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Telling road game for reeling Ravens

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Telling road game for reeling Ravens

A lot of questions will be answered about the Ravens on Sunday, but against the 2-5 Cleveland Browns?

Exactly. While AFC North games are always tough regardless of records, a lot is riding on this game not just for the Ravens' place in the standings but to set the tone for the second half the season.

The Ravens, who beat the Browns 23-16 on Sept. 27 in Baltimore, are coming off a bye week. They've yet to play like the dominant team they appeared to be when starting the season after losing LB Ray Lewis and CB Lardarius Webb to season-ending injuries  and falling to the Houston Texans by 30 points last month.

Will their fortunes change starting in Cleveland on Sunday?

5 reasons why they will:

  • Bye-partisan: Coach John Harbaugh has had an extra week to prepare for a team that he has already beaten. He's 4-0 after bye weeks, and even though this game is on the road the Ravens still have better overall talent and a coach who is a meticulous planner.
  • Commitment to run: Ray Rice has averaged just 15 carries per game through the first seven games. He should have at least 20 and up to 25 depending on weather conditions. Harbaugh knows they have gone away from him too much and plans to make amends for that. And that includes RB Bernard Pierce, who averages more than 5 yards per carry, and FB Vonta Leach.
  • Sizzle effect: The defense has been miserable in every area except hustle, but now that Terrell Suggs, aka T-Sizzle, is all the way back from his Achilles injury just his presence should inspire them to play better if not from an Xs and Os perspective. The offense failed the Ravens against the Texans, putting them in a 29-3 hole in the first half with turnovers and a safety. Not the defense.
  • Better QB play: Maybe Joe Flacco isn't top 5 at his position, but he's much better than the one who has averaged 189 ypg passing on the road. He's performed in games with much bigger implications than this one (see last year's AFC title game) and he'll at least pull it together vs. the 26th-ranked defense in the NFL. His last 300-yard game passing came in Week 4 against this same team.
  • Pocket protection: After giving up four sacks in the first meeting, the Ravens' offensive line is better suited to handled the slow-developing stunts, which should give Flacco more time. Harbaugh indicated he'll make some adjustments with personnel groupings which could mean help on the edges where the tackles are vulnerable to speed. Rookie RT Kelechi Osemele, who injured his ankle against Houston, is healthy despite being on the injury report. He two-foot hopped a stool in the locker room from a standing position without difficulty and will be better because of the experience.

5 reasons why they won't

  • Stalled: The no-huddle doesn't work as well away for a team that was 4-4 there last season. Now they're 1-2 and they've scored just one touchdown on the road in the last 10 quarters. These are problems that are more common with young and inexperienced teams, not veteran ones.
  • X-factor: WR Josh Gordon, an undrafted rookie, was a non-factor and off the radar until recently. He has now become QB Brandon Weeden's primary target in a sub-par receiving corp that has been notorious for dropped passes. Gordon is 6-foot-3, has had four TD catches in the last four games and a team-leading 379 yards receiving (22.3 yards per catch).  Without Gordon being a factor, Weeden threw for 320 yards in the first game against a Baltimore defense that can give up big plays.
  • Missing piece: CB Joe Haden makes the Browns' secondary better. He didn't play in the Sept. 27 game, serving a four-game suspension imposed by the NFL for taking a banned substance.
  • No separation: There's always an excuse for why Ravens receivers can't get open. It's not press coverage by opposing DBs that gives them problems (it does). It's simply a communication issue with Flacco. Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones were supposed to be the pieces to make this team a deep threat. They've yet to show they can consistently get open. Now Smith has to deal with a big, physical Haden.
  • Thin line: DE Pernell McPhee only had a half sack, but he won't play Sunday. He's struggled with leg injuries all season since getting six sacks last season. DT Haloti Ngata still is bothered by an injured shoulder. While the line has been sub-par this season, they're now even weaker without that depth.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Steve Bisciotti donates $100,000 to rebuilding historically black churches

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Steve Bisciotti donates $100,000 to rebuilding historically black churches

One more week of the NFL offseason in the books. Here's the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

Player/Team Notes:

1. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti donated $100,000 to help rebuilding efforts for three historically black churches in the Louisiana area that recently burned down by an alleged arsonists. An effort led by former tight end Benjamin Watson, Bisciotti reached out to him Sunday committing his donation. 

2. The GOAT gene has transferred from Justin Tucker to his son, Easton. The kicker posted a video on his Instagram Thursday of the little guy kicking a (mini) field goal right down the middle, just like his dad. 

Looking Ahead:

April 19: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets

April 25-27: 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tn.

May 3-6 or May 10-13: Potential three-day rookie mini camp

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.

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Ravens Mock Draft Roundup: A wide receiver, defensive end favorites at 22

Ravens Mock Draft Roundup: A wide receiver, defensive end favorites at 22

This is not a drill. We are one week away from the 2019 NFL Draft.

Will the Ravens get Lamar Jackson help at wide receiver or will they focus on filling their holes on defense?

We will have answers to those questions in no time, but in the time being let's take a look at who experts are predicting they take with the 22nd overall pick.

NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah: DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson

Ferrell had 38 tackles for loss and 21 sacks over the last two seasons. A young threat would fit in quite nicely for the new-looking Ravens defense. 

Bleacher ReportNFL.com's Charles Davis and Sporting News: WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma

Brown, who posted 1,318 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns during the 2018 season, reportedly made a visit to the Ravens this week

It's no secret that the Ravens need help at WR with only two guys on their current roster who have caught a pass in the NFL. 

SB NationSports Illustrated and CBS Sports: WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss

After an impressive combine performance and a picture surfacing of him looking insanely jacked at the gym, Metcalf is definitely the most talked about receiver in this year's draft.

Despite missing part of the 2018 season with a neck injury, Metcalf's draft profile describes him having "projectable upside to become a home-run threat as a WR1." Just what the Ravens need.

ESPN's Mel Kiper and Todd McShay: C/G Erik McCoy, Texas A&M

The center position is not seen as a sexy pick in the draft, but Bradbury's skillset is enough to get you excited.

He has three years of experience while at Texas A&M and was only called for five penalties in 2,811 snaps over his college career.

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.

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