If outside forecasts of the defense's pending demise had seeped into their locker room, the Ravens weren't saying. The knowing nods and wry smiles, though, suggested the players were well aware of what was being said and written. They haven't played anyone. They are too slow, too reliant on veterans. They don't stand a chance of stopping the Cowboys and their vaunted running game.
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.
The Broncos gave up 296 points during the regular season and 44 points during their three postseason games. That's an average of 17.9 points per game, which is pretty good until you compare it the two teams during the 16-game era that are generally left standing during any debate about the best defensive units — the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 2000 Ravens.
It has been 15 years since the Ravens won their first Super Bowl. They won another in 2012, which is remarkable for a franchise that has been in existence for only 20 years. Often there are questions about which team is better, but maybe they can be tied into one. Can Ray Lewis of the 2000 team beat Ray Lewis of the 2012 squad?
The welcome to the NFL moments for Darius Kilgo were plentiful during his first season with the Denver Broncos this fall. The former Maryland defensive tackle endured two-a-days at rookie minicamps last May, appeared in the Broncos' season opener against Baltimore in September and watched Tom Brady try to lead a last-minute New England comeback in the AFC championship game last week. And there's a bunch more ahead for him in the next week.
Antonio Brown left last weekend's wild-card win over Cincinnati after taking a shot to the head from Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Brown has not practiced all week while following the NFL's concussion protocol.
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.
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.