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Title games feature Ravens-Pats, 49ers-Falcons

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Title games feature Ravens-Pats, 49ers-Falcons

One game is a rematch. The other might feel like one - at least to one of the teams.

For the second straight year in the AFC, the New England Patriots will host the Baltimore Ravens with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.

In the NFC, it will be San Francisco traveling to Atlanta, with the Falcons defense trying to stop a versatile, running quarterback for the second straight week.

``Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are mobile quarterbacks who throw the ball at extremely accurate levels,'' Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud said. ``We can use this game as a cheat sheet to prepare for next week.''

On Sunday, the Falcons barely got past Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, who overcame a 20-point deficit to take a one-point lead, but gave it up after Matt Ryan drove Atlanta into field goal range and Matt Bryant made a 49-yard kick with 8 seconds left.

Atlanta is the only team not making a repeat appearance in the NFL's final four. Last year, it was the Giants playing, and beating, the 49ers for the NFC title.

On Saturday, Kaepernick passed for 263 yards and rushed for 181 - a playoff record for a quarterback - to defeat Green Bay 45-31.

``We're one step closer to where we want to be,'' said Kaepernick. San Francisco hasn't been to the Super Bowl since 1995, when Steve Young led the 49ers to their fifth Lombardi Trophy.

Though the Niners must travel cross country for the game, they opened as 3-point favorites in a meeting of teams that played twice a year until 2003, when Atlanta was moved from the NFC West to the NFC South. Their only previous playoff meeting was a 20-18 win for the Falcons in the 1998 divisional playoffs. Atlanta won at Minnesota the next week to make its only Super Bowl.

San Francisco's 20-17 overtime loss last year to the Giants was part of a tense day of football that began with New England's 23-20 victory over the Ravens in the AFC title game.

In that game, Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal that would have tied the game with 11 seconds left.

This season, Justin Tucker beat out Cundiff for the kicker's job. Tucker hit a 47-yarder against Denver on Saturday to lift the Ravens to a 38-35 win in double overtime, extending Ray Lewis' career for at least one more week and putting the 17-year veteran one win away from his second Super Bowl.

``We fought hard to get back to this point and we're definitely proud of being here,'' Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. ``We feel like it's going to take a lot for somebody to come and kick us off that field come the AFC championship game.''

Lewis and the Ravens will have to stop the NFL's most potent offense. The Patriots put up 457 yards in a 41-28 victory over Houston, which left them one win away from their sixth Super Bowl in the 2000s.

``I think the two best teams are in the final,'' Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. ``Baltimore certainly deserve to be here and so do we.''

The Patriots were made early 9 1/2-point favorites against the Ravens.

These teams met in the regular season and that game was also decided by a kick - Tucker's 27-yard field goal that sneaked through the right upright for a 31-30 victory. Or did it?

While the Ravens were celebrating, Pats coach Bill Belichick ran to midfield and grabbed a replacement official's arm as he tried to exit the field. The NFL fined Belichick $50,000 for the gesture.

New England is the even-money favorite in Vegas to win the Super Bowl. San Francisco is next at 2-1, followed by Atlanta (5-1) and Baltimore (8-1).

Among the possible Super Bowl story lines:

-The Harbaugh Bowl. Jim Harbaugh coaches the 49ers and John Harbaugh coaches the Ravens.

-A rematch of San Francisco's 41-34 win at New England on Dec. 16 - one of the most entertaining games of the regular season.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Ravens lower concession prices at M&T Bank Stadium ahead of 2018 season

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens lower concession prices at M&T Bank Stadium ahead of 2018 season

Enjoying a game at M&T Bank Stadium just became a little more affordable.

On Thursday, the Ravens introduced their new "Flock Friendly Fare," reducing the price of 21 of their most popular food and beverage items.  

The change comes as the organization focuses on revamping the fan experience in 2018. Fans will see an average of 33 percent in total savings and up to 53 percent savings on a single item.  

"As a lot of you probably know, after every game we survey fans to see how we're doing; what have we done well and what have we not done well. Over the years, one of the biggest criticisms we received was for the gameday concessions prices," Ravens President Dick Cass said on the team's website

Alcoholic beverages were all reduced by $1 with the addition of domestic 12 ounce beer for $5.

Chicken tenders with fries went from $11 to $7, while a slice of pizza went from $8.50 to $6. No single item will cost above $9.

On average, you will now be able to feed a family of four for $44 compared to $66.75 in years past. To see all of the reductions, click the arrow in the post below. 

In 2017, the Atlanta Falcons reduced their concession prices upon opening their brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Ravens, however, are expecting to lose $1.5 million in concession revenue due to the change. 

Introducing our new Flock Friendly Fare!

A post shared by Baltimore Ravens (@ravens) on

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Vegas odds against Lamar Jackson starting for Ravens in 2018

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Vegas odds against Lamar Jackson starting for Ravens in 2018

Vegas has spoken and they are not optimistic about rookie Lamar Jackson starting under center for the Ravens in 2018.

Bovado, an online gambling site, has set the odds on how the top 2018 rookies will perform and they have Jackson getting 0.5 starts this season.

That number will come as a surprise considering the popular narrative that Lamar Jackson will be the Ravens' starter in no time. The team made it clear they are planning for life after Flacco when they traded back into the first-round of the 2018 draft to select the quarterback out of Louisville at No. 32

Flacco - who is entering his 11th season with the organization - is experiencing a decline in his performance of late, one that can not be put entirely on his shoulders as the team has failed in finding him valuable weapons to throw to. Nonetheless, Flacco's projected 2018 season is very much up in the air and it appears Vegas is betting on the one-time Super Bowl MVP to bounce back. 

However, the Ravens have failed to make the playoffs four of the last five seasons, and if that trend continues into 2018, the rookie could get his shot at flipping the script.

If you're a betting man, it could payoff to bet the over on Jackson. Low risk, seemingly high reward. 

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