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Who are these guys at QB in Super Bowl?

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Who are these guys at QB in Super Bowl?

NEW ORLEANS (AP) No Tom Brady. No Aaron Rodgers. No Ben Roethlisberger. Not a Manning in sight.

Super Bowl has a pair of fresh faces at quarterback, bona fide nobodies as far as the NFL title game goes. One will leave New Orleans as football's newest star.

For Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco, this is new territory. And, of course, exactly where they want to be.

``To be AFC champs feels good,'' Flacco said Monday. ``We move on now to this challenge.''

Flacco, the only quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first five NFL seasons, will lead the Baltimore Ravens into Sunday's matchup against the NFC-winning San Francisco 49ers and Kaepernick, a backup for most of his two seasons.

It's the first time in a decade that the big game doesn't feature one of the big five household names in the glamour position.

You can't get much fresher than quarterbacks who never have gotten this far before.

``At the start of the season, I was just hoping to get on the field some way, somehow,'' said Kaepernick, the backup for Alex Smith, who took the 49ers to the conference final last season.

He got that chance after Smith sustained a concussion on Nov. 11, and hasn't seen the bench since.

Win this one and he'll have a piece of history, joining a heady quarterback club that includes Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young, who guided the 49ers to five NFL titles - a victory every time they played. No. 6 would tie the team with Roethlisberger's Pittsburgh Steelers - a record for most Super Bowl wins.

A second-round draft pick in 2011 out of Nevada - not exactly Alabama - Kaepernick has the shortest pro resume of any Super Bowl quarterback. It's impressive, nonetheless. His legs (181 yards rushing against Green Bay, a record for the position) and his arm (105.9 passer rating in the postseason) are the main reasons San Francisco is in its first NFL title game in 18 years.

``Anybody that is out there on the football field, you want to see them produce and get results,'' left tackle Joe Staley said. ``With Colin, his first couple of starts, you did not know what to expect because we had not seen him out there as a starting quarterback. He did amazing and he has all season, as well as the playoffs. I think it was one of those things where we saw him in practice and we just wanted to see how he was going to handle the situation in the games. He has done that.''

Still, he's new to this environment and that hardly seems to faze Kaepernick.

``One thing I've always said about him from the start is he comes off as a guy that has a lot of confidence,'' said center Jonathan Goodwin, who won a Super Bowl snapping for Drew Brees and the Saints three years ago. ``I'm not just saying that. You can feel it by the way he acts and talks.''

Flacco has that air of certainty, too, but at least it's built on a more substantial foundation, including an 8-4 mark in the playoffs, with six road wins - the most for any quarterback, Montana and Young included. That goes for Baltimore's John Unitas, too.

Nobody is comparing Flacco to them just yet, except for the self-belief he brings to the job.

``You naturally become more of the guy when you spend a number of years in the league,'' he said at the Ravens' first Super Bowl news conference Monday. ``As a quarterback, it's my job to lead from Day 1.''

As a five-year starter, that's exactly what Flacco did after Baltimore drafted him out of Delaware - yep, not exactly Alabama.

As has become the custom in the NFL, Flacco represents the high draft pick who steps behind center early in his career and, usually, stays there. Both Mannings did it, as did Roethlisberger. Just this season, the top two picks in the draft, QBs Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, were anointed starters at the outset and played sensationally.

Now Flacco and Kaepernick try to join those big-name quarterbacks who own all those Super Bowl rings.

``We try to pass tests every day,'' Flacco said.

That's how you become a Super Bowl quarterback.

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Joe Flacco's status for Sunday's game vs. Bengals 'up in the air'

Joe Flacco's status for Sunday's game vs. Bengals 'up in the air'

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Carrying a three-game losing streak and a losing record, the Baltimore Ravens now face the burden of uncertainty at the quarterback position.

Joe Flacco is nursing a hip injury that could keep him out of Sunday's game against Cincinnati, an AFC North matchup that carries huge ramifications for the sagging Ravens.

With Baltimore coming off a bye, Flacco received an additional week of rest and treatment after sustaining the injury on Nov. 4 in the opening minutes of a 23-16 loss to Pittsburgh.

Flacco went the distance, completed 23 of 37 passes for 206 yards. His status this week, however, is unclear.

"He's getting treatment, just like all the guys are getting treatment, and we'll see," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "I'd say that we'll know more as the week goes on and I'm hopeful all our guys play, including Joe."

If Flacco can't play, rookie Lamar Jackson will likely get his first NFL start, although veteran Robert Griffin III is also an option. Griffin gets the nod in NFL experience, but he's been inactive in every game this season while Jackson has been used periodically because of his ability to run.

"It's up in the air. We're not worried about it," Harbaugh insisted. "We're blessed with a good quarterback room. It's a good thing, that's a positive thing. We've got three guys who can play. It's just like any other position in my mind. You go with the next guy and you roll."

The Ravens (4-5) reached their bye week with losses to New Orleans, Carolina and Pittsburgh. The skid ruined a decent start and left the team in recovery mode as it seeks to snap a run of three straight seasons without reaching the playoffs.

This is the 11th season that Harbaugh and Flacco have been together in Baltimore, and the coach would love to see his quarterback rally the Ravens into the postseason.

"Any direction we decide to go or we're forced to go, it will be based on the health of Joe. If Joe can play, he'll play," Harbaugh said. "He's rehabbing to play. Joe does not have to practice to play. He's practiced the whole season, he's practiced for 11 years. But he might practice. We just have to see how it goes."

The 33-year-old Flacco has played through many an injury throughout his career. He did so against the Steelers. His teammates feel that if he can walk, he will play.

"Joe is one of the toughest guys I've played with, maybe the toughest guy," guard Marshal Yanda said. "You never see him limping around, you never see him on the field showing any sign of weakness. He's just been a rock for us. I have nothing but respect for the guy."

Tackles Ronnie Stanley (ankle) and James Hurst (back) did not play against the Steelers, but both are expected to return Sunday when the Ravens begin a stretch -- with or without Flacco -- that will define their season.

"We're in the hunt," Harbaugh said. "We'll write the story of the Ravens' 2018 season by how we play in the next seven weeks. That's what our guys are juiced up for. Get the Cincinnati Bengals in as fast as we can, and let's go play the game.

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Despite 4-5 record, Ravens just one game out of final AFC playoff spot

Despite 4-5 record, Ravens just one game out of final AFC playoff spot

Their record and performance over the last month may not show it, but the Baltimore Ravens are just one game out of the No. 6 playoff spot in the AFC.

The Kansas City Chiefs (9-1), Los Angeles Chargers (7-2), Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2), New England Patriots (7-3), Houston Texans (6-3), Cincinnati Bengals (5-4), Tennessee Titans (5-4) and the Miami Dolphins (5-5) all rank above the Ravens. But a win Sunday against the Bengals would push the Ravens to the No. 6 spot as they own the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Titans.

Beside remaining in playoff contention, a win Sunday is crucial considering head coach John Harbaugh's job is in question with his team sitting at 4-5, quarterback Joe Flacco is reportedly dealing with a hip injury and the possibility of rookie Lamar Jackson getting his first NFL start. 

After getting blown out 51-14 by the Saints, the Bengals fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday. Cincinnati's defense ranks last in the league in passing yards allowed (313.3) and total yards allowed (454.6). A rested Ravens team will have to take advantage of the first team in the Super Bowl era to surrender 500 yards in three straight games as they are among five teams within one game of the final wildcard spot. 

Getting shutout by the Bengals this season would give Andy Dalton and co. a two-game lead over the Ravens as well as possessing the tiebreaker. 

According to the New York Times' NFL Playoff Simulator, the Ravens have a 27% chance of making the playoffs heading into Week 11 with their remaining strength of schedule ranking at No. 27. 

After hosting the Bengals on Sunday, the Ravens host the Oakland Raiders (1-7), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) and Cleveland Browns (3-6), but have tough road games against the Atlanta Falcons (4-5), Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) and Los Angeles Chargers (7-2). 

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