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Posted: 1/11/2019 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]
The Baltimore Ravens are still fighting to end a three-year playoff drought even though they are riding their longest winning streak of the season.The Ravens hold a one-game lead for the sixth and final postseason spot in the AFC. Baltimore (7-5) also is within a half-game of the first-place Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North after the Ravens' 26-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.It was their third in a row behind rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson. He has emerged as a playmaker since taking over for Joe Flacco , who is battling a hip injury.Baltimore faces its toughest test of the season this week when the Ravens take on the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs.Flacco still has to be cleared by doctors to potentially play in that game. In the meantime, Jackson has shown that he can effectively lead the Ravens offense."He's getting better," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said or Jackson during the coach's Monday news conference. "Football is like that, especially with that position. You do it practice and that's one thing, but there's nothing like the game. The game is where you learn the lessons kind of the hard way."He made a few mistakes that are well-documented. He'll learn from it just like the week before."The Ravens have run for more than 200 yards in each of the last three games. The emergence of Gus Edwards, an undrafted rookie from Rutgers, has coincided with that success. He had two consecutive 100-yard performances before finishing with 82 yards on 21 carries against the Falcons.Edwards has taken over the starting job for Alex Collins, who was placed on IR with an injured foot.The Ravens have been able to dominate time of possession with the revamped running attack, keeping opposing offenses off the field. That strategy will be especially vital this week against Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has thrown for 3,923 yards with a staggering 41 touchdowns."I feel like we're controlling the clock, keeping our defense off the field, keeping them fresh, and taking the air out of their pass rush," offensive lineman Marshal Yanda said "That's a big deal."The running game has also helped the Ravens defenders stay fresh late in the game. Baltimore has converted a pair turnovers into touchdowns the last two weeks and is ranked No. 1 for overall defense."We really don't care what people say outside," linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "We have a standard as a Ravens defense, whether we're home, away or at a neutral site, on how we want to play football, and that's always been being physical at the point of attack, stopping the run and getting after the quarterback on third down."The Ravens have bounced back from a three-game losing streak heading into their bye. That skid prompted questions about the future of Harbaugh with the franchise.Now Authentic Chris Conley Jersey , Baltimore can control its destiny to end the playoff drought and quiet the critics.Harbaugh is proud of the way his players responded to the adversity."I think we have a lot of leaders and guys that have been through a lot," Harbaugh said. "Our guys have been through a lot of challenges and that's usually the best way of learning how to deal with adversity. I think they have done a good job." Unfortunately for the Kansas City Chiefs, they are heading into their marquee matchup with the New England Patriots rather banged up. I figured with that being the case, we should take a second to talk about all the Chiefs’ injuries headed into this weekend’s game.SafetyDenny Medley-USA TODAY SportsThis is the most intriguing position because the Chiefs had to have wide receiver Marcus Kemp working at the position earlier this week in order to get through workouts. “He’s a dynamic guy,” Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub said this week. “He can do a lot of different things. He’s a good tackler for us on special teams. We needed him at practice to help us get through practice because our numbers are down, so that’s why you’re seeing him out there (on defense).”With Eric Berry still unable to go due to a sore heel and Eric Murray out after injuring his ankle last game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton approached Kemp to step in.“It’s a little bit like riding a bike, but I won’t say I was great at it,” Kemp said. “I’m not going to pretend that I went out there and I was just as good as Eric Berry or anything like that, but after I started going, you kind of get the hang of it, and it started feeling natural again. Again, it’s been two days, so I can’t say that I can go out there an perform at the same level as someone that’s been learning it for years in the NFL, but I feel confident that I have the skills to go out and do what they need me to do.” Kemp will round out a safety group Sunday that will be made up of Ron Parker, Jordan Lucas, Josh Shaw and Leon McQuay (newly added to the active roster on Saturday). Lucas logged 56 snaps on defense and had one of the Chiefs’ four picks against Jacksonville last week after not being used on defense all season. Don’t sleep on Shaw either—some in Cincinnati thought Shaw to be a potential starter before he was injured this preseason.Wide receiver and kick returnerMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsLet’s stick with Kemp, whose first position is of course wide receiver. Kemp was the team’s sixth wideout, but he now moves up to the fifth position with De’Anthony Thomas headed to injured reserve.Kemp is the final receiver in a group that includes Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Chris Conley and Demarcus Robinson. Robinson was actually out-snapped by Thomas on offense last week Womens Terrance Smith Jersey , so I wonder if Kemp sees any time against New England on Sunday.When it comes to kick-returner duties (with Thomas no longer an option), cornerback Tremon Smith could be in the mix after being inactive the last two weeks in favor of Charvarius Ward. Smith offers another option in the secondary and the Chiefs have liked him at returner since the preseason. In case you forgot, Smith’s 40 time was nearly as good as Tyreek Hill’s. “He’s got great speed,” Toub said of Smith in late July. “He’s a 4.3 guy, legit. He’s fast. He’s not as fast as Tyreek (Hill)— that’s a whole other level, but he’s very, very fast. He’s probably our second-fastest player.”Outside linebackerMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsJustin Houston could be out a few weeks and is doubtful to play against the New England Patriots, meaning you should expect to see Dee Ford starting on the left side.I have always felt like Ford was a better linebacker on the left side than the right, and I asked him if he preferred that side on Friday. His answer was interesting.“Moves chance because of where the quarterback’s looking, so when you’re playing on the right side, pretty much you don’t want to speed too much,” he said. “You don’t want to be up the field too much because that’s where the quarterback’s vision is most of the time, so you really want to power and get in his face, get a hand up, beat him inside. The moves change accordingly. The left side, you can go a lot. It depends on that team. I can play either side. We really go off the tackles. That’s the one different thing that we’ve done with Mike (Smith) this year—me and Justin play different tackles depending on what they can and can’t do.”I believe Ford, if he plays mostly on the left, will once again have multiple sacks in this game. Ford leads the NFL in pressures at the moment. Everything the team has been saying this week leads me to believe Breeland Speaks will start on the right side with Tanoh Kpassagnon, who is listed as questionable, providing depth. Nate Orchard and Frank Zombo round out the outside linebacker group.“I think he could come out and help you if needed,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said of Orchard on Friday. “He is good enough to be worked in Womens Reggie Ragland Jersey , plus he was familiar with us being in Cleveland for a year, with this system.”Right guardDenny Medley-USA TODAY SportsWith Laurent Duvernay-Tardif now on injured reserve, Jordan Devey gets the start at right guard this week. “It is going to be (Jordan) Devey in that spot who has experience,” Reid said this week. “We are fortunate to have him where he has played for us and started for us. Everybody is confident in him that he can step in and go. (Laurent) has more experience, obviously, as a starter but we have trust that the next man up we are in good hands there. He will do a good job.”Devey, who was on the Patriots Super Bowl team that defeated the Seahawks a few years back, says he’s prepared for this opportunity.“Throughout my career, that’s how it is every week,” Devey said. “Whether I’m playing, not playing, dressing, not dressing, you have to prepare the same because you never know what will happen. And so, as far as this week it’s business as usual. Prepare the same, study the same and just be ready for the game.”On a completely unrelated but awesome note, Devey has a mullet, one he said was for training camp but has decided to keep as the Chiefs continue to win.“I’m a little superstitious with it, so it’s staying as long as it’s rolling the way that we are.”
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