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Predicting three stars for Ravens at Saints

Some sports name three stars of the game after the game. I'll do that one better: I'm going to name them before the Ravens even play. These will be the three stars of the game when the Ravens travel to the site of their Super Bowl XLVII win in New Orleans to face the Saints on Monday Night Football.

1. Quarterback Drew Brees

Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Saints are ridiculously good at home in prime time. A lot of that has to do with Brees, who is equally ridiculous on the ESPN-broadcasted weeknight stage. In his last six Monday Night Football games at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome — all victories — Brees has completed nearly 75 percent of his passes and thrown 23 touchdowns with just two interceptions. With the Ravens' patchwork secondary offering little resistance, he could be in line for another big day.

The Saints might be floundering below .500, but Brees is on pace for nearly 5,000 yards and more than 30 touchdowns on the season. Coach Sean Payton might have to rely...

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Joe Flacco, wife Dana expecting third child in January

For Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, a possible return to the playoffs won’t be the only thing he has to look forward to this coming January. Flacco told the team’s website that his wife, Dana, is expecting the couple’s third child that month.

The Flaccos already have two sons, and a third child will put Flacco well on his way to five, which he told the team website was his goal.

Flacco played the 2013 home opener against the Cleveland Browns after his second son, Daniel, was born an hour before the game. His first son, two-year-old, Stephen, was born during minicamp in 2012.  

Perhaps a more immediate concern is the parental proclivity for illness when children are concerned. Flacco was stuffy for the Week 10 win over the Tennessee Titans, after which he’d said he picked up an illness from his children.

He also missed a practice in mid-September due to illness, a rarity for the durable franchise quarterback.

The AFC playoffs begin the weekend of Jan. 3.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

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Ravens second running back could emerge through short-yardage running

As the Ravens returned to practice Wednesday in full pads for the first time since their win over the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 9, the jostling on the running back depth chart started up yet again.

Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said entering the bye week that Justin Forsett has established himself as the No. 1 running back with his performances, but hasn’t really committed to either Bernard Pierce or rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro as the first back off the bench.

“We’ve been bouncing back and forth between Lorenzo and Bernard,” Kubiak said during the bye week. “Sometimes, it has something to do with special teams, sometimes it has something to do with just feel -- like what type of game we’re going to play, who we’re going to play.

"We’re continuing to look at that. I’m trying to see what Bernard does best [and] what Lorenzo does best. Lorenzo has had flashes as a young player. Bernard has had some flashes, too, [but] missed some time with health. We’re going to need them all.”

Pierce...

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Five stats that stand out ahead of Monday's Ravens-Saints game

Every Wednesday, reporter Jon Meoli will serve up five stats you should know heading into that week’s Ravens game. This week’s stats, unpacked as the Ravens look to prevent a three-game road losing streak when they travel to New Orleans for a primetime clash with the Saints, focus on New Orleans’ passing attack and success in the Monday night game.

109.6 – In nine career Monday Night Football games at home with the Saints, quarterback Drew Brees has a passer rating near 110. The Saints have won their last six such games with Brees at the helm, with those numbers leaping to 142.7 in those six games. Brees completes 70 percent of his passes in Monday night games at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, averaging more than 300 yards and two touchdowns. That’s the stuff of dreams for the Ravens -- both quarterback production like that, and the idea of playing Monday night home games.

1,247 – The Saints, on the back of former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, have found the running game that has...

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Ravens 10-pack on Steve Smith's production, the steadying run game, and defensive dominance at home

Welcome to the Monday Ravens 10-Pack, where reporter Jon Meoli hits on 10 stats, notes, and thoughts following a 21-7 win over the Tennessee Titans that was somehow both closer and less competitive than the score indicated. Read ahead for notes on the Ravens’ steadying run game, Steve Smith's declining production, and as always, plenty on the pass defense.

1. John Harbaugh would like someone to write about how good the AFC North is, though as he rightfully pointed out, one of those teams got whooped on Sunday. Another got whooped on Thursday. The Ravens were whooped a week ago, and the Browns lost to Jacksonville, which is worse than any blowout loss. All of which goes to say that it’s probably going to be a week-to-week assessment of this division, which could put as many as three teams into the AFC playoffs after Miami and Buffalo both fell Sunday. The Ravens need results like Sunday’s to ensure they are one of those teams playing in January.

2. While encouraging might be too strong...

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Predicting three stars for Ravens vs. Titans

Some name three stars of the game after the game. I'll do that one better: I'm going to name them before the Ravens even play. These will be the three stars of the game when the Ravens host the 2-6 Tennessee Titans and aim to enter the bye next week at 6-4.

1. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs

The Ravens are returning home to play the first of several must-win games after two difficult road losses. Suggs has been under fire for his low hit against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night, and probably wants to change the conversation. All of that adds up to a game in which the star pass rusher will feed off a raucus home crowd and make the trip to Baltimore utterly miserable for rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger and the Titans.

It certainly helps that Suggs will either be lined up against a rookie, former Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan, or former teammate Michael Oher. He's beaten the latter plenty in practice over the years, and likely knows him as well as he'd know any opponent. He's...

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