skills, Colin Kaepernick faced plenty of questions coming out of Nevada about whether he was the product of a gimmicky college offense that would have no chance of working in the pros.

- OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Ray Lewis sure doesn't look the part of an aging linebacker on the brink of retirement. Lewis has led the Ravens in tackles in each of the past two games and looks as though he could play into his 40s, even though he insists his career will draw to a close when Baltimore's playoff run ends.

- MELBOURNE, Australia - Novak Djokovic is all but perfect in his second-round match against Ryan Harrison, beating the 20-year-old American 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 to stay on track for his third consecutive Australian Open title and the fourth of his career.

- CHICAGO - The Bears hire Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman to replace the fired Lovie Smith, hoping he can get the most out of quarterback Jay Cutler and make Chicago a playoff team on a consistent basis.

- OAKLAND, Calif. - LeBron James can become the youngest player in NBA history to reach 20,000 points when the slumping Miami Heat visit the upstart Golden State Warriors. James needs 18 points to reach the milestone.

- BOSTON - Rookie Austin Rivers faces his father, Celtics coach Doc Rivers, in the NBA for the first time when the New Orleans Hornets play Boston.

- SALT LAKE CITY - The player who nearly died after collapsing on the basketball court six weeks ago ran a mile the other day. Unless Utah State's Danny Berger takes his shirt off to reveal where a defibrillator has been implanted in his chest, he seems like any 22-year-old college athlete.

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The Ravens' future isn't Joe Flacco - but they don't want to face him in the AFC

The Ravens' future isn't Joe Flacco - but they don't want to face him in the AFC

The Baltimore Ravens made it clear after their Wild Card loss that Lamar Jackson would be their quarterback going forward, bringing the somewhat official end to Joe Flacco's 11-year career with the team.

So what's next for the Super Bowl MVP?

Retirement after a fruitful NFL career is an option, but in a league where teams are desperate for a seasoned veteran, Flacco could find himself with another affluent contract. The Ravens, too, could get something nice in return.

"Let's start with a second-round pick," former Redskins GM Charley Casserly said. "It's negotiable, we're going to keep him in pencil. Who am I not going to trade him to? Well, I may not have a choice. I may only have one trade pick. I don't want him in the AFC. I don't want this guy costing me a playoff position next year."

There are several AFC teams in need of a QB, too. The Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars would jump at the chance to get Flacco under center.

But it may not be that easy for the Ravens.

"If the team wants to renegotiate his contract, Flacco controls the trade," Casserly adds. "He can simply say, 'no' [and the] Ravens may have to just release him and let Joe go his own way." 

The former GM adds that he expects something to be settled come March. Why? Casserly places Teddy Bridgewater and Nick Foles as hotter free agency pickups for QB needy teams, and with the 2019 NFL Draft not offering a ton in terms of first-round quarterbacks, the Ravens may have to act fast in order to get a return on their investment. 

One team that is definitely in need of a QB1 is the Washington Redskins. The idea could interest Flacco as his family of seven could stay put in the DMV area. But can the Redskins afford Flacco? 

The team is facing a huge cap charge with Alex Smith, whose career is in question after suffering a catastrophic leg injury, and a rookie they can mold could make more sense than a 34-year-old Flacco.

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Ravens reportedly agree to a deal keeping John Harbaugh in Baltimore long term

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USA Today Sports

Ravens reportedly agree to a deal keeping John Harbaugh in Baltimore long term

The Ravens have reportedly agreed in principle to a new contract extension with head coach John Harbaugh, a move already being praised by national pundits everywhere. 

It was nearly a month ago that the Ravens announced Harbaugh would be returning as the team’s head coach in 2019, which was noteworthy considering his status as a potential lame duck head coach.

In the same release, the team announced they were working towards a contract extension with Harbaugh, whose current deal was set to expire next year.

Despite reports from national NFL insiders, including Jason La Canfora and Peter King, that Harbaugh might prefer to hit free agency as a highly sought-after head coach after the 2019 season, it appears the Ravens will keep him in Baltimore for the foreseeable future. 

This news comes on the heels of a busier-than-usual coaching carousel, with a quarter of the 32 NFL teams changing head coaches in the last month, including two AFC North rivals. Harbaugh almost certainly would have been the cream of the crop among coaching free agents no matter when he became available, so the Ravens were looking to lock him up long term.

After a tough November home loss to the Steelers that put the team at 4-5, Harbaugh was asked about his job security, and he remained steadfast and confident.

"I've never been someone who's worried about keeping a job," Harbaugh said. "It's always been, for me, [about] doing the job. I've got a bunch of great coaches and a bunch of great players that bust their tails every day to do the best job they can. I feel really good about the way this team has been coached for the last 11 years, and for the last number of weeks we've been in the season. So, there are no regrets. Never been any regrets here with me."

After that game, the Ravens rattled off six wins in seven games to make the playoffs, and many players credited Harbaugh with keeping the team together. It was prior to Week 16 when the front office announced Harbaugh would be returning no matter how the season ended, but the strong finish and AFC North title certainly made the decision easier.

A coach with a special teams background, Harbaugh is an anomaly in the current era of young, offensive-minded head coaches. He won Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, and holds a 104-72 career record in Baltimore.

The terms of the new deal have not yet been released, but it will be interesting how many years the team is committing to Harbaugh.

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