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Stock up, stock down: Ravens clinch AFC North for second straight season

Stock up, stock down: Ravens clinch AFC North for second straight season

BALTIMORE — For the second straight season, the Ravens will have at least one home playoff game. 

The Ravens earned a dominating 42-21 win over the Jets on Thursday at M&T Bank Stadium, clinching the team’s division crown for the second year in a row. 

Here are a few players whose stocks are up and down after the win: 

Stock up: Lamar Jackson

At what point is Lamar Jackson’s stock so high, that it’s literally impossible to go down? Well, it wasn’t Thursday.

Not only did he punctuate the best rushing season an NFL quarterback has ever had, he added five passing touchdowns, too. He’s still got two games to further distance himself beyond Michael Vick’s 2006 rushing total of 1,039 yards.

Jackson added to his MVP resume with another outstanding performance in yet another blowout win. It was the third time this season he’s thrown for five touchdowns. 

He finished 15-for-23 passing with 212 passing yards and five scores. He added 86 yards on eight carries, too. Jackson was relieved of his duties by Robert Griffin III late in the fourth quarter, but only because he’d done his job so well. 

Stock up: Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Smith quietly had a good game for the Ravens tonight, a performance which included a critical pass breakup in the end zone on fourth down. 

The Ravens secondary struggled a bit in the first half, but turned things around in the second half — and the game took a big swing with Smith’s pass breakup. 

He finished with five tackles on the night as well.

Stock down: Special Teams

This was clearly the biggest negative on the night, and it wasn’t close. 

The Jets had excellent returns on punt and kicks, but that's not where the problems ended.

Justin Tucker missed an extra point, which is shocking for the league’s best kicker. The Ravens made up for the miss with a 2-point conversion, but the kick was still a surprising miss. 

Then, in the fourth quarter, the Jets blocked a punt and recovered the ball for a score. 

While none of the errors cost the Ravens the game, they’re still errors that need to be cleaned up.

Stock up: Mark Ingram

Ingram had another standout game, and finished with 76 yards on the ground on 13 carries. He also caught a touchdown pass from Jackson to put an exclamation point on the win. 

While Jackson’s legs carry the water, Ingram’s legs kept the offense churning all night long. 

He’s now just 37 yards away from the 1,000-yard mark on the season. 

Stock up: Chuck Clark

Chuck Clark found himself in the right spot at the right time late in the second quarter, as Sam Darnold fired an ugly interception to Clark.

Granted, Sam Darnold couldn’t have thrown a better pass to Clark. But it was still on the safety to make the catch and swing momentum.

Clark finished with just one tackle, but his INT added to his breakout year.

Stock down: Marcus Peters

One of the areas in the first half that plagued the Ravens defense was the secondary, which had numerous lapses in coverage. 

On one play, Peters got lost in coverage and Darnold just overthrew his intended target for what would’ve been a touchdown. 

Peters has played good football since he’s gotten to Baltimore, but it was tough to find in the first half.

Stock up: January Football

For the second straight season, the Ravens will have a home playoff game — courtesy of winning the AFC North. And for now, it looks like there will be more.

The Ravens can clinch a first-round bye with a Chiefs or a Patriots loss on Sunday, giving the team an extra week off. If both lose, they’ll clinch home-field advantage.

Should the Ravens win next Sunday, they’ll clinch home-field advantage no matter what the Patriots or Chiefs do this or next week. 

Right now, it appears the road to Miami through the AFC Playoffs runs through Baltimore. 

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Ravens' options in a potential Matthew Judon trade

Ravens' options in a potential Matthew Judon trade

According to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Ravens have expressed interest in moving on from Matthew Judon through a trade this offseason. 

Judon, who isn’t under contract for next season, was tied for 19th in the league in sacks with 9.5 — a team-high. He was also the team-leader in quarterback hits with 33. The next best pass-rusher was Tyus Bowser, who registered 10. 

Lined up for a big payday, and with a high-priced franchise tag an option, the Ravens could lose their second pass-rusher in as many years on the free agent market should they elect to not pay Judon the elite pass-rusher money he’ll likely command.

Which brings the Ravens to the report from Schefter that indicated the team could move on from Judon, 27, through the sign-and-trade route. 

Should Judon, or the Ravens, walk away from the negotiating table in free agency, two options exist: The Ravens could either let him walk freely to another team and likely receive a 2021 third-round pick as compensation, or place the franchise tag on Judon. 

With the franchise tag option, the Ravens could keep him for a season and essentially kick the can down the road for a year, or trade him for a return that would likely be greater than the compensatory third, and more importantly, the help would be immediate. 

A few weeks ago, coach John Harbaugh said re-signing Judon would be, “pretty hard,” but that the team was going to try.  

But if the Ravens aren’t able, or are unwilling, to sign Judon, a potential blueprint for a future trade might have been laid out last year by the Chiefs. 

Last season, the Chiefs traded Dee Ford to the 49ers for a second-round pick just a month before they sent first and third-round picks to the Seahawks for Frank Clark and a third-round pick.

Ford had 13 sacks in 2018 and 29 quarterback hits while Clark had 13 as well and 27 quarterback hits. They both immediately signed long-term, expensive contracts with their new teams. 

Baltimore could make a move similar to that with Judon and get better, and more immediate, compensation for him and later add a pass-rusher with the draft capital than the team added.

The Ravens have just under 29 million dollars in cap space, meaning they’ve got the space to sign Judon to a long-term deal or keep him on the franchise tag, but they’d need to make some moves to be able to field a full roster. And that full roster, if Judon isn’t in Baltimore in 2020, needs pass-rushing help. 

Baltimore had 37 sacks as a team, and just over a quarter of them came from Judon. It also had 111 total quarterback hits, and 29.7 percent came from Judon. 

So the report that the Ravens could move Judon could play out, perhaps the most interesting aspect of a Judon trade would be the replacement the Ravens would need to have lined up.

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With big decision looming, Ravens guard Marshal Yanda mum on retirement plans

With big decision looming, Ravens guard Marshal Yanda mum on retirement plans

Ravens guard Marshal Yanda has a decision to make on his playing future, but he's in no rush to make it.

The 35-year-old is under contract with the Ravens through the 2020 season, but will take the next month or so to decide if he wants to continue playing or hang up the cleats.

"I'm going to take my time now," Yanda told Ravens.com regarding his future. "Done playing for the year, just take some time over the next month and basically just go with my heart and see how I feel."

The eight-time Pro Bowler was a vital piece in the NFL's best rushing attack in 2019. Yanda, the leader of the offensive line, started and played in 15 games this season for Baltimore, missing the regular-season finale as the Ravens rested multiple starters with the No. 1 seed already clinched.

Following Baltimore's upset divisional playoff loss to the Titans, a visibly disappointed Yanda refused to address his future, but he was definitely thinking about it then.

But if Sunday's Pro Bowl was the last time Yanda put on the pads, he didn't treat the game or experience any differently.

"Not necessarily," Yanda said if he cherished Sunday's Pro Bowl differently. "You're not in that frame of mind. I definitely didn't think about [my retirement decision] too much today, just because it was the Pro Bowl. It's more of a relaxed game, not like a really intense game.

"I didn't have those feelings as much as the Tennessee game," he continued." Yeah, it's a possibility. But those feelings were more in the Tennessee game."

Even at age 35, Yanda remains one of the best guards in the game. He's made the NFL's second-team All-Pro squad the past two seasons and has been a Pro Bowler every season since 2011, minus the 2017 season where he played just two games due to a season-ending ankle injury.

There's no debate: Baltimore would greatly benefit from Yanda returning.

"You want people that want you back," Yanda said. "You want to be playing very well when you end. Nobody wants to fade out; you want to go out strong."

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