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Clifton Brown's NFL playoff predictions and reactions to coaching carousel

Clifton Brown's NFL playoff predictions and reactions to coaching carousel

My predictions for the divisional round, thoughts on the Ravens’ coaching staff, and my reaction to new head coaches:

1. This weekend’s winners:

Falcons over Seahawks: I could see Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan having a playoff run like Joe Flacco had in 2012.

Patriots over Texans: If Tom Brady makes it to the stadium, the Patriots should make it to the AFC championship game.

Steelers over Chiefs: Ask the Ravens how difficult it is to contain Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Ben Roethlisberger for 60 minutes. As well as they are playing, I think the Steelers keep rolling.

Cowboys over Packers: Even with Aaron Rodgers doing his thing, losing Jordy Nelson hurts, and the Cowboys’ offensive line will allow Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant, and Ezekiel Elliott to take over.

2. The Ravens coaching staff:

Offensive line coach Juan Castillo will be leaving to join the Bills’ staff under new head coach Sean McDermott, according to the Baltimore Sun. With a running game guru like Greg Roman joining the Ravens’ staff, perhaps Castillo felt the Bills would be a better fit for him, and for the Ravens.

A name to watch for the Ravens is former Broncos offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, who will not be kept on Denver’s new staff according to the Denver Post. Dennison was the Ravens quarterbacks coach in 2014 when Flacco had one of his best seasons. Flacco would welcome Dennison’s return to the Ravens staff, regardless of his role.

3. New NFL head coaching blood:  

I’m all for Anthony Lynn (Chargers), Sean McVay (Rams), Sean McDermott (Bills), and Vance Joseph (Broncos) getting their head coaching opportunity. Success isn’t guaranteed for any of them. But this year, NFL owners seemed willing to choose the person they believed would perform the best, regardless of their age, their race, or whether they had been a head coach before.

Related: Ravens have two of the NFL's top 25 free agents

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Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst

The Ravens have their entire 2018 draft class locked up.

The team agreed to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Hurst's rookie contract - like all first-round picks - is a four-year deal with a team option of a fifth year. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the 25th overall pick is due $11.1 million. 

The 24-year old, who was a walk on at South Carolina at 21-years old after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012, finished his three-year career with 100 receptions, 1,281 yards and three touchdowns.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Hurst will be a nice addition to the TE corps with Nick Boyle and third-round draft pick Mark Andrews. 

Fellow first-round pick Lamar Jackson signed his rookie contract on June 5th.

Training camp kicks off for the Ravens July 19th. 

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

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AP Images

Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

Since drafting Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have made it clear that Joe Flacco is their starter. That doesn't mean they're not experimenting with having them both on the field at the same time, however. 

During this week's minicamp, the team has been lining Jackson up at multiple positions. 

"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson during Tuesday's minicamp, via ESPN.com.

"If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."

While at Louisville, Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons. That's more rushing yards than No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley. That unique skill set could be the creative options the Ravens are looking for. 

While at the NFL Combine, however, Jackson refused to workout at any other position than QB. 

"I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and what they're going to come up with next," Jackson said. "We'll see where it goes. You have to use your good players."

The Ravens are already viewing Jackson as one of those 'good players.' 

"Once he gets out of the pocket, it's like watching a young Michael Vick," LB C.J. Mosley said after minicamp practice. "It's amazing to watch. When you're defending him, you just have to act like you're tagging off -- you don't want to be on the highlight reel."

Harbaugh has alluded to the fact that the rookie will be active on game days, just exactly how they get the most out of him is what's in play.

"There's a lot of considerations that go into that," Harbaugh said of using two QBs at the once. "Everybody has an opinion. I've read a few. You want to find a way to get the most out of all your guys."

While Flacco isn't the fasted QB in the league, he has shown glimpses of running ability in the past. Figuring out how to utilize Flacco when Jackson is under center is where things will get interesting.

Interesting - as long as it works - is what Ravens fans have been searching for over the last several seasons. 

"Joe has to be able to do other things if [Jackson is] throwing the ball," Harbaugh said. "It gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they've worked hard on that."

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