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No one has a stronger case for NFL's best team than the Ravens

No one has a stronger case for NFL's best team than the Ravens

The Ravens are on a roll, to put it mildly. They’ve won six straight games for the first time since 2000 -- as a reminder, they won the Super Bowl that year -- taking down Seattle, New England and Houston in the process.

Not only has Baltimore beaten a number of fellow contenders in the last month, but they’ve done so in convincing fashion. The combined score of those games? 108-43.

They’ve won so convincingly, in fact, that national media members are seriously asking if there’s a new best team in the NFL. The NBC Sports Sunday Night Football crew took a crack at answering this very question after the Ravens’ latest blowout win.

“I’d have a hard time coming up with one better,” analyst Mike Florio lets out after a long pause to think of other alternatives.

“We do power rankings every Tuesday, and they were number one this week, but almost by default,” he continues later in the segment. “Once they beat the Seahawks in Seattle that was when they found the gas pedal, and they haven’t had a letdown...they’re hitting on all cylinders.”

The Ravens are still far from a consensus choice. While their body of work is impressive and no team in the league is hotter -- the next-longest active win streak is the Seahawks with three straight -- it’s easy to question if this run will last.

Former defensive back Rodney Harrison questions the team’s experience come playoff time, giving the ultimate edge to the Patriots. Former coach Tony Dungy points out the Ravens defense has struggled at times this season, though he also mentions how the “offense is so difficult to prepare for.”

The group’s praise for the Ravens offense is effusive. Mike Tirico calls it “the hardest one to stop right now in the league,” and Florio points out their fearless leader, Lamar Jackson, “is not affected by the moment...not going to get freaked out in the playoffs.”

The Ravens own the NFL’s second-best point-differential, and are one game back of the best record in football, owning the tiebreaker over the current AFC one-seed Patriots.

Thanks to their schedule, Baltimore has had and will continue to have plenty of opportunities to prove themselves against the other best teams in football. They’ve already beaten the Patriots and Seahawks, and coming up the next three weeks are the 6-4 Rams, the 9-1 49ers and the 7-3 Bills.

Dungy puts it best when describing the team’s success.

“They’re having fun, they have confidence,” the longtime coach explains. “They’re playing like they’re the best team in football. They feel that.”

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Ravens looking for playoff berth, AFC North title in trip to Buffalo

Ravens looking for playoff berth, AFC North title in trip to Buffalo

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens haven’t had to stress too much over the last month or so of football.

Aside from a last-second win over the 49ers, the Ravens have climbed to the top of the AFC standings, and with four games to play, control their destiny for home-field advantage. 

But while the Bills aren’t in first place in their division, Sunday’s game at New Era Field could be one that has a large impact on the AFC standings. 

“We know the goal is to win the game, and what follows with that is what follows with that,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I did mention to the team, I said, ‘Where are we? We’re nowhere until we get there. And when we get there, we’ll be there. And we’ll take it from there.’ How’s that? That’s actually pretty good.

At 10-2, the Ravens are in pole position headed to the final quarter of the season. But the slope that they sit atop of is quite slippery. 

A loss to the 9-3 Bills would tie the two teams in the standings, with the Bills then owning the tiebreaker with just three games to play.

In that scenario, the AFC East champion Bills would have the inside track to home-field advantage in the playoffs over the Ravens. 

“We're not looking at everything like, ‘Oh my gosh, we're unstoppable,’ or anything like that,” Josh Bynes said. “Because it's any given Sunday, and we know how this league works. Any team can come out and beat you at any given moment. So, all we're focused on right now is just winning one game at a time and just taking it day by day and game by game.”

The Bills offense has took a turn for the better in recent weeks, as quarterback Josh Allen has thrown just one interception since Week 5. But the true strength of the Bills is their defense, which has kept them in games all season long. 

It’s yet another top defense that the Ravens will have to go through on their stretch of top defenses. 

“I think they're very talented,” Orlando Brown Jr. said. “I think they play very hard, and they've got a great scheme and a ton of great players in great positions. Their defensive backs are playing really well. They have a great group of front seven, again. It seems like we can't get a break, but it's all good.”

Buffalo’s defense ranks third in yards-allowed-per game (300) and third in pass yards allowed (195.8).

Baltimore is set to catch a break before the game even starts, as the weather in Buffalo is predicted to be mild — for New York. The projected high temperature is 45 degrees, and no snow is in the forecast.

“I don’t really care about cold games,” Lamar Jackson said. “I played at Louisville, so there were a lot of cold games there. And last year, I played here, so it is what it is. But I’d rather it not be raining and cold. That doesn’t mix. Cold and snow, I’ve never been in that. So, I’ll find out what it’s like, and I have to play ball.”

Jackson, against another of the league’s top defensive units, will look to add an exclamation point to his MVP resume. 

Should he do that and the Ravens win, they’ll clinch a playoff berth. And paired with a win over the Bills and a Steelers loss, they’ll have back-to-back AFC North titles. 

“It's going to be a good test,” Michael Pierce said. “I think it'll be another playoff-type atmosphere there on the road. They're 9-3. Josh Allen is playing really well, and we know the kind of (running) back Frank Gore is. And (Devin) Singletary is pretty smooth, too, so yes, they have a good team. It'll be a good game.” 

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Ravens at Bills Week 14: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Ravens at Bills Week 14: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Baltimore Ravens (10-2) are heading north to take on the Buffalo Bills (9-3) in a Week 14 AFC Showdown that will likely have the energy of a playoff game.

The Ravens are coming off a buzzer-beater 20-17 win against the San Francisco 49ers that pushed their win streak to a franchise-record eight games. Leading the way for the Ravens is Lamar Jackson, who has cemented his MVP candidacy during a season in which he has taken the league by storm.

The Bills are coming off three wins of their own, most recently a 26-15 stomping of the Dallas Cowboys. Despite the impressive 9-3 record, the Bills' only win against a .500 or better team came on Thanksgiving Day against the then 6-5 Cowboys.

Here's what you should know about the game:

RAVENS at BILLS WEEK 14:

What: Week 14 of the NFL regular season

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills

Where: New Era Field, Orchard Park, NY

When: Sunday, Dec. 8, at 1:00 p.m.

TV Channel: CBS

Live Stream: Stream on FuboTV 

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090, 98Rock and 101.5 FM

Spread: Ravens, -5.5

Over/Under: 43.5

Weather: 44 degrees, mostly cloudy

RAVENS 2019 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1: Sun., 9/8 at Dolphins, 1:00 p.m. (W, 59-10)

Week 2: Sun., 9/15 vs. Cardinals, 1:00 p.m. (W, 23-17)

Week 3: Sun., 9/22 at Chiefs. 1:00 p.m. (L, 33-28)

Week 4: Sun., 9/29 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m. (L, 40-25)

Week 5: Sun., 10/6 at Steelers, 1:00 p.m. (W (OT), 26-23)

Week 6: Sun., 10/13 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m. (W, 23-17)

Week 7: Sun., 10/20 at Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. (W, 30-16)

Week 8: BYE week

Week 9: Sun., 11/3 vs. Patriots, 8:20 p.m. (W, 37-20)

Week 10:  Sun., 11/10 at Bengals, 1:00 p.m. (W, 49-13)

Week 11: Sun., 11/17 vs. Texans, 1:00 p.m. (W, 41-7)

Week 12: Mon., 11/25 at Rams, 8:15 p.m. (W, 45-6)

Week 13: Sun., 12/1 vs. 49ers, 1:00 p.m. (W, 20-17)

Week 14: Sun., 12/8 at Bills, 1:00 p.m.

Week 15: Thu., 12/12 vs. Jets, 8:20 p.m.

Week 16: Sun., 12/22 at Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 17: Sun., 12/29 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

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