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Ravens News 11/15: Week 11 preview, players return to practice and more

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NFL: New Orleans Saints at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Is this Joe Flacco’s last stand as the Ravens’ starter? - Jamison Hensley

It could prove difficult for the Ravens to move on from Flacco if he finishes strong and leads Baltimore to the playoffs.

This has become the biggest swing game in Flacco’s 11-year career.

”We always talk about, when you’re worried about the outcomes of things, and you’re looking too far ahead and worrying about things that aren’t in our control quite yet, you get yourself in trouble,” Flacco said before the bye. “It’s tough to do that, but you have to be mentally strong, and just be able to focus on the task at hand and move on.”

Much will depend on Sunday’s game against the Bengals. A win puts the Ravens in the thick of the AFC wild-card race. A loss drops them two games back of Cincinnati (5-4), but it’s actually a bigger gap than that considering the Bengals would’ve swept Baltimore.

At the start of training camp, Flacco was asked whether there would be a point in the season where he would grow sick of repeated questions about Jackson. Flacco’s response in late July: “No, I don’t, because I think we’re going to win and we’re not going to hear about it.”

Flacco and the Ravens haven’t won, and the rumblings about switching to Jackson will only grow louder if Baltimore can’t beat Cincinnati.

No matter how many more games Joe Flacco starts for the Ravens, his elite play in the 2012 postseason should not be forgotten. Many teams around the league would trade six seasons of mediocrity in exchange for an elusive Super Bowl championship.

Game Preview: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens - Bengals.com

The series:

Overall, Cincinnati leads its series with Baltimore, 23-22. Here are some series notes:

When Cincinnati took the series lead in Game 2 earlier this season, it was the first time the Bengals had led the series since after the first of two meetings of 1998, when they were up 3-2.

The Bengals have won eight of the last 10 meetings between the two teams.

It hasn’t been an easy series for the visiting team. The Ravens lead 14-8 in Baltimore, and the Bengals lead 15-8 in Cincinnati.

Since 2010, 12 of the teams’ 17 meetings have been one-score decisions, by eight or fewer points.

Turnover margin key vs. Ravens:

In 23 Bengals-Ravens games during Marvin Lewis’ tenure with the Bengals (2003-present) in which the turnover differential has not been even, the team who wins the turnover battle has posted a 21-2 record. Putting it another way, the Bengals are 11-0 against the Ravens with a plus turnover differential, and 2-10 with a minus. Looking at it from Baltimore’s view, the Ravens are 10-2 with a plus and 0-11 with a minus.

The Bengals are +2 in turnover differential this season, with ten interceptions both taken and given away. Baltimore is -4 in turnover differential primarily because they have only secured five interceptions and lost five fumbles.

Week 11 NFL picks, predictions - David Steele

Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) at Baltimore Ravens (4-5)

The Joe Flacco health watch is in full force. Keep in mind, though, that even if he has to miss this game and Lamar Jackson steps in, it’s not necessarily permanent; expect the Ravens to ride Flacco to the bitter end, of possibly his time there and that of John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome. This week, though, avenging an earlier loss in Cincinnati and staying in contention is paramount. The Bengals are starting to Bengal. Contrary to popular belief, the return of a coach under whom they had relative success (Hue Jackson) is not a sign of their doom. Prediction: Ravens, 20-16

With the Ravens coming off a bye week to face an injury depleted opponent at home, Week 11 is one of the most winnable games remaining on the regular season schedule.

Who’s Practicing, Who’s Not vs. Cincinnati Bengals - Ryan Mink

Ronnie Stanley Returns, But James Hurst Does Not

Besides Flacco, the Ravens are healthier coming out of the bye. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) returned to practice in a limited capacity, which is huge news for the banged-up offensive line.

Stanley missed the Week 9 Steelers loss, forcing Jermaine Eluemunor into action as the left tackle anchor.

Right tackle James Hurst (back) is still sidelined, however. He has missed three straight games and appears in danger of sitting out another.

Other Ravens Returning to Action

The bye was also beneficial for second-year outside linebacker Tim Williams, who was limited Wednesday after an ankle injury forced him out of the Steelers game and all practices that week. The Ravens could use his pass rush prowess against the Bengals.

Cornerback Tavon Young, who left the Week 9 game early after his ankle was stepped on, was back at practice at full capacity.

Safety Tony Jefferson (thigh) did not practice Wednesday, however.

The return of irreplaceable left tackle Ronnie Stanley is certainly a positive development. Worth noting, Bengals second-year edge rusher Carl Lawson was placed on injured reserve earlier this month. If able to suit up, Stanley will face defensive ends Michael Johnson and Jordan Willis on the blindside.