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Who to root for in Week 13 if you are a Baltimore Ravens fan

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USA TODAY Sports

Who to root for in Week 13 if you are a Baltimore Ravens fan

There is a crowded AFC playoff bubble right now and the Baltimore Ravens are the one team standing at the top. 

Baltimore (6-5) is fortunate enough to have their playoff destiny in their own hands. Win out and they are in the postseason, at the very least they are a Wild Card team. 

Nipping at their heels heading into Week 13 are five other teams. Leading the charge are the Indianapolis Colts, one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Baltimore will have to be on their marks to prevent the Colts from overtaking them. Right now the Ravens have only a slight edge in AFC record at 6-3 against the Colts' 5-4 AFC record.

Don't count out the division title either for the Ravens as the Pittsburgh Steelers have a horrid schedule on their plate. Win the division and higher seeds quickly come into play. But, before we get to talking about higher seed it's time to worry about this week. 

Ravens Week 13 Rooting Guide

Buffalo Bills (4-7) vs. Miami Dolphins (5-6)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1:00 p.m.

An easy decision here as Buffalo has the worse record and the Ravens already hold the tiebreaker over the Bills. The Dolphins are only a game behind the Ravens for the final spot in the AFC and are well within striking range. These two squads, the Bills and the Dolphins, will meet again in Week 17 and they each have the New England Patriots one more time on their schedule. Root for the Bills.

Indianapolis Colts (6-5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1:00 p.m.

Aside from them having the best record of the teams on the outside looking in, Indianapolis should be the team the Ravens are the most scared of. No. 1 they have Andrew Luck. No. 2 they have an easier schedule than Baltimore. The combined record of the Colts' remaining opponents is 25-30. The Ravens' opponents are 29-25-1. Jacksonville is no longer a threat in the Wild Card race, root for the Jaguars.

Cleveland Browns (4-6-1) vs. Houston Texans (8-3)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1:00 p.m.

Either way this one turns out would not be the end of the world for the Ravens. That is assuming the Ravens believe they still have a shot at the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs. The Steelers have a rough stretch of games to end the season, which Baltimore would need to pass first. Then, the Texans are only two games up on Baltimore. Getting to the playoffs is the first priority though and the Ravens do not have any wiggle room. Cleveland is 1.5 games back and has the head-to-head tiebreaker over Baltimore. They should be a bigger concern so root for the Texans in this matchup.

Denver Broncos (5-6) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 1:00 p.m.

Baltimore wants neither of these two teams since both of them are a mere game out of the Ravens. Holding the Week 3 victory over the Broncos in the Ravens' pocket is the difference. Cincy and Baltimore both split the season series, so the next tiebreaker will be the divisional record. Root for the Broncos, despite them being one of the hottest teams in the AFC right now. 

Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) vs. Oakland Raiders (2-9)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 4:05 p.m.

An Oakland loss or a Baltimore win will end the Raiders' faint postseason hopes. They are no threat to the Ravens so just root for the Raiders in case something crazy happens down the stretch.

New York Jets (3-8) vs. Tennessee Titans (5-6)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 4:05 p.m.

Building a wedge between the Ravens and the other teams on their tail is always a good thing. Baltimore has the tiebreaker over Tennessee already but they don't want it to come to that. Root for the Jets.

Minnesota Vikings (6-4-1) vs. New England Patriots (8-3) 
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 4:25 p.m.

There is no reason to not root against the Patriots. They are playing a NFC team so there is nothing for the Ravens to lose if they root for the Vikings this week.

Los Angeles Chargers (8-3) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1)
Sunday, Dec. 2 at 8:20 p.m.

If you are reading this we're assuming you're a Ravens fan so you don't need a reminder that the world is always better when the Steelers lose. That still should be the focus, but it would not be the end of the world if the Chargers fell in this matchup. Root for the Chargers.

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Greg Roman rebuilding Ravens offense with Lamar Jackson in mind

Greg Roman rebuilding Ravens offense with Lamar Jackson in mind

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Greg Roman is off to a running start in his new role as offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, working long hours to construct a unit that can fully utilize the talents of quarterback Lamar Jackson.

The Ravens closed the regular season with a 6-1 run behind Jackson, who keyed an effective ground game with frequent forays out of the pocket and downfield. Baltimore ended a three-year hiatus from the playoffs, winning the AFC North before losing to the Chargers.

The goal this offseason is to make an effective attack even better. Promoted last month from assistant coach/tight ends coach, Roman is rewriting a playbook that was originally devised for a pass-oriented offense led by Joe Flacco.

"We're trying, soup to nuts, from the ground up ... to hit the sweet spot with how we put this offense together," Roman said Tuesday.

The focal point is Jackson, the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 draft. After Flacco injured his right hip in November, Jackson took over and displayed the slick moves and elusiveness that earned him a Heisman Trophy at Louisville.

The rookie finished as the team's second-leading rusher with 719 yards. He spearheaded a ground game that finished second in the NFL with 152.6 yards per game -- including an league-high 1,607 yards rushing over the final seven games.

"You're going to see a lot of elements of that this year," Roman said.

The result, he hopes, is something on a much grander scale.

"We have run an offense here that has kind of morphed over the years, and we really want to start fresh, start new," Roman said. "Everything from our language, our formations, how we do everything. Rebuild the thing. That's one angle.

"The other angle is really, how do we want to move forward with Lamar Jackson? He's a unique player with a unique skill set, so let's build an offense that really accommodates that, as opposed to try to fit him into something that other people had once done."

Roman took over for Marty Mornhinweg in part because of his work as an offensive coordinator in San Francisco and Buffalo, where he helped construct effective attacks with running quarterbacks in Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor.

At the time of Roman's hiring, coach John Harbaugh said, "Increasing Greg's responsibilities will help us get where we're going on offense."

Constructing a new playbook is not an easy process.

"It's a real grind. We're really looking at this as a completely new beginning, as if we were a new staff," Roman said. "I've kind of compared it to putting your kid's furniture together from IKEA or something. If you make one wrong move, you've got to take the whole thing apart and start over again."

For the offense to work, the Ravens must fortify the offensive line, get a rugged receiver capable of blocking downfield and hope Gus Edwards can continue to develop after a rookie season in which he was activated from the practice squad in October before running for a team-high 718 yards.

Most of all, however, they need Jackson to be better. His running prowess and determination are fine, but he had only one 200-yard passing game and fumbled 12 times.

"Moving forward, consistent fundamentals are what's really going to take him to the next level," Roman said, "because he's got all the ability in the world."

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Joe Flacco passes physical, is set to become Broncos' latest addition to QB carousel

Joe Flacco passes physical, is set to become Broncos' latest addition to QB carousel

Joe Flacco's journey out West is making progress.

The 34-year-old was in Denver last week and passed his physical with the Broncos, according to sources of Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, clearing a path for their trade with the Ravens to become official when the new league year begins March 13.

In a move that was expected as the team made it clear 2018 first-round pick Lamar Jackson is its future, the Ravens are reportedly sending Flacco to the Broncos for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Based off of one observant flyer at Denver International Airport, the former Super Bowl MVP flew commercial out of Denver in a very Flacco-like move.

'Joe Cool' will presumably be the Broncos' fourth starting quarterback in three seasons and the latest addition to their quarterback carousel.

The Broncos drafted Brock Osweiler 57th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, starting just seven games over four seasons and was eventually re-signed in 2017 where he only started four games. Then they drafted Trevor Siemian in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft, starting 24 games during the 2016-17 season, before trading up in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft for Paxton Lynch, who earned four starts in two seasons. They traded for Mark Sanchez in 2016, but he never made it to the regular season.

And finally, the Broncos signed free agent Case Keenum in 2018 to a two-year, $36 million deal. Keenum started all 16 games this season, going 365-for-586 for 3,890 yards, 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. However, general manager John Elway is now making room for Flacco for at least the next year. 

Flacco, who the Ravens drafted with the 18th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, has no guaranteed money left with the Ravens and is working on a one-year, $18.5 million deal with two-team option years following that. It's not a bad deal for a team that can't commit to a starting QB. 

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