The Baltimore Ravens are in a different position this season with five games left than they were in 2015. At this point last year, Joe Flacco, Justin Forsett, Steve Smith Sr., and Terrell Suggs, among others others were placed on Injured Reserve. The season was essentially lost with a 4-7 record and almost half of the starting roster injured.
Baltimore is currently gearing up for a post-season run with a 6-5 record, as well as boasting four-straight divisional wins. The team is currently the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoff picture. Injuries are down this season compared to 2015, and the Ravens are playing with confidence.
Going into Week Thirteen, both this season and last, Baltimore’s opponent is/was the Miami Dolphins. Last year the Dolphins won that matchup 15-13 in what was Baltimore’s first game without Joe Flacco since 2007.
This year, the Dolphins come to Baltimore the hottest team in the AFC riding a six-game win streak.
What does Baltimore need to do in each game from here on out to win the division?
Miami Dolphins, Week Thirteen
- Shut down Jay Ajayi. The second-year back had a three-week awakening this season (weeks 5-7) when he rushed for 529 yards and 4 touchdowns. Since then his numbers have dropped, but he is still the heartbeat of this offense. Shutting him down forces Tannehill to win the game with his arm, something he has had trouble doing against Baltimore. Baltimore should be able to score enough against this defense to outpace Tannehill’s offense.
New England Patriots, Week Fourteen
- New England is by far Baltimore’s toughest opponent left on the schedule, hot streak or not. Being that it is in Gillette Stadium on a Monday night makes this game even more important for Baltimore. The Ravens know the nation will be watching, and expecting them to be trounced in the process. But who has a better chance of beating the Patriots in Foxborough than the Ravens? The answer: not many teams. The defense needs to get to Tom Brady, the traditional blueprint to beat the Patriots. At this point, Suggs is playing great football and Elvis Dumervil had his first sack of the season last week. Look for their success to dictate the tempo of this game.
Philadelphia Eagles, Week Fifteen
- The Eagles are currently not the team that started off 3-0 on a hot streak. Since then, the team has gone 2-6, with a paltry 0-5 record on the road since Week Four. The defense, which performed like a playoff caliber defense early on, has had problems as of late. They have allowed 26.8 points/game in their six losses. The Baltimore defense feels more than enough confident it can force rookie signal caller Carson Wentz into making mistakes. From there it is up to the offense to put points up on Philadelphia’s defense, who will be playing on the road.
Pittsburgh Steelers, Week Sixteen
- Following three tough out-of-division games the Ravens finish the season on the road during their last two divisional matchups. Depending on how Baltimore does in those previous three matchups dictates whether the divisional matchups will be “must win” games. More than likely, though, this game could decide the fate of the AFC North. Both teams own a 6-5 record, but Baltimore has the edge because of a 21-14 victory over Pittsburgh in Week Nine. Baltimore had Ben Roethlisberger’s number in their first matchup, but seemingly pumped the brakes when leading 21-0. Being that this game is on the road for Baltimore, it will probably be another back-and-forth contest that is common in this rivalry. If the Ravens do find themselves with a lead, they must run away with it this time.
Cincinnati Bengals, Week Seventeen
- Baltimore’s game plan against Cincinnati should be the same as the first matchup: stop Jeremy Hill, and shut down Tyler Eifert. Without A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard, these are the Bengals’ top two weapons on offense. Stop them, and Andy Dalton will struggle to put points on the board. From there, Flacco and Justin Tucker proved this past Sunday that they can score enough to stump this disappointing Bengals squad. Ending the season on a positive note could be good for a Baltimore team with young talent and the chance to win the AFC North for the first time in four years.
- Baltimore’s winning formula has common elements in each game from here on out. The defense, especially the front seven, must play dominating football as it has been all year. With an aggressive run defense and pass rush, things will come easier for a secondary that is close to returning No. 1 Cornerback Jimmy Smith. The offense needs to step up in the final quarter of the year. Tucker and the defense can’t be expected to bail them out of every game. They need to take over a game or two in these final five to prove they can make a splash in the post season.
Ravens’ Alex Collins Arrested
Baltimore Ravens running back Alex Collins was arrested early on Friday morning following a car crash about a mile from the Ravens’ team facility, according to a report from the Baltimore Sun.
Per the report: Officers responded to a report of a car that had crashed into a tree on the 10000 block of Dolfield Road at about 6:48 a.m. Friday morning, Baltimore County police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Peach said.
Collins, 24, was arrested, however charges were not made public at the time of this writing.
Ravens vice president of public relations Chad Steele told The Baltimore Sun that the team has spoken with law enforcement and is aware of the situation involving Collins.
Collins is coming off a down year with Baltimore after a breakout campaign in 2017. Collins managed only 411 yards rushing in 2018 and was placed on injured reserve back in December, ending his season early.
Ray Rice Says He Is Done With Football
Former NFL running back Ray Rice, who had been working to try and get a second chance in the NFL over the past couple of years, is no longer pursuing a comeback.
“I’ll be the first one to say it; I don’t have to retire to tell you I’m done with football” Rice said, during an interview on CBS This Morning.
“The pressure I was under of being a star, that was the person I hated the most.”
Rice was suspended indefinitely back in 2014 when a video surfaces showing Rice punching his then-fiancee, now wife, Janay Rice while the two were alone in an elevator.
Rice was never picked up by another team following the conclusion of his suspension, and his release from the Baltimore Ravens.
Rice said that he sees “similarities” between his situation and the one of former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, who was recently cut loose by the team when a video surfaced showing him pushing and kicking a woman in a hallway.
“Somewhere down the line everybody who’s sayin’, ‘Does he deserve a second chance for football?’ And this that and the other— I actually got my second chance” Rice said of Hunt, who cleared waivers and is now a free agent.
“During my darkest moments, and I used to ask myself, ‘How could she even be—want to support me?’ … That’s understandable. But I think what’s misunderstood about us is that the friends we were before the incident. That’s why, like I said, when I look at Kareem Hunt, I wanna know what his life was like. I want to know what happened in life. I know Kareem has apologized, and has expressed remorse for survivors of domestic violence.”
Ravens Trying To Entice Fans With Lower Concession Prices
The Baltimore Ravens are attempting to win back fans and their latest plan is making a big step toward doing just that as the team announced on Tuesday that they will reduce concession prices at M&T Bank Stadium in 2018.
The Ravens have been on a mission to bring back fans who were angered by some players’ national anthem protests coupled with their 3-year playoff drought.
A series of moves have demonstrated their efforts. The team invited fans to ask questions at a media pre-draft news conference held a question-and-answer session with fans at the team facility with owner Steve Bisciotti, coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome, and also have had team president Dick Cass meet and talk to fan clubs.
While the team has sold out every game during their 20-year history at M&T Bank Stadium, empty seats grew in numbers as the 2017 season wore on, and the no-shows are very obvious.
The organization is taking this initiative very seriously.
“It’s something I would really like to take a hard look at, and at least, come up with select items that we can do,” Bisciotti said back in February of this year.
“If it means us … I can’t make Aramark do that with me, but I can make them go along as long as it’s my share of the profits that I’m waiving. Yeah, I’d like to take a look at that. I think we could probably do that.”
There is an official news conference scheduled for Thursday where the Ravens will officially announce price reductions on concessions.
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