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Best of the Best: The case for Joe Flacco

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Best of the Best: The case for Joe Flacco

In our ongoing Best of the Best series, Bo Smolka makes a case for each of the four semifinalists. 

Joe Flacco -- where to start? First of all, he's not Kyle Boller.

Seriously, though, the fortunes of the Ravens franchise changed in 2008 when the Ravens, after a bit of draft-day gymnastics that included two first-round trades, ended up at No. 18 and selected tall, strong-armed Flacco out of the University of Delaware. 

Debate continues to rage nationally about where Flacco stands among his quarterback peers -- nothing lights up talk shows quite like asking 'Is Flacco elite?' -- but all Flacco has done is win games. 

Flacco, who already owns many of the Ravens most significant passing records, has led the Ravens to the playoffs six times in seven years. He's won 72 regular-season games, the most ever by a quarterback in his first seven seasons. 

Counting the playoffs, Flacco has a career record of 82-45. Since 2008, when Flacco entered the league, no quarterback has won more. Not Tom Brady (81), not Peyton Manning (78), not Aaron Rodgers (76). Granted, they have not played as many, but then again, Flacco's durability has been one of the keys to his success; Flacco has not missed a start in his career.

Flacco has been at his best on the biggest stages. He has won seven road playoff games, the most by any quarterback in NFL history, and his 10 playoff wins since 2008 also are the most in the  league in that span.

Flacco's run to the Super Bowl title in the 2012 season was one for the ages. In the Ravens four-game playoff run that season, Flacco threw 11 touchdowns and no interceptions, a feat matched in postseason history by only one other player: Hall of Famer Joe Montana. After that performance, Flacco joined Ray Lewis as the only Ravens named Super Bowl MVP.

And without a doubt, Flacco's blue-collar approach resonates with fans in the blue-collar city by the bay. This was, after all, a guy who said he was at a family pizza party when negotiations on his new, nine-figure contract were completed, and who celebrated signing the contract by stopping at a McDonalds drive-through on the way home.

MORE RAVENS: Best of the Best: The case for Ray Lewis

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Ravens lower concession prices at M&T Bank Stadium ahead of 2018 season

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens lower concession prices at M&T Bank Stadium ahead of 2018 season

Enjoying a game at M&T Bank Stadium just became a little more affordable.

On Thursday, the Ravens introduced their new "Flock Friendly Fare," reducing the price of 21 of their most popular food and beverage items.  

The change comes as the organization focuses on revamping the fan experience in 2018. Fans will see an average of 33 percent in total savings and up to 53 percent savings on a single item.  

"As a lot of you probably know, after every game we survey fans to see how we're doing; what have we done well and what have we not done well. Over the years, one of the biggest criticisms we received was for the gameday concessions prices," Ravens President Dick Cass said on the team's website

Alcoholic beverages were all reduced by $1 with the addition of domestic 12 ounce beer for $5.

Chicken tenders with fries went from $11 to $7, while a slice of pizza went from $8.50 to $6. No single item will cost above $9.

On average, you will now be able to feed a family of four for $44 compared to $66.75 in years past. To see all of the reductions, click the arrow in the post below. 

In 2017, the Atlanta Falcons reduced their concession prices upon opening their brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Ravens, however, are expecting to lose $1.5 million in concession revenue due to the change. 

Introducing our new Flock Friendly Fare!

A post shared by Baltimore Ravens (@ravens) on

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Vegas odds against Lamar Jackson starting for Ravens in 2018

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Vegas odds against Lamar Jackson starting for Ravens in 2018

Vegas has spoken and they are not optimistic about rookie Lamar Jackson starting under center for the Ravens in 2018.

Bovado, an online gambling site, has set the odds on how the top 2018 rookies will perform and they have Jackson getting 0.5 starts this season.

That number will come as a surprise considering the popular narrative that Lamar Jackson will be the Ravens' starter in no time. The team made it clear they are planning for life after Flacco when they traded back into the first-round of the 2018 draft to select the quarterback out of Louisville at No. 32

Flacco - who is entering his 11th season with the organization - is experiencing a decline in his performance of late, one that can not be put entirely on his shoulders as the team has failed in finding him valuable weapons to throw to. Nonetheless, Flacco's projected 2018 season is very much up in the air and it appears Vegas is betting on the one-time Super Bowl MVP to bounce back. 

However, the Ravens have failed to make the playoffs four of the last five seasons, and if that trend continues into 2018, the rookie could get his shot at flipping the script.

If you're a betting man, it could payoff to bet the over on Jackson. Low risk, seemingly high reward. 

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