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In slight to Ravens and others, Steve Young says AFC is a ‘wrap’

In slight to Ravens and others, Steve Young says AFC is a ‘wrap’

Through two weeks of the NFL season, the Baltimore Ravens have looked impressive. Yes, it's a small sample size, but a 2-0 record compounded with strong performances from Lamar Jackson and others has the team looking like it could be a strong contender in the conference.

It's early, but it's not crazy to think that the Ravens at least have a chance of being the team to come out of the AFC or competing for the conference title.

Yet according to ESPN's NFL analyst Steve Young, that won't be the case. Not because the Ravens aren't a good football team, but because Young believes there are others that are far superior. Those teams being the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. 

"It's a wrap. It's a wrap on the AFC except for the Chiefs," Young said on the pregame show for Monday Night Football. "I know that's going to make the Buffalo Bills mad, gonna make the Ravens, a lot teams, the Chargers. There's a lot of teams that need to play football to get there. But to me, it's a wrap to the Championship game."

Young does have the Chiefs as a team he sees making it to the conference game, but his main point is that no one is dethroning the Patriots. Not Patrick Mahomes, and not Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.

It isn't hard to understand where Young is coming from. Two dominant wins to open the season and the acquisition of star receiver Antonio Brown for Tom Brady has made an already lethal offense even more dangerous. Once again it's still early, but the defending Super Bowl champions seem to have gotten even better.

Add that to their consistent success over the past decade, and Young feels as if he knows where this season is going.

"We've seen this movie so many times, why would we think it would be anything different?" Young said. "I used to think, 'Oh you can't play that about football, there's too many variables.' My point is, the Patriots are the team. It's early September, I think it's done. It's a done deal."

As Young says there, football is a game of variables, and we're not even a quarter of the way into the season and things can certainly change. Maybe the Patriots are going to run through the league again, but maybe they won't. Maybe the same can be said for the Ravens' hot start. Only time will tell.

But, even with that, Young has a feeling it will Belichick and Brady once again rising to the top of the AFC.

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Bengals tried to prepare for Lamar Jackson by having Andy Dalton emulate him in practice

Bengals tried to prepare for Lamar Jackson by having Andy Dalton emulate him in practice

Disgruntled or not, Andy Dalton is a team player.

The Cincinnati Bengals benched their starting quarterback last week in favor of rookie Ryan Finley after the team stumbled out to an 0-8 start with Dalton under center.

It was a humbling move for the nine-year veteran. But despite reportedly being unhappy with the team’s decision, Dalton has taken the benching in stride—even to the point of being willing to emulate the Bengals’ opposing quarterback on the scout team.

Ahead of their Week 10 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, the Bengals tasked Dalton with adopting Lamar Jackson’s run-heavy style of play in practice, according to Bengals.com reporter Geoff Hobson.

Dalton has never rushed for more than 200 yards in a season during his NFL career, but did gain over 1,600 yards on the ground over his four years at TCU.

The Ravens went on to win 49-13, with Jackson posting a perfect passer rating of 158.3 along with 223 yards passing, 65 yards rushing and four total touchdowns.

As much as Dalton might have tried, it’s been tough for anyone to replicate the success Jackson—an MVP candidate—has been having this season. Maybe he’ll have better luck taking a page out of Derek Carr’s book before Cincinnati faces the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

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Ravens new defensive line additions Justin Ellis and Domata Peko ready to make impact

Ravens new defensive line additions Justin Ellis and Domata Peko ready to make impact

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Domata Peko thought he had blown his shot to play on the Ravens. 

Peko was brought in for a workout with the Ravens a few weeks ago, and offered a contract, but he turned the offer down and said the move wasn’t right for him.

Just a few weeks later, however, another situation arose with the Ravens and he jumped at the opportunity to sign in Baltimore.

“It went really well, I had an offer, but it wasn’t the right one for me,” Peko explained. “Big shoutout to the people upstairs, Eric did a great job communicating with my agency and they called me two days ago. We were able to get it done.”

The Ravens brought in Peko and another defensive tackle, Justin Ellis, after the team put Daylon Mack on IR and waived Ufomba Kamalu as well. With Michael Pierce’s ankle injury, the defensive line suddenly need a jolt of run-stopping ability.

A 14-year veteran, Peko played for the Bengals for 11 seasons before heading to the Broncos for two seasons. He hasn’t played on a team this year, but feels confident he can help the Ravens’ run defense right away.

“Coaching my son’s football team and doing individual drills with them, that’s how I was kind of staying in shape,” Peko said. “I’m super excited to be here in Baltimore and make a run. That’s why I’m here, to help the defense out and to do my job. As a 14-year-vet, as a nose-man, I feel like I can come right in and do my job and do my part to help us win.”

Peko is in a unique situation, however, having been apart of so many successful Bengals teams for the majority of his career. He’s been in the trenches with Ravens guard Marshal Yanda before, only on the other side. 

Now, he’ll try and help the team he played against for so many years make a push for a championship in the final weeks of the season.

“It does feel weird, playing with the Bengals for 11 seasons and playing up here, playing these guys twice a year,” Peko said. “It does feel a little bit weird, but I’m excited to put this purple and black on. I think I’ll look pretty good in it on Sunday.”

The other addition, Ellis, came from Oakland where he spent the previous five seasons. At 6-foot-2, 350-pound behemoth up front specializes in stopping the run. 

His opportunity came due to his release from the Raiders in October. 

“I’ve kind of been just focused on what’s in front of me,” Ellis said. “When I got the call, my agent thought it was a great opportunity.”

Coach John Harbaugh mentioned their “stout, physical ability,” which was one of the reasons the team added them on. Pierce’s unknown status didn’t hurt, either. Ellis and Peko will likely be big contributors moving forward, should Pierce be absent for any amount of time. 

With other defenders having made significant impacts early on like Josh Bynes, L.J. Fort and Marcus Peters, there’s hope that Peko and Ellis will be able to solidify a defensive line that suddenly is banged up.

“I’ve been just patiently waiting and anticipating the call,” Peko said. “Now that I got the call, I’m here, ready to work and ready to get after it and ready to show Baltimore what I can bring to the table.”

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