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The top games of 2011

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The top games of 2011

NFL.coms Elliott Harrison has finished his rundown of the top 20 games of the 2011 season, and as expected, the Ravens-Patriots game for the AFC championship ended up high on the list.

The AFC Championship game ranked No. 4, according to Harrison. That trailed only the Giants win over San Francisco in the NFC title game (No. 3), the Giants win over Dallas in Week 14, and the 49ers remarkable playoff win over the Saints, which was the top game of the season, according to Harrison.

Harrison of course revisits the two most memorable plays in that AFC title game the potential game-winning touchdown catch that Lee Evans failed to hang on to, and the missed field-goal try by Billy Cundiff but Harrison focuses on two other plays that had just as much effect on the outcome of the game, yet were barely mentioned in postgame stories and highlights.

Both involved the oft-maligned" Joe Flacco.

The first was a fake to Ray Rice, followed by a rollout by Flacco.

It was set up perfectly, Harrison writes. Pretty much everyone on the Patriots defense bit on the run fake and Torrey Smith blew past Devin McCourty

Flacco had Smith wide open 40 yards downfield, but instead of setting his feet off the rollout and making an accurate throw, he decided to heave the ball on the run. Not good. The pass was woefully underthrown. Smith, who was so open he couldve caught the ball, pulled a sharpie out of his sock to sign it and moonwalked into the end zone, instead had to come back to the ball and make a sliding catch at the 30. The play went for 42 yards, but in reality, should have been a touchdown.

Baltimore would settle for a Cundiff field goal. So, it was Ravens 3, Patriots 3 when it easily couldve been 7-3. Theres four points gone for a Baltimore team that would ultimately lose 23-20.

Then in the second quarter, Flacco had Smith again WIDE open down the right side, Harrison writes. Seeing his receiver running free, all Flacco had to do was put some air under the ball. Give your receiver some room to adjust to the ball. Flacco didnt, missing Smith altogether. Baltimore would punt.

Harrison, though, doesnt throw the book at Flacco entirely, saying Dont blame Flacco. Dont blame Cundiff, either. The outcome was on both teams, and many players, despite what everyone says.

Torrey Smith, interviewed about the game in a video that can be seen on the page, says of Cundiffs last-second kick, I feel like if we had made a few more plays earlier, it would have never got down to that.

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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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