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Best of the Best: The case for Ray Lewis

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Best of the Best: The case for Ray Lewis

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

When you have a statue out in front of the stadium, how much more of a case needs to be made?

All the accolades -- 13 Pro Bowl invitations (tied for the most ever by a defensive player), two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Super Bowl MVP -- point to Ray Lewis as the premier defensive player of his generation and one of the greatest in league history.

In his prime, no one covered the field better or hit any harder than No. 52. Ask Eddie George or Darren Sproles. And no one could fire up the M&T Stadium crowd more.

Early in his career, Lewis was at the center of the Ravens' remarkable 2000 defense, which set a record for the fewest points allowed in a 16-game season (165) and recorded four shutouts. He capped that season with the first Super Bowl title in franchise history, the Super Bowl MVP award and the first of his NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Then, late in the 2012 season, after he announced he was on his "last ride," the Ravens found another gear and rode all the way to another Super Bowl title in New Orleans.

Lewis, the Ravens' second-ever draft pick, retired after 17 seasons, all in purple and black. His total of 228 regular-season games is a franchise record, as is his total of 2,643 tackles.  He is the only player in NFL history with at least 40 sacks and 30 interceptions.

And as Lewis showed this spring, he remains active in the Baltimore community, returning to speak to students at Douglass High School in the wake of the unrest that rocked the city.

MORE RAVENS: Best of the Best (Semifinals): Ray Lewis vs. Joe Flacco

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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!

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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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