Posted September 05, 2012 on
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Green Bay Packers
As one of the NFL's most consistent franchises, the Baltimore Ravens are hoping quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice can help them make a long-awaited return to the Super Bowl.
The Cincinnati Bengals are looking to their young duo of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green to help build on last year's trip to the postseason, and the teams will begin their respective quests Monday night in Baltimore.
The Ravens are the only team to make the playoffs in each of the last four seasons, and they've recorded 49 wins during that stretch including the postseason.
Baltimore, though, fell short of the Super Bowl in each of those years, reaching the AFC title game twice and losing in the divisional round two times.
Last year's failure was particularly painful, as they took a four-point lead into the fourth quarter of the AFC championship but fell 23-20 after the recently released Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal in the final seconds.
"When you look at the Ravens, we've been close every year," Rice said. "I think it's just time for us to get over that hump now, and we have the pieces to do it."
Rice had career highs of 1,364 rushing and 704 receiving yards in 2011 to help Baltimore capture its first AFC North title since 2006. The Ravens clinched the division when he ran for 191 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-16 win at Cincinnati on Jan. 1.
Flacco threw for more than 3,600 yards and at least 20 TDs for the third consecutive season but posted a career-low completion percentage of 57.6.
The Ravens may need a more accurate performance from the fifth-year quarterback as their vaunted defense ages. The unit is consistently one of the best in the NFL, but star linebacker Ray Lewis - the only remaining active player from Baltimore's 2000 Super Bowl-winning team - is entering his 17th season, while safety Ed Reed is going into his 11th.
The Ravens also likely won't have Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs until November due to a torn right Achilles tendon. Suggs had a career-high 14 sacks in 2011.
"It's definitely tough without Suggs. It's definitely a difference," wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "But that's on everyone to pick up the slack not only the defense, but us as well."
Cincinnati will try to take advantage of Suggs' absence as it looks to snap a three-game skid in the series and earn its first win in three games in Baltimore.
The Bengals will also be trying to take their first step toward ending a maddening trend. They haven't posted back-to-back winning records since 1981 and '82 - the latter being a strike-shortened season.
"That's definitely the next challenge," offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "And what does that take? It takes being a consistent team every week and playing our style no matter who we play. That's what it's going to take for us to take the next step."
Dalton and Green, who both made the Pro Bowl as rookies, will try to end that dubious streak after a 9-7 season. Green, the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft, finished with 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns while Dalton, a second-rounder, threw for 3,398 yards and 20 TDs with 13 interceptions.
The duo, though, faced increasing scrutiny from defenses and that helped lead to losses in six of the final nine games, including a 31-10 playoff defeat to Houston.
Dalton was held to fewer than 200 yards in four consecutive games during that stretch and Green was limited to 60 or fewer in four of the final five contests.
"Toward the end of the season, they started rolling coverage to my side a lot. But (now) I'm used to that stuff," Green said. "Now I just have to be able to execute and not get as frustrated as I did last year about it."
The Bengals made a major change in their ground attack, with running back Cedric Benson leaving for Green Bay after topping 1,000 yards in three straight seasons.
They brought in BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who had 667 yards for New England in 2011 after topping 1,000 the previous season, but he's been among the players who have dealt with injuries during the preseason.
"Hopefully with the injuries we've had and the guys that are able to come back, it kind of stops the floodgates per se. Hopefully we're done for the year and everybody stays healthy and people can come back," said center Kyle Cook, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, a first-round pick in 2012, is expected to miss this game as he's dealing with a bone spur near his knee.
BEST OF MAXIM
How as Ray Rice living on his 2nd round draft pick salary? Frugally. The guy recently signed a 5-year, $40 million contract with the Ravens so he can afford something better than a 4 bed, 4 bath townhouse with only 2,100 sq. ft. It’s time to unload the rookie contract digs. Can’t say we blame Rice. Take a look at the faucets in the master bathroom.
You can’t be impressing...
With one of the toughest first place schedules in the NFL this season, the Baltimore Ravens will have a difficult time repeating as the AFC North Champions. And with the Pittsburgh Steelers always breathing down the Ravens beaks, and an easier schedule to maneuver, the black and gold will overtake Baltimore by one game to [...]
By Keith Allison
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has made it clear that their offense is led by quarterback Joe Flacco.
“In pecking order, this is Joe’s offense, then everybody else,” Rice said Thursday, per the Baltimore Sun. “And he’s proven that this preseason with how he’s played, his tempo, how vocal he is, and the quiet Joe phase I think is pretty much over...
As the Ravens look towards the 2012 season, they do so without 2011 Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs. This aside, they have so far avoided any huge setbacks in the preseason. The biggest story seems to have been the position battle of the place kicker which wasn't all that exciting. With the games counting for something now, let's take a game-by-game look at how...
By Football Schedule
On Tuesday, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh referred to Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green as “maybe the best receiver in football.”
“Incredible athleticism,” Harbaugh said regarding Green, via the Carroll County Times. “If you throw a ball anywhere near him … he finds a way to go grab it. He’s got an amazing catch radius. He’s big, tall...
1. Arian Foster
Last season, Ray Rice had 1,364 yards rushing, 704 yards receiving, and 15 total touchdowns. Arian Foster, on the other hand, has 1,224 yards rushing, 617 yards receiving, and 12 total touchdowns. The difference is Foster did that in only 13 games. He was on pace to have a better fantasy season than Rice. While that alone doesn’t necessarily convince me that Foster...
I’m no AP, but I’ll do Juan…
You don’t need me to tell you to start Arian Foster, DMC, Ray Rice, or LeSean McCoy…my mom could figure that out. Let’s look at some other matchups that could be favorable this week:
Kevin Smith vs StL
Smith is what you call the last man standing. The Jersey Leshoure is suspended and Best is on the PUP. The Rams allowed the...
Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Rich Gannon of CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio:
RICH GANNON (CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio)
1. Green Bay Packers - Seen enough improvement from D in preseason to keep Packers at top.
2. New England Patriots - Pats still best team in AFC East, in fact, not even close!
3. Baltimore Ravens - Flacco takes next step in his development as...
Read below to see what Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and wide receiver A.J. Green had to say about their upcoming matchup against the Ravens on Monday.
Where to Put 'em is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 1 of the 2012 NFL season. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.
This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You...
Feel that tension
note: Like my cynical colleague SamVox, I sent a submission to Grantland's Fantasy
Football writer contest that was summarily rejected by the website's editors. After
much inner debate, I've decided to post the deathless brilliance that the gormless
twits at Grantland turned down because they're unable to comprehend...
Comments on the Baltimore Ravens by the AP Pro32 panel (ranking in parentheses):
BALTIMORE RAVENS (5)
Chris Berman (ESPN, 4) - After all, Ravens should have been in Super Bowl.
Clifton Brown (Sporting News, 5) - Joe Flacco looks terrific; using more no-huddle gives offense more pizazz. Even if defense slips, they'll reach double figures in wins.
Cris Collinsworth (NBC...
This is one of the most interesting divisions in the league as there are two established super-teams and two upstarts that are coming on with fair amounts of young talent. I’m not sure the changing of the guard happens this season, but the North could be flipped upside down over the next couple years.
Baltimore Ravens: Joe Flacco is playing for a contract. The Ravens...
I’m the foundation Juan…
Tonight’s draft was waaaay too long and against amateur hour. I have been playing in this league for close to a decade and these guys are still clueless and obviously don’t read my site or any other site for that matter. Yes, this is a money league and yes, I have won it 3 years in a row. Not bragging, it’s not that big of a feat.
Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Dan Pompei of Chicago Tribune:
DAN POMPEI (Chicago Tribune)
1. Green Bay Packers - Addition of Cedric Benson could give Packers dimension they lacked.
2. New York Giants - A little beat up at cornerback, but pass rush should be able to compensate while they get healthy.
3. New England Patriots - Questions about running game have...