The Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals renew their heated rivalry in a matchup most prognosticators believe will ultimately decide the AFC North. The Ravens, meanwhile, have long used their season series against the Browns as a springboard to the postseason.
To make up ground in the AFC North as well as the conference, the Ravens need to have a quality draft because they might not have enough salary cap room to bring in high-profile free agents. The team's draft record has been disappointing since the late 2000s when the Ravens selected players who made an immediate impact, like guards Ben Grubbs and Marshal Yanda in 2007 and quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice in 2008.
From the moment he took over as a starter on the Johns Hopkins attack unit two years ago, Ryan Brown has been scoring at an unprecedented clip for the nation's oldest ¿ and most distinguished ¿ lacrosse program.
The Browns who have had only three winning seasons since 1990 with the last one coming in 2007. Yes, those Browns who have had seven head coaches since 1999 and five since 2009. Being in charge of the Cleveland Browns is the worst head coaching job in the NFL, but at least Hue Jackson gets another chance.
The Ravens will be as good as quarterback Joe Flacco is able to make them, and no one can really say whether he'll be under center when they take the field for their first regular-season game of the 2016 season. It's just a matter of when he comes back, since the AFC North is so tightly wrapped that Flacco missing even two games at the start of the season could be the difference between the playoffs and a different tone at the next postseason news conference.
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti used Thursday's "State of the Ravens" address to preach about the importance of staying the course. Speaking just four days after the conclusion of a bitterly disappointing 5-11 season, Bisciotti, seated alongside team president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh, dismissed talk of significant changes following one of the worst years in franchise history.
When owner Steve Bisciotti last spoke publicly about the state of his team, the Ravens were about seven weeks removed from the conclusion of a 10-6 season and a berth in the AFC divisional playoffs. Bisciotti graded the 2014 Ravens' performance as an "A," saying that the only thing preventing him from adding a plus to the grade was falling short of the Super Bowl. The owner's tone will probably be far different Thursday afternoon at the "State of the Ravens" address.
Arguably the most disappointing season in franchise history ends Sunday with the Ravens (5-10) playing the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. But to his players, John Harbaugh has been a pillar of strength and leadership during a year when so many parts of the team have broken down.
The rash of injuries that hit the Ravens (5-10) and placed eight Week 1 starters on injured reserve has given team officials an extended opportunity to evaluate some of the organization's younger and less experienced players, and they had to like much of what they saw in the victory over the Steelers.
The Ravens are again looking up at the Bengals and Steelers in the standings, and the gap between the three franchises is wider than it has been in several seasons. When the Ravens (4-10) face the Steelers and Bengals over the final two weeks of the regular season, they'll be playing out the string while their division foes are priming themselves for potential playoff runs.
A state of the Ravens news conference has never been so highly anticipated. It's time to hear from owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome, and what Bisciotti thought about this season and how he plans to rectify the problems.
No doubt, there are a lot of people in the NFL offices and at ESPN who are wondering what the schedule makers were thinking when they decided to put the Ravens and Cleveland Browns together on Monday Night Football in late November.
The Ravens are 1-6 and buried in last place in the AFC North division following their 26-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals Monday night. They are a contender for the first overall pick in the NFL draft, not a playoff spot. Their season has been a disaster.
They won't meet on the field tonight, but Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald are competing nonetheless. Fitzgerald, 32, has 952 career receptions. Smith, 36 and perhaps in his last NFL season, has 951.
In an unrivaled third act with the 4-2 Arizona Cardinals, whom the Ravens face on Monday Night Football, Carson Palmer is looking much more like the quarterback who gave them fits through the late-2000s than the one who as recently as three years ago looked to be playing himself out of the NFL.