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Predicting three stars for Sunday's Ravens game in Cincinnati

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 Cincinnati in search of payback following a Week 1 loss to the rival Bengals.

1. OLB Elvis Dumervil

Dumervil somewhat lived up to his last appearance in this space, when a late sack gave him 1.5 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In Cincinnati, Dumervil will again be one of the primary beneficiaries of a Ravens pass rush that simply seems to be sending more players than most offensive lines are capable of blocking.

The Bengals’ right tackle, Andre Smith, was a disaster against the Indianapolis Colts a week ago. He’ll be primarily tasked with blocking Dumervil, something he may not do as well at as he did seven weeks ago. A lot has changed since then for both Dumervil, who’s in the midst of his best stretch as a Raven, and the defense as a whole.

Cincinnati’s rookie center Russell Bodine...

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Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg admires Rams fake, is prepared to stop it

Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said he knows some indicators that could help the Ravens from giving up a big play on a trick punt return, as the Seattle Seahawks did in a loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

The Seahawks coverage team ran to the sideline to surround returner and Baltimore native Tavon Austin, but Austin was bluffing. With all of the attention on the wrong side of the field, teammate Stedman Bailey fielded the punt near the other sideline and returned it almost unbothered for a touchdown.

"You’ve seen it [on tape], you prepare for it, but until you see it in person, you have to figure out, 'How are we going to stop that play?' " Rosburg said. "There’s a couple of clues, which I’ll keep to myself, but I think it really speaks to the caliber of the players and the coaches in this league and the team that had it against them. They were doing everything right. They were chasing a very talented returner. Most everybody would be. I just give my hats off to St...

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Five Ravens stats that stand out ahead of the Bengals game

Every Wednesday, I’ll serve up five stats you should know heading into that week’s Ravens game. This week’s stats, pertaining to Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, are heavy on what the Ravens need to do to reverse the Week 1 result, and how realistic those goals are.

62 – Quarterback Joe Flacco threw 62 passes the last time the Ravens played Cincinnati, a symptom of a struggling offense that wasn’t quite sure of its identity yet. Since then, he has thrown 183 times -- an average of just more than 30 per game -- and never more than 38, which he did in the Ravens' only other loss against the Indianapolis Colts. If Flacco ends up in the high 30s or the 40s with his pass attempts Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, the Ravens probably won’t be happy with the overall result.

Three – For the third straight game, the Ravens play a defense ranked in the bottom three of the NFL in total defense. The 416.7 yards per game Cincinnati has allowed is 31st in the league, with the Tampa Bay...

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Ravens 10-pack on the pass rush, stout defense and offensive depth chart

Welcome to the Monday Ravens 10-Pack, where reporter Jon Meoli hits on 10 stats, notes, and thoughts following a 29-7 Ravens win over the Atlanta Falcons. Read ahead for notes on the Ravens’ exploding pass rush, stout scoring defense, and offensive depth chart.

1. On Saturday, I wrote about how the Ravens’ pass rush didn’t want much credit for what it was doing—instead, they attributed the five-sack performance to the improved pass defense and the scheme. Not buying it anymore. No team has three pass rushers like Terrell Suggs (one sack for a safety), Pernell McPhee (two sacks) and Elvis Dumervil (two sacks, tied for second in the league with seven). Suggs and Dumervil spread the offensive line out by rushing on the outside, McPhee picks a victim on the inside, and the rest of the linebackers and defensive lineman help collapse the pocket. The Bengals got the ball out quickly in Week 1 and neutralized that pass rush, and as McPhee might say, “they’d be some fools” if they don’t again...

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Steve Smith retired from Twitter to set better example for his children

Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith quit Twitter last week, and he explained why with the honesty that probably made such a departure from the social media necessary.

“I’ll kill you on Twitter, so I had to stop,” Smith said. “Somebody would say something inappropriate to me, and I wasn’t being a very good example for my kids.

“People are going to say what they want on Twitter. Internet courage is great. Internet courage is like a Cover-2 corner. You’ve got a safety over the top, you feel better about yourself. You got that one-on-one coverage, you back off a little bit. That’s how I look at Twitter.”

Especially surrounding the Ravens’ Week 4 win over the Carolina Panthers, Smith’s former team, the 35-year-old wide receiver was active on Twitter with photos of lions accompanied by inspirational quotes.

But a week after that game, and after a 20-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, he stepped away from the social network and told people to instead follow his foundation, the Steve Smith...

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Kansas City Royals see fruits of farm in ALCS that Orioles couldn't match

Just hours after the Kansas City Royals clinched a World Series berth with a sweep over the Orioles, tomes began to emerge about how it’s all been part of the Royals' plan. That’s a little tidy for my taste — both of these teams had to adjust on the fly to get to the ALCS, but I won’t just say Kansas City got lucky and move on.

Most of the time, baseball comes down to talent, and where the Royals’ talent came from made the difference.

Both teams spent much of the first decade of this century picking high in the draft, with the opportunity to hoard young talent to use it to build a winner. The Orioles, to their credit, have built a winner without the benefit of a lot of that talent panning out. The Royals are simply seeing the fruits of drafting and developing better players.

First baseman Eric Hosmer, an incandescent minor league talent in 2010 who was called up to Kansas City the following year, was the third overall pick in 2008. One pick later, the Orioles selected left-hander Brian...

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