November 17
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issue 17
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i sure hope you all are wrong

I'm not surprised by the results of yesterday's #DMD reader's poll. Not in the least.

I just hope you all are wrong.

In yesterday's poll, I asked you to predict what the Ravens will do over their final seven games of the 2018 campaign. It stands to reason the Ravens have to go a minimum of 5-2 to have any hope at making the post-season. And even then, with a final record of 9-7, one would suspect lots of tiebreaking things would have to fall in favor of John Harbaugh's team in order for them to make the playoffs.

Most of you don't think 9-7 is happening.

The Ravens face an almost must-win game against Andy Dalton and the Bengals tomorrow in Baltimore.

Our poll's biggest vote getter was 8-8, with 38% of you predicting the Ravens will go 4-3 in their final seven games. It's safe to assume a final mark of 8-8 would result in another January with no post-season football in Baltimore.

Even worse, 31% of you predicted the Ravens would go 3-4 to end the season and finish the campaign at 7-9. If that happens, we'll be seeing massive personnel and coaching changes in Owings Mills.

A small group of you join me in being somewhat optimistic about the team's final seven games. 19% of you think the Ravens are going 5-2 to end the season and will finish at 9-7. I admit that seems fairly ambitious given what we've seen over the first nine games, but the easy schedule that looms ahead was the main contributor to my vote for a 5-2 finish.

6% of you think the Ravens are 6-1 to end the season. Wow. I sure do hope you know what you're talking about. A 10-6 mark would give the Ravens an outstanding chance at making the post-season.

Likewise, 6% of you believe the Ravens are going 2-5 in the final seven games, ending with a 6-10 mark. Yikes. Things would get really ugly here in Charm City if that happens.

For the record, I see the Ravens winning the next three games. They should handle both Cincinnati and Oakland at home, and then I think they'll go to Atlanta and play with their hair on fire to snag a close win over the Falcons. But they'll lose in Kansas City, beat the Bucs here in Baltimore, lose in L.A. to the Chargers, and finish things up at home by beating the Browns. It will add up a 9-7 record, but they won't make the playoffs.

I'm not one of those folks who subscribe to the theory that it's not good to make the playoffs as the 6th seed, because all you're doing there is "delaying the inevitable" (a post-season ouster).


If you can make the playoffs, you make them. End of story. There's never been an instance where making the post-season was detrimental to an organization's growth.

I think lots of things will have to fall favorably for the Ravens in the next seven weeks in order for them to make it to the playoffs. They have to play well, for starters, and they then need both the Titans and Colts to stumble and bumble their way through the remaining portion of their respective schedules. Both of those teams have reasonable chances to finish 9-7 at the very least.

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towson hosts james madison today in huge caa showdown

For the Towson Tigers, it all might very well come down to today's home game (2:00 pm) vs. James Madison.

A win and the Tigers are playoff bound. A loss and they'll have to wait and see if the tournament selection committee adds them to the FCS post-season field.

The Flacco family might experience playoff football after all in 2018, as the Towson Tigers could sew up a playoff spot today with first-year QB Tom Flacco at the helm.

The two teams come into today's game with identical records: 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the conference. If visiting Elon beats Maine today, the winner of the Towson/JMU game earns a share of the CAA title and an automatic bid into the FCS playoffs.

Because of the unbalanced CAA football schedule, the Tigers and Dukes haven't met since the 2015 season, when visiting James Madison rolled to a 51-30 win.

Towson quarterback Tom Flacco -- yes, the brother of the Ravens' QB -- has been the big story for Rob Ambrose's team this season, ranked as the #1 QB in the CAA in passing yards per-game with 275.2 and total offense with 340.4 yards per-contest. Flacco's completion percentage through 10 games to date is 64.0%.

Flacco's 275.2 passing yards per-game stands 12th in all of FCS football.

James Madison stands second in the CAA in scoring offense, only to Towson, with 36.3 points per-game.

Redshirt junior quarterback Ben DiNucci leads the league with a 69.1% completion percentage, accumulating 1,679 yards with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His primary targets: redshirt junior Riley Stapleton has 55 catches for 644 yards and seven touchdowns while redshirt freshman Kyndel Dean has caught the ball 35 times for 467 yards and five touchdowns.

A win today would complete quite a turnaround for the Tigers, who were picked 10th (out of 12 teams) in the pre-season CAA poll (coaches and media relations directors).

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the armchair quarterback returns

If you're looking for an in-depth overview of the Ravens now that the bye week has come and gone, Tony Lombardi, Dean Johnson and yours truly give it to you with this week's edition of "The Armchair Quarterback", presented by Primary Residential Mortgage.

We touch on all things Ravens, including, of course, Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh, plus the rest of the AFC North and the Ravens playoff chances heading into the final seven games of the season.

You can find it all here.

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#dmd comments

Clay from Harrisburg     November 17
@Brien If you don't think "it's an unreasonable fear at all," does that mean you think it is a "reasonable" fear? Why don't you learn to write so as to express yourself clearly before trashing all the commenters on this site.

H     November 17
How ironic would it be if Joe Flacco, who Wally Pipped a Heisman Trophy winner, gets Wally Pipped himself by a Heisman Trophy winner?

Brien Jackson     November 17

I don't think it's an unreasonable fear at all. Even if Elias has been promised full control that's not binding in any way and ownership can always change their minds. I think it's fair to wonder how they'll react when Brady wants to do his own thing with a pitcher or go out and talk to free agents or whatever. In fact, Connolly is already implying Elias is limited in his ability to hire a manager by the fact that the organization has already been considering candidates before hiring him.

Bart     November 17
Just wanted to say that Armchair QB show is really well done. You three have a great connection together. I'm a fan.

Rory from DE     November 17
Drew, how come 7-0 wasn't an option in your poll?

The Eye of Sauron     November 17
So has this bew gm been announced or still whispers in the wind? There is room for both pessimism and optimism- while the alleged hite is well received in baseball circles- there is a valid consideration to what H states- we will only know if its a good hire 5 years from now.

optimist observer     November 16
@H must be an LF disciple. Poor LF is just beside himself with this hire, since it's clearly a good move he insists on whining about how much they "had" to pay him, "when" they announced it, anything he can come up with to paint it in a negative light. Plenty to complain about when it comes to the PGA era, but this is the best possible action they could have taken at this point, reasonable people would be willing to let it play out before bitching and moaning. But then, LF has never been considered "reasonable people".

H     November 16
Will the Angelos brothers and Brady Anderson stay out of the way? If not, doesn’ t matter who sits in the Chief of Baseball Operations chair

inquiring mind     November 16
Brien really tries to pretend hes a baseball insider.

He wrote today “That the Orioles have agreed to terms with such a highly thought of executive speaks volumes to the increased esteem the organization is held in around the league now.”

How could he possibly have known the level of esteem the league used to hold the Orioles in, and how could he know whether that level has increased since the rumor of hiring Elias hit the wires?

calculating observer     November 16
O's would be hard pressed to win fewer games than they won this year, so not accurate to say things will get worse before they get better. In fact, one could argue no matter how many they lose, things are better because they seem to now have plan. Not that the record matters, but I don't see how they will lose more games no matter who they get rid of, and who winds up playing

Cash Is King     November 16
Everyone keeps writing about Elias’ selection of Correa...which seems like a nice pick. He also had the number 1 pick the following 2 years. He took Mark Appel (passed on Kris Bryant) and Brady Aiken (he didn’t sign). I would think that would be mentioned in any story written about the guy.

TimD in Timonium     November 16
Agreed, DF. Blow this thing up and start from scratch. Heck, that's what the Astro's did. I'd love to see the O's part ways with Chris Davis, but we all know that won't happen.

BTW, big football game in Towson tomorrow afternoon. Tom Flacco and the Towson Tigers vs the 2016 National Champ James Madison Dukes.

Steve from Cape Coral     November 16
Sad to say, I think that when the Browns come to town in week #17 the Ravens will already be out of there misery !!!

unitastoberry     November 16
Why is it that everything that goes on with the Orioles has to be leaked and not announced? If the old man is truely out of the picture the sons have to change the approach too. Its not the CIA its a friggin baseball team.

Frank     November 16
How come every time Aaron Rodgers loses a game it's Mike McCarthy's fault???? Asking for my friend Joe .....

Fuse     November 15
Dale, I can't see the Terps as an NCAA participant. At best, NIT. Too many glaring weaknesses and youth in critical places only compounding Turg's shortcomings as an X's & O's coach. The Big 10 is no place to be soft in the middle: the Terps are more built to be an ACC or Big East style team. Iowa, Purdue, MSU, Michigan and even Indiana possibly all will pose huge problems for the Terps. Turgeon is not a pressing coach to help hide some of the defensive problems and/or create offense from the defense. In a half court game, the Terps will be as they've always been. Competitive but not particularly adept at playing from behind, as they have no 'go to' play or scorer to execute it.

Brian     November 15


Big Ben #1     November 15
Asking Ravens fans to be smart and not "be jerks". You're asking a lot pal. That's just about impossible.

Davey     November 15
I like your promise idea. I'm in too. Pinky swear!

Buzz Words     November 15
There are certain words used by people to diminish talent and yet try to boost some one up.

One of the "clues" about Jackson is the constant boosting/boasting that "Lamar is a very hard worker"...which means " he sucks, but he cares".

Just like "she has a great personality" or "she's nice. real nice"...get ready for a beast.

It seems that Wonderlic scared off some, 13 is a bad score. And take the test, if you cant get at least a 30, you are poorly educated. Jackson's score was the lowest of all the 1st round picks by a wide margin.

Joe Flacco was a 27.....and he seems average in intelligence.

Just another view. Some low scorers on the test were great players. But the "yeah but" seems to be in play here.

Idiot Caller     November 15
I'll go "On the Record" right now before I've ever seen him play a complete NFL game and say Jackson will be a Bust.

I say this as an avid college football fan. I easily watch more college football than the NFL these days. If you've ever watched Jackson play in college, and I mean really watched the games with a critical eye and not just watched highlights, you may have the same opinion. He just never looked like a guy that was going to be a consistent starting NFL QB. His passing was/is just way too inaccurate for the NFL. Inaccurate passers never have been, and probably never will end up being very good NFL QB's. There's a REASON why Jackson was available with the 32nd pick. No one else thought he was worth a 1st round pick either.

Craig     November 15
Might be the most accurate thing I've seen someone write about our country >>>> I completely understand it's not easy to do. Take a look at our country these days, where the division has become so strong that "blue" people can't get along with "red" people despite claiming over and over and over that what's wrong with the country these days is that "everyone can't get along".

John In Westminster     November 15
Troy Aikman and Peyton Manning won 3 games combined their first seasons while Vince Young and Tim Tebow had winning first full seasons.

Cincinnati game is NOT a slam dunk W by any means. We've already lost to them and wouldn't be surprised if we lose again. I'd think their defense will play a little more inspired after losing their DC. Last time I checked, the Saints have a better O than us.

Bill P.     November 15
Thanks for being the voice of reason Drew. Appreciate your "promise" idea today. I'm in.

Jason M     November 15
Must see TV at 1:00 on Sunday, unless you're in the stands. Bengals have had our number of late, but hopefully that changes now!

unitastoberry     November 15
I believe Joe beat the Bangles his rookie season not much since then. I like that the pressure will be on this kid. I want to see how he deals with the microscope known as the NFL. Lets hope he brings his throwing arm with him because Vontaze would love to Haloti him ala RG3.

Tom J     November 15
We have been watching Joe make rookie mistakes for 10 years now........Lamar won't have anything to worry about for one game......

Bob     November 15
@George @BJ

According to Pro Football Weekly, Bell took out a loss of value insurance policy, with the expectation that he would play that would protect his value if injured. Not sure how he collects a penny since he choose not to play.

"Bell told ESPN last month that he intends to play this season and took out a loss-of-value insurance policy knowing that the club could use the transition tag next offseason."

Brien Jackson     November 15

If we assume that the policy does in fact pay out in the event he chooses not to sign the tender? I'd say somewhere around 66-75%, as a rough guess. Certainly something above 50% anyway.


That's actually a pretty good comparison, actually, so I'm guessing you just missed the point.

clayton     November 15
I have to jump in here. I don’t understand the intricacies of gambling and insurance, but I do understand the English language and its syntax.

Brien’s sentence, “...then I'd put the odds at nearly 100% of sitting out unless the Steelers caved...” is analogous to a statement saying “The Ravens will beat the Steelers unless the Steelers score more points, in which case the Steelers will probably win.”

Typical libtard thinking.

George     November 15
@Brien – One more thing. You write “then I'd put the odds at nearly 100% of sitting out unless the Steelers caved.”



it is


George     November 15
@Brien – You’re coming at it from the wrong angles. It is NOT a STANDARD policy by any stretch. It [if it indeed was made] was a specific agreement under specific terms.

So, to my original point – go back to the beginning of the season and consider what odds YOU would have set that Bell would/would not sit out the full season. Assume you know that the policy is in effect – and that Bell would get $14 million for playing and $14 million for not playing. Consider also two things (1) the agent’s position, and whether he would have gotten paid his fee for Bell if Bell doesn’t play, and therefore his advice to Bell, and (2) Bell’s own determination of his likelihood of being catastrophically injured, and also his determination of whether he would make more or less in endorsements by sitting out or playing.

The science of calculating risk is not merely the determination of whether a ship might sink or whether a house will or won’t burn down. This is the stuff that some in the industry thrive on, and derive great pleasure in engaging in.

So – again – what mathematical odds would YOU have set before the season began that Bell would/would not sign and play?

Brien Jackson     November 14

I guess it would depend on when they sold him the policy. If it was a year or two ago, and a "standard" hedge against future earnings that'd be one thing. If they sold it to him *after* last season though, with rumblings of a long impasse already starting, then I'd put the odds at nearly 100% of sitting out unless the Steelers caved, wouldn't you?

In any case, I just can't believe it would actually pay out under the circumstance of Bell having a franchise tender offered and refusing to sign it. That's exactly like buying an insurance policy on a building and then deliberately burning it down to get the money.

George     November 14
@Brien -- No doubt -- it sounds dumb. And I'm just speculating on things in the event that Steeler's Are Gold's report turns out to have some basis in fact.

But consider: suppose you're a bored Limey before the NFL season begins, speculating on whether Bell would play this year. The next step is to calculate odds on the proposition, and the next step is to find somebody to bet with.

What would YOU have set the odds at that Bell would/would not play this year? Then add to this question the stipulation that he could not play and still collect $14 million. The plot thickens. And THAT is what makes these guys' hearts beat.

Delray Rick     November 14
UTB...It starts with scouts, coaches, and faith from upper management.

Brien Jackson     November 14

That just seems.....dumb. I mean I've heard of policies covering things like expected free agent earnings, draft position, etc. but why would an insurance company agree to pay out money in the event the player *voluntarily* chooses not to sign an offer? And by paying out the same amount of money he'd get for signing? Why would Bell sign at all at that point? I guess you could say it was really a bet that the Steelers would cave, but still, that's just bizarre, and my guess is that some of the details have been messed up here.

George     November 14
@Limitless34 – Lloyd’s of London probably wrote the policy. They’ll insure anything except, according to Wikipedia, the bodies of professional wrestlers. They insure Springsteen’s voice for $6 million, and they insured a lot of legs of pretty girls for tons of money. My sense is that a subset of Lloyd’s underwriters enjoy the rush of gambling on actual-life propositions more than simply betting on games, and certainly more than selling homeowner’s insurance. They probably calculated Bell’s financial situation created only a 25% chance he’d sit out the season and offered the wager [capped at $14 million] at 14-5 to Bell’s agent.

Limitless34     November 14
Why would any insurance company issue that type of policy? If that's true and he paid $5m to get $14m and therefore net $9m you would think a lot of people who could afford It would do this. Especially athletes who are close to retirement. It makes no sense if the insurance company that issued that policy just pays him for not working/playing essentially because he didn't feel like it. There had to be some sort of stipulations for him to qualify for the $14m. It couldn't be just because he decided not to play. How come in every article I have read there's never been any mention of this insurance policy? Not that I've read every article but I've read enough because I picked Bell with my second round choice in a fantasy league, so I've been following this. I'm not saying it's not true, but I can't believe any insurance company would issue that type of policy and allow Bell to just decide he's not going to play and pay him that much without meeting some sort of criteria. I guess maybe him paying a $5m "premium" did the trick, but taking a possible $9m loss up to essentially whether he felt like working seems ridiculous. I did a quick search, but couldn't find any info on the terms of the policy. Do you have a link?

Grant     November 14
Thanks for posting that Rush album today. Heard it a few times before but never really sat down and give it a thorough listen. Circumstances and Trees are great tunes.

TY     November 14
Well if Bell took out a policy for $5 million and got paid $14 million he didn't "make his $14 million". He made $9 million. Steelers fans = not that great at math.

Steeler's Are Gold     November 14
What I think everyone is overlooking is that Bell is still making his $14M this year. His agent took out a “non-work” insurance policy with Lloyd’s which pays him the $14M in the event he doesn’t play one down this year. This policy even pays out even though he didn’t get injured. It’s rumored the policy cost in excess of $5M but either way Bell is doing just fine netting nearly $9M.

Ron Mexico     November 14
Life long Rush fan here. The soundtrack of the formative years and beyond. Saw them in concert countless times up to the final tour. They never disappointed. No politics and minimal small talk. Just down to business playing great music. So many great albums and so much musical progression over forty some years. I was filling up at a local convenience store recently with A Farewell To Kings playing in the car. A passerby stopped and said, “Is that Rush? it’s nice to hear something that actually sounds like music coming out of a radio. “

The sports tie in....Geddy Lee is a baseball super fan/ historian with a serious memorabilia collection. He shows up at games a few times a year in the front row. His profile is unmistakable.

Jason M     November 14
@BJ...disagreed with your premise that Bell's strategy here could take hold and eventually give the union more leverage. The opposite is actually true. The Steelers came out ahead with $14.5 M in their pocket and the lead in the division. It buttresses the owners argument that the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back.

mike from catonsville     November 14
"Oh, and here's one other thing Bell might have done by sitting out. Call it "the nature of unintended consequences". He might have accidentally displayed for all the rest of the NFL teams that there's always a James Conner hanging around who can do the job of a $14.5 million running back for $587,000."

Drawing an analogy, I am continually amazed that UM or any other college thinks they need to pay assistant coaches (Bino) $500,000/year. There are any number of qualified folks that would work for 1/2 that or less and do as credible a job. They'd be making less than the players but so what.

Look out Baltimore hs basketball fans my MSJ Gaels have a 6'11 transfer from Canada who may be a pro one day, following Sims and the future pro Jaylen Smith , who's right now a projected top 10 pick in the draft. He's one and done at UM. I guess I'll have to start calling my Gaels the "new" evil empire. I am philosophically opposed to this and can't wait for the first quote out of St Frances about foreign transfers and how the administration handles the PR nightmare since that was a reason for NOT playing them in football. And they will have a very valid position. The "arms" race in hs sports is borderline ridiculous.

Even though the writers/producers took many liberties with the story Bohemian Rhapsody was an enjoyable movie. Purists may not have liked Queen and their music but the audiences did and that's all that matters. And they only had 4 guys.

Brien Jackson     November 14

Technical point, Bell isn't holding out, he's not under contract at all.

Idiot Caller     November 14
I have been a huge RUSH fan since the late 70's, but I don't think I would recommend Hemispheres for a novice RUSH listener. Might want to start them out on Moving Pictures to develop their taste before moving up to something like Hemispheres or 2112.

Does anyone else wish that BJ's "Agent" would "leak" info that he and Drew have come to a "Mutual Understanding" to leave the DMD? I've heard that the LF is looking for some like minded "writers" for his site.

CJ     November 14
@Brien. Like any good lib, he always stays on brand.

J-J     November 14
One other thing. I saw a couple of NFL writers yesterday saying Bell might have to play one season to get his value fully back and could sign a 1-year deal in the off season that flips over to a 3-year deal if he hits certain numbers. Wouldn't it be great to see his hold out cost him $30 million or more? I'd definitely laugh at that one.

Steve from Cape Coral     November 14
Love the, Doesn't have to pass the teams physical !!! As far as Bell, I think he overplayed his cards and no team is going to pay a running back that kind of money !!!

Alan     November 14
How can anyone in the right mind "feel sorry" for a person who turns down $14 million? As if he or she drew the short straw.

November 16
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issue 16
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before the rebuild, there's a tear down

If you thought last season's 47-115 Orioles record was bad, you're in for a real treat next year. And, maybe, even the year after that.

But, unlike 2018, the losing and the bumps in the road will all be part of a master plan.

I hope you can handle it. I'm just fine with it, even though I know it's not going to be much fun.

The Orioles still haven't confirmed the hiring of 36-year old Mike Elias, but since neither he nor the organization have publicly denied Tuesday's news leak, it would appear all systems are go for the Astros assistant GM to move to Charm City and take the O's general manager position.

He comes highly regarded does Elias. All over baseball, folks are crowing about the hire in Baltimore. If nothing else, that's heartwarming. The O's got the right guy.

But what's set to come in the next year or two won't be very heartwarming, I suspect.

If Elias follows the same blueprint as the one he helped develop and carry out in Houston, the Orioles are going to tear down their current on field product and basically start over.

Dylan Bundy might be one of the few names you recognize on opening day 2019 when the Orioles make their way down the orange carpet at Camden Yards.

It's not a given that most or all of the veterans will be shipped off -- some contractual obligations make that almost impossible -- but there's little doubt Elias would prefer to move almost everyone in an effort to reduce the club's payroll and add players of his liking.

That might mean Chris Davis has to stay, since no one wants him and no one wants to help pay the remaining $100 million he's owed, but you can bet it probably means the likes of Trumbo, Mancini, Bundy, Cashner, Cobb and Villar will be playing elsewhere by the end of the 2019 season.

I know what you're thinking. If those six guys aren't around, how on earth are the Orioles ever going to win a game?

Well, they had all of those guys and a handful of other good players on their team in 2018 and only won 47 games. So if they only win 40 next year, who cares?

Elias might wind up inheriting an Orioles payroll that he can shave down to something like $40 million by the time he's able to rid himself of the six veterans I listed above. And $23 million of that will be eaten up by one guy -- Chris Davis.

That $80 million in team salary savings will obviously delight the two Angelos sons, particularly in light of the drastically reduced attendance and sponsorship sales the organization will likely encounter over the next few years.

You will look at the opening day lineup next spring and say to yourself, "Who on earth are these guys?"

But that's what you have to do when you're gutting a team and building a new foundation. Elias knows how to do it. He helped create the current Astros juggernaut, one that should stay highly competitive for another couple of years before they themselves have to start chipping a few veterans off the block while replenishing their roster with younger guys.

It's fair to note, of course, that the American League West isn't quite as top heavy as the American League East. The Astros are really good. The A's were somehow good this past season, despite themselves, but there's no guarantee they'll hold up in 2019. The Mariners have hinted recently about starting their own rebuilding effort. And the Rangers and Angels are both stuck in the middle...just good enough to win about half their games.

Elias won't find the A.L. East to be quite as volatile as the West. The Red Sox are really good and should stay that way for the immediate future. The Yankees are close-to-really-good and are finally under the luxury tax, which means they're about ready to shell out a bunch of money for a quality free agent or two. Tampa Bay was just as good as two or three other division winners in baseball in 2018. Besides the Orioles, only Toronto showed signs of not going anywhere fast in the East.

There's no guarantee Elias is going to be able to pull a rabbit out of his hat in Baltimore. He'll bring along a couple of stat nerds from Houston and might even give the managerial job to Joe Espada, a current member of the Astros coaching staff that most baseball people say is now the odds-on favorite to get the call from Elias.

Elias knows the formula. He has the people in place who, along with him, know how to rebuild an organization. But even then, there's no guarantee the supposed whiz kid is going to do in Baltimore what he was able to help do in Houston.

But this is the only way to go about it, friends.

It's going to be painful. Lots of you reading this probably won't maintain your interest in the team for a few years while the losses mount and the embarrassment reaches new proportions (if that's even possible).

The stadium will be a ghost town 60 nights a year next summer.

But this -- losing with a plan -- is much, much better than losing without a plan.

Let's get started.

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ok, make your call

This should be fun. And informative.

The Ravens are down to their last seven games.

Their starting quarterback is injured.

The high-profile #1 draft pick missed Thursday's practice with a "stomach issue" but is expected to be available for selection come Sunday when the Bengals make their annual visit to Charm City.

With 7 games left, it would appear likely that John Harbaugh and the Ravens have to make the post-season or major changes loom for 2019.

The last time the 3rd string QB took a meaningful snap in a NFL game, NBC's hit TV show This Is Us hadn't even aired a pilot episode.

Oh, and the schedule over the last seven weeks is far from a cakewalk.

Cincinnati and Oakland figure to be the two easiest wins of the group, except everyone knows, of course, that the Bengals tend to give the Ravens fits.

There are three road games in Atlanta, Kansas City and Los Angeles. Betting folks wouldn't take the Ravens in any of those three.

Tampa Bay comes to town in mid-December and there's no telling how many yards they might pile up. They're a "on any given Sunday" group if there ever was one.

And then the Browns visit to close out the season and we all know, even though they still do Browns-things, they are much improved and would just love to put the Ravens out of their misery in week #17.

So......what happens? Speak now or forever hold your peace.

Do they make it?

Logic says the Ravens have to get to at least 9-7 to have a chance at making the post-season. I saw a fancy sports website "stats engine" that says the Ravens have a 62% chance of making it if they finish 9-7 and an 81% chance of making it at 10-6.

"So you're saying there's a chance?", to borrow a line from Dumb and Dumber.

Well? Are they making it? There are a lot of moving parts right now. Flacco's health, of course, is the chief concern, but there's also the element of the play by the guy who replaces him. What if Jackson stinks it up? What if RG3 can't get it done?

Can they stay injury free?

Will the coach use his timeouts properly in the last seven games?

The time has come to cast your vote. Use the poll below and tell us what you see in YOUR crystal ball.

 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What happens with the Ravens over their last seven games?
6-1, finish 10-6
5-2, finish 9-7
4-3, finish 8-8
3-4, finish 7-9
2-5, finish 6-10
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from the desk of
brien jackson

BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports-media work with ESPN, CBS, and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.

You could be forgiven for thinking that they'd never get there, but it seems as though the Orioles officially have their guy.

Barring a turn of events more surprising than a failed physical, Mike Elias will be leaving the Houston Astros to become the Orioles' new General Manager. It's not officially a done deal as of this writing, but there are already multiple reports about other executives that Elias will be bringing with him to Baltimore, and Bob Nightengale has tweeted that the Orioles will be making Elias the highest paid first year GM in MLB history, so it's certainly close.

It's hard to say how exactly Elias is going to go about rebuilding the Orioles, because he doesn't have a track record running the show, and every situation and every team is different anyway, and good managers recognize that and adjust accordingly. What we can say, however, is that the Astros elevated him to director of scouting after just 8 months of working for the club, and that his tenure coincided with the drafting of Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, Alex Bregman, and Kyle Tucker among others.

Here's another thing we know: Elias was most certainly a highly sought after commodity, and the fact that he landed in Baltimore is an extremely encouraging sign for the Orioles' future.

Most obviously, this year's search for a new GM was leaps and bounds different than the last time the team was in this position. When they were replacing Andy MacPhail after the 2011 season, the Orioles were seen as such an undesirable spot that multiple potential candidates may have flat out turned down one of only 30 jobs running a Major League Baseball baseball operations department, before the Orioles agreed to terms with Dan Duquette, who had been out of MLB for a decade at that point.

Still no official word from the Orioles, but all signs point to former Astros executive Mike Elias signing on as the Orioles new general manager.

At the very least we know that Toronto executive Tony LaCava turned them down and, far from being a top-tier blue chipper LaCava is still an assistant in Toronto's front office and has yet to be hired as a general manager anywhere. It really can't be understated how embarrassed the Orioles should have been to have candidates like that passing on the job.

This year is different, despite coming off of a 115 loss season. Elias most definitely is a blue chipper, and he would have had plenty more offers if he wanted to wait it out and pass on coming to Baltimore. That the Orioles have agreed to terms with such a highly thought of executive speaks volumes to the increased esteem the organization is held in around the league now.

It also points to an organization that is headed in the right direction. 5 months ago, just about all of us were sure that Brady Anderson was going to be the general manager in 2019 and beyond. Well Anderson still holds an undefined role in the team's front office, but it is presumably a much smaller one than he started 2018 with. And while Peter Angelos had a well deserved reputation to wielding a heavy hand over his baseball operations department, it sure seems as though his sons will take a more standoff approach and allow their top baseball people a freer hand to operate.

It is just difficult to imagine that someone in Elias' position would take the job if they hadn't been given such assurances, or that the Orioles would make such a big financial commitment to someone they didn't believe in enough not to handcuff their management.

Also of note is the fact that Elias is reportedly bringing former Astros' analytics guru Sig Mejdal to town with him. Mejdal was responsible for building the Astros analytics department, which has represented the cutting edge of taking data and turning it into usable material for the coaching staff and players. Their work with spin rate, in particular, was parlayed into the best strikeout staff in the game, and even improved the results great pitchers like Justin Verlander and Gerritt Cole were seeing.

Much like Elias, a Mejdal hire would be a real coup for the Orioles, and it's hard to imagine someone like Mejdal coming to town without assurances that his work would be taken seriously. In one fell swoop the Orioles have drastically turned around an area of weakness for the team.

None of this is to say that things will turn around quickly because of this: The Orioles roster is still in a bad place and seriously lacking talent. But they're not as bad as the Astros were when Elias got there back in 2011, nor as bad as the Cubs were when Theo Epstein took over that job.

There's opportunity here in Baltimore, starting with a farm system that added some additionally talent last year and that will also add the number one overall pick this year. That's not a terrible starting point, and other than the Chris Davis deal the team isn't loaded down with a ton of dead payroll space either.

Expectations should be tempered to be sure, and no one should think Elias is a miracle worker. He wasn't the guy making the big decisions in Houston, after all, nor is it like he never missed in the draft. But still, this is a REALLY good sign for the Orioles. Just a few weeks ago there was rampant speculation that the dysfunctional nature of the organization was scaring away candidates they were interested in, and now they've landed one of the hottest executives in the game and one of the industry's most accomplished analytics gurus in one fell swoop.

Presumably the young and forward thinking Elias will be bringing in a lot of similar thinking assistants and front office personnel as well, although it does appear he'll be saddled with some incumbents like director of player development Brian Graham, someone widely identified as a major source of the O's current problems. Or maybe not: Again, the Orioles are investing a lot in Elias, and the Angelos kids are quickly showing they have different ideas about how to run the team than their dad did.

In any case, things are looking up for the Orioles. Granted it would be hard for things to go down from 115 losses, but this kind of reason for optimism is certainly not nothing.

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Orioles make it official, hire Mike Elias as the team's new general manager (press conference set for this Monday).

NHL: Backstrom's game-winner in OT lifts shorthanded Capitals to 3-2 win at Colorado.

College hoops: Terps recover from 6-point halftime deficit, turn back pesky Hofstra at College Park, 80-69.

UMBC improves to 3-1 with 77-72 win over Air Force; Towson falls to 1-2 with 74-65 loss to Pepperdine.

PGA Tour: Charles Howell III (-14) leads RSM Classic by three shots over Cameron Champ and Jason Gore.

3 (OT)
CAPS GOALS: Smith-Pelly (3), Ovechkin (12), Backstrom (5)


RECORD/PLACE: 9-7-3 (3rd, Metropolitan)

NEXT GAME: November 19, at Montreal