Wednesday
December 11
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#1934



rapinoe: right choice or wrong statement?


You might have missed it -- and based on their subscription numbers, you probably did -- but Sports Illustrated named Megan Rapinoe as its 2019 Sportsperson of the Year this week.

Rapinoe, in case you were on Pluto over the summer, was the brash, outspoken star of the U.S. Women's soccer team that won the World Cup. Not only was she on the team, she wound up being the tournament MVP and the leading goal scorer as well. Make no mistake about it, Rapinoe had an exceptional World Cup on the field.

But as it turned out, her status was elevated by off-the-field activities as well, namely her very-public opposition to President Trump, her advocacy for LGBTQ rights and fair treatment, and the demand for equal pay for members of the women's World Cup team vs. her counterparts on the men's national team.

Rapinoe was also in the news in 2018 and 2019 when she refused to stand for the U.S. national anthem during games of the women's professional soccer league in this country. She became a regular guest on news and talk shows during that time to explain her position and her dislike for President Trump.

It's not the first time SI has awarded the honor to a female. Serena Williams was the winner back in 2015, in fact. But it's the first time since 1999 (when the U.S. women's soccer team was given the award for winning the World Cup) that Sports Illustrated recognized soccer with its year-end award.

Right choice? Or wrong statement?

Did they choose Rapinoe because of her performance in the World Cup?

Or did they choose Rapinoe because of her role in the LGBTQ community? Further, did SI muddy the waters of sports and politics by honoring Rapinoe because of her opposition to the President of the United States?

The easy answer, of course, is: All of the above.

And maybe that's so. But one has to wonder, just for the sake of wondering, why Carli Lloyd wasn't honored in 2015 when the U.S. Women won the World Cup and Lloyd was the the MVP of the tournament and the FIFA Women's Player of the Year?

Maybe Serena just had a better 2015? But you could have selected Serena Williams on a number of occasions in her career. Lloyd, by virtue of the World Cup coming around every 4 years, doesn't get that many opportunities to be honored. 2015 seemed to be "her year", yet she didn't grace the cover and win the SI award.

One could argue that SI learned its lesson in 2015 and this year's award was their attempt to get it right. Maybe. But it's also worth considering if SI wasn't using this opportunity to promote someone that opposes the current President and his policies. If you're not wondering about the mix of the two, you're being naive.

There's also a train of thought that suggests this sort of thing could be what the country needs. Discourse, opinions and the ability to represent both sides and a willingness to actively promote people who make a stand for something.

But it sure seems like -- to this writer, at least -- Sports Illustrated picked an "interesting" time to suddenly promote and honor a female soccer player. Or, any soccer player for that matter. They've never given the award to a male soccer player, although, to be fair, the U.S. men have never done anything of note in the international arena, despite having dozens of players excel individually both here and abroad.

Is that what we should come to expect from Sports Illustrated? Are they no longer "just" a sports publication, but also a tentacle of our country's conscience, even if that means honoring someone who has clear disdain for our government and its chosen leader?

Or has the time come for that sort of public opposition to be embraced and, in fact, honored?

Sports Illustrated certainly believes that time has arrived.

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"sit lamar" is the clear winner


The results of yesterday's poll were so much of a landslide it's almost not worth mentioning.

The discussion centered on whether the Ravens should sit Lamar Jackson and key starters on 12/29 vs. Pittsburgh if the Ravens have the #1 seed locked up before that game begins.

82% of you said "yes" to that question. A whopping 82% agree that sitting Jackson and the key starters would the smart thing to do.

In case you care, "Play Lamar for first half" garnered the next highest vote total with 6%.

By the way, there's almost no chance John Harbaugh wouldn't follow along with our line of thinking. If the Ravens play the Steelers on 12/29 and the #1 seed in the AFC is locked up, Lamar Jackson will not see the field that day. Someone noted on Twitter yesterday that Harbaugh would play Lamar in that game just to help him chase the MVP award. Trust me on this: John Harbaugh (and Lamar, for that matter) couldn't care less about the MVP award as it compares to having him healthy and ready to for for a playoff game on January 11-12 and January 19.

And the voters would not hold "Lamar didn't play against the Steelers on 12/29" against him in their decision, either.

If the Ravens have the #1 seed locked up, the guess here is the following players don't play: Lamar, Ronnie Stanley, Hollywood Brown, Matthew Judon, Marshal Yanda, Mark Ingram and Jimmy Smith.

Let's hope we get to that point, right?

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DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.


terps no longer unbeaten


Twenty Maryland turnovers, Penn State dominance by their front court players, and an off night from Anthony Cowan, combined to seal the Terps' fate last night as they suffered their first loss of the season, 76-69 against the Nittany Lions of Penn State.

Maryland turned the ball over 13 times in the first half as they fell behind early and once again struggled on the road at State College, PA.

The final stats will show that Cowan led the Terps in scoring, but he had a miserable night guiding the Terp offense. The senior had a game high 4 turnovers, missed 3 of 6 foul shots, hit only 3 of 9 three-point tries, and was 5 of 17 from the field. Maryland needed a stellar effort from their most important player, and they just didn’t get it.

Three days after leading Maryland to a stunning comeback win over Illinois, Anthony Cowan was cold as ice on Tuesday night at Penn State.

Not unexpectedly, the Terps were dominated around the basket. Mike Watkins was far too formidable a defender around the rim for Maryland to score inside. Jalen Smith was neutralized as Maryland’s rotation of forwards and centers managed only 2 buckets inside the three-point line, both by Smith. Penn State blocked a whopping 10 Terrapin shots.

Maryland’s inability to score inside put pressure on the Terrapin outside shooters. They didn’t respond. Coach Turgeon’s starting guards made a measly 5 of 19 triple attempts, Wiggins and Ayala each hit a lone three point try. Ayala attempted 6, while Ayala put up 4.

Maryland trailed at the half by ten points after Myron Jones hit a three with almost no time left on the clock. Two things that I mentioned yesterday were the key issues in the first 20 minutes. First, the Terps couldn’t handle the Nittany Lions defensive pressure, and as a result, turned the ball over an astonishing 13 times before the buzzer mercifully ended the half.

Second, Penn State dominated inside as the combination of Stevens and Watkins outscored the Maryland front court 15-3. Points in the paint were also decidedly in Penn State’s favor, 22-8. Penn State also scored 17 points off of Maryland turnovers.

In the second half, Maryland just couldn’t get over the hump. It seemed like they squandered every good chance that they had to pull close or overtake the Nittany Lions. Their best chance came after a Cowan three pulled them to within 2 points at 52-50. A defensive stop would then give Maryland the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead, but Makhi Mitchell had the ball stolen from him, and Penn State scored.

Moments later, Cowan missed a three, a short jumper, and another three-point try on consecutive possessions. The next Terp possession ended with a Cowan turnover. Their run was pretty much over.

I’m not surprised at all that Maryland struggled on the road against Penn State. The home team in this series continues to have tremendous success. Penn State did what they do best. They controlled the paint and forced turnovers. Maryland didn’t hit enough three-pointers to overcome the turnover and points-in-the-paint deficits.

No surprises really, except maybe the poor play by Cowan, and seeing him miss 3 out of 4 foul shots at one point. That was a bit shocking, as he's typically very reliable from the charity stripe.

The proverbial handwriting was on the wall Tuesday mid-morning when I looked at how the point spread had changed. Maryland had gone from a one-point favorite to a two-point underdog. Any degenerate short-term investor can tell you that there might not be a better play in college basketball than an unranked home favorite, playing against a top ten team.

I wanted to call my “man” right away. It was cake. In the end, nothing unexpected happened.

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#dmd comments


Idiot Caller     December 11
Sports Illustrated is nothing but a Left Wing/Socialist Propaganda rag anymore. I cancelled my subscription a couple of years ago.

Delray RICK     December 11
THINK about it. This could be best draft by RAVENS...EVER! JACKSON..HURST..ANDREWS..BROWN..

David Rosenfeld     December 11
Dale I take back everything I said. LOL.

Bball guy     December 10
Can't wait for all the typical whining from Terps bball "fans" lol.

H     December 10
Ummmm, what happened to Maryland not being turn-over prone?

Josh     December 10
I’d sit Lamar on Thursday

David Rosenfeld     December 10
Just a note. I was referring to a possession-based stat, from KenPom. Through 10 games, the Terps rank No. 24 nationally, averaging a TO on 16.0% of their possessions.

In Turgeon's first 8 seasons, the Terps have ranked: 145, 293, 196, 164, 233, 215, 294, and 234.

It's a big difference. If you can commit a turnover on 1 out of every 6 possessions as opposed to 1 out of every 5 possessions, that's a big deal over 30 games, especially when you have a really talented team. So as you say, let's see how they do as the conference season goes on...

Chris in Bel Air     December 10
I like to follow Terps b-ball and it's great they are considered one of the top teams but I'm not a believer in that #4 ranking. Sure, it's all based upon the initial season rankings and they haven't lost yet. However, they haven't really done anything to validate it either. They haven't even played a top 25 team yet. Like the Ravens prior to the Sea, NE, Hous, SF, LAR, Buff part of their schedule, they need to go win some games against some real teams.

Agree with @TC

HERMAN     December 10
It is reported today that the film crew from New England, visiting Bengals stadium and doing an inside feature on "Do Your Job", filmed 8 minutes of Bengals sideline action including coaches calling plays, and player packages going on, and off the field. 8 minutes straight.

If the Patriots need to try and determine play calling, substitute package calls, and actual play and scheme names and designs for a one win team, have such a deep seated fear of losing to a one win team they have to revert to such subterfuge, what exactly have they been doing to gear up for the best teams they face?

The only plausible explanation I'd buy from them for this egregious behavior would be "come on man, it's the Bengals, we could beat them with just our defense, we can't be guilty of filming their coaches, maybe Baltimore or KC, but come on, it's Cincinnati".

But it does appear based on reports they were trying to gain some advantage through signal stealing or identifying plays based on packages and tendencies.

Based on their history, they need to lose draft picks and be fined huge for this.


Jason M     December 10
For the record, Dilfer was an asset to that 2000 team, and once they got it rolling between him and Jamal Lewis we could line up and beat anybody. Not resigning seemed at the time, and now in hindsight, a mistake.

d     December 10
Committing turnovers has long been an issue for Maryland, but through 10 games this season, the Terps have averaged 11.4, their fewest under Turgeon, while producing the best turnover margin (plus-3.3 per game) in his tenure as they are forcing turnovers at 14.7 per game.

Dale     December 10
@David Rosenfeld. Overall, the Terp starting five is turning the ball over more than those same players did last year. Cowen's numbers are slightly better (2.8 vs 2.1), but Morsell, Smith, and Wiggins are all averaging more TOs this year than last. Ayala is the same. Terp numbers look slightly better right now because of the competition they've played, and the absence of Bruno Fernando. At 2.8 per game, he tied Cowan for the team high last year. Let's see how they handle tonight.

TC     December 10
I hope you didn't just author another "they are NOT losing to Charlie Batch" about the Jets game Thursday night.



If a bye or the top seed is locked up, I'm resting Lamar, Thomas, Yanda, Ingram, Stanley, Humphrey and Judon. Remeber, you can rest 7 players, and you don't have access to a full roster like during the preseason. A healthy Ravens team is the best team in the AFC.



I'd almost welcome Pittsburgh in as the 6 seed if it means they go to KC or New England and rough up either of those offenses.

David Rosenfeld     December 10
@Dale...as hard as it is to believe based on the teams this coach has led previously at Maryland, this team does not have a penchant for turnovers. They are actually in the Top 25 nationally in terms of % of possessions that end in a TO. I'd chalk that up to two things...one is Cowan being a senior, the other is that they are just playing faster with more possessions.

@Herman...what you talk about has translated to the players on the field now. Think about all the young guys out there who've grown up watching this NFL. They are more concerned about the end of the play than the actual play itself too!

Unitastoberry     December 10
If Lamar is hurt it's over. Steelers get in they ain't going no place. Sometimes you think too far ahead DF. One game at a time.

Delray RICK     December 10
Can not help it but I feel queasy bout Thursdays game not last game of the year. He'll of a quick TURN around from SUNDAY and me thinks if RAVENS can get a early lead SIT LAMAR!!!. Everybody gets banged up but 3 days and they getting pounded again. Wish they would dump Thursday games but $$$$ talks and bull---- walks.

HERMAN     December 10
The NFL is so ingrained into our lives, and has morphed from a passion to an addiction, that we will watch the game even when we know that at any moment the incompetent refs can throw the brilliance of the competition into a travesty of justice. They've trained me like a puppy to flash to the end of the chyron at the bottom of the screen after every play to see if a yellow "flag" button pops up. I watch the play, I feel the elation of success, then a sudden and thorough dread fills me for a brief second as I scan the bottom of the screen to see if a flag has been thrown out-of-camera sight. From elation to dread in a millisecond. This past Sunday, on the last drive by the Bills, my worst fears were confirmed time, and time again, as fifteen yard misconduct penalties marched the Bills all the way downfield. Through no success by their own offense, play calling, or talents, they managed through referee "interference" to just march down the field toward a game tying touchdown. Plays no longer mattered, only the end of plays. Did the screen flash yellow in the lower right corner?

Yet despite gross incompetence and what amounts to injecting themselves needlessly into the game results, we still watch. We are still obsessed. Only now we are conditioned, like rats in the cage, to temper our fits of elation with a momentary second of abject fear, eyes darting to seek the yellow marker that will send you to depths of depression and despair. If that sounds like a drugs effect on the human psyche it is an apt metaphor, as anyone who would allow such nonsense and still watch is addicted.

charmcitydeac     December 10
The only reason I would lean against not playing them at all, is that I would be a little worried about rust with three weeks in between live games (assuming a top-two seed).

Delray RICK     December 09
Very frustrating to see "non calls" and then calls that are "you got to be kidding me". The play by SMITH late in the game when he went over the head of the receiver to knock it down..The ref is right there and announcer goes nuts because it wasn't called. So was it a great play or a penalty? It's getting worse every game.

Carl in Owings Mills     December 09
Just to have to say that any of those 5 choices in the poll could win and I'd be OK with it. Excellent choices.

Some guy     December 09
@Morris brings up a great point about the playing surface. Given the $ involved, how in the world is that not controlled by the league? If you say some locations need grass vs Turf, fine, the NFL should says here's the grass field you can use, then they provide install and maintenance, and ditto for fake turf. Some of the grass fields are atrocious, and I'm sure there are variations vs Turf too. Guess we need more major injuries to star players before the league then overreacts and does something inane that doesn't really fix the underlying problem.

DENNIS ZORN     December 09
TIGER AT HIS AGE WINNING the Masters is legendary

Golf Traveler     December 09
@Damon

That sounds exactly right. A lack of care is the culprit.

Like Tripper in Meatballs. "it just doesn't matter".

Mark in Perry Hall     December 09
Tip of the cap to Drew here. He called this run to the AFC title game after the New England win. I wasn't quite sure but I am now. Anyone have any tickets they'd like to unload for January 19?

Damon     December 09
Have you heard Reed talk? He's not the brightest bulb on the tree. I vote for "Wasn't paying attention" and "Doesn't know the rules" and "Probably thinks it doesn't matter since the event was only 18 players".

Blue Tee Golfer     December 09
Prior to 2019 you couldn't ground your club in a bunker. Now you can. That has eliminated the confusion between a "waste area" and a "bunker". In other words, the Dustin Johnson rule.

Kevin     December 09
@Josh, you could ground your club in a waste area prior to 2019 but you couldn't make a practice swing and make contact until Jan. 1 of 19.

Jason M     December 09
One of the hallmark's of Harbaugh's teams over their years, to me, has been their ability to remain composed, stick to the plan and stay united. That was a big win on the road against a playoff team, with the Bills Mafia in full effect, and a defense, like the 49ers, that was very sure tackling and set the edge well for most of the game. On, that final drive of the game when that series questionable calls went against us, I was waiting for someone to lose it, or make a critical mistake because they were distracted. The team stayed focused, made the plays they had to and walked out the WInners they clearly are.

Josh     December 09
I thought you could ground your club in a waste area prior to 2019, the same rules apply as if your ball was on the fairway, or in the rough?

Morris Albert     December 09
Feelings and actions.

The NFL is almost unwatchable. MLB is ruined for me, too many foul balls, too many taking pitches, Strikeouts and almost nothing but jacking homeruns. Heck, even the multitude of pitches in the dirt are supremely boring. The umps have way too much control of that game as well.



The NFL is ruined ALL in the name of two UTOPIAN ideals that can never be realized.

1. Getting it right. The vast use of replays to make sure that calls are correct is probably the greatest travesty ever foisted on the public. The number of challenges is limited so there is a great possibility that some calls are not correctable. Some calls are not reviewable. The spotting of the ball on almost every play is just a guess. A gross penalty that is not even a penalty can't be changed. A gross penalty that is not called cant be changed. The number of angles of review are limited, but the networks and the league can afford any number of cameras, yet they don't. The refs are all hooked up to some communication system, and that is the greatest mystery of all, as a series of late flags come out for any number of penalties that change outcomes or at the very least make games closer[which might be the role of the refs in the league].

2. The making of the game to be "safe". This notion is just a wish and nothing more. Guys get racked every week. How about the non uniform safety equipment and different fields of play. Some grass, some artificial. Seems a lot of guys rip up legs on the different kind of surfaces. And some guys wear more protective helmets and pads. A better helmet design needs hundreds of millions of dollars of investment. But no...the solution is to penalize a team when a guy is trying to bat down a pass and his hand swipes the helmet of a QB. And now we have "flopping" in the league?



Solutions.

Highly trained "gamer" types who can quickly call or uncall a penalty from a sound proof, windowless underground tunnel. Add at least 20 cameras. This "getting it right" w/guys looking at little screens becomes just a guess and often they "get it wrong". Take away coaches challenges and let the gamers buzz the lead official. Remove the head sets on the Refs. I say Oswald acted alone, but these headsets are very shady and might be the single greatest reason that sane people don't gamble on these games. Forget wins and losses, the point spreads and the overs/unders are almost 100 percent in the refs hands. And what they do from week to week is not handicappable[sic].



The league needs to spend millions to figure out what surface is best for the protection of the players and MUST mandate that every player wear whatever the 100 million dollar study on equipment is the best to lessen injuries.



In this version of the league, you see a great play and it is exciting and the first thing you look for is a flag. Technology, the way it used in this set of rules actually hinders the game and makes it worse.

The Cleat     December 09
Anytime the Pat's get hosed by bad calls, it's karma from previous confirmed cheating incidents. The team should be square by 2030, assuming they don't get caught cheating again.

mike from catonsville     December 09
The PATS go hosed yesterday. I know no one really cares but it's wrong. I don't hate the PATS (like Duke), I repsect what they have done and yes over the years they have gotten their share, and that's wrong as well. The refs are absolutely horrible in most games. Something needs to change but I don't know what.



I glad DF was confident yesterday with a real early call on twitter. Their receivers were open all day. Given the weather our defense if their QB was anywhere accurrate if could have spelled disaster.

I'm not sure I'd want 2 weeks off for the playoffs. One yes but 2 seems like an eternity. If we have #1 locked I'd at least play Lamar a quarter.

Neutral Observer     December 09
That's a great story about Seve Ballesteros and the Ryder Cup. I will remember that statement - "Cheating and not knowing the rules are different."

unitastoberry     December 09
I thought the play calling on offense was poor yesterday. Kinda Marty ballish. Early drop by Andrews potentially loomed large. Hurst has better hands.Still a deadly combination of TEs. Bills had wideouts open deep all day but their qb was off the mark until late in the game. Yes Lamar needs to acclimate to cold weather games asap. On to the Jets.

Dan P.     December 09
Nice "slump" Drewski. hahaha

Alan     December 08
The game in Houston also mattered to Denver. They can still make the playoffs.

Jimmy the Greek     December 08
Love how so many people are talking about how the next 2-3 weeks will play out as if it's remotely predictable. DEN stomped HOU in HOU in a game that mattered to the Texans.

Delray RICK     December 08
JAMES.....You got the score again!!!

H     December 08
That noise you just heard is the pop of champagne corks by the ravens 2000 defense. Patriots just gave up their 166th point of the year

Big Fat Daddy     December 08
Ravens win BUT - Buffalo played well - they may get better by the playoffs. Hopefully they will knock off KC or NE before we play them again.

Buffalo Wing     December 08
NOT so fast my friends! LOL!!

Buffalo is coming back to WIN this game!!

Lamar totally overrated!

Let's Go BUFFALO!!

Rich     December 08
Another Ravens blowout just like @Drew said. Nice call my friend.

Jenkins     December 08
The funny thing about Brad Underwood yesterday was that he was only the 2nd worst head coach in the building.

Pat     December 08
@BBALLGUY,



Even the Illinois coach used the "c word" yesterday. This is from the on line article.



"You saw it, didn't you?" Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood said in the post-game press conference. "We choked away a game we led for thirty nine minutes. We have to figure out a way to rebound from this, but it's going to sting for a little while."

Bball guy     December 08
@Hoops #hooded4iron would tell you it was just the college kids at Illinois choking more than anything else

Delray RICK     December 08
People on this site think the RAVENS should lose at least one game before end of season....WHY.. keep on winning. If they do it could be PITTSBURG because they could sit JACKSON most of the game.

Hoops Junkie     December 08
Dale Williams must have watched a different game than the rest of us yesterday. That Illinois big guy was terrible.

James     December 08
I know you've been on a hot streak recently but I think you're going 0-6 today. Ravens get upset, for starters. 24-20. You heard it here first.

Buffalo Bill     December 08
We'll show you something today.



Thanks for the dis-respect.



Great bulletin board material for the Bills.

GM     December 08
You've been right about the Ravens all season. I hope your hot streak continues today.

Tuesday
December 10
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1933



an interesting scenario awaits...


"Help" the Steelers make the playoffs?

Never.

Right?

Well, maybe not "never". Not if you're the Ravens. And not if they have the #1 seed in the AFC locked up by the time that December 29 game against Pittsburgh rolls around.

I'm curious what you think the Ravens should do if the scenario plays out as it very well might.

Follow along, please.

The Ravens are 12-2 if you count the Jets game on Thursday night, which I do.

I know, I know, we're a little banged up right now. Lamar and Ronnie Stanley both missed practice on Monday. Jackson is bothered by a quad injury and Stanley could miss Thursday's game with a concussion. I get it. But we're not losing to the Jets at home on Thursday night.

New England's 10-3 right now. Likely 11-3 after the Bengals game next Sunday, although I wouldn't call that one a slam dunk.

Anyway, let's pretend like the Ravens win this Thursday and then again in Cleveland on December 22. That would lock up the #1 seed, no matter what New England does in their final three games.

And that brings us to the decision facing the Ravens on December 29 when the Steelers come to town.

Help this guy and his team make the playoffs? Yikes. Really?

If the Ravens have the #1 seed locked up after beating Cleveland, what's the game plan for the Pittsburgh season finale?

Play them hard? With the full team? Risk injury to every starter, including -- gulp -- Lamar Jackson, Ronnie Stanley, Matthew Judon and/or Marcus Peters?

Or sit the primary guys for that game and risk helping the Steelers make the playoffs as the 6th or 5th seed and possibly give them post-season momentum they'd otherwise not have?

Tough call.

"Help" the Steelers? Seems as reasonable as helping Duke get into the NCAA tournament.

But why risk an injury to any of the critical players, especially the quarterback? I mean, we can talk about "next man up" and any of those cliches but we all know the truth. The Ravens can't win two playoff games and get to the Super Bowl if anyone other than Lamar isn't starting behind center.

OK, let me re-set that scenario and take out the word "can't". Anything can happen. Heck, the Ravens once won a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer playing quarterback. Let's say this: It would be highly unlikely that the Ravens could win two playoff games and get to the Super Bowl without Lamar Jackson.

There....that's better.

So, why play him on December 29 if everything is locked up?

For starters, let's not put it past the Steelers to do some very "professional" head hunting if the Ravens play Lamar in that game. I mean, I'm a dummy from Glen Burnie and I know the impact of Lamar vs. no-Lamar in the playoffs. If I know it, the Steelers know it.

There's the other side of the coin, too. You know, the one that says if Lamar and a few others don't play on December 29, they could go from December 22 until January 11 or 12 without playing in a football game. I think they call that "rust" or something like that.

Which of the two evils is best?

Sit out Lamar and other key starters to make sure they're available for January 11-12 and risk having the team come out flat while everyone tries to find their sea legs?

Or play them all against the Steelers and risk an injury that could wreck your shot at a Super Bowl?

It's an interesting scenario.

Some will say, "Play Lamar and the starters a half" but what, exactly, would that do? It certainly wouldn't eliminate the injury potential. Taking one snap would put Jackson at risk.

Others would say "Don't help the Steelers in any way, shape or form." It is worth noting, of course, that the Ravens could sit Lamar, Stanley, Ingram, et al and still beat Pittsburgh. In other words, just because some key players miss the game doesn't necessarily mean it's a guaranteed loss.

So...what would you do if the decision belonged to you?

You didn't ask, but I'll tell you what I'd do.

There's ZERO chance I'm playing Lamar Jackson in a game that doesn't matter. And to that end, I also wouldn't play Stanley, Ingram or Judon. Those four would sit.

What do I think John Harbaugh would do? RG III will quarterback that game. If not, Harbs loses a bunch of Coach of the Year points. You can't let the league MVP play in a game that doesn't matter. End of story.

You, though, might feel differently.

Have at it in the poll below.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What should the Ravens do on Dec. 29 vs. Pittsburgh?
Sit Lamar and key starters
Play everyone, period
Play Lamar for one quarter
Play Lamar for first half
Play Lamar until game is in hand
Name
Email address
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and the top sports story of 2019 is...


This one was close. And hotly contested from a variety of candidates.

In the end, I'm pleased to report that #DMD voters made the right choice for the "Top Sports Story of 2019". What made it the right choice? Well, it also happened to be the story I voted #1. Great minds think alike...or something along those lines.

Did an officiating crew cost the Saints a trip to the Super Bowl last January?

We gave the voting two days on this one. Saturday, December 7 and Monday, December 9. Hence, we had more overall votes, which was a good thing.

Garnering just 5% of the vote was Virginia basketball's NCAA tournament win last April. Any other year, perhaps the Cavaliers finally capturing that coveted title would have received more consideration. But with lots of other significant stories to contend with, the hoops title registered little support from #DMD readers.

Tiger Woods winning the Masters picked up 16% of the vote. While that win was by far the biggest moment of the 2019 professional golf calendar, it didn't merit recognition as the country's top sports moment of 2019.

In third place with 21% of the vote was the on-going story of the Astros getting caught stealing signs in the 2017 season, along with more reports of sign stealing in 2018 and 2019 as well. This story isn't over yet. Once the ruling comes down from Major League Baseball, it might wind up being one of the biggest sports stories of 2020.

The team that beat the Astros in the World Series, 4-games-to-3, finished 2nd in our voting, as the Nationals picked up 24% of the vote from #DMD readers. It certainly was quite an accomplishment, as the Nats beat Milwaukee, Los Angeles and St. Louis to reach the World Series as a wild card team.

But the biggest story of 2019, in the estimation of #DMD readers and voters, was the NFC Championship Game last January and the horrendous non-call in the final two minutes of the game that (likely) cost the Saints a trip to the Super Bowl. The missed pass interference call picked up 34% of the vote in earning the honor of "Biggest Story of 2019".

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terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.


terps visit penn state tonight


The boys in Vegas have decided that Penn State and Maryland are only separated by a single point (Terps are a 1 point favorite) tonight for their game played in the Bryce Jordan Center between the 10-0 Terps and the 7-2 Nittany Lions.

I’m sure most Maryland fans are expecting a decisive victory, but that may not be the case.

The best player on the court tonight will be Penn State’s 6’8” Senior forward Lamar Stevens. Stevens was an All-Big Ten first teamer last year and surely will be drafted by an NBA franchise in need of someone 6’8” who can score both inside and out.

Stevens can create scoring opportunities on his own, but it’s not uncommon for Coach Pat Chambers to draw up plays designed to get Stevens an open look. He’s the heart and soul of this team and he needs to stay on the court. In Penn State’s recent 32 point loss to Ohio State, Stevens fouled out after playing just 18 minutes. There was a lot of time left in the game when he went out, and his team was down by only ten. Penn State collapsed after he was forced to the bench. Stevens is a legit Big Ten Player of the Year candidate.

Mark Turgeon and the undefeated Terps are in for a test tonight in State College, PA.

Penn State’s Mike Watkins might be the league’s best interior defender. He’s 6’9”, and a tough 254 pounds. He leads the Big Ten in blocked shots and does solid work on the boards.

Pat Chambers’ teams always play aggressively on the defensive end. They’ll take risks and give up some easy buckets, but they also get a ton of steals. This year’s team leads the Big Ten in takeaways. Given Maryland’s penchant for turning the ball over, I expect the Nittany Lions to pressure the ball and continue forcing mistakes.

Much of the Penn State pressure comes from their rotation of active backcourt player. Junior, Jamari Wheeler, and sophomores Myron Jones, and Myles Dread round out the Penn State starting lineup. All three like to get to the basket, but only Dread and Jones fire up three point shots. Wheeler has made just 3 all season while Dread and Jones have each made 20. Jones hits 40% of his attempts while Dread make just 30%.Izaiah Brockington and Curtis Jones round out the Penn State guard rotation. Both are capable players, but Brockington is the tougher of the two to defend.

For The Terps to avoid a repeat of last year’s 17 point road defeat to Penn State, they must shoot the ball better than they have so far this year. Maryland is a woeful 30% from the three-point line this year, placing them next to last in the Big Ten with only Rutgers shooting a lesser clip. Penn State is a bad three-point shooting team, but even they have out-performed the Terps from long range. Three-point performance will be big tonight.

I’d also like to see Jalen Smith take Watkins outside and away from the rim. Getting Watkins to the outside and away from his home protecting the rim will enable Maryland to finish in the paint. With Stevens frequently playing with foul trouble, it would be wise to go right after him on the blocks. That might mean feeding Darryl Morsell, but I’m ok with that as long as Watkins isn’t around to help.

Obviously, Morsell can’t be your first option on offense, but making Stevens work on defense, and possibly commit fouls, is a wise strategy.

Defensively, no special half-court defenses are required, but what is more important defensively is to stop the runouts after Penn State gets a turnover. Outside of Stevens creating and scoring on his own, this is not a prolific Nittany Lion half-court offense. The Terps must stop the fast break points.

Where does Maryland have their biggest advantage tonight? With Watkins and Stevens in the front court, Penn State gets the nod at the forward and center positions. The small forward and the shooting guard rotations for both teams are a draw. At the point guard spot, Jamari Wheeler is real quick and a tough defender, but he doesn’t play to the caliber of Anthony Cowan. Cowan at point is the one place where the Terps have a measurable advantage. He must have a solid game if his team is to contend tonight.

To sum it up, Maryland needs to stop fast break points and force Penn State to rely on their half court sets. Offensively, they need to get Watkins defending away from the basket, make Stevens work, and increase their three-point efficiency. If they do all of these, then they can avoid the 22 point halftime deficit that led to lasts year’s 78-61 loss.

But, can we expect this Terp team to do all of that in their first Big Ten road game of the year, and in a gym where they have found some rough going?

This game looks, to me, to be a complete toss-up. After watching three Penn State games (Ole Miss, Ohio State, Wake Forrest) I don’t see a huge disparity in talent. Pat Chambers’ teams tend to play a little bit out of control and that will hurt them tonight. When all else may be equal, in college hoops, I’ll always take the team with the better point guard.

In this instance that team is the Maryland Terrapins. In an all-out war, the Terrapins win, 74-71. Cowan goes for 22 and Aaron Wiggins finally hits some threes and puts up 16 points.

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bring your winter apparel to towson u. tonight!


For the 11th straight year, my old radio buddy Glenn Clark and I are teaming up for our "Winter Apparel Drive" to benefit the men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

We need your help and would love to see you tonight at 6 pm at Towson University outside of SECU Arena!

Can you kindly go through your closets, attics and other storage areas in the next week or two and pull out a dozen or so no-longer-used coats, jackets, sweatshirts and any other forms of winter apparel (gloves, hats, socks) that you might be able to donate to our cause? We'll deliver them to Helping Up Mission on Tuesday, December 17, and you'll be making the Christmas season a lot more enjoyable for over 400 men who are at the Mission in their various treatment programs.

Glenn and I will be at the SECU arena starting at 6 pm to collect apparel prior to the Towson-UMBC men's basketball game. We'll be stationed right near gate 1 next to the big Tiger statue to meet you. You can also attend the game that night for just $10.00! That Towson-UMBC game sets up to be perhaps the best local college hoops game of the season, so bring out your apparel and stick around for the Towson-UMBC game with Glenn and I.

Next Monday, December 16, Glenn and I will be joined by Ravens offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square in White Marsh from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

This is always one of our most popular drop off events of the drive every year. We're excited to have Bradley there with us to meet Ravens fans and help accumulate a record setting number of pieces of apparel for the men at Helping Up Mission.

Additionally, between now and December 16, you can drop off your apparel at Jerry's Chevrolet (Joppa Road) or Jerry's Toyota (Belair Road). They'll have boxes set up there for you to drop off your clothing and apparel.

Please join us tonight at Towson University or visit Jerry's Chevrolet or Jerry's Toyota and help us make the holiday season a great one for Helping Up Mission!

Monday
December 9
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1932



notes, notes and more notes


As expected, the Ravens beat the Bills yesterday. It was close, but it wasn't close, if that makes any sense. Baltimore won by 7 and the Bills had the ball deep in Ravens territory with a minute remaining, but there was never one moment, ever, where I thought the Ravens were in danger of losing the game.

Buffalo's not all that good, if you ask me. And the Ravens beat them yesterday with what basically amounted to their "B" effort.

Yes, John Harbaugh's team lost some discipline in the 4th quarter and allowed an otherwise average Bills offense to perk up a bit and make it a one-score game. But, in reality, the game's outcome was never in doubt.

I will admit this: It might be a smidgen concerning that Baltimore's offense has hit a slow patch over the last two weeks. Then again, they went up against a pair of decent defensive units, too. And therein lies the concern, perhaps, as we start to look ahead to January. Could the Ravens offense -- on a one-game basis -- be stymied by someone like the Steelers, Titans or maybe even those same Bills who did a nice job on Lamar yesterday?

There's also the note that most of Lamar's "off" performances seem to come when the weather isn't great. Rainy in Seattle earlier this year, rain and wind last week at home vs. San Francisco. He complained about being cold yesterday and wore long sleeves in the first half, then ditched them at halftime and played better in the final 30 minutes, I thought. I'm not saying this is a career-changing pattern or anything like that, so keep your overreacting to a minimum. But the league has been desperately searching for *something* to slow him down and maybe, just maybe, the only thing that can do it is a bad weather day.

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are still potentially the 1, 2 or 3 seed in the AFC after yesterday's win over New England.

The only team in the AFC that really concerns me is still the Kansas City Chiefs.

OK, sure, we know New England is always sorta-kinda scary because Brady and Belichick are fully capable of pulling a rabbit out of their hat(s), but this year truly does feel different. The Patriots are good, but that's about it. Brady has only one wide receiver of note (Edelman) and when you double team him there's no one left to get the ball to except for James White out of the backfield and New England doesn't use him nearly enough in that role, if you ask me. The Patriots' defense is legit, though. If not for them, Belichick's team would be 6-7 instead of 10-3.

Kansas City strikes me as a team that could hang 34 on the Ravens on a day when the Ravens "only" hang 31 on them. It could be one of those "last team to touch the ball on offense wins" kind of games. I'm not saying the Ravens are afraid of the Chiefs. I'm saying I'd prefer the Ravens not face the Chiefs in the playoffs. And we all know the Ravens have always had issues with offenses that feature prominent use of the tight end. So, there's that.

Tennessee is red hot and has Houston coming to Nashville next week with the AFC South title perhaps in the balance. They might be better than we think. Pittsburgh has somehow cobbled together an 8-5 record despite only having one or two good players on offense. Houston beat New England last Sunday and then lost to Denver yesterday. BTW, the Broncos could somehow still make the playoffs by finishing 8-8 and having about 14 other things work in their favor. The NFL is crazy.

Speaking of Tennessee, Ryan Tannehill did something yesterday that only one other quarterback in league history has done. He joined Aaron Rodgers as the only two players to complete 75%+ of their passes with a QB rating of 130+ in 3 straight games. Crazy, right? Peyton never did it. Brady never did it. Neither did Montana, Favre, Elway or Marino. But Ryan Tannehill has done it.

New England has made their own bed with their lousy array of wide receivers, but if you're someone who wants to see the outcome of NFL games be won "fair and square" than you have to feel for what happened to them yesterday. The Patriots scored a touchdown late in the 3rd quarter that would have brought them to within 23-19 (extra point pending) but the referees ruled the receiver stepped out of bounds on the 3 yard line. Replays showed he clearly didn't step out.

Earlier in the quarter, an apparent fumble recovery for a touchdown was whistled dead for some reason. Even though a New England challenge got them the ball there, the early whistle negated what likely would have been a touchdown. I'm not suggesting that their entire season got wrecked because of those two bad calls, but it's worth noting that New England could fall from the 2 seed to the 3 seed because of that defeat. And those two calls would most certainly matter if that does wind up happening.

It's indeed remarkable that a billion dollar enterprise can't figure out a proper way to keep score of its games. I can't think of another sport where they have such a difficult time getting the score of the game right. In football, you can score a touchdown and it doesn't count. Shame on the owners and their checkbooks.

It's bad enough that Ravens team staffers routinely lash out at NFL officials on social media, but when the TV commentators do it, it's even worse. CBS analyst Dan Fouts went out of his way yesterday to bash the officials on several occasions when questionable calls went against Buffalo and/or in favor of the Ravens. And he didn't do it once or twice. He did it all day long.

I say this all the time. The officiating in the NFL is terrible. See the replay of Kansas City vs. New England for confirmation of that statement. But the bad calls go every which way, week in and week out. No one gets jobbed. Instead, everyone gets jobbed. Hearing the TV announcers whine about the refs is just a terrible look (or, as it were, "sound") for them and the league.

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about that patrick reed thing...


Former Masters champion Patrick Reed made the news on Friday in the Bahamas when he was caught on camera committing a rules infraction in a sandy waste area. Everyone quickly labeled the incident "cheating" and Reed a "cheater". Funny enough, the two shot penalty Reed incurred turned out to be the number of strokes he needed to get into a playoff with eventual winner Henrik Stenson, who finished at 18-under after four rounds while Reed came in at 16-under.

The incident in the Bahamas reminded me of something that happened in the Ryder Cup back in 1991 at Kiawah. I was fortunate enough to moderate a panel once that included former PGA Tour player -- and Ryder Cupper -- Chip Beck and he told a story about "cheating" that I've always remembered.

In the alternate shot portion of the '91 Ryder Cup, Beck was partnered with Paul Azinger. In that particular format, you must play the entire hole with the same golf ball. Because players routinely play different balls, it's very important to keep straight what ball you're using on the hole.

On a par 3, Azinger holed a putt and upon retrieving the ball out of the hole, he realized he had putted with his ball, a 90 compression Titleist, instead of Beck's ball, a 100 compression Titleist that they had used off the tee. Azinger had somehow pulled his ball out of his pocket on the green when he marked Beck's tee shot. Upon realizing this, Azinger immediately called over the two European players, Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal to explain what happened.

Cheater? Or just a guy who doesn't really know the rules?

"You lose the hole," Seve said emphatically.

"Loss of hole, my friend," Olazabal confirmed.

Editor's note: Seve and Jose Maria were correct. It was a loss of hole penalty in match play.

"But wait," Azinger said, "it was a 3-foot putt. It's not like I used the ball in the fairway or on a shot around the green where I was trying to get more spin on the ball or something like that."

"Loss of hole," Seve said. "Let's go to the next."

Azinger pleaded. "Seve, let's not do this. Come on now. You know I'm not trying to cheat."

With that, Ballesteros smiled. "Paul, I know that. I also know this: Cheating and not knowing the rules are two totally different things. Loss of hole. Let's go."

I can't imagine for one minute that Patrick Reed, with career earnings well over $25 million and a Masters green jacket, would stoop to "cheating" in a silly season event in the Bahamas where everyone gets $25,000 just for showing up and playing.

Now, Reed does have a history of nefarious behavior but that dates back to his college days at Georgia, where he was accused of some shady scorekeeping. For the record, he denies those cheating allegations, but there is enough evidence in place from his college teammates to find him guilty of those charges.

Here's the important distinction about the Bahamas incident: What happened last Friday wasn't "cheating" unless Reed intentionally moved that sand away from his ball to give himself a better lie. That most certainly would be "cheating".

But why? Why risk your reputation and career on a meaningless Friday afternoon shot out of a sandy area in an event that has no bearing on anything? Sure, there was a million bucks at stake for the winner, but Reed needs a clean reputation far more than he needs another million bucks.

My contention is that Reed simply doesn't know the rules very well and is too ashamed or embarrassed to admit it. And I also believe he's so cavalier about his reputation that he's never "on alert" in circumstances like the one we saw on Friday.

At least I'm hoping that's the situation. I'd hate to think Patrick Reed is a cheater. That's the worst thing you can call a golfer. Ask Vijay Singh.

The best thing he could have done on Friday was immediately admit to not knowing the rules. They are, after all, a bit confusing these days. Prior to 2019, there were different rules for areas of the course known as "bunkers" and "waste areas". One of them was the act of "grounding your club" (which you can now do in both) and one of them was "making a practice swing" in those areas, which, Reed says, was what he doing on Friday.

You still can't make a practice swing and take sand in a bunker, but you can do that in a waste area as long as you're not deemed to be "improving your lie". By removing sand from the area behind his ball, the former Masters champ was creating an easier path to the ball. All Reed had to say was, "I don't know the rules very well but you can believe I'm going to learn them after what just happened to me."

Instead, he went hard with the "I didn't do it intentionally" excuse, which is all well and good except for this: Even if you don't do it intentionally, you still have to turn yourself in and penalize yourself when you break a rule in golf. Reed wasn't going to turn himself in. He either knew he broke the rule and wanted an advantage (that's called "cheating") or he didn't know he broke a rule and therefore, couldn't have turned himself in.

By saying, "I didn't intentionally break the rule" he was also essentially saying one of two things. "I broke the rule, not intentionally, but wasn't going to turn myself in." Or, "I broke the rule, not intentionally, and since I don't know the rules I didn't turn myself in because I didn't know I broke the rule." Both of those explanations are very bad looks for him, but one is far better than the other.

In this day and age, with every event and every hole on camera, cheating in professional golf is really dumb. You're likely going to get caught or, at the very least, the incident is going to be splashed all over TV and you're going to have to explain yourself afterwards. (That said, a poll last summer of PGA Tour players said that 44% of them have seen a fellow player cheat at some point in their professional career. Note: This does not mean *only* on the PGA Tour, rather in "professional golf".)

Then again, we're in the midst of a significant scandal in baseball where the team that won the World Series in 2017 clearly cheated. So, it's happening everywhere, apparently.

If Patrick Reed cheated in a silly season event, he's a dumb guy.

If Patrick Reed didn't know the rules, he should learn them.

As Seve Ballesteros told Paul Azinger. "Cheating and not knowing the rules are two totally different things."

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


consider this...


There were two ridiculous stories this past week. Both involved sports, sorta kinda. I’ll start with the ad for Peloton, the exercise bike company, which I must have seen four or five times during the Ravens-49ers game on FOX.

I didn’t think anything of it. Didn’t think it was bad, good, stupid, smart. A company seemed to be trying to sell their expensive bike for the holidays. Boy was I wrong, apparently.

The ad sparked social media outrage, and even industry outrage. It was “sexist,” a man buying his wife an exercise bike so she’d get in shape, gosh darn it. How patriarchal, even abusive, right? She videotapes herself working hard on the bike to prove to the guy how thin she is. Can you believe such a thing?

And seriously…how rich can these people be with their beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on an idyllic winter scene? Thank god this rich, beautiful and thin woman will be able to solve her “problems” with a year of hard work on the Peloton!

The actors (they are actors!) who played these (small) parts have been called out for days now, as if they had done something besides make some money in commercials, which is kinda what most actors do. As for the commercial itself, I’ve come up with a different narrative…

Perhaps the wife had been talking about the Peloton for months, and the rich husband surprised her with it, not because HE wanted her to get in shape, but because he knew she wanted it. It’s called gift giving, right? I wasn’t aware it was against the rules.

Maybe the woman did a video diary FOR HERSELF, for a blog or her own social media. Why assume that she’s trying to prove something to a man? And maybe she wanted the bike so she could train specifically for a triathlon, or something more than day-to-day exercise. The fact that a person is beautiful and thin doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is in great cardiovascular condition.

You know what’s a really ridiculous commercial? The one where the husband buys the two new trucks sitting out in the driveway with bows on them. Can we talk about that one?


The other story is Tim Ryan, the 49ers radio analyst who said that Lamar Jackson’s “dark skin” helps him hide the ball from defenders on the read option and other plays where he might put the ball in the “belly” of a running back.

Lamar Jackson's skin color, not his play, was a major story in San Francisco last week after a team broadcaster made an alarming statement.

Ryan was suspended by the team for one game. Here’s what he actually said, to radio station KNBR the day after Sunday’s Ravens’ win…

“He’s really good at that fake, but when you consider his dark skin color with a dark football with a dark uniform, you could not see that thing.”

Just dumb. Not racist, or offensive, or maybe even worthy of suspension. Just dumb. And also unfair to a player who’s on his way to the MVP award.

Correct me if I’m wrong. The Ravens this year have worn white jerseys, purple jerseys (two kinds) and black jerseys. They’ve worn white pants, purple pants and black pants. They’ve played on grass and FieldTurf and on hot days, cold days and rainy days. The color of the football has remained the same, and by the way…not that this matters…it’s quite a bit different than skin color.

Lamar Jackson is about to break the all-time record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a season, with three games left in the season. And I get it…it’s really frustrating for opponents, and for the really homer-ish color commentators for opponents. They don’t understand how it’s working so well, over and over again.

The players on the opposing teams are smarter than Tim Ryan, though. They praise Jackson again and again, even seeking him out after the game to tell him to “keep it going.” They sit in front of their lockers postgame and describe to reporters how fast Jackson is, and how impossible it is to prepare for him in practice, and how he’s stronger and bigger than he looks on film. Those guys are out there on the field, and some of them are Pro Bowlers. They know.

You’d think a former NFL player like Tim Ryan would know too. He’s been out there with some of the best, and been a television and radio announcer watching some of the best. Just say a guy is great and move on.


Moving on to yesterday, let’s talk about the Bills’ final drive of the game, the one that ended with great coverage on fourth down by Marcus Peters against former Raven John Brown.

Thanks to Michael Pierce, the Ravens had the Bills in third-and-long yet again. He did absolutely nothing wrong, and the Bills did absolutely nothing right. Yet there Buffalo was, with a first down, as if Josh Allen had actually done something.

I know that what Pierce did to the running back is a penalty. But he didn’t do anything wrong. He was just playing football.

Two plays later, the Bills once again blocked poorly. Devin Singletary went nowhere thanks to Chuck Clark. 15 yards away, Jaylon Ferguson did nothing wrong. And there it was again…a first down for Buffalo.

It was only on the following play that somebody did anything worth penalizing…the holding penalty on a Buffalo screen pass. You know…an actual infraction that had something to do with the game. Then the Bills, especially Allen, continued to play incompetently, as the quarterback somehow forgot to throw the ball away and instead took a 12-yard sack, turning a manageable third down into an impossible fourth down.

Yet somehow, on the next play, for the third time since the Buffalo 28-yard line, the Bills got a first down for playing poorly. That’s not to mention the seemingly umpteenth time that Allen overthrew a receiver that might have had a chance at a play. I’m not here to complain about the call against Marlon Humphrey, but I will say that he simply tripped, and that the ball would have been many yards over Cole Beasley’s head anyway.

Every team in the NFL is the unfortunate recipient of lousy calls, and the fortunate recipient of lousy calls. But I’ve never seen a team move the ball more than 50 yards into scoring position while playing so poorly doing it.

If the Bills had somehow sprinkled in some good plays in that time, like they had on their previous drive, it might have felt different. But even they had to be wondering exactly how they had a chance to tie or win the game in the last minute.


Finally, let’s talk about the gauntlet the Ravens have pushed through since traveling more than 3,000 miles to the Pacific Northwest in mid-October.

Seven wins, including four on the road. Taking away the blowout win against the now 1-12 Bengals, the six other victories came against teams that now have a combined record of 57-21.

Certainly the Ravens are not the 1970s Steelers or 1980s 49ers, the early 1990s Cowboys or the 21st century Patriots. They are a team having a great season, led by a particularly unique football player.

Still, how many teams have played the kind of schedule that was presented to the Ravens over the last two months and come out completely unscathed, at least on the non-injury front? The fact that so many of those wins were so one-sided is incredible, but even if none of them were it would still be a remarkable run.

Here’s another remarkable thing. In the vein of this website’s host’s Twitter thoughts, in what percentage of playing time during those seven wins did you actually believe the Ravens were going to lose that particular game?

The Seattle game was tight for a while, but it was really 50-50 no matter whose side you were on. The Patriots had a chance, but was it ever a great one? Then came three blowout wins in which there were literally no minutes when that thought should have occurred.

While the Ravens gave up that early touchdown on fourth down last week against San Francisco, it seemed like luck more than anything else. And finally, despite the need for Peters’ heroics at the end of the game in Buffalo, is there a question who was the better team?

Last week, I wrote about the Ravens’ incredible offensive efficiency, perhaps jinxing Lamar Jackson and the offense into an uncharacteristic 4-for-13 performance in terms of scoring drives. Will today’s treatise on one of the most impressive stretches of football in recent NFL history prove to be a jinx when the Jets come to town in about 84 hours?

I wouldn’t bet on it. When it comes to the 2019 Ravens, all bets are off when it comes to the final outcome.



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the top national sports story of 2019...


There are lots of game, moments and things worth remembering in 12 months time.

So, we're naturally going to have a hard time coming with 5 finalists for our "National Sports Story of the Year" for 2019.

But we've managed to do it.

You won't find the Patriots' 13-3 Super Bowl win over Los Angeles on our list, but you will find something related to the big game.

You won't find Tiger Woods' record tying 82nd career win on our list, either, but a golf story managed to make the list as well.

There's basketball on the list.

And two baseball stories.

If you can think of other stories that we missed, throw them in down in the comments section.

We'd love for you to vote in today's poll, please.

Here are the top five national sports stories for 2019. In order that they happened.

Saints get ripped off -- This wasn't just a "bad call" in the middle of the 2nd quarter in the NFC Championship Game that gave the Rams a free touchdown. This wasn't a video review in the 3rd quarter that went against New Orleans that helped keep a Rams drive alive. This -- what happened to New Orleans -- was perhaps the worst non-call in the history of the NFL. In the waning moments of the NFC title game, no less. With the game tied at 20-20 with 1:49 remaining, the Saints faced 3rd and 10 on the L.A. 13 yard line. New Orleans was working hard to milk the clock down to zero and have Wil Lutz kick a game-winning field goal. On that 3rd and 10 throw, Brees found TommyLee Lewis open near the right sideline. 1st down on the way. Except Lewis was clearly interfered with by Nickell Robey-Coleman. Only one problem. There was no flag. And the Saints then had to kick a field goal immediately instead of running the clock down. The Rams, of course, moved down the field themselves and kicked a game-tying field goal with 15 seconds remaining, then won the game in overtime. But that "non call" -- an obvious penalty -- cost the Saints a likely trip to the Super Bowl (Lutz, of course, could have missed the chip field goal in the end...but that's unlikely).

Tiger Woods won a major title for the first time since 2008 with his win at the Masters last April.

Virginia gets its redemption -- One year after suffering the most unthinkable loss in NCAA tournament history -- a 1 seed losing to a 16 seed -- Tony Bennett and the Virginia Cavaliers reached the pinnacle of college basketball by beating Texas Tech in the championship game, 85-77 in overtime. It wasn't a "clean walk" through the tournament, either. The Cavaliers were extended to overtime by Purdue in the Elite Eight game before beating Purdue, 80-75. They then survived a bizarre game against Auburn in the Final Four where the Tigers coughed up a late lead and Virginia prevailed, 63-62. Earlier in the tournament, they nearly fell to Oregon in the Sweet Sixteen game before pulling out a 53-49 win. All along, it just looked like Virginia's eventual triumph was "meant to be". One year after losing to UMBC in the first round, everything that could have gone right for Virginia went right for them, most notably the way they stole the game from Auburn for the right to face to Texas Tech in the title contest. Known throughout basketball as one of the game's nicest men, Bennett was showcased as a "deserving champion" for the way he handled the UMBC defeat a year earlier.

Tiger serves humble pie -- Stuck on 14 major championships since 2008, there was no reason at all to think Tiger Woods was going to win the Masters last April. Despite a remarkable career which, at that point, had seen him win 80 career PGA Tournaments, Woods had never won a major title while coming from behind. So, entering that final round trailing leader Franceso Molinari and several others, Tiger wasn't necessarily a favorite. But something weird happened along the way. Molinari and Brooks Koepka, among others, dunked their tee shots into the pond that fronts the 12th green. Woods made birdie at the 15th hole to take the lead, then nearly made a hole in one at 16 before rolling in a 2 footer for birdie there. Armed with a 2-shot lead at 18, Tiger made a safe, sensible bogey after hitting his tee shot along the tree line at 18. And with that Masters win, Woods again ignited discussion about catching Jack's record of 18 major championships. They were all out of humble pie at restaurants throughout Augusta, Georgia on Monday morning.

Nationals win first-ever World Series -- It's not just that the Washington Nationals were a World Series winner after making the playoffs as a Wild Card team. And it's not just that they did it despite trailing in elimination games against Milwaukee and Los Angeles. It's that the Nationals beat the Astros in seven games and never lost in Houston, going 4-0 down there and eventually coming back from a 3-2 series deficit to beat the Astros in Game 6 and 7 in their own stadium. Oh, and I guess we should remember that the Nationals lost their top player in the previous off-season when Bryce Harper bolted for Philadelphia. The Nationals put together one of the most miraculous stories in recent baseball history, winning every road game they played in the World Series. Quite amazing.

Astros "analytics" included sign stealing -- In a story that still hasn't reached its conclusion, the Houston Astros were finally nabbed as cheaters, although it took the better part of two full years for everything to finally hit the fan. Teams and opposing players had been whispering about it for a while, but it wasn't until a national story by Ken Rosenthal -- with help from some internet experts who went back and pieced together at bats from games in 2017 and 2018 -- that we knew the truth. The Astros, for a long time, have been converting signs stolen by a centerfield camera into signals provided to their hitters in their ballpark. It became such a poorly kept secret that the Nationals actually changed their pitch signals in every inning during the World Series (oh, and the Astros didn't win any of the games, weird how that works, huh?). It also didn't help that former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers came out and confirmed everything once the story broke. Astros. Cheaters. And here we thought they were just a bunch of smart guys and gals who knew how to work numbers and data better than everyone else.

Which of those five is the top national sports story of 2019? Please vote below.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What should the Ravens do on Dec. 29 vs. Pittsburgh?
Sit Lamar and key starters
Play everyone, period
Play Lamar for one quarter
Play Lamar for first half
Play Lamar until game is in hand
Name
Email address


#dmd comments


Idiot Caller     December 11
Sports Illustrated is nothing but a Left Wing/Socialist Propaganda rag anymore. I cancelled my subscription a couple of years ago.

Delray RICK     December 11
THINK about it. This could be best draft by RAVENS...EVER! JACKSON..HURST..ANDREWS..BROWN..

David Rosenfeld     December 11
Dale I take back everything I said. LOL.

Bball guy     December 10
Can't wait for all the typical whining from Terps bball "fans" lol.

H     December 10
Ummmm, what happened to Maryland not being turn-over prone?

Josh     December 10
I’d sit Lamar on Thursday

David Rosenfeld     December 10
Just a note. I was referring to a possession-based stat, from KenPom. Through 10 games, the Terps rank No. 24 nationally, averaging a TO on 16.0% of their possessions.

In Turgeon's first 8 seasons, the Terps have ranked: 145, 293, 196, 164, 233, 215, 294, and 234.

It's a big difference. If you can commit a turnover on 1 out of every 6 possessions as opposed to 1 out of every 5 possessions, that's a big deal over 30 games, especially when you have a really talented team. So as you say, let's see how they do as the conference season goes on...

Chris in Bel Air     December 10
I like to follow Terps b-ball and it's great they are considered one of the top teams but I'm not a believer in that #4 ranking. Sure, it's all based upon the initial season rankings and they haven't lost yet. However, they haven't really done anything to validate it either. They haven't even played a top 25 team yet. Like the Ravens prior to the Sea, NE, Hous, SF, LAR, Buff part of their schedule, they need to go win some games against some real teams.

Agree with @TC

HERMAN     December 10
It is reported today that the film crew from New England, visiting Bengals stadium and doing an inside feature on "Do Your Job", filmed 8 minutes of Bengals sideline action including coaches calling plays, and player packages going on, and off the field. 8 minutes straight.

If the Patriots need to try and determine play calling, substitute package calls, and actual play and scheme names and designs for a one win team, have such a deep seated fear of losing to a one win team they have to revert to such subterfuge, what exactly have they been doing to gear up for the best teams they face?

The only plausible explanation I'd buy from them for this egregious behavior would be "come on man, it's the Bengals, we could beat them with just our defense, we can't be guilty of filming their coaches, maybe Baltimore or KC, but come on, it's Cincinnati".

But it does appear based on reports they were trying to gain some advantage through signal stealing or identifying plays based on packages and tendencies.

Based on their history, they need to lose draft picks and be fined huge for this.


Jason M     December 10
For the record, Dilfer was an asset to that 2000 team, and once they got it rolling between him and Jamal Lewis we could line up and beat anybody. Not resigning seemed at the time, and now in hindsight, a mistake.

d     December 10
Committing turnovers has long been an issue for Maryland, but through 10 games this season, the Terps have averaged 11.4, their fewest under Turgeon, while producing the best turnover margin (plus-3.3 per game) in his tenure as they are forcing turnovers at 14.7 per game.

Dale     December 10
@David Rosenfeld. Overall, the Terp starting five is turning the ball over more than those same players did last year. Cowen's numbers are slightly better (2.8 vs 2.1), but Morsell, Smith, and Wiggins are all averaging more TOs this year than last. Ayala is the same. Terp numbers look slightly better right now because of the competition they've played, and the absence of Bruno Fernando. At 2.8 per game, he tied Cowan for the team high last year. Let's see how they handle tonight.

TC     December 10
I hope you didn't just author another "they are NOT losing to Charlie Batch" about the Jets game Thursday night.



If a bye or the top seed is locked up, I'm resting Lamar, Thomas, Yanda, Ingram, Stanley, Humphrey and Judon. Remeber, you can rest 7 players, and you don't have access to a full roster like during the preseason. A healthy Ravens team is the best team in the AFC.



I'd almost welcome Pittsburgh in as the 6 seed if it means they go to KC or New England and rough up either of those offenses.

David Rosenfeld     December 10
@Dale...as hard as it is to believe based on the teams this coach has led previously at Maryland, this team does not have a penchant for turnovers. They are actually in the Top 25 nationally in terms of % of possessions that end in a TO. I'd chalk that up to two things...one is Cowan being a senior, the other is that they are just playing faster with more possessions.

@Herman...what you talk about has translated to the players on the field now. Think about all the young guys out there who've grown up watching this NFL. They are more concerned about the end of the play than the actual play itself too!

Unitastoberry     December 10
If Lamar is hurt it's over. Steelers get in they ain't going no place. Sometimes you think too far ahead DF. One game at a time.

Delray RICK     December 10
Can not help it but I feel queasy bout Thursdays game not last game of the year. He'll of a quick TURN around from SUNDAY and me thinks if RAVENS can get a early lead SIT LAMAR!!!. Everybody gets banged up but 3 days and they getting pounded again. Wish they would dump Thursday games but $$$$ talks and bull---- walks.

HERMAN     December 10
The NFL is so ingrained into our lives, and has morphed from a passion to an addiction, that we will watch the game even when we know that at any moment the incompetent refs can throw the brilliance of the competition into a travesty of justice. They've trained me like a puppy to flash to the end of the chyron at the bottom of the screen after every play to see if a yellow "flag" button pops up. I watch the play, I feel the elation of success, then a sudden and thorough dread fills me for a brief second as I scan the bottom of the screen to see if a flag has been thrown out-of-camera sight. From elation to dread in a millisecond. This past Sunday, on the last drive by the Bills, my worst fears were confirmed time, and time again, as fifteen yard misconduct penalties marched the Bills all the way downfield. Through no success by their own offense, play calling, or talents, they managed through referee "interference" to just march down the field toward a game tying touchdown. Plays no longer mattered, only the end of plays. Did the screen flash yellow in the lower right corner?

Yet despite gross incompetence and what amounts to injecting themselves needlessly into the game results, we still watch. We are still obsessed. Only now we are conditioned, like rats in the cage, to temper our fits of elation with a momentary second of abject fear, eyes darting to seek the yellow marker that will send you to depths of depression and despair. If that sounds like a drugs effect on the human psyche it is an apt metaphor, as anyone who would allow such nonsense and still watch is addicted.

charmcitydeac     December 10
The only reason I would lean against not playing them at all, is that I would be a little worried about rust with three weeks in between live games (assuming a top-two seed).

Delray RICK     December 09
Very frustrating to see "non calls" and then calls that are "you got to be kidding me". The play by SMITH late in the game when he went over the head of the receiver to knock it down..The ref is right there and announcer goes nuts because it wasn't called. So was it a great play or a penalty? It's getting worse every game.

Carl in Owings Mills     December 09
Just to have to say that any of those 5 choices in the poll could win and I'd be OK with it. Excellent choices.

Some guy     December 09
@Morris brings up a great point about the playing surface. Given the $ involved, how in the world is that not controlled by the league? If you say some locations need grass vs Turf, fine, the NFL should says here's the grass field you can use, then they provide install and maintenance, and ditto for fake turf. Some of the grass fields are atrocious, and I'm sure there are variations vs Turf too. Guess we need more major injuries to star players before the league then overreacts and does something inane that doesn't really fix the underlying problem.

DENNIS ZORN     December 09
TIGER AT HIS AGE WINNING the Masters is legendary

Golf Traveler     December 09
@Damon

That sounds exactly right. A lack of care is the culprit.

Like Tripper in Meatballs. "it just doesn't matter".

Mark in Perry Hall     December 09
Tip of the cap to Drew here. He called this run to the AFC title game after the New England win. I wasn't quite sure but I am now. Anyone have any tickets they'd like to unload for January 19?

Damon     December 09
Have you heard Reed talk? He's not the brightest bulb on the tree. I vote for "Wasn't paying attention" and "Doesn't know the rules" and "Probably thinks it doesn't matter since the event was only 18 players".

Blue Tee Golfer     December 09
Prior to 2019 you couldn't ground your club in a bunker. Now you can. That has eliminated the confusion between a "waste area" and a "bunker". In other words, the Dustin Johnson rule.

Kevin     December 09
@Josh, you could ground your club in a waste area prior to 2019 but you couldn't make a practice swing and make contact until Jan. 1 of 19.

Jason M     December 09
One of the hallmark's of Harbaugh's teams over their years, to me, has been their ability to remain composed, stick to the plan and stay united. That was a big win on the road against a playoff team, with the Bills Mafia in full effect, and a defense, like the 49ers, that was very sure tackling and set the edge well for most of the game. On, that final drive of the game when that series questionable calls went against us, I was waiting for someone to lose it, or make a critical mistake because they were distracted. The team stayed focused, made the plays they had to and walked out the WInners they clearly are.

Josh     December 09
I thought you could ground your club in a waste area prior to 2019, the same rules apply as if your ball was on the fairway, or in the rough?

Morris Albert     December 09
Feelings and actions.

The NFL is almost unwatchable. MLB is ruined for me, too many foul balls, too many taking pitches, Strikeouts and almost nothing but jacking homeruns. Heck, even the multitude of pitches in the dirt are supremely boring. The umps have way too much control of that game as well.



The NFL is ruined ALL in the name of two UTOPIAN ideals that can never be realized.

1. Getting it right. The vast use of replays to make sure that calls are correct is probably the greatest travesty ever foisted on the public. The number of challenges is limited so there is a great possibility that some calls are not correctable. Some calls are not reviewable. The spotting of the ball on almost every play is just a guess. A gross penalty that is not even a penalty can't be changed. A gross penalty that is not called cant be changed. The number of angles of review are limited, but the networks and the league can afford any number of cameras, yet they don't. The refs are all hooked up to some communication system, and that is the greatest mystery of all, as a series of late flags come out for any number of penalties that change outcomes or at the very least make games closer[which might be the role of the refs in the league].

2. The making of the game to be "safe". This notion is just a wish and nothing more. Guys get racked every week. How about the non uniform safety equipment and different fields of play. Some grass, some artificial. Seems a lot of guys rip up legs on the different kind of surfaces. And some guys wear more protective helmets and pads. A better helmet design needs hundreds of millions of dollars of investment. But no...the solution is to penalize a team when a guy is trying to bat down a pass and his hand swipes the helmet of a QB. And now we have "flopping" in the league?



Solutions.

Highly trained "gamer" types who can quickly call or uncall a penalty from a sound proof, windowless underground tunnel. Add at least 20 cameras. This "getting it right" w/guys looking at little screens becomes just a guess and often they "get it wrong". Take away coaches challenges and let the gamers buzz the lead official. Remove the head sets on the Refs. I say Oswald acted alone, but these headsets are very shady and might be the single greatest reason that sane people don't gamble on these games. Forget wins and losses, the point spreads and the overs/unders are almost 100 percent in the refs hands. And what they do from week to week is not handicappable[sic].



The league needs to spend millions to figure out what surface is best for the protection of the players and MUST mandate that every player wear whatever the 100 million dollar study on equipment is the best to lessen injuries.



In this version of the league, you see a great play and it is exciting and the first thing you look for is a flag. Technology, the way it used in this set of rules actually hinders the game and makes it worse.

The Cleat     December 09
Anytime the Pat's get hosed by bad calls, it's karma from previous confirmed cheating incidents. The team should be square by 2030, assuming they don't get caught cheating again.

mike from catonsville     December 09
The PATS go hosed yesterday. I know no one really cares but it's wrong. I don't hate the PATS (like Duke), I repsect what they have done and yes over the years they have gotten their share, and that's wrong as well. The refs are absolutely horrible in most games. Something needs to change but I don't know what.



I glad DF was confident yesterday with a real early call on twitter. Their receivers were open all day. Given the weather our defense if their QB was anywhere accurrate if could have spelled disaster.

I'm not sure I'd want 2 weeks off for the playoffs. One yes but 2 seems like an eternity. If we have #1 locked I'd at least play Lamar a quarter.

Neutral Observer     December 09
That's a great story about Seve Ballesteros and the Ryder Cup. I will remember that statement - "Cheating and not knowing the rules are different."

unitastoberry     December 09
I thought the play calling on offense was poor yesterday. Kinda Marty ballish. Early drop by Andrews potentially loomed large. Hurst has better hands.Still a deadly combination of TEs. Bills had wideouts open deep all day but their qb was off the mark until late in the game. Yes Lamar needs to acclimate to cold weather games asap. On to the Jets.

Dan P.     December 09
Nice "slump" Drewski. hahaha

Alan     December 08
The game in Houston also mattered to Denver. They can still make the playoffs.

Jimmy the Greek     December 08
Love how so many people are talking about how the next 2-3 weeks will play out as if it's remotely predictable. DEN stomped HOU in HOU in a game that mattered to the Texans.

Delray RICK     December 08
JAMES.....You got the score again!!!

H     December 08
That noise you just heard is the pop of champagne corks by the ravens 2000 defense. Patriots just gave up their 166th point of the year

Big Fat Daddy     December 08
Ravens win BUT - Buffalo played well - they may get better by the playoffs. Hopefully they will knock off KC or NE before we play them again.

Buffalo Wing     December 08
NOT so fast my friends! LOL!!

Buffalo is coming back to WIN this game!!

Lamar totally overrated!

Let's Go BUFFALO!!

Rich     December 08
Another Ravens blowout just like @Drew said. Nice call my friend.

Jenkins     December 08
The funny thing about Brad Underwood yesterday was that he was only the 2nd worst head coach in the building.

Pat     December 08
@BBALLGUY,



Even the Illinois coach used the "c word" yesterday. This is from the on line article.



"You saw it, didn't you?" Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood said in the post-game press conference. "We choked away a game we led for thirty nine minutes. We have to figure out a way to rebound from this, but it's going to sting for a little while."

Bball guy     December 08
@Hoops #hooded4iron would tell you it was just the college kids at Illinois choking more than anything else

Delray RICK     December 08
People on this site think the RAVENS should lose at least one game before end of season....WHY.. keep on winning. If they do it could be PITTSBURG because they could sit JACKSON most of the game.

Hoops Junkie     December 08
Dale Williams must have watched a different game than the rest of us yesterday. That Illinois big guy was terrible.

James     December 08
I know you've been on a hot streak recently but I think you're going 0-6 today. Ravens get upset, for starters. 24-20. You heard it here first.

Buffalo Bill     December 08
We'll show you something today.



Thanks for the dis-respect.



Great bulletin board material for the Bills.

GM     December 08
You've been right about the Ravens all season. I hope your hot streak continues today.

#DMD GAME DAY
Week 14


Sunday — December 8, 2019
Issue #1931

Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills

1:00 PM EST

New Era Field
Buffalo, NY

Spread: Ravens (-6.5)


show us something, buffalo


We already know the Ravens are really good. They've not only won 8 straight games, they've defeated the likes of New England, Seattle, Houston, the Rams and San Francisco.

There's no telling if the Buffalo Bills are really any good.

Here's their list of wins thus far: Jets (terrible), Giants (might be the worst team in football), Miami, twice (bad team, both times), Bengals (really bad), Titans (decent), Redskins (bad), Broncos (bad) and Cowboys (barely mediocre).

Can Josh Allen and the Bills end Baltimore's 8-game winning streak today?

Yes, it's true. You can only play the teams the league schedules you. And better to beat lousy teams than lose to them. After all, if you're losing to bad teams, that probably makes you....yes.....a bad team, too.

So, the Bills have a 9-3 record and they really only have two "good wins". They beat the Titans in Nashville and the Cowboys in Dallas. Other than that, nothing about their victories stands out in an impressive kind of way.

But, Buffalo gets the chance to prove themselves over the next three weeks.

They play the Ravens today, the Steelers next Sunday night (in Pittsburgh) and the Patriots the following week, at Foxboro.

If the Bills are paper tigers, they'll go 0-3 in those three games.

But if they are really any good, they'll figure out a way to go at least 2-1 over the next three weeks. And if they want to start proving to folks around the league that deserve the kind of respect a 9-3 team should receive, a great opportunity awaits them today vs. the Ravens.

Are the Bills any good? Their record says yes, but nothing else about them is impressive.

We're going to find out today. Yes we are.

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how drew sees today's game


There's no reason to through extensive play-by-play here.

This one is easy to figure out.

Nothing in the crystal ball says the Ravens are losing in Buffalo this afternoon.

The Ravens will be ahead 17-7 at the half.

Buffalo will score in the 3rd quarter to make it 17-14.

And then John Harbaugh's team will step on the gas.

It will be 24-14 heading to the 4th quarter.

And the final will be 37-17, Ravens.

Another one bites the dust...

The Bills just don't have the horses to keep up with the Ravens. They have enough to play for that they'll hang around for 35 minutes or thereabouts, but Baltimore will eventually show their class in this one.

The Ravens are just too good.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

show me the money


We're just like the Tennessee Titans here at #DMD. We're coming on at just the right time, with a late season surge that will make everyone forget about the first month of the campaign.

After a 4-2 week last week, we're now at 35-43* on the season.

Another couple of big weeks and we'll be back to the .500 mark. And don't forget, we make our meal money in the playoffs, where we're operating at something like a .750 clip over the last three years.

Here we go with our week #14 picks. Whatever you're thinking about wagering today, we suggest you triple it. We're feelin' it, now.

REDSKINS AT PACKERS (-12.5) -- This one feels weird, right? Washington has played decently of late and seems poised to give Green Bay some trouble this afternoon. The Packers are coming off of a beatdown of the Giants in New York last week. Surely they wouldn't overlook this semi-lousy Washington team, right? We're thinking this one is either a 10-point or 13-point margin of victory for Green Bay. We'll go with the Packers and the cover here, as they win 30-17.

Derek Carr and the Raiders are very much alive in the AFC playoff race but they'll need a win over surgining Tennessee today to stay in it.

DOLPHINS AT JETS (-5.0) -- Huh? The Jets are five point favorites? Against Rutgers, maybe. But not in a NFL game. Miami can score some points, as they showed last week against the Eagles. Yes, we're going with the Dolphins and gobbling up those 5 points as Miami wins outright, 33-23. Note: We're also tabbing this one as our "Best Bet of the Day".

COLTS AT TAMPA BAY (-3.0) -- Colts really need this one. Tampa Bay, not so much. The Bucs have been a hard team to figure out this season. They've won a few they shouldn't have and lost a few they shouldn't have. We'll take Indianapolis here -- mainly "just because" -- as the Colts stop Tampa Bay late in the game to win a big one, 26-23.

TITANS AT RAIDERS (+3.0) -- Vegas is buying into the Titans huh? That was a nice road win for them in Indy a week ago, but asking them to go out to Oakland win is a tad too ambitious. The Raiders are still very much in the wild card race in the AFC. They'll play like a playoff team today. We'll take Oakland and the points in a 23-20 OT win.

CHIEFS AT PATRIOTS (-3.0) -- OK, what's the minimum amount of points the Chiefs will score today? 24, right? I mean, they might score 34, even, but we know they're scoring at least 24. And there's just very little chance that New England can score 26. Their offense is lousy. So, yes, we're going with the Chiefs in this one, and calling an outright win, 30-20.


RECORD TO DATE: 35-43*

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 4-2

RAVENS AGAINST THE SPREAD: 5-7

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 5-8

*Indicates our record should be 36-42 if not for Arizona choking away an easy 9.5 point cover in the final 30 seconds of the game on November 17.

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.


terps, cowan stun illinois, 59-58


Christmas came a bit early last night for Mark Turgeon and the Terps as Brad Underwood and his Fighting Illini gave them the gift of a win in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

The final score was 59-58, and we’ll get into the details of the sequence of events that led up to those totals, but I think its even more important to discuss the horrible coaching decision that basically “gifted” Maryland the victory.

I can’t understand why Underwood’s monster 7’ center, Kofi Cockburn, only saw 5-plus minutes of action in the second half. Illinois dominated the first half when Cockburn logged 15:24 of playing time. They got housed when he saw just 5:36 in the second half. I know he had foul trouble, but you absolutely must go down swinging with the big man on the court. Illinois didn’t do that and it probably cost them the victory.

The first half totally belonged to Illinois. In the same manner that Maryland manhandled Notre Dame on Wednesday, the Terps got pushed around in the first half yesterday. Illinois controlled the paint, and the boards, while building a 39-25 first half advantage. The Illini guards were too physical for the Terp defenders and Cockburn was way too big.

Anthony Cowan Jr. was the star on Saturday, with a late 3-pointer, a steal, and a foul shot with two seconds left that gave Maryland a win over Illinois.

The Fighting Illini started out the game by going inside to the 7-foot Cockburn and it paid off immediately. Cockburn hit the first 2 Illini field goals, the second of which gave them a lead they would hold for all but the last few seconds of the game. Throughout the half, Illinois got good looks inside while Maryland’s inside chances were heavily contested. Cockburn was not credited with any blocked shots, but he altered almost everything in the paint and in some cases the inside shot wasn’t even attempted.

Illinois pushed out to an 18-5 lead as Maryland was struggling to score. Beginning with the 16:13 mark of the first half, the Terps went through a nearly 6-minute scoring drought. Later in the half, another long scoreless spell, this time almost 5 minutes, allowed Illinois to maintain their double-digit advantage despite not scoring much themselves. Maryland could never get the lead to single digits again during the first half.

Andres Feliz led Illinois with 10 points, but it was Cockburn, with 9 points and 7 rebounds, that was the real story. With the Jamaican freshman in the game, the visitors outrebounded Maryland, 23-18.

After the first 20 minutes, the stat sheet showed that Illinois only had a slight advantage in points in the paint (14-12), but the reality was they dominated the inside play.

Illinois held a 15-point lead in the second half until Anthony Cowan hit a three to make the score 43-31. Shortly after that bucket, a game changing sequence occurred. Cockburn picked up 2 fouls in just 3 seconds. There was 16:38 left and the Terps trailed by 12. The Illini “big” headed to the bench with 4 fouls.

Cockburn would sub in briefly, later in the game, but he exited for good, with 3:48 left and the Illini lead chiseled down to 7 points. A mere 12 seconds later, a Jalen Smith 3-pointer cut the lead to 4.

With 1:46 left, Donta Scott scored in the paint. The lead was now just 2. Maryland would gain possession down by three with 54 seconds left. Aaron Wiggins missed a would-be tying three but Daryll Morsell gathered the weak-side rebound of the errant deep ball giving Maryland another shot at trimming the deficit.

After a timeout, with the crowd in a frenzy, Cowan would finally connect on an extremely deep game-tying three-pointer from the left wing. There were only 19 seconds remaining and Illinois had a chance to win the game with a last second shot. Those hopes ended in a bizarre fashion.

Andres Feliz dribbled the ball across the half court line guarded by Scott. From the baseline, Giorgi Bezhanishvili sprinted to the top of the key to set a pick for Feliz. Feliz attempted to penetrate on the right side but slipped as he encountered Smith, who had been guarding Bezhanishvili but switched with Scott. Feliz briefly lost the ball and Cowan, who was checking Trent Frazier behind the three-point line of the right wing, pounced on the loose ball.

Compounding his ball-handling mistake, Feliz fouled Cowan with 2.1 seconds remaining. Cowan calmly made the game winning first free throw, and intentionally missed the second. Game over. Terps win. Barely.

You can’t attribute holding a team to 19 points in a half to the absence of one player. The Maryland team defense in the second half was intense. Combined with some rushed Illinois shots and a few timely turnovers, Maryland produced a furious comeback and an unlikely win on a night when they didn’t play their best ball. What they did do was play hard for 40 minutes. They also hit some timely threes (although I think taking 31 threes out of 63 total shots is way too many for this team) and competed on the glass.

As much as they helped determine their own destiny by playing tough ball on this Saturday night, I’m still left wondering how different the outcome may have been had Brad Underwood left his giant center in the game.

As it stands, Maryland pulled out a win against a very good Illini team. One that is quality point guard away from being a top 25 squad. They could be in the mix for an invitation to dance in March, especially if Cockburn can get some experience and increase his stamina.

Next up for Maryland is a road date with Penn State on Tuesday night.



Saturday
December 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1930



the top national sports story of 2019...


There are lots of game, moments and things worth remembering in 12 months time.

So, we're naturally going to have a hard time coming with 5 finalists for our "National Sports Story of the Year" for 2019.

But we've managed to do it.

You won't find the Patriots' 13-3 Super Bowl win over Los Angeles on our list, but you will find something related to the big game.

You won't find Tiger Woods' record tying 82nd career win on our list, either, but a golf story managed to make the list as well.

There's basketball on the list.

And two baseball stories.

If you can think of other stories that we missed, throw them in down in the comments section.

We'd love for you to vote in today's poll, please.

Here are the top five national sports stories for 2019. In order that they happened.

Saints get ripped off -- This wasn't just a "bad call" in the middle of the 2nd quarter in the NFC Championship Game that gave the Rams a free touchdown. This wasn't a video review in the 3rd quarter that went against New Orleans that helped keep a Rams drive alive. This -- what happened to New Orleans -- was perhaps the worst non-call in the history of the NFL. In the waning moments of the NFC title game, no less. With the game tied at 20-20 with 1:49 remaining, the Saints faced 3rd and 10 on the L.A. 13 yard line. New Orleans was working hard to milk the clock down to zero and have Wil Lutz kick a game-winning field goal. On that 3rd and 10 throw, Brees found TommyLee Lewis open near the right sideline. 1st down on the way. Except Lewis was clearly interfered with by Nickell Robey-Coleman. Only one problem. There was no flag. And the Saints then had to kick a field goal immediately instead of running the clock down. The Rams, of course, moved down the field themselves and kicked a game-tying field goal with 15 seconds remaining, then won the game in overtime. But that "non call" -- an obvious penalty -- cost the Saints a likely trip to the Super Bowl (Lutz, of course, could have missed the chip field goal in the end...but that's unlikely).

Tiger Woods won a major title for the first time since 2008 with his win at the Masters last April.

Virginia gets its redemption -- One year after suffering the most unthinkable loss in NCAA tournament history -- a 1 seed losing to a 16 seed -- Tony Bennett and the Virginia Cavaliers reached the pinnacle of college basketball by beating Texas Tech in the championship game, 85-77 in overtime. It wasn't a "clean walk" through the tournament, either. The Cavaliers were extended to overtime by Purdue in the Elite Eight game before beating Purdue, 80-75. They then survived a bizarre game against Auburn in the Final Four where the Tigers coughed up a late lead and Virginia prevailed, 63-62. Earlier in the tournament, they nearly fell to Oregon in the Sweet Sixteen game before pulling out a 53-49 win. All along, it just looked like Virginia's eventual triumph was "meant to be". One year after losing to UMBC in the first round, everything that could have gone right for Virginia went right for them, most notably the way they stole the game from Auburn for the right to face to Texas Tech in the title contest. Known throughout basketball as one of the game's nicest men, Bennett was showcased as a "deserving champion" for the way he handled the UMBC defeat a year earlier.

Tiger serves humble pie -- Stuck on 14 major championships since 2008, there was no reason at all to think Tiger Woods was going to win the Masters last April. Despite a remarkable career which, at that point, had seen him win 80 career PGA Tournaments, Woods had never won a major title while coming from behind. So, entering that final round trailing leader Franceso Molinari and several others, Tiger wasn't necessarily a favorite. But something weird happened along the way. Molinari and Brooks Koepka, among others, dunked their tee shots into the pond that fronts the 12th green. Woods made birdie at the 15th hole to take the lead, then nearly made a hole in one at 16 before rolling in a 2 footer for birdie there. Armed with a 2-shot lead at 18, Tiger made a safe, sensible bogey after hitting his tee shot along the tree line at 18. And with that Masters win, Woods again ignited discussion about catching Jack's record of 18 major championships. They were all out of humble pie at restaurants throughout Augusta, Georgia on Monday morning.

Nationals win first-ever World Series -- It's not just that the Washington Nationals were a World Series winner after making the playoffs as a Wild Card team. And it's not just that they did it despite trailing in elimination games against Milwaukee and Los Angeles. It's that the Nationals beat the Astros in seven games and never lost in Houston, going 4-0 down there and eventually coming back from a 3-2 series deficit to beat the Astros in Game 6 and 7 in their own stadium. Oh, and I guess we should remember that the Nationals lost their top player in the previous off-season when Bryce Harper bolted for Philadelphia. The Nationals put together one of the most miraculous stories in recent baseball history, winning every road game they played in the World Series. Quite amazing.

Astros "analytics" included sign stealing -- In a story that still hasn't reached its conclusion, the Houston Astros were finally nabbed as cheaters, although it took the better part of two full years for everything to finally hit the fan. Teams and opposing players had been whispering about it for a while, but it wasn't until a national story by Ken Rosenthal -- with help from some internet experts who went back and pieced together at bats from games in 2017 and 2018 -- that we knew the truth. The Astros, for a long time, have been converting signs stolen by a centerfield camera into signals provided to their hitters in their ballpark. It became such a poorly kept secret that the Nationals actually changed their pitch signals in every inning during the World Series (oh, and the Astros didn't win any of the games, weird how that works, huh?). It also didn't help that former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers came out and confirmed everything once the story broke. Astros. Cheaters. And here we thought they were just a bunch of smart guys and gals who knew how to work numbers and data better than everyone else.

Which of those five is the top national sports story of 2019? Please vote below.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What should the Ravens do on Dec. 29 vs. Pittsburgh?
Sit Lamar and key starters
Play everyone, period
Play Lamar for one quarter
Play Lamar for first half
Play Lamar until game is in hand
Name
Email address
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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.


terps host illinois in big ten opener


The undefeated Maryland Terrapins (9-0) take on the Fighting Illini today at 5pm at the XFINITY Center in College Park MD.

Illinois steps into the first Big Ten game for both schools with a 6-2 record. Their 2 losses were direct opposites of each other. The 21-point loss to Arizona was much closer than the final score indicated, and their 2-point loss to Miami at home was game in which they trailed by 27 at one point.

Illinois is an interesting team that returns most of their offensive power from a squad that went 7-13 in the Big Ten last year. I’ll make an early prediction and say that they finish at, or above, .500 in conference this season. I like this team, here’s why:

The Fighting Illini have a bevy of athletic guards. Andres Feliz, Aya Dosunmu, and Trent Frazier can all create problems with dribble penetration, and when properly motivated, will play aggressive defense. Of those three, only Frazier (44%) is a consistent threat from the three-point line, but Dosunmu and Feliz connect on 49% and 52% of their shots overall, respectively.

Mark Turgeon has some lineup decisions to make today when the Terps host a big Illinois team at 5 pm in College Park.

Off the bench, Alan Griffin and Da’Monte Williams both offer tremendous rebounding help from the guard position. Williams, at 6’3” and 210 pounds plays tough both around the basket and on the perimeter. Their five-guard rotation rivals the depth that Maryland has at the 1,2, and 3 spots.

What Illinois lacks at the guard position, is a true ball handling playmaker. Without this essential commodity, they are prone to turnovers. Their 22 miscues against Arizona played a major role in that defeat. Their turnover margin of -1.6 is next to last in the Big Ten and I expect that to be an issue today against Maryland.

While ball handling is sometimes adventurous for coach Bard Underwood’s team, rebounding hasn’t been a problem. With the massive 7’0” 290-pound freshman center, Kofi Cockburn, patrolling the interior and snagging missed shots at a rate of 11 per game, Illinois boasts a league best +17.4 rebounding margin.

Admittedly, some of that has come against lesser opponents, but that compares favorably to the Terps +8.7 margin. Giorgi Bezhanishvili (we’ll call him Bez) grabs almost 6 rebounds per game, and rounds out the Illini starting 5. Not only does he add rebounding strength, but he is a double-digit scorer who has effective moves around the basket.

Bez (6’9”), Cockburn (7’), Dosunmu (6’5”), Feliz (6’5”), and Frazier (6’2”) are the likely starters today.

Terp coach, Mark Turgeon, has some decisions to make with his matchups. We know Anthony Cowan gets the call at point and Jalen Smith will start too. Eric Ayala will start at the shooting guard position, but the remaining spots are a mystery to me.

Does Makhi Mitchell get the nod, and face off with Cockburn, thus leaving Smith with Bez? Who plays Dosunmu? Maybe Darryl Morsell gets that assignment with Aaron Wiggins coming off the bench. For my money, I wouldn’t stick Morsell on Bez. Morsell is a warrior, but he’s not big enough to contain the bigger Bez.

It’s my feeling that Maryland has a greater chance for defensive success if Morsell goes head-to-head with Dosunmu and the Terps let one of the Mitchell twins, Ricky Lindo, or perhaps Donta Scott hook up with Bez. When Illinois goes smaller, with Williams and/or Griffin, Turgeon will counter with Wiggins or Morsell at the small forward position.

The Terps should have plenty of motivation today, having lost to Illinois at home last year in the only matchup of the season between these two teams. 21 turnovers sealed the Terps fate in that game.

Today I expect the Fighting Illini to give Maryland trouble, especially early. Cockburn will be a real burden whan on offense. He’s too thick for Smith, and too tall for any other Terp defender. Bez is crafty and their guards are quick. Illinois will run some weaves out front, looking for dribble penetration, and they have shown the ability to play an effective zone defense at times.

Maryland will make more threes than Illinois, and I expect the Terps to take better care of the ball. Cockburn is still very raw defensively, and I expect Smith to benefit from that. If Cowan and Ayala can handle the pressure out front, then the Terps should win this game. (Ayala had 5 turnovers and 0 points against Illinois last year).

Vegas has Maryland as an 11-point favorite. I think the going will be a little bit tougher than that, but Maryland still prevails, 77-72.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
Friday
December 6
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1929



nfl surprises? there are lots of them


Someone asked me on Thursday what I thought the five biggest surprises -- good or bad surprises -- have been thus far in the 2019 NFL season.

Among the "bad" surprises...

Cleveland? (Not to me...I had them penciled in at 9-7 and they're likely going to finish 8-8 or 7-9. They can't win with that guy coaching them.)

L.A. Chargers? (Eh, not really. Without Derwin James and Melvin Gordon, we knew they were going to get off to a bad start. And they did.

Atlanta? (No one knew they were going to be this bad, but it's not a shock that they're stinking it up. They're the Falcons. About once every 3-4 years, they're really good. The rest of the time, not so much.)

Here are the five biggest "good" surprises of the season to date:

5. Pittsburgh Steelers -- OK, they haven't really done anything yet. They're 7-5 and have Arizona, Buffalo, the Jets and Baltimore left on their schedule. If they make the playoffs, Mike Tomlin should be Coach of the Year. They lost Bell and Brown before the season, then lost Roethlisberger after the second game. They have a guy known more for duck calls than touchdown passes at quarterback now. And yet, they're probably three wins away from the playoffs. Amazing...

4. New Orleans Saints -- Not because they're 10-2 are they #4 on "the surprise list". They're #4 because they went 5-0 without Drew Brees at quarterback. After Brees got hurt in the second game of the season, Bridgewater engineered the Saints to win at Seattle, vs. Dallas, vs. Tampa Bay, at Jacksonville and at Chicago. When the dust settles at end of December, the Saints might finish with the best record in the NFC. And if they do, they have Bridgewater to thank for it. Teddy Bridgewater...who woulda thunk it?

Josh Allen and the Bills could still finish as the #1 seed in the AFC. I know...shocking, right?

3. Lamar and the Ravens -- The Ravens aren't just Lamar Jackson, after all. They have a lot of high quality players elsewhere on the 53-man roster and the organization has done a lot of winning since John Harbaugh showed up in 2008. But the Ravens aren't just "winning". They're clobbering fools. Week in, week out. Sure, last week's win over San Francisco was a tight one, but "narrow wins" have been few and far between this season. We all saw enough of Lamar last season to *think* he might be good. But none of us knew we'd see a MVP-type performance from him in 2019. It's been surprisingly fun to watch it all unfold.

2. San Francisco 49'ers -- They were 4-12 last season after Jimmy Garoppolo was injured early in the campaign. And they play in the NFC West, with perennial powerhouse Seattle and last year's NFC Super Bowl representative, the L.A. Rams. So far this year, the 49'ers have lost twice in 12 games. Both times, they've fallen by virtue of a field goal, once in overtime at home to Seattle and once in Baltimore. From 4-12 to 10-2...and with a real chance to be the NFC's #1 seed. Quite a surprising turn around.

1. Buffalo Bills -- OK, I'll be the guy to point at their schedule and say, "Where are their impressive wins?" They don't really have any, if we're being honest. But Buffalo is 9-3. And 9-3 in the NFL is a very good record, particularly when you're 5-1 on the road. It's one thing to be 6-0 at home and 3-3 on the road. But 5-1 away from home is impressive. Quick. Name 6 players on their team. Don't feel bad. No one else can do it, either. We'll see just how good they are this Sunday when they host the Ravens, but as far as surprises go, Buffalo's at the top of the heap. They're going to the playoffs. The Bills. Playoffs. Yes, it's true.


a new #dmd podcast


Drew is joined by Jerry's Auto Group Marketing Director Bill Bolander for a lengthy podcast that touches a lot of bases, including Ravens, fantasy football, car sales, more Ravens, and, yes, even more Ravens.

In fact, the podcast goes to FOUR overtime sessions before it finally concludes!

Bill knows a lot about cars...and sports! I hope you enjoy it.



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and the biggest mistake was...


Ten years is a long time. A lot of things can happen. A lot of things did happen, in fact.

Here in Baltimore, #DMD readers have made it official.

The biggest mistake in the decade 2010-2019 involving Baltimore a sports entity was the incident in London on September 24, 2017 when 12 members of the Ravens took a knee during the national anthem.

After two days of active voting, "Kneeling" was the close winner, gathering 34% of the vote.

The 7-year contract signed by Chris Davis was the second place finisher with 30% of the vote. At one point on Thursday, Davis led by several votes, but late in the day "Kneeling" took over the lead and held on from there.

"Buck leaving Ubaldo in" was third at 23%.

The "Lee Evans drop" finished 4th at 10%.

"Joe Flacco's big contract" was never in this one, garnering just 3% of the vote.

Thank you to all who participated in the poll. It was one of most popular polls in #DMD history.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

the greatest sermon ever


In honor of Rev. Father Michael Carrion of Immaculate Heart of Mary, who was laid to rest yesterday, I'm presenting Dr. S.M. Lockridge, a popular San Diego minister in the 60's, 70's and 80's, who once authored what many believe to be "The Greatest Sermon Ever".

Father Carrion was a lot of things to many people. He was a loving brother and uncle, he was an outstanding leader of our parish and school, and he was, best of all, a "giver" to anyone who needed something.

To honor his life and dedication to the church today, I offer S.M. Lockridge and The Greatest Sermon Ever.



#DMD HD-TV

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Thursday
December 5
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1928



the tear down continues


I figure there's nothing else to say about Lamar Jackson and the Ravens that hasn't already been said. I mean, it's almost starting to get boring. Having a trip to the AFC title game locked up in early December will do that to you, I guess.

So let's chat about the Orioles, shall we? They made news yesterday. It wasn't surprising news. It really wasn't disappointing news, either. It was...just...news.

The O's shipped former 1st round pick Dylan Bundy to the Angels for four minor league prospects. All pitchers, in fact. Bundy will see some benefit right away, I'd assume. He moves from hitter-friendly Camden Yards to the Angels' pitcher-friendly park. And the Angels have the game's best player and seem likely to be better than worse at some point in the next year or two.

And let's face it. He hadn't exactly been Max Scherzer in Baltimore over the last few years. Sure, he had some decent stretches. But he also had months-upon-months of bad pitching, including the latter half of 2018 and the first part of the 2019 campaign. If we're being totally honest here -- and that's one of our daily goals -- he just never turned out to be all that good, despite the promise and the pedigree.

So, Bundy's gone and we get four minor leaguers. I doubt any of those minor league kids wind up being worth anything, but that's almost beside the point. If they do, that's great, but if they don't, it doesn't really matter. The Orioles aren't winning in 2020. We all know that. And by sending Bundy to the Angels, they just went from a 55-win team to a 52-win team. Or thereabouts. And who cares about three fewer victories over a 6-month schedule?

I don't.

Dylan Bundy's Orioles tenure ended yesterday when the club shipped him to the Angels for a host of minor league pitching prospects.

I'm guessing you don't, either.

And we know for sure the Orioles don't care about three fewer wins. The Orioles -- again, we're being honest to a fault here -- don't care how many games they win next season. They could win 44 and it would do the same for their organizational heartbeat as winning 54 or, even, 64. They're not trying to win at this point.

They're in the midst of a tear down, remember.

Yeah, yeah, I know. The word is "rebuilding". Not "tear down".

Well -- more honesty, here it comes -- they haven't really started to rebuild anything, yet. They have Adley Rutschman (one "n" or two? I'll need to know that stuff soon, I hope) by virtue of last June's Draft, but let's remember that the highly-touted catcher is still a minor leaguer at this point.

The Orioles are still in tear down mode.

Rebuilding begins, I'm guessing, in 2021 or 2022.

They shipped off Jonathan Villar earlier this week. You might have heard of him. He's one of the only four good players the team had last season. And now Bundy goes, too. Like I referenced earlier, he won't be confused with Scherzer or Justin Verlander anytime soon, but he could chew up some innings and would have a really good start every three weeks or so.

With those two gone, the pitching staff gets a major kidney punch and the infield...well...umm...the infield has Chris Davis and Hanser Alberto. So we're good there. Sort of.

As of now, I'm guessing the etched-in-stone starting rotation for spring of 2020 is John Means, Alex Cobb and David Hess. I know what you're thinking...

"Did he write 53 wins in 2020? Is he counting the 11 spring training wins and the 42 regular season wins?"

Editor's note: A quick Google search -- I was only about 80% certain it had one "n" -- shows me it's indeed Rutschman with one "n".

I buzzed around Twitter on Wednesday evening and saw some of the outcry from the local baseball faithful. I get it. The O's look destined for another miserable campaign in 2020. At some point, you get tired of seeing the team losing 10 times every two weeks.

I saw someone complain about the team's (expected) $65 million payroll in 2020 and he wondered if a ticket price decrease was on the way since the organization has severely chopped payroll over the last two years. I think you know the answer to that one.

Here's the fairest question that can be asked, I think: Are you still going to buy tickets?

That's your best and most logical response to the organization if you don't feel they're holding up their end of the bargain. Howling at the moon on the internet doesn't do any good. Not buying tickets is a recipe for retribution.

And I'm not advocating that, by the way. In a perfect world, I want everyone to buy tickets. But it's not a perfect world. If it were, Springsteen would tour every year. And he doesn't.

But I will also admit that I'm asking myself the big question right now: "Am I going to renew my mini-plan?" And I don't have an answer, yet.

Technically, my mini-plan renewal deadline is tomorrow. I can't imagine they're going to penalize me or take my tickets from me if I don't give them my down payment tomorrow. I mean, the place holds 44,000 and they have, roughly, about 6,000 ticket plan holders. They're not pressed for seats to sell, in other words.

But, I'm not sure if I'm renewing in 2020. Not yet, anyway. It's not that I'm upset with the team because of the tear down. I bought my mini-plan last year and they were tearing down then, too.

I'm not sure about renewing because the games have become really, really, boring. It's not just the losing, although I guess in a roundabout way that does have something to do with it. It's more about the stadium dynamic, no matter the opponent, day, etc.

No one's going to the games. Because of the losing. And that makes the whole experience far less appealing. To me, anyway.

If there are 24,000 people there and the O's drop a 5-4 nailbiter to the Rangers, Blue Jays, etc., it feels way different than losing 5-4 to those same teams in front of 6,800 warm bodies on a balmy Tuesday evening in July.

It's the crowded bar theory. Walk into a bar on a Friday night that has seven people standing around and you're likely gone after one drink. Wait in line for 20 minutes to get into a place and then walk into an overstuffed area where you can barely move...and...you're staying as long as you can.

The games at Camden Yards just aren't fun any longer. That's not to say the Orioles are doing the rebuild wrong. This was, of course, a necessary evil. Lose 110 games for four or five years and hope things turn around. I get it. I do. But I also get this: There's always collateral damage associated with losing. Even if the plan's right, the losing takes its toll.

So, I'll probably wait until after the holidays to make my decision on the mini-plan for my son and I next season. We'll still go to games if I don't renew. "Good seats are still available" is a phrase we'll be hearing all spring and summer.

And I'm not threatening a non-renewal just to prove I'm upset or disenchanted, because that's not the case. I'm "happy" with the treatment the organization gives me as a ticket plan holder and I love going to games with my son.

It's just no fun going down there with 7,500 other people. If the Ravens suddenly started drawing 12,500 per-game, that stadium wouldn't be fun, either. It's not really about winning or losing for me. I've been a mini-plan holder since 2013. In that time they've won and they've lost.

But the constant losing over the last couple of seasons has zapped the stadium of all of its energy. With the exception of opening day, no game at the ballpark next season will be "must see baseball". We know that right now, on December 5.

And when you know on December 5 that the club really has no interest in winning next season, it's awfully hard to create a reason to go. It's a tough, tough sell. For everyone.

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the vote is so close...


Yesterday's poll question was a good one. By that, I mean it went right down to the wire. And it's so close, in fact, we're going to continue it for one more day. If you're interested, "Buck leaves Ubaldo in", "Ravens kneel in London" and "Davis signs 7-year deal" are neck and neck, virtually.

So we'll run yesterday's piece one more time and leave the poll up for today and have the final verdict in tomorrow's edition of #DMD.


I introduced this theme here a couple of weeks back.

At various points this month, we'll take a trip down memory lane as another decade (can you believe it?) comes to a close.

We've had lots of sports highs in Baltimore over the last ten years.

And our share of lows, too. Some of the lows were management driven, some were player driven, and some were performance driven.

What was our town's biggest sports "mistake" of the last decade?

Here are Baltimore's top 5 biggest sports mistakes of 2010-2019.

They're in no particular order below. Oh, and if you have one or two (O's not re-resigning Nelson Cruz, Ravens trading Anquan Boldin are two popular ones, I'd assume) that we didn't mention, please add them in the comments section.

But the five below are the finalists. Please choose one.

Here in Baltimore, they're still talking about Buck, Britton, Ubaldo and Toronto.

Lee Evans drops the ball in New England. OK, it wasn't "really" a drop, even though the historians call it as such. It was a catch, for a second, that was then knocked out of Evans' hands. A UMBC professor who came on the air with me the week after that January, 2012 AFC title game loss did an in-depth video review of the play and it was his contention that had Evans held onto the ball for three one-hundredths of a second longer that it would have been a catch. Moments later, Billy Cundiff's game-tying field goal attempt went wide left and the Ravens lost, but had Evans held on to that Joe Flacco throw in the end zone, Baltimore, not New England, would have advanced to the Super Bowl.

Buck leaves Ubaldo in while Britton sits. The Orioles had the best relief pitcher in baseball in 2016. His name was Zach Britton. In the wild card game in Toronto, Buck Showalter left Britton in the bullpen and chose to use embattled starter-reliever Ubaldo Jimenez against Edwin Encarnacion in the 11th inning. With a rested Britton watching from afar, Jimenez gave up the season-ending 3-run homer to EE and the Blue Jays advanced. Baltimore baseball fans never forgot that faux pas by Showalter.

O's sign Davis to $161 million/7-year deal. After three years of all-world numbers, it was time for Chris Davis to cash in. And that he did, signing a 7-year deal in January of 2016 that would ultimately pay him roughly $23 million a year, with nearly $40 million of that deferred post-career. Since that new contract was signed, Davis has been completely unproductive. And there's an argument that says spending $161 million on Davis was a factor in the O's decision not to pursue a big-money deal with Manny Machado in 2018. Oh, and remember this. He still has three years left on the deal.

Ravens kneel in London. There would be some people who tell you the organization is still feeling the impact of "London". In the immediate aftermath of a dozen players kneeling during the national anthem in London in late September, 2017, sponsors left, fans left and interest in the team definitely took a hit. The organization reacted quickly, but the damage was done. Scores of empty seats were seen throughout the remainder of 2017 and in 2018 as well. In a small way, the impact of the kneeling incident in London still lingers on with the fan base in 2019.

Flacco signs $120 million deal after Super Bowl win. In one of those "damned if we do, damned if we don't" kind of deals, the Ravens rewarded Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco with a $120 million deal in 2013. While Flacco had some positive moments thereafter, the contract later had to be restructured to alleviate some salary cap pressure, which in turn caused even more cap strife down the road. Finally, after the 2018 season, the Ravens shipped Flacco off to Denver. But that initial $120 million "commission check" he got for being the Super Bowl MVP was a huge burden for the franchise in future years.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What should the Ravens do on Dec. 29 vs. Pittsburgh?
Sit Lamar and key starters
Play everyone, period
Play Lamar for one quarter
Play Lamar for first half
Play Lamar until game is in hand
Name
Email address
JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


we can drive 55(.5).


Here are a few numbers for you to ruminate about. Percentages, actually.

51.4 percent. 52.7 percent. 55.5 percent.

The 1998 Minnesota Vikings set an NFL record with 556 points, breaking the previous mark of 541 set by the John Riggins-led Redskins 15 years earlier. Understandably, the Vikings’ offensive coordinator was a hot commodity following the season, and Brian Billick was hired by the Ravens as their head coach on January 20, 1999.

That Vikings team, led by Randy Moss, Cris Carter and Randall Cunningham, scored on 51.4 percent of its drives.

The 2007 New England Patriots are the only team to finish a 16-game NFL regular season undefeated. Tom Brady and Company — said company once again including Randy Moss — obliterated the Vikings’ mark by scoring 589 points. The second-place team in points scored that season was the Dallas Cowboys, 134 points behind.

That Patriots team, which somehow scored only 14 points in a Super Bowl loss to the Wild Card 10-6 New York Giants, scored on 52.7 percent of its drives.

Which brings us to another team, one that has a good chance to break the 500-point barrier and is only a touchdown away from breaking its previous record for points in a season — in the 13th game. Had they somehow managed to score 40 points on Sunday, they would have been only the third team in NFL history to reach that mark in four consecutive games.

Mark Andrews is a critical part of a Ravens offense that has scored on a whopping 55.5% of their possessions so far this season.

The 2019 Ravens, now controlling their own destiny for the top seed in the AFC playoffs, have scored on 55.5 percent of their drives.

There are many ways to define “efficiency” in football. The term means different things depending on the position to which you’re attaching it, and it probably means something different to a coach than it does to a fan.

That number says a lot, though. 55.5 percent. The Ravens, led by a second-year quarterback, are currently on their way to the most efficient offensive season in NFL history. And by a big margin, for that matter.

The NFL in 2019 is quite a bit different than it was in 1998, or even 2007. Teams play faster, and score more often. There are seven teams that have scored on at least 40 percent of their drives this season. In 1998, there were only two. In 2007, just three.

In a world where great offense is no longer out-of-the-ordinary, Lamar Jackson and his team are somehow way out-of-the-ordinary. It’s one of the great feats in league history, to be honest. And there are three reasons behind it—player, scheme and philosophy.

The player, Jackson, is spectacular of course. You’d get confirmation of that from the Cincinnati defender he spun-moved to the ground, the Houston and San Francisco guys with broken ankles and the entire Rams defense, which watched him nearly score a 40-yard touchdown after fumbling a snap.

The spectacle has indeed been amazing, but the efficiency is even more telling.

Jackson is averaging exactly seven yards per carry, a number usually reserved for wide receivers who carry 12 jet sweeps a year and don’t qualify among league leaders. The Ravens’ quarterback, however, has 140 rushing attempts, among the top 20 in the NFL, with four games left on the schedule.

Five years ago for the Seahawks, Russell Wilson averaged 7.2 yards per carry, but had “only” 118 rushing attempts in 16 games. Michael Vick, the player to whom Jackson is understandably compared, set the gold standard by averaging 8.4 yards per carry for the Falcons in 2006. But even the dynamic Vick had only 123 carries in 16 games. In each case, those teams had top-of-the-line tailbacks (Marshawn Lynch and Warrick Dunn) that bore most of the load.

John Harbaugh wasn’t kidding. The Ravens are running the quarterback almost as much as their top tailback, Mark Ingram, and the efficiency is amazing. Those 2014 Seahawks barely scored on 40 percent of their drives. The 2006 Falcons ranked near the bottom of the league, at less than 29 percent!

And all of that is before you bring passing into the equation. The 2006 Falcons, you probably won’t recall, finished 7-9. Their quarterback, Vick, was a terribly inefficient passer. He completed 52 percent of his passes and had 13 interceptions. He was sacked 45 times.

Fast forward 13 years, and Lamar Jackson is not Vick 2.0. The argument can be made that he’s been the most efficient passer in the NFL this season. ESPN’s “QBR” tries to quantify that, and Jackson’s 80.6 mark is the best in the league, better than Mahomes, Prescott, Wilson and Watson. Even if you take rushing out of the equation, he’s still in the top seven.

Nearly 12 percent of Jackson’s completed passes have been touchdown passes, an astonishing number. He has a real chance of both leading the NFL in touchdown passes and finishing in the top six in fewest interceptions, the kind of numbers usually reserved for Rodgers and Brady.

Of course, Greg Roman and the offensive staff are to be given credit for creating a scheme to help Lamar and the band to the most efficient season in league history.

I don’t break down film for a living, and I can’t speak in the terminology that football coaches do. But here’s just one example of what I mean by an efficient scheme.

The Ravens will line up a tight end on the offensive right side, like any other team would. At the snap, though, he does something different than other teams would. He runs what appears to be a pass route on an arc, neither straight ahead nor directly into the flat. A defender, often a safety, has to cover it.

Meanwhile, Jackson puts the ball in the belly of his running back. The edge rusher is unblocked, but it doesn’t really matter what he does, because whatever he does will be wrong.

If Jackson gives the ball, the Ravens now have an extra 330-lb. lineman blocking inside, because nobody blocked the edge rusher and he’s out of the play. If Jackson keeps the ball, he then has a full-head-of-steam Nick Boyle seven yards out in front of him blocking a retreating Richard Sherman.

Jackson makes the play longer than it might have been. The scheme makes the play almost impossible to stop, as long as it gets mixed in with other types of plays that keep the rest of the defense honest.

And then there’s the philosophy, which I suppose can be defined by the scheme. But I’m referring to one thing in particular. The Ravens are playing the game with four downs, and every other team is playing with three downs. The other 31 teams might as well be playing Canadian football, though a “rouge” won’t help them much when they’re down by three touchdowns.

The Ravens can play third down differently than any other team, especially what I would call third and “medium.” They can call a run when literally no other team in the NFL would do so. They can even throw a “Flacco special,” getting six yards when they need eight, because that’s still makes it “go time” in many situations. That’s right…the 70,000 in attendance at M&T Bank Stadium can no longer boo the team off the field when that happens!

We’ve already seen what the Ravens might do on fourth down, and I’m all in.

For most of the game, from somewhere around midfield through whatever happens to be that day’s Justin Tucker range, the Ravens will keep the offense on the field when it’s fourth-and-medium or less. They’ve generally determined it’s the best thing to do, and it has nothing to do with what Lamar Jackson wants to do.

Obviously, even in advantageous situations past midfield, the time of the game in relationship to the score must be considered. The aggressive call on fourth-and-5 from the 49ers’ 40-yard line on Sunday cut it very close — there was 9:41 left in a tie game. I could see both options. An hour earlier, say five minutes into the third quarter? That’s an “all go” situation.

All of it adds up, of course. The Ravens won’t have as many drives as Brady’s 2007 Patriots or Billick’s 1998 Vikings, but they’re more efficient on the drives they do have. So far, with no exaggeration at all, it’s the most efficient offense in a single season in the modern NFL.

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.


The Maryland Terrapins, behind their suffocating half court pressure defense and aggressive moves to the hoop on offense, defeated the ACC’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish 72-51 on Wednesday night in front of a small but boisterous crowd in College Park.

Jalen Smith controlled the interior with a career high 16 rebounds and 5 blocked shots, while pouring in a team high 15 points. Smith may have led the team in scoring, but it was Eric Ayala who provided the crucial points during a stretch late in the first half where Maryland took control of the game.

Ayala finished with 14 points followed by Aaron Wiggins with 11 and Darryl Morsell with 10. Wiggins also added 3 blocks and 7 rebounds. Overall, it was an impressive performance by the #3 ranked Terrapins. One in which they physically dominated their South Bend opponents.

As dull as the first 16 minutes of the first half were, (and they were really dull) the last 4 minutes of the opening 20 were equally as exciting. Maryland led 16-13 with 3:58 remaining in the half, but a late scoring spree had Maryland up 32-20 when the first half concluded less than 4 minutes later.

Eric Ayala (14 points) was part of first-half surge from the Terps that led them to an easy win over Notre Dame on Wednesday night.

After missing their first ten 3-point shots of the half, the Terps hit back-to back attempts as they started to pull away from Notre Dame. The second bomb, an Aaron Wiggins jumper from the right side, put the Terps up by 11 with 1:27 left in the half. That was followed by an Eric Ayala jam from the left side of the lane. It was a dunk that you really didn’t see coming until he flushed it. That emphatic throw-down energized a crowd that had just begun to show some enthusiasm after being lulled to sleep by poor shooting for most of the half.

At one time late in the half, the two teams had combined to hit 1 of 18 three-point shots and both teams were shooting under 30% overall. While the Terps defense was the main factor for the Notre Dame scoring woes (the Irish went almost 13 minutes without a starter scoring), on the other end of the court, the Terps shooters were not contested nearly as much as the Irish would be scorers. The Terps just missed some good looks.

Defensively, Notre Dame started the game in a zone, but switched defenses throughout the half. Coach Turgeon elected to stay with a man-to-man defense that featured switching at almost every opportunity. The switches were effective because they switched effectively and recovered so quickly. It was an impressive defensive effort by Maryland.

The half ended with a very rare play as Wiggins followed his own three-point miss with a slam on the rebound just before the buzzer sounded. Maryland went to the locker room with a 32-20 lead. Notre Dame shot 28% for the half and had connected on only 1 of 11 three-pointers.

Maryland wasn’t much better from behind the arc, (2-13), but getting to the rim allowed them to shoot 44% overall in the first half.

Starting the second half, Maryland needed less than 3 minutes to extend their lead to 18 points. The shots that wouldn’t fall in the first half began to hit the mark in the second. The Terps connected on three of their first five three-pointers, helping them to maintain a 17-point lead with 11:47 left in the game.

The Irish managed to make six threes of their own in the second half, but the visitors only scored 4 buckets in the paint and went 10 for 34 overall in the final 20 minutes. The Terrapins breezed for the last 12 minutes of the game, including almost three minutes where Turgeon cleared his bench.

I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised by Maryland’s ability to dominate Notre Dame physically. Morsell, Ayala, and even newcomer Donta Scott all flexed their muscle while attacking the basket. The whole team did the same defensively and Jalen Smith protected the paint while Wiggins provided a few dramatic help side rejections.

Smith was just too long and agile for the smaller Irish lineup.

All in all, Maryland executed their game plan perfectly, attacking and pressuring the overmatched squad that coach Mark Brey brought into the XFINITY Center. They’ll get a chance to do it again when Illinois comes to town the Saturday for the Terrapins first Big Ten contest of the 2019-2020 season. Tip off will be at 5:00p.m. and will be televised on ESPN 2.

SAFFER banner

we need your help this tonight!


For the 11th straight year, my old radio buddy Glenn Clark and I are teaming up for our "Winter Apparel Drive" to benefit the men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

We need your help, starting tonight!

Can you kindly go through your closets, attics and other storage areas in the next week or two and pull out a dozen or so no-longer-used coats, jackets, sweatshirts and any other forms of winter apparel (gloves, hats, socks) that you might be able to donate to our cause? We'll deliver them to Helping Up Mission on Tuesday, December 17, and you'll be making the Christmas season a lot more enjoyable for over 400 men who are at the Mission in their various treatment programs.

We'll have four "drop off" locations/events where you can bring your donated items to us. Please don't bring any loose items. All clothing should be in some sort of bag or box.

The kick-off event is tonight, Thursday, December 5 at Glory Days on East Joppa Road in Towson from 6 pm to 8 pm. Towson University men's basketball coach Pat Skerry will be there to meet and greet those of you who bring out winter apparel, and Glenn and I will have some light fare and snacks there to keep you from starving. Please come out on December 5 to meet Coach Skerry and get our event off to a great start.

On Tuesday, December 10, Glenn and I will be at the SECU arena starting at 6 pm to collect apparel prior to the Towson-UMBC men's basketball game. We'll be stationed right near gate 1 next to the big Tiger statue to meet you. You can also attend the game that night for just $10.00! That Towson-UMBC game sets up to be perhaps the best local college hoops game of the season, so bring out your apparel and stick around for the Towson-UMBC game with Glenn and I.

The following Monday, December 16, Glenn and I will be joined by Ravens offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square in White Marsh from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

This is always one of our most popular drop off events of the drive every year. We're excited to have Bradley there with us to meet Ravens fans and help accumulate a record setting number of pieces of apparel for the men at Helping Up Mission.

Additionally, between now and December 16, you can drop off your apparel at Jerry's Chevrolet (Joppa Road) or Jerry's Toyota (Belair Road). They'll have boxes set up there for you to drop off your clothing and apparel.

Please join us at one of the three events or visit Jerry's Chevrolet or Jerry's Toyota and help us make the holiday season a great one for Helping Up Mission!

Wednesday
December 4
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1927



baltimore's biggest sports mistake, 2010-2019


I introduced this theme here a couple of weeks back.

At various points this month, we'll take a trip down memory lane as another decade (can you believe it?) comes to a close.

We've had lots of sports highs in Baltimore over the last ten years.

And our share of lows, too. Some of the lows were management driven, some were player driven, and some were performance driven.

What was our town's biggest sports "mistake" of the last decade?

Here are Baltimore's top 5 biggest sports mistakes of 2010-2019.

They're in no particular order below. Oh, and if you have one or two (O's not re-resigning Nelson Cruz, Ravens trading Anquan Boldin are two popular ones, I'd assume) that we didn't mention, please add them in the comments section.

But the five below are the finalists. Please choose one.

Here in Baltimore, they're still talking about Buck, Britton, Ubaldo and Toronto.

Lee Evans drops the ball in New England. OK, it wasn't "really" a drop, even though the historians call it as such. It was a catch, for a second, that was then knocked out of Evans' hands. A UMBC professor who came on the air with me the week after that January, 2012 AFC title game loss did an in-depth video review of the play and it was his contention that had Evans held onto the ball for three one-hundredths of a second longer that it would have been a catch. Moments later, Billy Cundiff's game-tying field goal attempt went wide left and the Ravens lost, but had Evans held on to that Joe Flacco throw in the end zone, Baltimore, not New England, would have advanced to the Super Bowl.

Buck leaves Ubaldo in while Britton sits. The Orioles had the best relief pitcher in baseball in 2016. His name was Zach Britton. In the wild card game in Toronto, Buck Showalter left Britton in the bullpen and chose to use embattled starter-reliever Ubaldo Jimenez against Edwin Encarnacion in the 11th inning. With a rested Britton watching from afar, Jimenez gave up the season-ending 3-run homer to EE and the Blue Jays advanced. Baltimore baseball fans never forgot that faux pas by Showalter.

O's sign Davis to $161 million/7-year deal. After three years of all-world numbers, it was time for Chris Davis to cash in. And that he did, signing a 7-year deal in January of 2016 that would ultimately pay him roughly $23 million a year, with nearly $40 million of that deferred post-career. Since that new contract was signed, Davis has been completely unproductive. And there's an argument that says spending $161 million on Davis was a factor in the O's decision not to pursue a big-money deal with Manny Machado in 2018. Oh, and remember this. He still has three years left on the deal.

Ravens kneel in London. There would be some people who tell you the organization is still feeling the impact of "London". In the immediate aftermath of a dozen players kneeling during the national anthem in London in late September, 2017, sponsors left, fans left and interest in the team definitely took a hit. The organization reacted quickly, but the damage was done. Scores of empty seats were seen throughout the remainder of 2017 and in 2018 as well. In a small way, the impact of the kneeling incident in London still lingers on with the fan base in 2019.

Flacco signs $120 million deal after Super Bowl win. In one of those "damned if we do, damned if we don't" kind of deals, the Ravens rewarded Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco with a $120 million deal in 2013. While Flacco had some positive moments thereafter, the contract later had to be restructured to alleviate some salary cap pressure, which in turn caused even more cap strife down the road. Finally, after the 2018 season, the Ravens shipped Flacco off to Denver. But that initial $120 million "commission check" he got for being the Super Bowl MVP was a huge burden for the franchise in future years.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What should the Ravens do on Dec. 29 vs. Pittsburgh?
Sit Lamar and key starters
Play everyone, period
Play Lamar for one quarter
Play Lamar for first half
Play Lamar until game is in hand
Name
Email address
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a wagering opportunity


Oh, how we've all squandered a golden opportunity. Well, I assume we all did, anyway. Perhaps a few of you intelligent sports enthusiasts placed a bet on the Ravens back in August.

Depending on what source you used back then, you might have picked up odds of something in the +3200 range if you were willing to wager on the Ravens at that point. By the way, just for fun, the Browns were +1500 to win the Super Bowl prior to opening week. Those were the days...

If you would have thrown down $100 on the Ravens before they stomped the Dolphins in Miami, you could have won $3200. That is, of course, if John Harbaugh's team goes on to win the Super Bowl in February.

By the time the Ravens beat the Seahawks in Seattle in October, that wagering number was down to +1400. Then they beat the Patriots on November 3rd and suddenly they were +1000.

Let's stop here for a second and rewind to 11 months ago.

Last January, the Ravens lost a home playoff game to the Chargers.

Lamar's MVP-type season has helped make the Ravens the Super Bowl betting favorite through 13 weeks of the season according to MySportsBook.com

The offense, at least on that chilly January day in Baltimore, was awful. I remember looking at the scoreboard late in the 3rd quarter. The Ravens had minus 2 yards of total offense at that point in the game.

Lamar Jackson, you'll recall, fumbled the ball 16 times last season.

Times have really changed now. The Ravens are 10-2, winners of eight straight, and are the favorites to win the Super Bowl!

And they're not just media favorites. They're actual BETTING favorites!

According to MyTopSportsBook, The Ravens (+275) consolidated their status as Super Bowl favorites with that Week 13 win over the 49ers.

Favorites to win the Super Bowl! And those odds, I think, are still pretty favorable to the wagering man or woman. I actually think they might decrease even more in the next couple of weeks.

For those that don't know, +275 means you'd win $275 on a $100 wager. Not quite the +3200 of late August, huh?

What other "good" bets are still out there, you ask?

The Patriots dropped slightly to +400, but remain second in the Super Bowl futures after a decisive loss to the Texans on Sunday night.

The Saints (+600) are the top NFC team and third overall.

San Francisco's setback to Baltimore gives New Orleans a great chance to claim top seed in the conference. While both teams are 10-2, the Saints get to host the Niners in a Week 14 clash that will likely decide the race.

My money? Today?

It would go on the Ravens (+275) and the Saints (+600). One of those two teams is winning the big game.

Buffalo could be an interesting wager -- at decent odds -- if they happen to get past the Ravens and improve to 10-3 this Sunday. But we'll wait on that one and see what happens against Baltimore before we start thinking about a Bills wager.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

we need your help this thursday night!


For the 11th straight year, my old radio buddy Glenn Clark and I are teaming up for our "Winter Apparel Drive" to benefit the men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

We need your help.

Can you kindly go through your closets, attics and other storage areas in the next week or two and pull out a dozen or so no-longer-used coats, jackets, sweatshirts and any other forms of winter apparel (gloves, hats, socks) that you might be able to donate to our cause? We'll deliver them to Helping Up Mission on Tuesday, December 17, and you'll be making the Christmas season a lot more enjoyable for over 400 men who are at the Mission in their various treatment programs.

We'll have four "drop off" locations/events where you can bring your donated items to us. Please don't bring any loose items. All clothing should be in some sort of bag or box.

The kick-off event is this Thursday, December 5 at Glory Days on East Joppa Road in Towson from 6 pm to 8 pm. Towson University men's basketball coach Pat Skerry will be there to meet and greet those of you who bring out winter apparel, and Glenn and I will have some light fare and snacks there to keep you from starving. Please come out on December 5 to meet Coach Skerry and get our event off to a great start.

On Tuesday, December 10, Glenn and I will be at the SECU arena starting at 6 pm to collect apparel prior to the Towson-UMBC men's basketball game. We'll be stationed right near gate 1 next to the big Tiger statue to meet you. You can also attend the game that night for just $10.00! That Towson-UMBC game sets up to be perhaps the best local college hoops game of the season, so bring out your apparel and stick around for the Towson-UMBC game with Glenn and I.

The following Monday, December 16, Glenn and I will be joined by Ravens offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square in White Marsh from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

This is always one of our most popular drop off events of the drive every year. We're excited to have Bradley there with us to meet Ravens fans and help accumulate a record setting number of pieces of apparel for the men at Helping Up Mission.

Additionally, between now and December 16, you can drop off your apparel at Jerry's Chevrolet (Joppa Road) or Jerry's Toyota (Belair Road). They'll have boxes set up there for you to drop off your clothing and apparel.

Please join us at one of the three events or visit Jerry's Chevrolet or Jerry's Toyota and help us make the holiday season a great one for Helping Up Mission!

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#dmd comments


Idiot Caller     December 11
Sports Illustrated is nothing but a Left Wing/Socialist Propaganda rag anymore. I cancelled my subscription a couple of years ago.

Delray RICK     December 11
THINK about it. This could be best draft by RAVENS...EVER! JACKSON..HURST..ANDREWS..BROWN..

David Rosenfeld     December 11
Dale I take back everything I said. LOL.

Bball guy     December 10
Can't wait for all the typical whining from Terps bball "fans" lol.

H     December 10
Ummmm, what happened to Maryland not being turn-over prone?

Josh     December 10
I’d sit Lamar on Thursday

David Rosenfeld     December 10
Just a note. I was referring to a possession-based stat, from KenPom. Through 10 games, the Terps rank No. 24 nationally, averaging a TO on 16.0% of their possessions.

In Turgeon's first 8 seasons, the Terps have ranked: 145, 293, 196, 164, 233, 215, 294, and 234.

It's a big difference. If you can commit a turnover on 1 out of every 6 possessions as opposed to 1 out of every 5 possessions, that's a big deal over 30 games, especially when you have a really talented team. So as you say, let's see how they do as the conference season goes on...

Chris in Bel Air     December 10
I like to follow Terps b-ball and it's great they are considered one of the top teams but I'm not a believer in that #4 ranking. Sure, it's all based upon the initial season rankings and they haven't lost yet. However, they haven't really done anything to validate it either. They haven't even played a top 25 team yet. Like the Ravens prior to the Sea, NE, Hous, SF, LAR, Buff part of their schedule, they need to go win some games against some real teams.

Agree with @TC

HERMAN     December 10
It is reported today that the film crew from New England, visiting Bengals stadium and doing an inside feature on "Do Your Job", filmed 8 minutes of Bengals sideline action including coaches calling plays, and player packages going on, and off the field. 8 minutes straight.

If the Patriots need to try and determine play calling, substitute package calls, and actual play and scheme names and designs for a one win team, have such a deep seated fear of losing to a one win team they have to revert to such subterfuge, what exactly have they been doing to gear up for the best teams they face?

The only plausible explanation I'd buy from them for this egregious behavior would be "come on man, it's the Bengals, we could beat them with just our defense, we can't be guilty of filming their coaches, maybe Baltimore or KC, but come on, it's Cincinnati".

But it does appear based on reports they were trying to gain some advantage through signal stealing or identifying plays based on packages and tendencies.

Based on their history, they need to lose draft picks and be fined huge for this.


Jason M     December 10
For the record, Dilfer was an asset to that 2000 team, and once they got it rolling between him and Jamal Lewis we could line up and beat anybody. Not resigning seemed at the time, and now in hindsight, a mistake.

d     December 10
Committing turnovers has long been an issue for Maryland, but through 10 games this season, the Terps have averaged 11.4, their fewest under Turgeon, while producing the best turnover margin (plus-3.3 per game) in his tenure as they are forcing turnovers at 14.7 per game.

Dale     December 10
@David Rosenfeld. Overall, the Terp starting five is turning the ball over more than those same players did last year. Cowen's numbers are slightly better (2.8 vs 2.1), but Morsell, Smith, and Wiggins are all averaging more TOs this year than last. Ayala is the same. Terp numbers look slightly better right now because of the competition they've played, and the absence of Bruno Fernando. At 2.8 per game, he tied Cowan for the team high last year. Let's see how they handle tonight.

TC     December 10
I hope you didn't just author another "they are NOT losing to Charlie Batch" about the Jets game Thursday night.



If a bye or the top seed is locked up, I'm resting Lamar, Thomas, Yanda, Ingram, Stanley, Humphrey and Judon. Remeber, you can rest 7 players, and you don't have access to a full roster like during the preseason. A healthy Ravens team is the best team in the AFC.



I'd almost welcome Pittsburgh in as the 6 seed if it means they go to KC or New England and rough up either of those offenses.

David Rosenfeld     December 10
@Dale...as hard as it is to believe based on the teams this coach has led previously at Maryland, this team does not have a penchant for turnovers. They are actually in the Top 25 nationally in terms of % of possessions that end in a TO. I'd chalk that up to two things...one is Cowan being a senior, the other is that they are just playing faster with more possessions.

@Herman...what you talk about has translated to the players on the field now. Think about all the young guys out there who've grown up watching this NFL. They are more concerned about the end of the play than the actual play itself too!

Unitastoberry     December 10
If Lamar is hurt it's over. Steelers get in they ain't going no place. Sometimes you think too far ahead DF. One game at a time.

Delray RICK     December 10
Can not help it but I feel queasy bout Thursdays game not last game of the year. He'll of a quick TURN around from SUNDAY and me thinks if RAVENS can get a early lead SIT LAMAR!!!. Everybody gets banged up but 3 days and they getting pounded again. Wish they would dump Thursday games but $$$$ talks and bull---- walks.

HERMAN     December 10
The NFL is so ingrained into our lives, and has morphed from a passion to an addiction, that we will watch the game even when we know that at any moment the incompetent refs can throw the brilliance of the competition into a travesty of justice. They've trained me like a puppy to flash to the end of the chyron at the bottom of the screen after every play to see if a yellow "flag" button pops up. I watch the play, I feel the elation of success, then a sudden and thorough dread fills me for a brief second as I scan the bottom of the screen to see if a flag has been thrown out-of-camera sight. From elation to dread in a millisecond. This past Sunday, on the last drive by the Bills, my worst fears were confirmed time, and time again, as fifteen yard misconduct penalties marched the Bills all the way downfield. Through no success by their own offense, play calling, or talents, they managed through referee "interference" to just march down the field toward a game tying touchdown. Plays no longer mattered, only the end of plays. Did the screen flash yellow in the lower right corner?

Yet despite gross incompetence and what amounts to injecting themselves needlessly into the game results, we still watch. We are still obsessed. Only now we are conditioned, like rats in the cage, to temper our fits of elation with a momentary second of abject fear, eyes darting to seek the yellow marker that will send you to depths of depression and despair. If that sounds like a drugs effect on the human psyche it is an apt metaphor, as anyone who would allow such nonsense and still watch is addicted.

charmcitydeac     December 10
The only reason I would lean against not playing them at all, is that I would be a little worried about rust with three weeks in between live games (assuming a top-two seed).

Delray RICK     December 09
Very frustrating to see "non calls" and then calls that are "you got to be kidding me". The play by SMITH late in the game when he went over the head of the receiver to knock it down..The ref is right there and announcer goes nuts because it wasn't called. So was it a great play or a penalty? It's getting worse every game.

Carl in Owings Mills     December 09
Just to have to say that any of those 5 choices in the poll could win and I'd be OK with it. Excellent choices.

Some guy     December 09
@Morris brings up a great point about the playing surface. Given the $ involved, how in the world is that not controlled by the league? If you say some locations need grass vs Turf, fine, the NFL should says here's the grass field you can use, then they provide install and maintenance, and ditto for fake turf. Some of the grass fields are atrocious, and I'm sure there are variations vs Turf too. Guess we need more major injuries to star players before the league then overreacts and does something inane that doesn't really fix the underlying problem.

DENNIS ZORN     December 09
TIGER AT HIS AGE WINNING the Masters is legendary

Golf Traveler     December 09
@Damon

That sounds exactly right. A lack of care is the culprit.

Like Tripper in Meatballs. "it just doesn't matter".

Mark in Perry Hall     December 09
Tip of the cap to Drew here. He called this run to the AFC title game after the New England win. I wasn't quite sure but I am now. Anyone have any tickets they'd like to unload for January 19?

Damon     December 09
Have you heard Reed talk? He's not the brightest bulb on the tree. I vote for "Wasn't paying attention" and "Doesn't know the rules" and "Probably thinks it doesn't matter since the event was only 18 players".

Blue Tee Golfer     December 09
Prior to 2019 you couldn't ground your club in a bunker. Now you can. That has eliminated the confusion between a "waste area" and a "bunker". In other words, the Dustin Johnson rule.

Kevin     December 09
@Josh, you could ground your club in a waste area prior to 2019 but you couldn't make a practice swing and make contact until Jan. 1 of 19.

Jason M     December 09
One of the hallmark's of Harbaugh's teams over their years, to me, has been their ability to remain composed, stick to the plan and stay united. That was a big win on the road against a playoff team, with the Bills Mafia in full effect, and a defense, like the 49ers, that was very sure tackling and set the edge well for most of the game. On, that final drive of the game when that series questionable calls went against us, I was waiting for someone to lose it, or make a critical mistake because they were distracted. The team stayed focused, made the plays they had to and walked out the WInners they clearly are.

Josh     December 09
I thought you could ground your club in a waste area prior to 2019, the same rules apply as if your ball was on the fairway, or in the rough?

Morris Albert     December 09
Feelings and actions.

The NFL is almost unwatchable. MLB is ruined for me, too many foul balls, too many taking pitches, Strikeouts and almost nothing but jacking homeruns. Heck, even the multitude of pitches in the dirt are supremely boring. The umps have way too much control of that game as well.



The NFL is ruined ALL in the name of two UTOPIAN ideals that can never be realized.

1. Getting it right. The vast use of replays to make sure that calls are correct is probably the greatest travesty ever foisted on the public. The number of challenges is limited so there is a great possibility that some calls are not correctable. Some calls are not reviewable. The spotting of the ball on almost every play is just a guess. A gross penalty that is not even a penalty can't be changed. A gross penalty that is not called cant be changed. The number of angles of review are limited, but the networks and the league can afford any number of cameras, yet they don't. The refs are all hooked up to some communication system, and that is the greatest mystery of all, as a series of late flags come out for any number of penalties that change outcomes or at the very least make games closer[which might be the role of the refs in the league].

2. The making of the game to be "safe". This notion is just a wish and nothing more. Guys get racked every week. How about the non uniform safety equipment and different fields of play. Some grass, some artificial. Seems a lot of guys rip up legs on the different kind of surfaces. And some guys wear more protective helmets and pads. A better helmet design needs hundreds of millions of dollars of investment. But no...the solution is to penalize a team when a guy is trying to bat down a pass and his hand swipes the helmet of a QB. And now we have "flopping" in the league?



Solutions.

Highly trained "gamer" types who can quickly call or uncall a penalty from a sound proof, windowless underground tunnel. Add at least 20 cameras. This "getting it right" w/guys looking at little screens becomes just a guess and often they "get it wrong". Take away coaches challenges and let the gamers buzz the lead official. Remove the head sets on the Refs. I say Oswald acted alone, but these headsets are very shady and might be the single greatest reason that sane people don't gamble on these games. Forget wins and losses, the point spreads and the overs/unders are almost 100 percent in the refs hands. And what they do from week to week is not handicappable[sic].



The league needs to spend millions to figure out what surface is best for the protection of the players and MUST mandate that every player wear whatever the 100 million dollar study on equipment is the best to lessen injuries.



In this version of the league, you see a great play and it is exciting and the first thing you look for is a flag. Technology, the way it used in this set of rules actually hinders the game and makes it worse.

The Cleat     December 09
Anytime the Pat's get hosed by bad calls, it's karma from previous confirmed cheating incidents. The team should be square by 2030, assuming they don't get caught cheating again.

mike from catonsville     December 09
The PATS go hosed yesterday. I know no one really cares but it's wrong. I don't hate the PATS (like Duke), I repsect what they have done and yes over the years they have gotten their share, and that's wrong as well. The refs are absolutely horrible in most games. Something needs to change but I don't know what.



I glad DF was confident yesterday with a real early call on twitter. Their receivers were open all day. Given the weather our defense if their QB was anywhere accurrate if could have spelled disaster.

I'm not sure I'd want 2 weeks off for the playoffs. One yes but 2 seems like an eternity. If we have #1 locked I'd at least play Lamar a quarter.

Neutral Observer     December 09
That's a great story about Seve Ballesteros and the Ryder Cup. I will remember that statement - "Cheating and not knowing the rules are different."

unitastoberry     December 09
I thought the play calling on offense was poor yesterday. Kinda Marty ballish. Early drop by Andrews potentially loomed large. Hurst has better hands.Still a deadly combination of TEs. Bills had wideouts open deep all day but their qb was off the mark until late in the game. Yes Lamar needs to acclimate to cold weather games asap. On to the Jets.

Dan P.     December 09
Nice "slump" Drewski. hahaha

Alan     December 08
The game in Houston also mattered to Denver. They can still make the playoffs.

Jimmy the Greek     December 08
Love how so many people are talking about how the next 2-3 weeks will play out as if it's remotely predictable. DEN stomped HOU in HOU in a game that mattered to the Texans.

Delray RICK     December 08
JAMES.....You got the score again!!!

H     December 08
That noise you just heard is the pop of champagne corks by the ravens 2000 defense. Patriots just gave up their 166th point of the year

Big Fat Daddy     December 08
Ravens win BUT - Buffalo played well - they may get better by the playoffs. Hopefully they will knock off KC or NE before we play them again.

Buffalo Wing     December 08
NOT so fast my friends! LOL!!

Buffalo is coming back to WIN this game!!

Lamar totally overrated!

Let's Go BUFFALO!!

Rich     December 08
Another Ravens blowout just like @Drew said. Nice call my friend.

Jenkins     December 08
The funny thing about Brad Underwood yesterday was that he was only the 2nd worst head coach in the building.

Pat     December 08
@BBALLGUY,



Even the Illinois coach used the "c word" yesterday. This is from the on line article.



"You saw it, didn't you?" Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood said in the post-game press conference. "We choked away a game we led for thirty nine minutes. We have to figure out a way to rebound from this, but it's going to sting for a little while."

Bball guy     December 08
@Hoops #hooded4iron would tell you it was just the college kids at Illinois choking more than anything else

Delray RICK     December 08
People on this site think the RAVENS should lose at least one game before end of season....WHY.. keep on winning. If they do it could be PITTSBURG because they could sit JACKSON most of the game.

Hoops Junkie     December 08
Dale Williams must have watched a different game than the rest of us yesterday. That Illinois big guy was terrible.

James     December 08
I know you've been on a hot streak recently but I think you're going 0-6 today. Ravens get upset, for starters. 24-20. You heard it here first.

Buffalo Bill     December 08
We'll show you something today.



Thanks for the dis-respect.



Great bulletin board material for the Bills.

GM     December 08
You've been right about the Ravens all season. I hope your hot streak continues today.

Tuesday
December 3
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1926



giving credit where it's due


My family's church and the parish school it runs -- Immaculate Heart of Mary in Towson -- were dealt an unthinkable blow this past Saturday when Rev. Father Michael Carrion passed away suddenly at age 68.

For many of us, the two-decade career he amassed at IHM made him the only pastor we've ever known there.

As the news started to spread late Saturday afternoon, the thoughts and questions about what happens next were overwhelming.

Who presides over church on Sunday morning?

Who runs the Monday "hot dog lunch" event at IHM?

Who leads our parish throughout the upcoming holiday season?

How is the school impacted by Father Carrion's passing?

When do we get a new, full-time pastor and how is he selected?

Too many questions. Not enough answers. Just too overwhelming.

I woke up early Sunday morning to get #DMD published and rush to the church by 7:30 am. Surely there would be chaos there, I assumed. Who would unlock the building? Who would turn on the lights? What about the children's liturgy? I got there and was almost shocked by what I found.

Everything was totally normal.

Rev. Father Michael Carrion of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Towson, MD.

At Sunday's three morning services, Rev. Father Jim Proffitt was on hand to lead our congregation through that very difficult "first day after."

I was searching for answers as Father Proffitt delivered his homily. I found them. Easily, in fact.

"We can achieve anything as long as we don't care who gets the credit" is, without question, my favorite statement or philosophical theme. I use it quite often in my coaching discussions and with the players on my Calvert Hall golf team.

It's a statement that can be applied to business at any level as well.

Father Proffitt's homily honoring Father Carrion centered on the idea of "normalcy" and "doing what you're called to do."

"Earlier this week," Father Proffitt said, "Father Mike and his brother, Father Patrick, hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for any priests or seminarians who were in the Baltimore area and had no family with which to share the holiday meal."

After Mass, I overheard a fellow parishioner say Father Mike and his brother had been hosting that event for 18 years.

"That event was a calling from God for Father Mike," Father Proffitt said. "He might have preferred to rest on Thanksgiving Day. Maybe just once or twice he would have rather had someone else do the cooking and the cleaning up afterwards. But he never said that. And he never budged from the calling he was given by God to make sure other people enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal surrounded by people who care about them."

On the morning of his passing, Father Mike presided over a funeral at Dulaney Valley cemetery, something he had done hundreds of times previously. His final act, it turned out, was delivering the final message for someone else's life.

"Think about that," Father Proffitt said. "Father Mike woke up on Saturday morning and did what he was called to do, not having any idea that it would be the last pastoral duty of his life. He delivered the message the way he had delivered numerous messages prior to that. One has to wonder if he would have done anything differently had he known his fate. But he didn't. And, so, he went about his duties like he was called to do. With reverence and respect and dignity for the departed."

I sat in the church after the 10:15 am mass and thought about Father Proffitt's words. And then it hit me.

Had you not known Father Carrion had passed away, the 8 am, 10:15 am and 12 noon mass wouldn't have *looked* or *felt* any different than the one from, say, the week before. You would have assumed Father Mike was on vacation or perhaps flu-ridden or ill.

Church went on, just the way it always did. It didn't matter that Father Mike wasn't up front and handling the hour long ceremony.

The altar boys were scheduled a month in advance. They dutifully showed up, as planned.

The Advent candle was lit by a parish family who had likely signed up for that responsibility a month ago.

Communion was brought to the front, as always, by parish members.

Parishioners brought canned goods in as part of our holiday collection drive, just as Father Mike instructed weeks ago.

Every Thursday in the winter, IHM parishioners are asked to make meat loaf for a local downtown soup kitchen. The aluminum pans are placed on a desk near the side entrance with instructions on how to make the meat loaf. This was one of Father Mike's favorite gestures. The pans were sitting out on Sunday, on the table, as always. He had put them out on Friday, a parish member told me.

Everything went on as scheduled on Sunday, with only Father Mike missing.

We're often led to believe that for our life (or work, or hobby) to be meaningful, we must do something spectacular. We see it in sports every single day. The offensive lineman with the great block doesn't get the applause or the replay. But the running back who scooted through the hole and into the end zone -- along with whatever embellished celebration he puts on display -- gets all of the highlights and replays.

We're told you have to be "great". You have to be "exceptional". You have to "stand out". That, we're told, is how you get your due.

As Father Proffitt suggested on Sunday morning, Father Carrion lived his life in the opposite way.

"He didn't want recognition or reward for what God called him to do," Father Proffitt said. "He just wanted to fulfill his duty to God and do his job in a way that it would be pleasing to Him. He didn't need to be spectacular. He just needed to fulfill his obligation."

We can all take something, I think, from Father Carrion's exemplary life.

He was never concerned with who got the credit for organizing the altar schedule or the candle lighting or the meat loaf preparation or distribution.

It was his calling to have those things fall on his watch. He got them done routinely, with care and concern. But never once did he want or need recognition for doing something that God called him to do.

There were no photo opportunities. No lavish social media posts. Father Carrion didn't need any credit. He was just happy to be fulfilling his calling.

Church went on as scheduled on Sunday. Our parish and school will recover from this and brighter days are ahead. Now, though, is the time for us to give credit to Rev. Father Michael Carrion, who taught us all by example what's important.

Whatever your calling is, do it. Do it well. You don't need credit or attention for doing it.

All you need is the knowledge that God called you to do it and you fulfilled that responsibility to the best of your ability. It doesn't matter who gets the credit.

Proverbs 22:1 reads: A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.

Rev. Father Michael Carrion died with a good name. And we can now give him the credit he never sought, but most certainly deserved.

My RideMyCause banner ad

let's play the percentages


Here's the way I see the percentages with four weeks left in the season.

100% - Ravens win the AFC North. It's a done deal.

90% - Ravens earn the first seed in the AFC. Even if Baltimore loses once in the final four games -- which they might -- New England is losing at least once, too.

80% - Ravens make it to the AFC Championship Game. The only real concern I have at this point would be facing Kansas City BEFORE the AFC title game.

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will prove to be a tough out for anyone in January.

70% - Ravens won't have to face New England at all. The aforementioned Chiefs are the likely AFC title game foe unless something wacky happens.

60% - Ravens run the table and finish 14-2. The only reason they might not is because everything could be sewed up by December 30 and Pittsburgh could come to Baltimore and beat a group of second stringers as Harbaugh rests most of the starters.

50% - Titans finish as the 6 seed and go to Kansas City and win the playoff opener. Tennessee's getting hot at the right time and they've won in KC before in January.

40% - Steelers somehow cobble together 10 wins and finish as the 6 seed. If that happens, give Tomlin the Coach of the Year award. Hard to believe a team of those offensive stiffs could win 10 games.

30% - Patriots beat Chiefs in the playoffs, no matter where the game is played. KC will score 30 in that one. New England would have to play two games to score 30 points.

20% - Houston works their way through two games and plays for the AFC title. They have some offensive weapons and a healthy Will Fuller and Kenny Stills help them a lot, but one of those two playoff wins would have to be on the road and they've been terrible away from home this season.

10% - Someone other than Kansas City or Baltimore plays in the AFC title game. One of those two teams will be playing for the right to go to the Super Bowl, if not both.

0% - Steelers play in the AFC title game. Not with that offense. I guess they could intercept a pass for a TD and recover a fumble for a TD and win 14-13. But that's not happening, either.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

we need your help this thursday night!


For the 11th straight year, my old radio buddy Glenn Clark and I are teaming up for our "Winter Apparel Drive" to benefit the men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

We need your help.

Can you kindly go through your closets, attics and other storage areas in the next week or two and pull out a dozen or so no-longer-used coats, jackets, sweatshirts and any other forms of winter apparel (gloves, hats, socks) that you might be able to donate to our cause? We'll deliver them to Helping Up Mission on Tuesday, December 17, and you'll be making the Christmas season a lot more enjoyable for over 400 men who are at the Mission in their various treatment programs.

We'll have four "drop off" locations/events where you can bring your donated items to us. Please don't bring any loose items. All clothing should be in some sort of bag or box.

The kick-off event is this Thursday, December 5 at Glory Days on East Joppa Road in Towson from 6 pm to 8 pm. Towson University men's basketball coach Pat Skerry will be there to meet and greet those of you who bring out winter apparel, and Glenn and I will have some light fare and snacks there to keep you from starving. Please come out on December 5 to meet Coach Skerry and get our event off to a great start.

On Tuesday, December 10, Glenn and I will be at the SECU arena starting at 6 pm to collect apparel prior to the Towson-UMBC men's basketball game. We'll be stationed right near gate 1 next to the big Tiger statue to meet you. You can also attend the game that night for just $10.00! That Towson-UMBC game sets up to be perhaps the best local college hoops game of the season, so bring out your apparel and stick around for the Towson-UMBC game with Glenn and I.

The following Monday, December 16, Glenn and I will be joined by Ravens offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square in White Marsh from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

This is always one of our most popular drop off events of the drive every year. We're excited to have Bradley there with us to meet Ravens fans and help accumulate a record setting number of pieces of apparel for the men at Helping Up Mission.

Additionally, between now and December 16, you can drop off your apparel at Jerry's Chevrolet (Joppa Road) or Jerry's Toyota (Belair Road). They'll have boxes set up there for you to drop off your clothing and apparel.

Please join us at one of the three events or visit Jerry's Chevrolet or Jerry's Toyota and help us make the holiday season a great one for Helping Up Mission!



#dmd comments


Idiot Caller     December 11
Sports Illustrated is nothing but a Left Wing/Socialist Propaganda rag anymore. I cancelled my subscription a couple of years ago.

Delray RICK     December 11
THINK about it. This could be best draft by RAVENS...EVER! JACKSON..HURST..ANDREWS..BROWN..

David Rosenfeld     December 11
Dale I take back everything I said. LOL.

Bball guy     December 10
Can't wait for all the typical whining from Terps bball "fans" lol.

H     December 10
Ummmm, what happened to Maryland not being turn-over prone?

Josh     December 10
I’d sit Lamar on Thursday

David Rosenfeld     December 10
Just a note. I was referring to a possession-based stat, from KenPom. Through 10 games, the Terps rank No. 24 nationally, averaging a TO on 16.0% of their possessions.

In Turgeon's first 8 seasons, the Terps have ranked: 145, 293, 196, 164, 233, 215, 294, and 234.

It's a big difference. If you can commit a turnover on 1 out of every 6 possessions as opposed to 1 out of every 5 possessions, that's a big deal over 30 games, especially when you have a really talented team. So as you say, let's see how they do as the conference season goes on...

Chris in Bel Air     December 10
I like to follow Terps b-ball and it's great they are considered one of the top teams but I'm not a believer in that #4 ranking. Sure, it's all based upon the initial season rankings and they haven't lost yet. However, they haven't really done anything to validate it either. They haven't even played a top 25 team yet. Like the Ravens prior to the Sea, NE, Hous, SF, LAR, Buff part of their schedule, they need to go win some games against some real teams.

Agree with @TC

HERMAN     December 10
It is reported today that the film crew from New England, visiting Bengals stadium and doing an inside feature on "Do Your Job", filmed 8 minutes of Bengals sideline action including coaches calling plays, and player packages going on, and off the field. 8 minutes straight.

If the Patriots need to try and determine play calling, substitute package calls, and actual play and scheme names and designs for a one win team, have such a deep seated fear of losing to a one win team they have to revert to such subterfuge, what exactly have they been doing to gear up for the best teams they face?

The only plausible explanation I'd buy from them for this egregious behavior would be "come on man, it's the Bengals, we could beat them with just our defense, we can't be guilty of filming their coaches, maybe Baltimore or KC, but come on, it's Cincinnati".

But it does appear based on reports they were trying to gain some advantage through signal stealing or identifying plays based on packages and tendencies.

Based on their history, they need to lose draft picks and be fined huge for this.


Jason M     December 10
For the record, Dilfer was an asset to that 2000 team, and once they got it rolling between him and Jamal Lewis we could line up and beat anybody. Not resigning seemed at the time, and now in hindsight, a mistake.

d     December 10
Committing turnovers has long been an issue for Maryland, but through 10 games this season, the Terps have averaged 11.4, their fewest under Turgeon, while producing the best turnover margin (plus-3.3 per game) in his tenure as they are forcing turnovers at 14.7 per game.

Dale     December 10
@David Rosenfeld. Overall, the Terp starting five is turning the ball over more than those same players did last year. Cowen's numbers are slightly better (2.8 vs 2.1), but Morsell, Smith, and Wiggins are all averaging more TOs this year than last. Ayala is the same. Terp numbers look slightly better right now because of the competition they've played, and the absence of Bruno Fernando. At 2.8 per game, he tied Cowan for the team high last year. Let's see how they handle tonight.

TC     December 10
I hope you didn't just author another "they are NOT losing to Charlie Batch" about the Jets game Thursday night.



If a bye or the top seed is locked up, I'm resting Lamar, Thomas, Yanda, Ingram, Stanley, Humphrey and Judon. Remeber, you can rest 7 players, and you don't have access to a full roster like during the preseason. A healthy Ravens team is the best team in the AFC.



I'd almost welcome Pittsburgh in as the 6 seed if it means they go to KC or New England and rough up either of those offenses.

David Rosenfeld     December 10
@Dale...as hard as it is to believe based on the teams this coach has led previously at Maryland, this team does not have a penchant for turnovers. They are actually in the Top 25 nationally in terms of % of possessions that end in a TO. I'd chalk that up to two things...one is Cowan being a senior, the other is that they are just playing faster with more possessions.

@Herman...what you talk about has translated to the players on the field now. Think about all the young guys out there who've grown up watching this NFL. They are more concerned about the end of the play than the actual play itself too!

Unitastoberry     December 10
If Lamar is hurt it's over. Steelers get in they ain't going no place. Sometimes you think too far ahead DF. One game at a time.

Delray RICK     December 10
Can not help it but I feel queasy bout Thursdays game not last game of the year. He'll of a quick TURN around from SUNDAY and me thinks if RAVENS can get a early lead SIT LAMAR!!!. Everybody gets banged up but 3 days and they getting pounded again. Wish they would dump Thursday games but $$$$ talks and bull---- walks.

HERMAN     December 10
The NFL is so ingrained into our lives, and has morphed from a passion to an addiction, that we will watch the game even when we know that at any moment the incompetent refs can throw the brilliance of the competition into a travesty of justice. They've trained me like a puppy to flash to the end of the chyron at the bottom of the screen after every play to see if a yellow "flag" button pops up. I watch the play, I feel the elation of success, then a sudden and thorough dread fills me for a brief second as I scan the bottom of the screen to see if a flag has been thrown out-of-camera sight. From elation to dread in a millisecond. This past Sunday, on the last drive by the Bills, my worst fears were confirmed time, and time again, as fifteen yard misconduct penalties marched the Bills all the way downfield. Through no success by their own offense, play calling, or talents, they managed through referee "interference" to just march down the field toward a game tying touchdown. Plays no longer mattered, only the end of plays. Did the screen flash yellow in the lower right corner?

Yet despite gross incompetence and what amounts to injecting themselves needlessly into the game results, we still watch. We are still obsessed. Only now we are conditioned, like rats in the cage, to temper our fits of elation with a momentary second of abject fear, eyes darting to seek the yellow marker that will send you to depths of depression and despair. If that sounds like a drugs effect on the human psyche it is an apt metaphor, as anyone who would allow such nonsense and still watch is addicted.

charmcitydeac     December 10
The only reason I would lean against not playing them at all, is that I would be a little worried about rust with three weeks in between live games (assuming a top-two seed).

Delray RICK     December 09
Very frustrating to see "non calls" and then calls that are "you got to be kidding me". The play by SMITH late in the game when he went over the head of the receiver to knock it down..The ref is right there and announcer goes nuts because it wasn't called. So was it a great play or a penalty? It's getting worse every game.

Carl in Owings Mills     December 09
Just to have to say that any of those 5 choices in the poll could win and I'd be OK with it. Excellent choices.

Some guy     December 09
@Morris brings up a great point about the playing surface. Given the $ involved, how in the world is that not controlled by the league? If you say some locations need grass vs Turf, fine, the NFL should says here's the grass field you can use, then they provide install and maintenance, and ditto for fake turf. Some of the grass fields are atrocious, and I'm sure there are variations vs Turf too. Guess we need more major injuries to star players before the league then overreacts and does something inane that doesn't really fix the underlying problem.

DENNIS ZORN     December 09
TIGER AT HIS AGE WINNING the Masters is legendary

Golf Traveler     December 09
@Damon

That sounds exactly right. A lack of care is the culprit.

Like Tripper in Meatballs. "it just doesn't matter".

Mark in Perry Hall     December 09
Tip of the cap to Drew here. He called this run to the AFC title game after the New England win. I wasn't quite sure but I am now. Anyone have any tickets they'd like to unload for January 19?

Damon     December 09
Have you heard Reed talk? He's not the brightest bulb on the tree. I vote for "Wasn't paying attention" and "Doesn't know the rules" and "Probably thinks it doesn't matter since the event was only 18 players".

Blue Tee Golfer     December 09
Prior to 2019 you couldn't ground your club in a bunker. Now you can. That has eliminated the confusion between a "waste area" and a "bunker". In other words, the Dustin Johnson rule.

Kevin     December 09
@Josh, you could ground your club in a waste area prior to 2019 but you couldn't make a practice swing and make contact until Jan. 1 of 19.

Jason M     December 09
One of the hallmark's of Harbaugh's teams over their years, to me, has been their ability to remain composed, stick to the plan and stay united. That was a big win on the road against a playoff team, with the Bills Mafia in full effect, and a defense, like the 49ers, that was very sure tackling and set the edge well for most of the game. On, that final drive of the game when that series questionable calls went against us, I was waiting for someone to lose it, or make a critical mistake because they were distracted. The team stayed focused, made the plays they had to and walked out the WInners they clearly are.

Josh     December 09
I thought you could ground your club in a waste area prior to 2019, the same rules apply as if your ball was on the fairway, or in the rough?

Morris Albert     December 09
Feelings and actions.

The NFL is almost unwatchable. MLB is ruined for me, too many foul balls, too many taking pitches, Strikeouts and almost nothing but jacking homeruns. Heck, even the multitude of pitches in the dirt are supremely boring. The umps have way too much control of that game as well.



The NFL is ruined ALL in the name of two UTOPIAN ideals that can never be realized.

1. Getting it right. The vast use of replays to make sure that calls are correct is probably the greatest travesty ever foisted on the public. The number of challenges is limited so there is a great possibility that some calls are not correctable. Some calls are not reviewable. The spotting of the ball on almost every play is just a guess. A gross penalty that is not even a penalty can't be changed. A gross penalty that is not called cant be changed. The number of angles of review are limited, but the networks and the league can afford any number of cameras, yet they don't. The refs are all hooked up to some communication system, and that is the greatest mystery of all, as a series of late flags come out for any number of penalties that change outcomes or at the very least make games closer[which might be the role of the refs in the league].

2. The making of the game to be "safe". This notion is just a wish and nothing more. Guys get racked every week. How about the non uniform safety equipment and different fields of play. Some grass, some artificial. Seems a lot of guys rip up legs on the different kind of surfaces. And some guys wear more protective helmets and pads. A better helmet design needs hundreds of millions of dollars of investment. But no...the solution is to penalize a team when a guy is trying to bat down a pass and his hand swipes the helmet of a QB. And now we have "flopping" in the league?



Solutions.

Highly trained "gamer" types who can quickly call or uncall a penalty from a sound proof, windowless underground tunnel. Add at least 20 cameras. This "getting it right" w/guys looking at little screens becomes just a guess and often they "get it wrong". Take away coaches challenges and let the gamers buzz the lead official. Remove the head sets on the Refs. I say Oswald acted alone, but these headsets are very shady and might be the single greatest reason that sane people don't gamble on these games. Forget wins and losses, the point spreads and the overs/unders are almost 100 percent in the refs hands. And what they do from week to week is not handicappable[sic].



The league needs to spend millions to figure out what surface is best for the protection of the players and MUST mandate that every player wear whatever the 100 million dollar study on equipment is the best to lessen injuries.



In this version of the league, you see a great play and it is exciting and the first thing you look for is a flag. Technology, the way it used in this set of rules actually hinders the game and makes it worse.

The Cleat     December 09
Anytime the Pat's get hosed by bad calls, it's karma from previous confirmed cheating incidents. The team should be square by 2030, assuming they don't get caught cheating again.

mike from catonsville     December 09
The PATS go hosed yesterday. I know no one really cares but it's wrong. I don't hate the PATS (like Duke), I repsect what they have done and yes over the years they have gotten their share, and that's wrong as well. The refs are absolutely horrible in most games. Something needs to change but I don't know what.



I glad DF was confident yesterday with a real early call on twitter. Their receivers were open all day. Given the weather our defense if their QB was anywhere accurrate if could have spelled disaster.

I'm not sure I'd want 2 weeks off for the playoffs. One yes but 2 seems like an eternity. If we have #1 locked I'd at least play Lamar a quarter.

Neutral Observer     December 09
That's a great story about Seve Ballesteros and the Ryder Cup. I will remember that statement - "Cheating and not knowing the rules are different."

unitastoberry     December 09
I thought the play calling on offense was poor yesterday. Kinda Marty ballish. Early drop by Andrews potentially loomed large. Hurst has better hands.Still a deadly combination of TEs. Bills had wideouts open deep all day but their qb was off the mark until late in the game. Yes Lamar needs to acclimate to cold weather games asap. On to the Jets.

Dan P.     December 09
Nice "slump" Drewski. hahaha

Alan     December 08
The game in Houston also mattered to Denver. They can still make the playoffs.

Jimmy the Greek     December 08
Love how so many people are talking about how the next 2-3 weeks will play out as if it's remotely predictable. DEN stomped HOU in HOU in a game that mattered to the Texans.

Delray RICK     December 08
JAMES.....You got the score again!!!

H     December 08
That noise you just heard is the pop of champagne corks by the ravens 2000 defense. Patriots just gave up their 166th point of the year

Big Fat Daddy     December 08
Ravens win BUT - Buffalo played well - they may get better by the playoffs. Hopefully they will knock off KC or NE before we play them again.

Buffalo Wing     December 08
NOT so fast my friends! LOL!!

Buffalo is coming back to WIN this game!!

Lamar totally overrated!

Let's Go BUFFALO!!

Rich     December 08
Another Ravens blowout just like @Drew said. Nice call my friend.

Jenkins     December 08
The funny thing about Brad Underwood yesterday was that he was only the 2nd worst head coach in the building.

Pat     December 08
@BBALLGUY,



Even the Illinois coach used the "c word" yesterday. This is from the on line article.



"You saw it, didn't you?" Fighting Illini head coach Brad Underwood said in the post-game press conference. "We choked away a game we led for thirty nine minutes. We have to figure out a way to rebound from this, but it's going to sting for a little while."

Bball guy     December 08
@Hoops #hooded4iron would tell you it was just the college kids at Illinois choking more than anything else

Delray RICK     December 08
People on this site think the RAVENS should lose at least one game before end of season....WHY.. keep on winning. If they do it could be PITTSBURG because they could sit JACKSON most of the game.

Hoops Junkie     December 08
Dale Williams must have watched a different game than the rest of us yesterday. That Illinois big guy was terrible.

James     December 08
I know you've been on a hot streak recently but I think you're going 0-6 today. Ravens get upset, for starters. 24-20. You heard it here first.

Buffalo Bill     December 08
We'll show you something today.



Thanks for the dis-respect.



Great bulletin board material for the Bills.

GM     December 08
You've been right about the Ravens all season. I hope your hot streak continues today.

Monday
December 2
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1925



best of both worlds...


That all worked out perfectly -- in a bunch of ways -- for the Ravens on Sunday afternoon.

Most importantly, they beat the 49'ers, 20-17. Coupled with last night's New England loss at Houston, John Harbaugh's team wakes up today in first place in the AFC.

But throwing away the win for a second, a lot of other important things happened in the rain and slop at M&T Bank Stadium.

After a month of cruising and posing for mid-game pictures in the end zone, the Ravens were severely tested on Sunday. Let's call it like it was: If not for a dopey decision and play call by Kyle Shanahan and his staff midway through the fourth quarter, the game could have swung in favor of the visitors. It was that close.

But getting challenged for 60 minutes and still figuring out a way to win will serve to help Baltimore much more than a 36-13 laugher. They've had enough of those, frankly, and if we're being totally honest with one another, they started to get a little too full of themselves throughout the second half of Monday night's 45-6 thrashing of the Rams in Los Angeles.

Still here...still laughing...still in first place.

So a close game, where they were pushed on both sides of the ball, was a much-needed tonic for the Ravens.

Lamar clearly didn't have an MVP game numbers-wise, but he did what he needed to do on the game's final drive and helped get the ball deep enough into San Francisco territory to give Justin Tucker a shot at the winning kick.

Unless the tea leaves are wrong, here's a quick one-year assessment of Jackson: He's a winner. He has "it". It might occasionally be unconventional, but his style is never dangerous or reckless. And because everyone else on the roster is willing to play hard for him, there will always be more wins than losses for his team. I suspect it was that way for him in high school and college, too.

That Jackson was able to engineer a win on a day when he didn't have his "A game" is a good thing, not a bad one. You can't make a birdie on every hole. But if you make enough of them, you can win.

The Baltimore defense was starting to get bored. It was becoming too easy...almost as if they needed something to work on. Well, now they have it. Their pursuit on the outside and the tackling, particularly from Marcus Peters, was -- if we can be blunt -- hot garbage. There's enough on tape to give them all a slice of humble pie on Wednesday when the team returns to work.

Peters might have needed an "off day" to get his feet back on terra firma. He has been nothing short of sensational since arriving in mid-October. But the game in Los Angeles must have still been on his mind yesterday against the 49'ers. As good as he was in the win over the Rams, he was that lousy yesterday against San Francisco. Sometimes a player -- even a veteran -- needs a wake up call. Peters got one yesterday.

Because anytime Justin Tucker misses a kick it's a shock, some nut jobs on the internet were using the word "slump" earlier this season in connection with Baltimore's all-world kicker. Yeah, he missed a kick or two earlier in the campaign, but it's not like he suddenly became Kai Forbath or something.

That said, kickers don't like to miss, ever. So yesterday's game-winner for Tucker came at the perfect time. He hasn't been a factor very much this season, but that's mainly because the Ravens had rolled to a 9-2 record and most of their wins had been blow-outs prior to the 49'ers game. When the call came his way yesterday, Tucker responded the way we all expected he would.

There was an interesting moment in the 4th quarter yesterday that nearly backfired on Harbaugh. Facing a 4th and 5 at the San Francisco 40 with 9:46 remaining in the game, Jackson clearly motioned to Harbs to let the offense have a crack at 4th and 5. That was, of course, the wrong decision. And it was the wrong decision BEFORE the play was even run. (For those who are apt to whine something like "easy to second guess it after the play", I was one of the few who immediately posted on the internet: Do NOT go for this. Punt the ball). Jackson motioned to the bench to let them go for it and, of course, they failed to get the first down.

Moments later, Harbaugh got bailed out by Shanahan's dumb decision to have Garoppolo throw the ball on San Francisco's own 4th and 2 situation. The 49'ers had been running up, down and all over the Ravens for the better part of the afternoon and you're going to have your quarterback throw the ball there? Thank you, sir, for your gift.

Back to the Ravens. It's all well and good to have Jackson feel like he's in control of the offense. There have been countless times this year where the Ravens gave him the freedom and flexibility to make decisions about 4th down situations. Most of those (I think) worked out favorably for the Ravens.

But that doesn't mean Harbaugh should just forget about coaching and allow Lamar to do whatever he pleases. That situation yesterday, on the 49'ers 40 yard line, called for a punt. 4th and 2? Go for it. 4th and 5? Don't go for it. Freddie Kitchens could have figured that one out.

A loss yesterday wouldn't have been the end of the world for the Ravens, as long as they learned from it. But winning and learning is far better than losing and learning.

Let's just hope the lessons we think the Ravens learned yesterday did, in fact, sink in.



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it's a 4-game season now


Here's how the rest of the season shapes up for the Ravens and the playoff-potential teams in the AFC.

BALTIMORE (10-2) -- @Buffalo, vs. NY Jets, @Cleveland, vs. Pittsburgh

NEW ENGLAND (10-2) -- vs. Kansas City, @Cincinnati, vs. Miami, vs. Buffalo

BUFFALO (9-3) -- vs. Baltimore, @Pittsburgh, @New England, vs. NY Jets

KANSAS CITY (8-4) -- @New England, vs. Denver, @Chicago, vs. L.A. Chargers

HOUSTON (8-4) -- vs. Denver, @Tennessee, @Tampa Bay, vs. Houston

PITTSBURGH (7-5) -- @Arizona, vs. Buffalo, @NY Jets, @Baltimore

Without going through every tiebreaker to confirm this, it stands to reason with four weeks remaining that no fewer than five teams could still finish as the #1 seed in the AFC.

The biggest fight appears to be in the AFC East, where the Bills will get a crack at New England in week #16 with the division title potentially at stake. If the Bills can win their next two against the Ravens and Steelers, that would set up the pivotal contest in Foxboro. Buffalo, like Kansas City, has played better on the road than at home this season, with a 5-1 mark to date.

Houston took a beating in Baltimore back on November 17, but have recovered nicely to win two straight since then, including last night's 28-22 win over New England. Houston's issue appears to be playing away from home, though. Three of their four losses have come on the road. They are 6-0 at home.

The first AFC wild card spot will likely go to either New England or Buffalo. The second will likely go to either Pittsburgh (7-5), Oakland (6-6) or the team that finishes 2nd in the AFC South, which could be Houston, Tennessee (7-5) or Indianapolis (6-6).

Here's a potentially interesting situation for the Ravens. New England finishes 12-4 and so does Buffalo, but Bills somehow win the tiebreaker to win the AFC East. The Patriots are the 5 seed in the AFC playoffs. The #6 seed loses to the #3 seed in the first round of the playoffs. New England then beats the #4 seed in the first round. And.......New England comes to Baltimore for the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


consider this...


Everybody hates Duke. Some people hate Duke so much they’re willing to fork over a few bucks for a good cause.

Last week, the Lumberjacks from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, pulled the biggest college basketball regular-season upset in years, beating the Blue Devils in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The winning basket was scored on an insane breakaway layup at the overtime buzzer by a young man named Nathan Bain.

Even when Duke loses, they somehow wind up being part of heartwarming story.

Bain, it turns out, is from Freeport in the Bahamas. In September, his home, and his father’s church, were basically destroyed by Hurricane Dorian. The SFA athletic department organized a GoFundMe page, and they’d raised a little more than $2,000 before the Lumberjacks visited Durham.

By the time SFA defeated Arkansas State on Saturday, the number had risen to more than $141,000.

Now…we ought not to spend all our time gloating over Duke’s loss. The Lord, or some other force of nature if you want to avoid religion, can work in mysterious ways. Bain’s family had its life torn apart, and something happened to possibly save them. It’s a miracle, more of a miracle than the result of a basketball game.

And reading through some of the comments on the GoFundMe page, it’s clear that Duke fans have been among the contributors to Bain’s family. Even they believe that some things happen for reasons that are bigger and more important than the result of a game.

Still — let’s be honest — the exponential increase in donations came from two things. One is the fact that the fundraiser became much more public after Bain and his team pulled the upset. The other is how happy the average sports fan was that Duke lost. People wanted to help Bain’s family, I’m sure. But they always wanted to thank him.

When Duke loses a basketball game, there’s no question that it’s good for the universe. Even Coach K might admit that this particular loss fits that definition.


It was written here the other day that Mark Turgeon’s Maryland basketball team seemed the same as last year’s team, only without the best player from that team, Bruno Fernando, now a member of the Atlanta Hawks.

I’d humbly disagree with that assessment, and not because of the Terps’ title at this past weekend’s Orlando Invitational, or any particular game in the team’s 8-0 start to the season.

I think Maryland is loaded. The Terps’ top five players - Anthony Cowan, Eric Ayala, Darryl Morsell, Aaron Wiggins and Jalen Smith — were indeed all on the team last year, and all played large roles. But all of them, to me, are significantly better than they were last year.

Cowan has always been a great talent, but he seems more sure of himself as a senior. Ayala is tough, and he makes big shots. Morsell still tries to be an offensive player more than he should, but his strength and dirty work are outstanding.

Wiggins doesn’t look like the same person at all - he’s an NBA player, not a guy who comes off the bench to knock down shots. Smith’s nickname of “Stix” no longer fits him, though he still plays like a skinny guy a little too often.

The Terps are an efficient offensive team, one that will shoot better from three-point range as the season goes on. They’re an efficient defensive team, with a new ability to play zone relatively well. They’ve played much faster this year—among the top 75 in the nation in terms of tempo—but have turned the ball over at a much slower rate, except for the very beginning of the Harvard game.

I don’t know if Maryland is the fifth-best team in the country, but I don’t really care. The national rankings start from the preseason rankings, so they don’t really mean that much. As usual, I’m more interested in the first two conference games for the Terps, against Illinois and Penn State.


Here’s (I’m sure) an unpopular opinion, though I actually mean it, and not just for the impending comments.

I don’t think a football team should be penalized 15 yards because one of its players decides to get on all fours after scoring a touchdown and then imitates a dog urinating.

Should the player and not the team be penalized in situations like this?

I’ve always felt that way about “celebrations.” Unless the officials determine that such acts are delaying the game in an unusual way, or instigate a physical altercation between the two teams, then I don’t know why they’d have anything to do with them.

Football referees are not arbiters of morality. They are arbiters of the rules of the game. Sometimes, the rules of the game deal with certain extracurricular activity. Unfortunately, the rules of the game have been extended beyond what the officials should control.

I don’t know why a player would do something lewd after scoring a touchdown, besides the fact that he’s seen other players do lewd things after scoring touchdowns. At the very least, whether he thinks it’s funny or not, he knows it might lead to an unwanted penalty.

Along with that, I’m not sure where the culture of premeditated celebration came from, lewd or not. I assume it’s just the way the world works, though maybe someday soon players will realize that it’s more fun to do something on the spur of the moment.

And I don’t know exactly what the head coach is supposed to do with his player in this situation. I do know that what he said—something about “this not being who the player really is”—is my least favorite excuse. He did what he did…that’s who he is.

I do know that the kicker didn’t deserve to be sent to field goal distance because of what his teammate did with one of his legs. In a situation like that, the player deserves to be punished in some way for what he did, but not the team.


Back to good football stuff, I’d say that the Ravens and the 49ers are the two best teams in the NFL right now. Not exactly too much of a limb, but each of them seems like a more complete team than either the Saints or Patriots, the other squads to have reached double digits in wins by Week 13.

The San Francisco defense is excellent — fast in every spot it needs to be — and the group tackles as well as any team the Ravens have played this year. On offense, the 49ers are actually a better running team than the Ravens in the traditional NFL run game. They’ve had success on that zone stretch play all year, not just on Sunday.

As far as yesterday goes, I thought that the big plays that went against the Ravens were kind of weird. Almost lucky.

Marcus Peters seemed to play the pass route well on that early Jimmy Garoppolo touchdown toss on fourth down, much better than many defensive backs who never turn around. But his eyes got lost for a split second, and it was long enough for a little shove and a catch by the receiver. He gave up a touchdown, but it’s hard to say he really “got beat.”

Meanwhile, Lamar Jackson’s first lost fumble of the season wasn’t really even a fumble. Marcell Harris grabbed Jackson almost in desperation during yet another long run, and the next thing he knew he’d ripped the wet ball from the quarterback’s hands.

And the non-pass interference call on the 49ers Jimmie Ward in the third quarter was, in my opinion, a certain candidate for an overturned on-the-field decision. Dean Blandino back in the studio said something about the defender having a right to the ball, but since when does he have the right to go through the receiver to get there?

Those odd plays were almost enough to send the Ravens to their first loss since September. In this charmed season, they’ll be forgotten by tomorrow.


And finally, a word about the scheduling of yesterday’s game at 1:00 ET, and whether or not somebody failed in changing the game time or “flexing” the game to Sunday night.

Somebody a long time ago decided to make the “main” doubleheader game in Week 13 the one between those old AFL rivals, the Chiefs and the Raiders, the one that ended up 40-9 in favor of Kansas City. Thusly, it was CBS’s week to have the doubleheader.

And somebody, perhaps the same person, thought New England and Houston might both be in first place when they met in Week 13. That person was correct, of course, making the choice of that game as the Sunday night national broadcast a good one.

With a good game on the schedule, I don’t believe that NBC asked to move Ravens-49ers to Sunday night. And even if they would have asked, FOX would have “protected” the game for sure. They only have the Ravens on their network twice a year, and giving up the Lamar Jackson juggernaut would have been silly.

Now…could the game have been moved to the late afternoon slot on FOX, where there was just one other game, the Rams in Arizona? It’s possible, but it’s likely that less of the country would have seen it then. As it was, the game went to about 60% of the country, but it did miss some big markets—New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

This seems like an opportune time to remind you that the Ravens have an interesting television market. It’s populous, obviously, but it’s also a very small area. On Sunday, the schedule was such that some “adjacent” areas had their “home” teams playing, in particular most of Southern Pennsylvania, watching both the Eagles and the Steelers. The Redskins also played at 1:00 on Sunday.

The Ravens have Lamar Jackson, who people want to watch even if the NFL’s broadcast partners don’t always agree. Hopefully, the whole country will get to watch him in the Super Bowl.

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#DMD GAME DAY
Week 13


Sunday — December 1, 2019
Issue #1924

San Francisco 49'ers at Baltimore Ravens

1:00 PM EST

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD

Spread: Ravens (-4.5)


bring it on...


"We'll see how good they are in Seattle. Not many teams go there and win."

"New England hasn't lost yet. This one will tell us if the Ravens are really all they're cracked up to be."

"That Houston offense is something else. Let's see how the Ravens fare against a team that can move the ball like they can."

"The Rams aren't going to be a pushover, especially in their building."

Which brings us to this afternoon's game in Baltimore.

Jimmy Garoppolo and the NFC leading 49'ers bring their act to Baltimore today to test the scorching hot Ravens.

"The 49'ers have the best defense the Ravens have faced all season. This one is going to really tell us if John Harbaugh's team is legit or not."

Blah, blah, blah.

It's the 49'ers, not the Ravens, who have something to prove today in Baltimore.

Seattle, New England, Houston and the Rams. All Baltimore wins. And none of them were close, remember.

The Ravens have zero left to prove today. San Francisco, meanwhile, needs a marquee road win in order to hold off hard charging Seattle in the NFC West.

The weather is obviously a potential issue, but it's going to rain while both teams have the ball. The offense that turns it over the fewest times is the one that will give its team the best chance to win.

Given the predicted weather (rain throughout the game), it would make sense that running the ball effectively will matter much more than throwing it. That said, 3rd and 7 in the NFL is still a passing down, rain or not. So, putting the ball in the air will still be important at critical points in the game.

Lamar Jackson was prone to the turnover in his 8 games last season. He has not been prone to that same ailment this season. Today would be a great day for the 2nd year quarterback and MVP candidate to hold on to the ball. If Lamar can finish with one or fewer cough-ups, that's a great sign for the Ravens. If the Ravens as a team only turn it over once, that, too, is a positive indicator.

San Francisco's passing attack is just OK. Their running game and overall ability to pick up yards in small chunks is what sustains them. Getting San Fran off the field on 3rd down will be critical for the Ravens today. The more times Lamar and the offense get the ball, the better. Simple math there.

It's not like the game isn't important to the Ravens today, because it most certainly is. If they're trying to avoid a trip to New England in the playoffs, a win agains the Niners could go a long way in accomplishing that goal.

A loss today wouldn't crush Baltimore's shot at a #1 seed, but it would likely require that they run the table over the final four games and get massive help from the Patriots, who enter today's schedule with a 10-1 mark.

The law of averages would suggest that Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense are due for some sort of letdown...eventually. Right? They've been on a four-game run the likes of which we've never seen around here, starting with that New England win on November 3 and rolling all the way through Monday night's 45-6 shellacking of the Rams in Los Angeles. They can't keep up this kind of pace...right?

We'll see about that today.

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how drew sees today's game


With the rain playing havoc with the game plan, the Ravens go to the ground right away. They move 75 yards in 9 plays, with Mark Ingram gashing the San Fran defense for 48 yards on the opening series.

John Harbaugh faces an early goal-line decision and leaves his offense on the field. Lamar Jackson caps it off with a 4th and 2 quarterback keeper into the end zone and the Ravens lead, 7-0.

On the very next series, the turnover bug bites Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49'ers as Tevin Coleman loses the ball on a muffed hand off and Brandon Williams falls on the fumble at the San Fran 37 yard line.

Someone might very well stop Lamar Jackson and the Ravens this season, but it won't be the 49'ers in Baltimore this afternoon.

The Ravens get into the red zone but stall there. Justin Tucker's 36 yard field goal is good and it's 10-0, Baltimore.

With the rain pouring down, both defenses take over until late in the second quarter when the San Francisco running game churns out some big yards and Coleman catches an 8-yard screen pass and bulls his way into the end zone to make it 10-7 Ravens at the half.

After the 49'ers miss a 44 yard field goal on the first series of the second half, Lamar and the offense finally perk up, with Ingram moving well on the ground and Jackson finding Hollywood Brown twice for big gains. The drive is capped off with Jackson hitting Hayden Hurst on a 10-yard TD throw and it's 16-7 after Tucker's extra point goes wide right.

On the next series, Garoppolo has the ball knocked out of his hand by Matt Judon and Josh Bynes picks it up and rumbles down to the 49'ers 15 yard line. Two players later, Jackson finds Mark Andrews in the end zone to make it 23-7.

The rout is on.

Justin Tucker's second field goal of the day early in the 4th quarter pushes the Baltimore lead to 26-7.

The 49'ers face a 4th and 9 on the Ravens 22 yard line on the next series and opt for a field goal instead of going for it. The kick is good and it's now 26-10, Ravens.

Lamar and the offense eat up five and a half minutes of game clock on the following series and Tucker's 42 yard field goal with 2:01 remaining finalizes the scoring for the day, as the Ravens improve to 10-2 with a fairly easy 29-10 win over the 49'ers.

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show me the money


We produced a 3-3 week last Sunday (and Monday), but we're still in need of a few 5-1 efforts to get ourselves back near the even money mark for the season.

Let's see what today yields. You've already seen that we think the Ravens are going to easily cover the 4.5 point margin against the 49'ers. Here's what we see in our other five games.

EAGLES AT DOLPHINS (+10.0) -- I know Miami's bad and all. But have the Vegas folks seen the Eagles recently? Ten points? Something smells fishy here. They're dying for us to take Miami. Which means we should take the Eagles. We're not falling for that trap. We're going with Miami and those ten points with Philly winning 23-17.

Can Aaron Rodgers and the Pack get back on track after last Sunday's humbling loss in San Francisco?

PACKERS AT GIANTS (+6.0) -- Another one that smells like the upper concourse of a Flyers home game. Vegas thinks Green Bay's only going to win by a touchdown? Huh? The Pack are coming off a humiliating loss to the 49'ers and the Giants are horrendous. One team needs a win and the other just needs the season to be over. Green Bay covers the six and wins this one easily, 26-16.

BUCCANEERS AT JAGUARS (+3) -- Yet another home underdog. This is the "Who Shows Up?" Bowl. There's no telling which Tampa Bay team makes the trip north and we certainly know by now there's zero way to know if the Jaguars show up or not. We're buying some late season stock in the Bucs, as they cover and win a shootout on the road, 38-33.

RAIDERS AT CHIEFS (-11.0) -- There are some wacky lines on the board this weekend, including today's AFC West tilt in Kansas City. Oakland is desperate for a win to keep their division title hopes alive, while the Chiefs need a victory to give themselves a little breathing room. We like the Raiders to hang around in this one, so we're taking Oakland and the 11 points as K.C. wins a thriller late, 32-27.

PATRIOTS AT TEXANS (+3.0) -- Houston wasn't ready for prime time two weeks ago in Baltimore, but they will ready tonight at home and the Patriots won't be up to the task. We love, love, love the Texans in this one, as Houston piles up some early points and holds off a 4th quarter New England rally in a 22-20 win. Note: We're also taking this game as our "Best Bet of the Day".

RECORD TO DATE: 31-41*

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 3-3

RAVENS AGAINST THE SPREAD: 5-6

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 4-8

* - indicates record should be 32-40 if not for goofy Arizona giving up a meaningless TD on the last play of the game on November 17.

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breakfast bytes

Cole to NY: Yankees agree to 9-year, $324 million with RHP Gerrit Cole.

Phillies ink SS Didi Gregorius to one-year deal.

Lamar Jackson (quad) returns to practice and tells assembled media: "I'm playing Thursday night".

Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas will partner in first Presidents Cup pairing (tonight, 5:30 pm EST).

Local hoops: Towson (5-5) rebounds from halftime decifit to beat visiting UMBC (5-6), 77-71.



SCOREBOARD
Monday, December 9
BLUE JACKETS
5
AT CAPITALS
2
CAPS GOALS: Ovechkin (21), Backstrom (5)

GOALTENDER: Holtby

RECORD: 22-5-5, 1st place

NEXT GAME: 12/11 vs. Boston