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Stock up, stock down: Ravens clinch playoff berth with 24-17 win in Buffalo

Stock up, stock down: Ravens clinch playoff berth with 24-17 win in Buffalo

The Ravens had one of their toughest games of the season in Buffalo, but escaped with a 24-17 win at New Era Field over the Bills. 

With the win, they’ve clinched a playoff spot for the second year in a row. 

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

Stock up: Playoff chances

The Ravens' playoff chances are now at 100 percent. 

With the win, they clinched a playoff berth for the second-straight season. They’ll wait for the conclusion of the Steelers game to find out if they’ve won the AFC North, too. 

Aside from that, they’ve officially cemented their spot in January. 

Stock down: Team health

The Ravens were banged up on Sunday in Buffalo, moreso than they’ve been all season. 

Mark Andrews, Anthony Levine and Chris Board left in the first half with injuries and didn’t return. Chuck Clark, Chris Moore and Jihad Ward were all injured, but returned in the game. 

The Ravens have a short week upcoming against the Jets, meaning they’ll have to get healthy in a hurry for a game that means a lot in terms of the hunt for a bye. 

Stock down: Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson didn’t have an outstanding day passing the ball. That hasn’t necessarily been uncommon this year, but the difference was that the running wasn’t there to carry the weight. 

He only ran for 40 yards and didn’t post a rushing touchdown, though his passes in the red zone scored three touchdowns. 

It’s the second week in a row where, against a strong defense, the Ravens offense has faced more struggles than they had in recent weeks.  

He finished 16-for-25 passing with 145 yards and three scores. 

Stock up: Pass rush

The Ravens front seven got after Josh Allen all afternoon and made him uncomfortable in the pocket. 

Allen’s legs weren’t a big factor, as he rushed for just nine yards on two carries. 

He was sacked six times and hit 12 times, too, as the Ravens front seven had one of its best games of the seasons. 

Stock up: Hayden Hurst

Hayden Hurst stepped up in Andrews’ absence, as he caught a 61-yard touchdown pass to open the second half on a high note for the Ravens. He finished with three catches and 73 yards with his score. 

Should Andrews be out for a significant period of time, Hurst’s impact will be even that much greater to the Ravens' passing attack.

Stock up: Willie Snead

Snead caught a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to give the team a two touchdown lead, a lead that would become important as the game wore on. 

He notched a career-high for touchdown receptions in a season with five due to his score. 

Snead made tough catches all afternoon as he was a reliable part of the Ravens’ offense on a day when not much went right. 

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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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