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Questions, criticisms irk Ravens

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Questions, criticisms irk Ravens

Despite being 4-1, the Ravens are on edge going into Sunday's game with the Dallas Cowboys.

For a team that is on a three-game winning streak and in control of the AFC North, it seems surprising.

But it really shouldn't be given the tone of the past week since an abyssmal performance in a 9-6 win at the Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens have the 24th-ranked defense and an inconsistent no-huddle offense that only produced three field goals last week. In the last six quarters on the road, the Ravens have failed to score a touchdown.

"Whoever is keeping track of style points, you can ask them," is all coach John Harbaugh would say about the way his team has been winning since the 44-13 opening victory against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Fortunately for the Ravens, they're at M&T Bank Stadium for the Cowboys (2-2). There, the Ravens have won 13 in a row in the regular season and 21 of their last 22.

There's plenty of evidence that points to a team that's not content with how they're playing, or how they're being questioned about their play.

Ray Rice, who has shown signs of being agitated about his reduced role in the offense, was conspicuously unavailable all week. He had 102 yards on 17 carries in the Chiefs game and hasn't had more than 20 carries in a game this season.

Cornerback Lardarius Webb was angry with a reporter for writing a story about comments he made earlier in the week about the Cowboys not being "America's Team" and that it should instead be the New England Patriots or Green Bay Packers.

Linebacker Ray Lewis, 37, came under fire for being slow and unable to shed blocks even though he leads the Ravens with 43 tackles. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees rose vigoriously to his defense.

And the usually low key Cary Williams, a cornerback who was targeted early in the season by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with great success, was testy even though he has bounced back.

Williams had a 63-yard interception return for a touchdown that proved to be the difference in a 23-16 win vs. the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 27, then had another interception vs. the Chiefs and a pass defense that led to another one for Webb in the same game.

"I'm just working hard, man. I haven't changed," said Williams. "It's one game. I can't allow one game to affect how I play. To a degree, I feel like saying, 'How many touchdowns have I given up?' I haven't. So I don't think I've been doing anything outside of what I've been doing.

"It's the NFL, sometime you're going to go against top-tier talent every week. Sometimes you're going to lose some. It is what it is."

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Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

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USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

Football is back in session for the Ravens.

Their rookies are set to report to the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills, Md Wednesday. Veterans report next Wednesday, the 18th.

The team is reporting to training camp a bit earlier than most NFL teams. Due to Ray Lewis being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 4 in Canton, Oh, the Ravens will face the Chicago Bears in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2. Teams participating are eligible to begin training camp earlier.

This rookie class is already generating national attention. While the Ravens stand by Joe Flacco as their QB1, first-round pick Lamar Jackson could cause a shakeup at some point during the season. And when it comes to much-needed offensive help, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews could begin to provide relief. 

Third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. begins his journey with the Ravens in a more sentimental fashion. His father, Orlando "Zeus" Brown, also played tackle for the Ravens from 1996-98 and then again from 2003-05. Brown passed away in 2011. 

Stay with NBC Sports Washington throughout the next several weeks as we keep a close eye on the Ravens' preseason. 

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

There's only six months until the NFL playoffs and we've got no time to waste.

OK, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves but online betting site, Oddshark, released their early 2018 NFL playoff odds and the Ravens are in a similar situation as previous years.

The Ravens are sitting at +135 — tied for 13th with the San Francisco 49ers — for the best odds to play January football. This would place them in the seventh seed among AFC teams and just outside contention.

The Patriots (-1500), Steelers (-550), Chargers (-145), Jaguars (-140), Texans (-135), and Chiefs (+120) are seeded above them respectively. 

During the 2017 season, the Ravens were constantly in the hunt for the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture. Several weeks ahead of training camp, Vegas is predicting that to be the case in 2018.

Playoff odds in July mean nothing, but considering their offseason changes, the Ravens' 2018 season should bring positive change.

They added weapons for Joe Flacco in free agents Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown, and drafted tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.

Then there was the late first-round draft pick of QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco remains the starter for now, but it will be interesting to see if that changes midway through the season or if they get them both on the field at the same time.

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