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Ravens report card for Chargers game: Defense, special teams

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Ravens report card for Chargers game: Defense, special teams

We've already handed out report cards to the offense after the Ravens' 29-26 win over San Diego. Now it's time to grade the defense and special teams ...

DEFENSIVE LINE: C

The Ravens were at times pushed around up front by a makeshift Chargers offensive line that lost three players to injury during the game. The Chargers finished with 81 rushing yards on 26 carries, a pretty respectable number given their injury issues. Timmy Jernigan broke through for a sack, but overall it was a fairly mundane day for this group. Brandon Williams was as quiet as he's been all year.

LINEBACKERS: C

Daryl Smith had 14 tackles, including two for losses, but the Ravens linebackers mustered no sacks of Rivers, who had been sacked 18 times coming into the game and was playing behind a patched-together offensive line. Courtney Upshaw was credited with a pair of quarterback hits. Ravens linebackers, particularly C.J. Mosley, continue to struggle in pass coverage.   

MORE RAVENS: RAY LEWIS FIRED UP THE TEAM BEFORE SUNDAY'S WIN

SECONDARY: C

The Ravens had another disastrous breakdown in the secondary, leading to a 70-yard touchdown grab as Malcolm Floyd got five yards behind Kyle Arrington with no safety help. Coverage was good on Keenan Allen's fabulous touchdown catch. Jimmy Smith did a nice job neutralizing Allen early, but Philip Rivers still found targets even after Allen left with an injury. This group went yet another game without a takeaway; that makes five in a row. Rivers was 11-for-12 at one point, often throwing underneath, but soft coverage made it look too easy, too often.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A

Coach John Harbaugh gave the game ball to special teams, and with good reason. Justin Tucker went 5-for-5, including the game-winner, and punter Sam Koch made one of the plays of the game with his 62-yard punt to the Chargers' 3-yard line. (It helped greatly that a tentative Jacoby Jones let the punt bounce and roll.) That punt and ensuing three-and-out flipped the field position at a critical juncture in the fourth quarter. Asa Jackson blocked a Chargers PAT attempt, his second blocked kick in as many weeks. Even Raheem Mosert got involved, with a 33-yard kickoff return on his first chance of the season.

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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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