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If Ravens clinch Sunday, still lots to play for

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If Ravens clinch Sunday, still lots to play for

As pointed out in Pro Football Talk, five NFL teams can clinch playoff berths this weekend, and the Ravens are one of them. In fact, they are one of four that can clinch a division title.

If the Ravens beat the Steelers and the Bengals lose to the Chargers, Baltimore wins the AFC North with four games remaining to play.

But that certainly doesn’t mean the Ravens would be left with nothing to play for down the stretch. They want to be able to skip the first week of the playoffs, but the Ravens are only one game ahead of two other division leaders, the Broncos and Patriots. However, having beaten New England this season, the Ravens hold the tiebreaker, so they’re actually two games up on the Pats.

The same scenario works in reverse for the Ravens in regard to the Texans, who hold the AFC’s best record — and the home field for the playoffs that goes with it — by one game over Baltimore, plus the head-to-head tiebreaker edge by virtue of their blowout defeat of the Ravens.

So the Ravens need to run the table for the rest of the regular season and hope that somewhere in Houston’s last five games — road matchups against the Titans, Patriots and Colts, home games against the Colts and Vikings — there lie two losses.

Perhaps more than anyone else in the NFL, the Ravens would benefit from hosting playoff games. With the goal of postseason dates at M&T Bank Stadium as a path to the Super Bowl, the Ravens will have plenty of incentive left even if the AFC North is theirs with a month left in the season.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson is his own biggest critic

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson is his own biggest critic

Kick off your Friday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news including how quarterback Lamar Jackson has fared during OTAs.

Player/Team Notes: 

1. Following a January surgery on his left ankle, safety Tony Jefferson remains sidelined after the first week of OTAs. Originally, Jefferson was expected to return 4-6 weeks after surgery. However, now that it's 5 months later, his return timetable is becoming more and more concerning. 

2. Quarterback Lamar Jackson spoke with Ravens media Thursday about his progress not only learning the new offense implemented by Offensive Coordinator, Greg Roman, but learning the names of his new teammates as well. After another day of OTAs, Jackson was his biggest critic despite a solid day of running plays namely passing drills. “I’d say my first day, I sucked,” Jackson said to Ravens media. “Second day, I did better. Today was alright, but it could have been better. I always try to be perfect in practice. It was alright for the first week.”

Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Rotoworld and Baltimore Ravens for news points.

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'I started to realize that I’m not broken': Steve Smith opens up about mental health and depression

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'I started to realize that I’m not broken': Steve Smith opens up about mental health and depression

Former Carolina Panthers' star receiver Steve Smith spoke in front of a crowd of over 400 people at the fifth annual Wake up for Wellness breakfast that was sponsored by Mental Health America of Central Carolinas.

The 16-year veteran and current NFL Network analyst touched on the importance of seeking help for bouts with depression and spoke of battles that he has faced with the disease.

“On the outside you’ll see a tough exterior. But on the inside, I’m just broken or I believe even more broken than the average man. ... Because when the stadium goes dark and the cheers stop, you’re still looking for that pat on the back,” Smith said. “Throughout my whole career, I struggled with that.”

Smith discussed that in the beginning, he was so concerned about the stigma regarding mental health, that he opted for the professional to meet him for housecalls, and as time passed he realized the importance of speaking up.

“I started to realize that I’m not broken,” he said. “I’m not being sent back to the manufacturer ... I get up every morning and figure it out.”

Smith's comments on the issue came to light just a day after the NFL and NFLPA announced new legislation that focuses on mental well being.

The newly formed Comprehensive Mental Health and Wellness Committee will develop programs for members of the NFL in addition to collaborating with local and national mental health and suicide prevention organizations. Each team will be mandated to retain a Behavioral Health Team Clinician for assistance that will be required to be available to players at the individual team facilities for at least 8-12 hours per week and must conduct mandatory mental health education sessions for players and coaching staff.

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