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Key Ravens matchups: Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow face off for the first time in Week 5

Key Ravens matchups: Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow face off for the first time in Week 5

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens will get an up-close look at Joe Burrow and the Bengals for the first time on Oct. 11 at M&T Bank Stadium, the first matchup between the two Heisman Trophy winners in their careers. 

Burrow, the most recent Heisman winner, took the nation by storm with one of, if not the best statistical season a collegiate quarterback has ever had at LSU in 2019. He won the national championship with the Tigers and rose from being thought of as a mid-to-late round quarterback prospect to the first overall pick in the draft. 

Jackson on the other hand, who is 27 days Burrow’s younger, won the NFL’s MVP award in his second full season as a starter. 

Now, the AFC North has three Heisman Trophy winners (the other being Baker Mayfield) with the fourth, Ben Roethlisberger, likely on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after his career ends. 

With such youth at the quarterback position in the division, this matchup could turn out to be the first of many in years of divisional bouts between two of the best young quarterbacks in the league. 

Tale of the tape

Jackson’s numbers at the NFL level last season were staggering. Burrow’s numbers were too, the only difference being that he posted them against college competition. 

Jackson combined for a total of 4,333 yards and 43 touchdowns in 15 games on his way to the league’s second-ever unanimous AP MVP award. The Ravens finished the season 14-2 due in large part to the best rushing offense, in terms of total yards, the league had ever seen. 

Burrow, though, broke records of his own at LSU. 

Despite a mostly average start to his career at LSU in 2018, he threw for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns and just six interceptions for the Tigers in his final year in college. His completion percentage was a mind-numbing 76.3, too, as the Tigers won all but three of their games by 10 or more points. 

Now in Cincinnati, just over two hours from his home growing up, he’s got the support of the state and the Bengals firmly at his back.

Supporting cast

In one of the rare cases on the Ravens' schedule, the Bengals might be able to go toe-to-toe with the Ravens’ skill positions. 

Quarterback aside, there’s no debate who has the better receiving corps. 

Cincinnati has A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, Auden Tate and John Ross to put at wideout and let run freely. It also has Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard in the backfield to take the pressure off Burrow and give him safety valves out of the backfield. 

The Ravens running back depth is clearly superior, as Mark Ingram, J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill outweigh Mixon and Bernard in totality, even though Mixon is the best of the bunch. 

Burrow might be in trouble with his offensive line, as the Bengals’ unit is still mostly unknown, though Billy Price and Jonah Williams are two promising young talents. The Ravens’ offensive line, even without Marshal Yanda, should be one of the best units in the league once again.

Who has the edge?

Burrow might turn out to have a great year in his rookie campaign, but until he actually steps onto the field, this isn’t a debate. 

Jackson was the league’s MVP last year, and even though Burrow shows promise and will give the Bengals a newfound swagger, Jackson holds any advantage over nearly every quarterback in the NFL until proven otherwise. 

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How the Baltimore Ravens chose city history for their team name

How the Baltimore Ravens chose city history for their team name

Before they got their name in 1996, the Baltimore Ravens, wanted the city’s NFL franchise to be known, once again, as the Colts. 

When the Cleveland Browns left for Baltimore after the 1995 NFL season, there were more pressing matters on the mind of the organization before a name was constructed. Plus, with more than a dozen lawsuits from Cleveland trying to prevent the move in the first place, the public option to discuss the name wasn’t available just yet. 

So, as the franchise’s brass internally sat down to come up with options, the name “Colts” was brought up. Baltimore owner Art Modell reached out to Jim Irsay in Indianapolis about acquiring the name. Modell thought he could get the rights for a couple million dollars, so he offered $5 million. 

Irsay came back with an offer around $25 million.

“We probably had, in the original mix, 12 to 15 names as possibilities,” longtime Ravens executive vice president of public and community relations, Kevin Byrne, recalled. “We looked at variations of horse themes to go along with the Colts...(After Irsay’s offer) Art said, ‘I think we’re going to have a different name.’” 

The Colts had been the name of the city’s team from 1953 to 1984. The team had won three NFL Championships and one Super Bowl and had one of the league’s most famous quarterbacks in Johnny Unitas. 

But in the early morning hours of March 29, 1984, the Colts famously left town on Mayflower trucks for Indianapolis. The franchise, owned by Robert Irsay, kept the name.

When football returned to Baltimore, retaining — or, in this case, buying — the Colts name back wasn’t an option. Neither was keeping the name "Browns."

“(Owner) Art (Modell) had said from the very beginning, ‘I’d love to have you go with us, but we can’t be the Baltimore Browns,’” Byrne recalled. “‘I can’t do that to the people in Cleveland. They need to keep Jim Brown and Brian Sipe and Ozzie Newsome. We have no right to take that.’ (So) I knew we were going to have a new name.”

Paired with Modell’s lack of desire to keep the name, as well as commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s commitment to bring football back to Cleveland with the original “Browns” name, Baltimore searched for a new name for its new team.

Bryne, who was with the Browns organization starting in 1981, followed the team from Cleveland to Baltimore. He announced his retirement from the organization in April. 

While the team searched for a name, he said the organization wanted a unique name that worked with the city’s history. One option was to name the team the “Americans,” a name based on the railroad history of Baltimore.

“David was really enamored with that,” Byrne recalled. “He used to chuckle, ‘We will be America’s Team, we’ll be called the Americans. We’ll have American flag on the helmet.’”

Another option was the “Marauders,” a nod to the city’s football past with the Colts, as well as the country’s past.

Then, the Ravens name was introduced. 

RELATED: HOW THE NATIONALS CHOSE THEIR NAME

It was based on a poem titled “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe, who died in Baltimore in 1849 after spending the latter half of his life in the city. While the name is commonplace now, the debate raged on at the time.

“Internally, we couldn’t agree at all,” Byrne said. “One day we were discussing it and I said, ‘Why don’t we let the fans decide?’ So we went to The Baltimore Sun and asked them if they would like to be involved in a fan-vote. While we had lots of names, the three finalists we offered to the fans to vote on were Americans, Marauders and Ravens. And overwhelmingly, the fans selected Ravens.”

According to the Ravens’ website, The Sun announced a record-breaking 33,748 callers for the poll. The Ravens overwhelmingly won the poll with 22,463 votes. The Americans trailed 5,635, and Marauders 5,650.

“When we first practiced, we were the Mean Machine from ‘The Longest Yard,’” Byrne joked. “We didn’t have a logo on our helmets, we had white helmets with black jerseys. We had to kind of hurry the process.”

Once the name was chosen, colors had to be picked for the team. The pictures and descriptions the organization found of ravens showed the bird’s black figure with the look of almost purple wings. 

“In talking with the league, they told us, ‘You just can’t be black and purple, you need some white colors in there,’” Byrne said. “So we looked at the state flag which had some gold in it, had some yellow, had a little red in it, then we got those colors in to brighten up.”

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And with the name and colors decided, the Ravens were officially the NFL’s newest franchise. 

The only thing left to work out was the blending of Baltimore’s past into the future of the Ravens. Byrne credited Art Modell for making that happen. 

Former Baltimore Colt players were interested in who Art was, and many of them likened him to Robert Irsay in Indianapolis. Byrne assured them that wasn’t the case.

After Modell met with the former players and earned their trust, he set his sights on getting Unitas onboard. And with a promise to look after the NFL’s alumni from Modell, Unitas agreed to be on board with the Ravens’ organization. 

Later that year on Sept. 1 against the Oakland Raiders, the Ravens officially entered the NFL, with Baltimore Colt legends welcoming them on the field.

“John came, we had opening day with the jackets, we all lined up and Johnny presented the game ball to the referee,” Byrne said. “It was like the imprimatur from the Pope so to speak, that the Baltimore Colts were telling all the fans, ‘It’s OK to root for these guys. These guys are us.’”

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If Steelers fans are allowed into Heinz Field this season, they'll have to wear a mask

If Steelers fans are allowed into Heinz Field this season, they'll have to wear a mask

If fans are permitted to attend Pittsburgh Steelers home games this fall, there's one item they can't forget: a mask.

Steelers' director of communication, Burt Lauten, explained the decision to require fans to wear a mask in a statement on Tuesday.

"Our goal is to still have fans at Heinz Field this year with the understanding that social distancing, as well as all fans being required to wear masks, will play a role in the capacity to ensure a safe atmosphere," Lauten said, via ESPN. "We will continue to work with the NFL and public health officials to finalize plans for fans to attend our home games."

Pittsburgh was one of the first franchises to alter its ticketing plans this season, as they decided in May to trim half of their individual game ticket sales due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The news comes just hours after their AFC North rival, the Baltimore Ravens, announced that M&T Bank Stadium will be capped at less than 14,000 fans this fall, should fans be allowed to attend games.

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In June, The Athletic reported that the NFL will not place a limit on capacity at games, allowing each individual team to make the decision themselves.

"Attendance will be a state-by-state, county-by-county thing," an anonymous NFL source told The Athletic. "It will not be a one size fits all."

Additionally, the NFL has said that the first 6-8 rows of lower bowl sections, including field-level suites, will be blocked off this fall to help slow the spread of the virus. Those sections will be covered with tarps, which teams can use to sell advertising, similarly to what the Premier League in England has done.

With training camp still a few weeks away, there are a lot of virus-related questions the NFL must answer beforehand.

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