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Offense leaves defense stranded on the road

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Offense leaves defense stranded on the road

With the surprising return of Terrell Suggs giving the Ravens' struggling defense a momentary lift, it didn't matter in Sunday's 43-13 loss to the Houston Texans.

It hardly looked like a meeting between the two best teams in the AFC with both entering 5-1. The Ravens allowed the most points under coach John Harbaugh since he arrived in 2008 and the hurry-up offense disappeared yet again.

As much as the Ravens have tried to deny it, something about the offense and the road doesn't mix. When quarterback Joe Flacco hit Tandon Doss in the third quarter for a 15-yard touchdown, it represented the Ravens' only trip to the end zone away from home in 10 quarters.

Flacco finished 21-for-43 for 147 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Combined with his last road performance at the Kansas City Chiefs, he's just 34-for-70 passing.

The Ravens got out to a quick start as they drove into Texans territory but stalled and settled for a 51-yard field goal from Justin Tucker. The rookie also converted one from 54 yards and is 14-for-15 for the season. From 50-plus yards, Tucker is 4-for-4.

"We had a good first drive," said Flacco, who threw a pass that was deflected by J.J. Watt and returned by Johnathan Joseph 52 yards for a touchdown to break the game open in the second quarter at 16-3. "But we went against a good defense today. We all could've done things better, starting with myself. I don't really have an answer for you. It's just the way it works out."

Running back Ray Rice opened with 30 yards on four carries, but he only ran the ball five times after that and finished with a season-low 42.

Houston dominated the ball for 38 minutes in time of possession compared with 22 for Baltimore.

Flacco was sacked twice in the first quarter, leading to a safety in the end zone by Connor Barwin and it was all downhill from there.

Suggs made his presence felt early by stuffing runs from Arian Foster on Houston's first series, and he sacked quarterback Matt Schaub at 7:46 of the first quarter.

But the Ravens needed much more than Suggs, who was playing his first game of the season as he surprisingly came off the physically-unable-to-perform list just five days ago. He tore his Achilles during the offseason and was activated to the 53-man roster on Saturday.  

"It's not the start I wanted. I wanted to come back with a win but I felt if it was good on Saturday that I would go," said Suggs who had three tackles and one assisted. "I had to come back this game against a good team because we all know how important November and December is and I didn't want to be still knocking the rust off when it comes down the stretch to those big games."

Suggs was projected to be on the field for about 15-20 plays but far exceeded that. After giving up 200-plus rushing yards in the last two games, the Ravens allowed the Texans to compile 181.

Until the second half, they'd kept Foster, who had 98 yards on 19 carries in all, relatively in check.  But they failed to get the Texans off the field or create any turnovers to change the momentum.

Schaub led a balanced attack for Houston with 23-for-37 passing for 256 yards and two touchdowns.

The only good news for the Ravens is they have a bye week and certainly can use it. Right tackle Kelechi Osemele left the game with what he thought was a broken right ankle, but he returned in the third quarter after X-Rays were negative and he received painkilling shots.

Safety Ed Reed hurt his ribs on a tackle in the fourth quarter but said he was OK afterwards. They didn't have starting nose tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu because of an injured knee. 

Baltimore literally was beaten up.

"There's no sugar-coating it. Call a spade a spade," Suggs said. "They whipped our ass."


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2018 NFL Playoff Picture: Who to root for in Week 15 if you are a Baltimore Ravens fan

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2018 NFL Playoff Picture: Who to root for in Week 15 if you are a Baltimore Ravens fan

Heading into Week 15, there are plenty of questions surrounding the Baltimore Ravens and the AFC playoff picture. 

As things stand now, the Ravens (7-6) lead a four-way tie for the final Wild Card spot. Their 1-0 record against those other three opponents is the difference with them being in the playoffs. With that, there is no room for error with three weeks left in the season. A win by the Chargers has now narrowed the field even tighter.

Last week, only one result broke the Ravens way, a Pittsburgh Steelers loss to the Oakland Raiders. This week, Baltimore cannot afford a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8) with the schedules their competition have remaining.

As always, here are the teams in the playoff picture in the AFC that the Ravens hold a tiebreaker over:
-Tennessee Titans (7-6) -head-to-head
-Denver Broncos (6-7) - head-to-head

With these tiebreakers still up in the air:

-Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1)
-New England Patriots (9-4)
-Houston Texans (9-4)
-Miami Dolphins (7-6)
-Indianapolis Colts (7-6)
-Cleveland Browns (5-7-1)
-Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) 

What bodes well for the Ravens is that no team has a tiebreaker locked up over Baltimore. But, the tiebreakers amongst all of their divisional opponents are yet to be decided.

Ravens Week 15 Rooting Guide

Houston Texans (9-4) vs. New York Jets (4-9)
Saturday, Dec. 15 at 4:30 p.m.

The Jets are officially eliminated from playoff contention, while the Texans are leading the AFC South. The Texans have a soft schedule left (@ Eagles and vs. Jaguars), so if the Ravens want a late-season run to propel them to the No. 3 seed they need Houston to lose in this one. A win by the Texans will give them the tiebreaker over Baltimore. Root for the Jets.

Cleveland Browns (5-7-1) vs. Denver Broncos (6-7) 
Saturday, Dec. 15 at 8:20 p.m.

This is a tough pick this week if you are a Ravens fan. A win by both teams would be equally bad for Baltimore. They have the tiebreaker over Denver and even with a win over Cleveland in Week 17, the Browns still could have the tiebreaker. Two Baltimore wins though, no matter who they're against, would place them ahead of both teams. Right now, root for the Broncos (although this might end up hurting the Ravens down the road).

A Broncos win would do twofold, put the Browns on the brink of elimination and if eliminated, the Ravens could have an easier chance at victory in Week 17 to potentially take the division title. This is a rare scenario that a tie might be the best scenario for Baltimore.

Oakland Raiders (3-10) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (5-8)
Sunday, Dec. 16 at 1:00 p.m.

Pretty straight forward here. Oakland is out and Cincinnati is still in contention (technically). Root for the Raiders to eliminate the Bengals.

Tennessee Titans (7-6) vs. New York Giants (5-8) 
Sunday, Dec. 16 at 1:00 p.m.

AFC vs. NFC. A win by the Giants here could go a long way for the Ravens if they end up needing a Wild Card spot. Root for the Giants.

Miami Dolphins (7-6) vs. Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1)
Sunday, Dec. 16 at 1:00 p.m.

Again, AFC vs. NFC. Root for the Vikings. This game in particular needs to go the way of the Ravens because the only teams that Miami have left are the four-win Jags and Bills with the conference tiebreaker still up for grabs.

Dallas Cowboys (8-5) vs. Indianapolis Colts (7-6) 
Sunday, Dec. 16 at 1:00 p.m.

Round III of AFC vs. NFC. Perhaps the most dangerous team to contend with the Ravens for that spot. Root for the Cowboys.

New England Patriots (9-4) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1) 
Sunday, Dec. 16 at 4:25 p.m.

Last week we told you to root for the Patriots and then they ended up losing. This week we will tell you to root for the Patriots again. This, however, is for more obvious reasons. 

A Steelers loss and a Ravens win puts Baltimore atop the division and in the driver's seat for the AFC North title. While yes the Ravens can still find another way to win the division and pass the Patriots for a higher seed, Baltimore does not control their playoff fate. With the scenario above, they do.

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Ravens vs. Buccaneers Week 15: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Ravens vs. Buccaneers Week 15: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Baltimore Ravens (7-6) get set to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8) Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium with the postseason in sight.

The Ravens are 3-2 all time against the Bucs with a 1-1 record when playing in Baltimore. The last time these two teams met was back in 2014 when the Ravens handed Tampa Bay a 48-17 loss, marking the most points ever scored by the Ravens on the road.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of the Week 15 matchup.

New Era

Incase you've been living in a hole the last two days, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh announced that rookie Lamar Jackson will be starting Sunday and Joe Flacco would be the backup in what appears to be a new era in Baltimore. 

Both Flacco and Jackson handled the news with class as the decision wasn't that big of surprise considering Jackson has led the team to three wins in their last four matchups. Harbaugh wouldn't divulge if and how they would utilize Flacco's talents, but alternating between the two throughout the matchup could trip up a lot of defenders. On top of that, the Buccaneers' defense is bottom of the barrel ranking 30th in the league in points (29.5), 27th in yards (387.9), 27th in passing yards (268.5) and 20th in rushing yards (119.4). 

Another Defensive Challenge

While their 5-8 record may not show it, the Buccaneers' offense could present a challenge for the Ravens' No. 1 scoring defense. Heading into Week 15, Tampa Bay is ranked 10th in the league in points (25.5), second in yards (430.1), first in passing yards (331.4), but 27th in rushing yards (98.7). Their 4,308 passing yards are the third-most through the first 13 games in NFL history and their 5,591 total yards are the eighth-most through the first 13 games in NFL history.

Wide receiver Mike Evans is currently tied for sixth in the league in receiving touchdowns over the last two seasons at 22, while Cameron Brate is tied for third in the league in receiving touchdowns among tight ends in 2018 at six. The Bucs also have seven different players to score at least five touchdowns so far this season making them just the fifth team to accomplish that .

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson has missed the last two games as he deals with a left thumb injury sustained in the season opener and re-injured against the New York Giants in Week 11. The injury has left him unable to squeeze a football with that hand, so don't expect D-Jack on the field Sunday. 

Postseason In Sight

The Ravens have found themselves in this situation many times before. With three games to play, the Ravens sit in the sixth and final AFC playoff spot and half a game back of the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC North title.

In typical fashion, it's going to come down to the wire. The Ravens are in a four-way race with the Colts, Titans and Dolphins for the final playoff spot. A win Sunday against the Buccaneers is a must as they head to Los Angeles in Week 16 to face the Chargers, who just handed the Kansas City Chiefs a rare loss on Thursday Night Football and the Cleveland Browns in Week 17. 

Claiming the division and playing January football for the first time in three seasons is on the horizon, and with two quarterbacks to use at their disposal the Ravens are truly in control of writing their own ending. 

Click here to see the Ravens-Bucs injury report. 

Ravens vs. Buccaneers Week 15 How to Watch:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What: Week 15 regular season

When: Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, 1:00 p.m. ET

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md

TV Channel: FOX

Live Stream: Watch Now with fuboTV - Try free trial

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 and 98Rock

Weather: 47 degrees, mostly cloudy with some rain

Ravens 2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1: Sun., 9/9. Ravens vs. Bills. Win, 47-3 (1-0)

Week 2: Thur., 9/13 Ravens at Bengals. Loss, 34-23 (1-1)

Week 3: Sun., 9/23 Ravens vs. Broncos. Win, 27-14 (2-1)

Week 4: Sun., 9/30 Ravens at Steelers. Win, 26-14 (3-1)

Week 5: Sun., 10/7 Ravens at Browns. Loss, 12-9 (3-2)

Week 6: Sun., 10/14 Ravens at Titans. Win, 21-0 (4-2)

Week 7: Sun., 10/21 vs. Saints, 4:05 p.m. Loss, 24-23 (4-3)

Week 8: Sun., 10/28 @ Panthers, 1:00 p.m. Loss 36-21 (4-4)

Week 9: Sun., 11/4 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m. Loss 23-16 (4-5)

Week 10:  BYE week

Week 11: Sun., 11/18 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m. Win 24-21 (5-5)

Week 12: Sun., 11/25 vs. Raiders, 1:00 p.m. Win 34-17 (6-5)

Week 13: Sun., 12/2 @ Falcons, 1:00 p.m. Win 26-16 (7-5)

Week 14: Sun., 12/9 @ Chiefs, 1:00 p.m. Loss 27-24 (7-6)

Week 15: Sun., 12/16 vs. Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: Sat., 12/22 @ Chargers, 8:20 p.m. ET

Week 17: Sun., 12/30 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m.

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