RAVENS DISRESPECTED IN PLAYOFF CHASE
If the season ended today, the Ravens would qualify as the AFC’s sixth and final seed, because despite their 7-6 record being identical to the Miami dolphins, the Ravens have the head-to-head tiebreaker from when the two teams played back in October. However, many consider the Dolphins the favorite to take the playoff berth instead of the Ravens.
Football Outsiders on ESPN believes the remaining schedule for the Ravens will trip them up and allow the Dolphins to overtake them. The projected odds give Baltimore a 36.9% chance of getting in, while giving Miami 52.9% odds of clinching the final playoff spot.
“Baltimore’s remaining schedule includes three perspective playoff teams (Detroit, New England, Cincinnati), including two of the top three seeds in the AFC. Baltimore’s 1.0 projected wins over the final three weeks ranks 30th in the league, and the Ravens figure to be underdogs in each of their remaining games.”
One of the few writers who like the Ravens to get in the playoffs is Marc Sessler, who feels that the Ravens look primed to make another playoff run after their recent 3-game winning streak.
If the Ravens can win 2 or more of their remaining three games they will likely get in, and will have earned the berth unquestionably.
FLEXED OUT OF PRIME TIME
The Ravens may be one of the most disrespected defending Super Bowl champions in league history. Tuesday, their home game in Week 16 against the New England Patriots was flexed out of primetime on Sunday night and replaced with Eagles vs. Bears.
NFL.com’s Greg Rosenthal believes that Bears-Eagles will draw better ratings, but WNST’s Luke Jones disagrees, mainly because any game with Tom Brady would draw viewers. Rosenthal also noted that of the four teams (Patriots, Ravens, Eagles, Bears) the Ravens draw the worst ratings.
While many coaches and players are creatures of habit and actually probably prefer playing at 4:25 to 8:30, there is something disappointing about the defending world champions only getting one home prime time game all year. The last two AFC championship games have featured Baltimore and New England and they have taken turns representing the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Not to mention, the matchup of Tom Brady and Joe Flacco is a far more household-name one than Josh McCown and Nick Foles, neither of whom was starting at the beginning of the year. Both McCown and Foles are having great years, but there is no way anybody can expect that matchup to be more exciting than a Brady and Flacco rematch.
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley puts it best when he says, “A rematch of the past two AFC championship games isn’t good enough anymore.”
USC TARGETING Todd Washington
If you don’t know who Todd Washington is, then you’re not paying enough attention to the Ravens’ offensive line. Washington is currently the Assistant Offensive Line Coach for the Ravens and is reportedly being targeted by new University of Southern California Head Coach Steve Sarkisian.
The position being offered to Washington would be as the offensive line coach for USC, one of many openings on Sarkisian’s staff. Washington played professionally for eight seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Houston Texans.
Washington coached for three years at the University of San Diego, and then joined the coaching staff in Baltimore three years ago. He reportedly has not made a decision about whether he will accept the offer or not at this point.
Washington is one of only 13 people to win a Super Bowl as both a player and a coach; he won with Tampa Bay in 2002 as a player and earned his second ring last February when Baltimore defeated the 49ers.
STOKLEY’S SEASON ENDS
In last Sunday’s win against the Minnesota Vikings, wide receiver Brandon Stokley suffered a concussion and it was determined Tuesday that the 15-year veteran would not be able to return this year. He was placed on injured reserve and the team re-signed running back Bernard Scott.
Scott had been on the roster until last Saturday when he was cut to make room for Dennis Pitta. Scott did not get any game action earlier this season though, and is third behind Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce on the depth chart.
Stokley had suffered concussions in his career before, and had been dealing with injuries to his knee and groin already. He will finish the season with 15 catches for 115 yards without a touchdown. He was expected to see his role reduced regardless however, with the return of tight end Dennis Pitta.
Stokley was originally drafted by the Ravens in 1999, and won a championship with the Ravens in 2001. The Ravens are capable of overcoming his injury because of the emergence of Marlon Brown at wide receiver as well as Jacoby Jones, Torrey Smith, Tandon Doss, and Deonte Thompson.
It is unknown at this point whether Stokley plans to return next season, or if he is contemplating retirement.