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Ravens News 12/27: All-Decade Team and more

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Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

NFL 2010s All-Decade Team: Tom Brady, J.J. Watt earn spots - Chris Wesseling

GUARDS

Zack Martin (Cowboys, 2014-19)

Marshal Yanda (Ravens, 2010-19)

Yanda started his storied career blocking for Steve McNair and Willis McGahee. A dozen years later, he’s still playing at an All-Pro level, opening holes for Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram and the most dynamic offense in franchise history.

SAFETIES

Earl Thomas (Seahawks, 2010-18; Ravens, 2019)

Eric Berry (Chiefs, 2010-18)

Among the triumvirate of Sherman, Thomas and tone-setting strong safety Kam Chancellor, it wasn’t always easy to ascertain exactly which one was the engine making the Legion of Boom go. As valuable as the other two may have been, I always thought it was Thomas’ sideline-to-sideline range and exceptional closing speed as the center fielder that made Pete Carroll’s Cover 3 defense sing. Thomas is first among safeties in Pro Bowls (7) this decade and second in picks (30, just behind Reggie Nelson’s 31). He’s tied for first in All-Pro selections with Berry, which may come as a surprise to casual observers.

KICKER

Justin Tucker (Ravens, 2012-19)

Among active head coaches, Baltimore’s John Harbaugh and New England’s Bill Belichick have the strongest claims as special teams experts. Over the past year, both men have acknowledged that Tucker is the “best kicker in the history of the league.” The position’s master craftsman, Tucker has set a new standard for accuracy, distance and expectation. Before Lamar Jackson arrived on the scene to electrify the fan base and ransack the franchise’s record books, the Ravens were the only NFL team to score more often via field goals than touchdowns during the Tucker era.

Breaking down the NFL playoff picture using PFF metrics

The AFC Playoff Picture:

There’s a lot more to break down in the AFC. First, the Ravens’ ascent is something that surprised even us, as we did not consider them an elite team going into the season. The Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders were experiencing similar trajectories until Oakland’s game against the New York Jets, where a divergence occurred. After a rough patch, the Chiefs have seen their fortunes increase at a rate similar to the Ravens, and they are probably the most dangerous team in the AFC not named Baltimore at this point.

EVALUATING WORTH OF ROSTERS

AFC

BAL (3rd), NE (4th), TEN (6th), KC (13th), BUF (18th), HOU (19th), PIT (20th), OAK (22nd)

Ravens are talking about ‘That Dude Defense’ & more - Teresa Varley

Quarterback Robert Griffin III on going against the Steelers defense:

“It’s a very, very, very good defense, great defense, not only statistically, but they’re what you call a ‘That Dude Defense.’ They have that dude and that dude and that dude and that dude, so I know they’re not going to come into ‘The Bank’ and lay down. They have everything to play for, and they have great players.

“It’s going to be a physical game. It always is between the Ravens and the Steelers. That’s kind of what we’re focusing on.”

NFL Week 17 game picks: 49ers win NFC West; Packers earn bye - Gregg Rosenthal

Baltimore Ravens 20, Pittsburgh Steelers 18

The top-seeded 2004 Steelers sat their key starters in Week 17, yet still managed to knock a 9-6 Buffalo Bills team out of playoff contention with a road win led by Fast Willie Parker. Don’t be surprised at all if these No. 1-seeded Ravens do the same to their rival 8-7 Steelers. I’ll take Robert Griffin III over Duck Hodges. I’ll take Gus Edwards and Justice Hill over Benny Snell. The Ravens can only sit so many players, and their aggressive blitz package still figures to be too much for Duck to handle.

NFL Week 17 Picks Against the Spread - Will Brinson

Ravens (+2.5) vs. Steelers

Baltimore is resting everyone so the Steelers will be the popular choice, but I’m not entirely sure the Ravens backups are worse than the Steelers starters in this spot. I would not expect many points but I WOULD expect the Ravens to spoil Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes thanks to Robert Griffin III having a decent game under center.