Tuesday
January 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1961



the passing of time


One of the benefits of having a late January birthday is this: What you don't get for Christmas usually surfaces less about a month later.

Bruce Springsteen's movie, Western Stars, arrived at my house yesterday. "A late Christmas gift..."

"Or an early birthday gift..."

Either way, it worked. I saw the movie in the theater in late October, but having it for home viewing is awesome and it gives me a chance to learn more about why, at age 70, Springsteen decided to change the tempo of his work and author something that largely sounds like a cross between Glen Campbell and Gordon Lightfoot, circa 1975.

You don't even have to like Springsteen or admire his musical work to get the picture right away. The songs are about moving, and going west, and taking on new challenges. They're about leaving things behind, whether those were mistakes you made, or obstacles you were forced to face due to the decisions of others.

The man who won the fog game against Miami in 1975...Toni Linhart.

But what really resonates when you watch the film, particularly if you do like Bruce and have followed his career, is how the passing of time has evened the score with The Boss. He's surely looks great for his age, a "rugged 70", I'd call it. But there's wear and tear on him now, whether it's in his slightly tempered gait or the creases around his eyes. Father Time might have memorized all the words to Born to Run and Jungleland, but he's not letting him off the age hook.

And when you're my age and you've been listening to Bruce since you were 13, you look at him on the movie screen and think to yourself, "Man, he's getting old"......and then you realize that, you, too, are getting old.

The passing of time.

It creeps up on you. We're into 2020 now. I can remember, vividly in fact, when 1999 flipped over to 2000. Twenty years went by that fast? It sure did.

So a week or so ago when I asked if anyone wanted to participate in a "guest columnist" opportunity here, I had no idea I was getting Bruce Springsteen's Western Stars on January 6th and I had no idea the first column I'd publish here from one of you would connect with the main theme of the movie -- the passing of time.

Howard Jacobs chips in with a short but poignant reflection on the way Baltimore's football life has evolved over the last 40 years. You can find his column below.

These days, reflection has become a bit of a lost art. We fight on social media, taunt those with different opinions, and spend more time boasting about what we think will happen than expressing thanks for what actually did happen.

2 Corinthians 4:15 -- All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

We're in a generation where we overlook simple things that make our life complete. Everything today has to be more glamorous that it was the day before. You can no longer just have a nice meal at a local eatery. Someone else either had a better meal somewhere else, or a worse meal at the very same place you just showcased. And they'll be happy to share that with you and everyone else in their world.

I thought Howard's entry was particularly fitting to go in today's edition given what we have going on in our fair city this Saturday night. 71,000 people will be in the stadium at 8:15 pm when the Ravens host the Titans. A large number of those patrons will be rabid followers of the franchise, complete with PSLs, Ravens tattoos, home and away jerseys to wear depending on the venue, and a love for the team that might be hard for someone, say, in Richmond, Virginia to understand.

But a significant number of people in the stadium will be connected by family. Fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, fathers, moms and kids. Grandparents. Aunts and Uncles, too.

As Howard's piece goes, his sons came along at a time when there wasn't football in Baltimore. You can read it to learn the nuances of it all, but it struck me personally because I'll be going to the game with my 12 year old son on Saturday night. Editor's note: He doesn't know yet. (I hope he doesn't read this. He occasionally checks in on #DMD).

My dad and I attended Colts games in my youth. I can still remember where I was sitting for the "fog game", when Toni Linhart kicked the game-winning field goal to beat the Dolphins, 10-7. It's funny, but of the 40 or so Colts games we attended together, the one I definitely recall with the most ease, precision and fondness is that game vs. Miami. There's something about fog, I guess.

I've noted here before that my father never really "took" to the Ravens. I've also admitted it took me a while to cling on, too. I probably needed a good six years or so before the bite of stealing someone else's team eased up enough for me to embrace the Ravens. My dad passed away in 2003. He never did embrace them.

But my son only knows the Ravens. He doesn't know anything at all about Johnny U. or Lydell Mitchell or the plane flying into the stadium or that catch Dave Casper made in the corner of the end zone that broke our hearts. He barely knows Ray Lewis, even, having been born in 2007. But what he lacks in knowledge about Baltimore's football history he makes up for with enthusiam for the Ravens.

Howard's story reminded me of the good fortune I have in that my son has a team to call his own. And sharing those games and moments with him, whether we're on the couch at home or in the stadium watching it live, is a gift from God.

Time will stop for three hours on Saturday night and I'll be able to do the same thing with my son that my father did with me. Different stadium, different players, different colors, but the same basic theme. I'll do my best to explain things to him that he might not yet understand, like why teams decline penalties, why someone calls for a "fair catch" and why a team spikes the ball with 20 seconds remaining in the game.

I'm thankful for the luxury and opportunity to be there on Saturday night, sharing it all with my son.

Go Ravens! And thank you, Howard, for the gentle reminder of how blessed we are in Baltimore in 2020.

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guest column: "two moves"


My oldest son was born in January 1984.

I had been a Baltimore Colts fan since I was a kid.

Johnny Unitas was my hero. I faithfully watched each road game and I listened to each home game growing up. I eagerly awaited Corralin’ the Colts every Monday night so I could see the highlights.

Imagine how excited I was to have a son with whom I could share my passion. When we brought him home from the hospital, I would sing him to sleep with the Colts fight song. I would regale him with glory day Colts stories.

And then it happened...

"The move."

I was so angry that Irsay robbed us of the chance to bond over the Colts and to live and die with them each Sunday much as my father and I did.

I became a Steelers fan just to have a team to root for but it was not the same.

My youngest was born in 1986 and for some reason he became a big Randall Cunningham fan but after making the trip to Philly to see him, I realized the passion was not there. Same thing with the Stallions, who played here in Baltimore in a different league with foreign teams foreign rules.

I took my boys to the Pro Football Hame of Fame in late 1995. By that time, Art Modell was seriously flirting with Baltimore, but the 3 of us signed the “Stop Art” petitions to help Cleveland fans from having their hearts ripped out too.

I was saddened and speechless when I saw everything associated with my beloved Baltimore Colts in the Indianapolis Colts exhibit in the Hall of Fame in Canton.

And then it happened...

"The other move."

Baltimore would have NFL football again in 1996.

My boys and I were able to bond over the Ravens and game days were ours. We lived and died with them, and I was finally able to give up the ghost on January 28, 2001: Ravens 34 - Giants 7

Both of my boys are now in their 30s with children of their own. My youngest lives near Philly and he and my grandchildren are proud to rock the Purple every week. My oldest lives in an area that straddles Redskins Country but he and my grandchildren have the passion for the Purple.

When my sons got married and moved away, I gave up our season tickets but we group text every game.

Losing Irsay and the Colts ended up being a blessing in disguise. My sons and I have a ton of good (and bad) memories that we will always share. (But Johnny Unitas remains my all-time favorite)

Today's guest column was provided by #DMD reader Howard Jacobs. If you'd like to submit a column for future inclusion in Drew's Morning Dish, please email it to Drew directly: 18inarow@gmail.com

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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 up-and-down ohio state tonight


Trying to figure out tonight’s basketball game between Maryland and Ohio State is proving very difficult. Will the Terps get the Buckeye team that scored 104 points against Penn State, or will they get the one that failed to score 60 points in their last two games, both losses at home? Tipoff is at 7pm in the XFINITY Center.

While there’s no telling if the Terps will get the OSU team that blew out Villanova, crushed North Carolina, and beat Kentucky, or the one that lost to Minnesota and Wisconsin, one thing you can be sure of is that the Terps will get a steady dose of Kaleb Wesson on the low blocks.

How Anthony Cowan handles backcourt pressure tonight will be one of the keys for Maryland in their home game vs. Ohio State.

Wesson is the 6’9”, 270-pound leader of this year's Buckeye team. He’s averaging 14.7 points and almost 10 rebounds per game, both tops on the team. He is really smooth when he gets the ball down low, and hits 43% of his three-point tries. I expect Wesson to get his points, but Maryland must stop the rest of his teammates.

As a team, OSU hits 40% from beyond the arc, led by 6’3” Duane Washington Jr. at 47.5%. Ohio State leads the Big Ten with 9 made three-pointers per game. When those shots are dropping, the Buckeyes can put up points in a hurry, and they make you pay for doubling down on Wesson. Look for them to shoot a bunch of threes when Wesson isn’t working down low.

Having had the opportunity to see OSU play several games, something else I think we can count on seeing is that Luther Mohammed will lock horns with Maryland’s Anthony Cowan and force Cowan to work hard on the offensive head. Mohammad has active hands and enjoys playing chest to chest defense. Having Wesson to protect the rim if someone slips by Mohammad is one of the reasons why Ohio State leads the Big Ten in scoring defense (58.4 ppg).

How well Cowan deals with the pressure of Mohammed will be a key to game. Defenders that can play the type of defense that Mohammed offers have given Cowen trouble in the past.

With 6’8” Kyle Young out after having an appendectomy, Ohio State isn’t a very big team. The only rotation regular over 6’6” tall is Kaleb Wesson. This is good news for Maryland and could result in extended minutes for Darryl Morsell. Morsell’s physical style was vital to the Terps big win over Indiana and I could see him providing much of the same here, on both offense and defense.

The lack of height throughout the OSU lineup could also mean a breakout night by the Terp’s Donta Scott. We could see Scott hit more than one three-pointer in a game for the first time in his career, and also finally break into double digits scoring for the first time.

The Terps should win the turnover battle tonight. Ohio State isn’t the most careful team when possessing the ball. Maryland should also be able to hold their own on the boards. The key should be who wins the three pointy line. If OSU is allowed to shoot threes, those triples will eventually do the Terps in unless Maryland can answer with some deep balls of their own.

On defense, Wesson is so good down low that I might have to make him score against a double team and take my chances that the defense can rotate fast enough to keep the dangerous Buckeye shooters from shooting uncontested threes. Look for Maryland, defensively to switch at will, given the relatively equal size of the rest of the Buckeye lineup, Wesson not included.

Maryland is a 2-point favorite tonight. Personally, I wouldn’t wager a nickel on this game (actually, I don’t wager on any of them) but I’m going to say that Maryland will shoot much better from the outside than they did against Indiana. Four different Terps will connect on multiple three-point shots and Maryland will eek out a 70-67 win.

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Monday
January 6
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1960



questions...without answers (yet)


These questions all popped up over the weekend while I watched sports. I don't have the answers to any of them, but I suppose the answers are out there.

I either don't have the time to sift through the records to find the answers or I'm not all that interested in finding out what the answer actually is...sometimes the question is more important.

I completely forget that Kiko Alonso is still in the NFL until I saw him running around with the Saints yesterday. You remember Alonso. He was the guy -- playing for Miami then -- who nearly decapitated Joe Flacco on a Thursday night game in Baltimore a few years ago.

I wonder -- what were Joe's career/game average numbers before that 2017 hit and after that hit? Is there any way at all that awful helmet-to-helmet hit on Flacco contributed to the QB's career downslide? I realize the sample size isn't all that big. I'm just wondering what the numbers show.

Did this hit to Joe Flacco's head in 2017 change the quarterback's career?

Buffalo led Saturday's playoff game in Houston by a score of 13-0 at the half. They had a chance to go up 17-0 right before intermission but fiddled around with the play clock and had to settle for a field goal instead of scoring a TD that would have put them ahead 17-0 (pending extra point) at the half.

It definitely made me wonder about the difference of being up 13-0 at the half vs. 17-0 at the half. It seems like 13-0 is simple to come back from. It seems like 17-0 is just about "game over". I wonder how many times in playoff a history a team has rebounded from a 13-0 deficit vs. coming back from a 17-0 deficit? I really believe if Buffalo scores a TD at the half to go up 17-0 they would have won the game.

There were several instances of punts that were nearly blocked in both the Titans-Patriots game and the Saints-Vikings game. Last year in Baltimore, you might remember, Buck Allen blocked a punt vs. the Chargers.

There's something distinctly uplifting about a blocked punt. At least that's the way it seems to me. So I wonder...just how important is it for a team to block a punt in a game? What's the data show? Do you win 75% of the time if you block a punt? 90% of the time? If, say, it's 75%, shouldn't you spend a lot more time figuring out a way to block a punt, since you know you're going to see upwards of six of them per-game, perhaps?

The Titans had a 4th and 1 vs. New England on Saturday and made the first down via a quarterback sneak with Ryan Tannehill. It was the Tom Brady special, so to speak.

I realize they're called running backs for a reason, but the QB sneak always seems like the easiest way to pick up 3 feet. On Saturday in particular, the Patriots were selling out that Derrick Henry was going to get the ball, so Tannehill's keeper really made sense. But I wonder this: What are the percentages of the QB picking up one yard on a sneak vs. a running back picking up that same yard? I wonder what history shows? It seems to me you should QB sneak it every time.

Saints' kicker Wil Lutz missed a 30-something yard field goal on Sunday that would have tied the game at the half, 13-13. He later hit a 49-yarder at the end of regulation that sent the game to overtime.

In baseball, there's a theory that if you drop a foul ball, you're almost guaranteed to give up a hit in that at-bat (at least that's what Jim Palmer says) because Major League players love to feast on that "extra out". As I saw Lutz miss that kick and wondered if it would come back to haunt the Saints (it did), it made me ask how many times a team wins a football game if their kicker misses a field goal, particularly one inside of 40 yards? Those 33, 35 and 38 yard kicks should be made just about every time. And when you miss one, you're just giving away 3 free points. I bet a team that misses a 33-yarder loses far more games than they win.

The in-game onside kick is hardly ever used. And by "ingame" I mean -- when it's not necessary to try it because you're trailing at the end of the game. In other words: An onside kick not in the 4th quarter. I assume it's because field position is a premium item and there's probably lots of data to show that teams who get the ball near midfield score a large percentage of the time. There is, after all, a big difference between getting the ball at your own 25 vs. getting the ball at the 50 yard line.

But it does beg the question if it's worth it to try an ingame onside kick more regularly, knowing that if you get the ball your offense is now back on the field (after, presumably, just scoring on the previous series) and somewhere near midfield? I guess the more you try those the more the other team is ready for them. And I realize the percentages for successful onside kicks aren't high in the first place, but that's probably because teams don't try them nearly enough and the "practice" of them isn't perfected. Just a thought. But just kicking the ball to the other team every time and giving it to them "on purpose" seems a little outdated in this analytics era we're in.

They're calling for rain this Saturday in Baltimore. While weather didn't impact the Ravens' record in 2019, it's worth noting that Lamar had two "off games" -- throwing wise -- when the game was played in wet conditions (at Seattle, home vs. San Fran).

There's an old football theory that says inclement weather brings a bad team closer to a good team. I don't quite get that one, but anyway, let's pretend it's true. The question is, obviously, how true is it, statistically. The Ravens, for example, are 10-point favorites on Saturday. That spread was made, one would presume, without any thought at all given to the expected weather. So, now, are the Ravens more like 5-point favorites if, in fact, it rains all day Saturday as they're calling for? Even more, if they played the game 10 times in perfect weather, the Ravens would win 8.5 of them (pretend). In bad weather, are they more apt to win 6.5 of them? 7.5 of them? I'm just wondering. It seems like the weather should impact both teams to some degree.

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nice start for thomas, reed, xander


Only one player could win the year-opening (not, season opening, but year opening) event on the PGA Tour, so it stands to reason that Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele would be disappointed at not coming out on top on Sunday in Hawaii.

Oddly enough, the guy who did win was probably the least deserving of the three, but Justin Thomas outlasted Schauffele (eliminated on the first extra hole) and Reed (third hole) to win the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua.

Despite losing a late 2-shot lead, Justin Thomas recovered to win the Tournament of Champions on Sunday.

Thomas squandered a 2-shot lead with three holes to play, including making one of the worst bogeys of all time on the easy finishing hole when he inexplicably tried to go for the green in two shots when a par would have all but locked up the golf tournament.

As it turned out, Schauffele had two putts to win on the 18th hole after that Thomas blunder, but he missed a 30-foot eagle putt and then badly misread a 7-footer for the win moments later. Thomas, after hitting his 2nd shot in the penalty area, also missed a potential winning putt on the final hole of regulation, that one from 10 feet.

Reed, meanwhile, cruised along an hour ahead of the other two, finishing up a 7-under par round with a 15-foot birdie putt on his final hole of the day. Little did he know how important that putt would become.

But in the playoff, "Captain America" became "Captain Can't Finish", as he missed a 20-foot eagle putt for the win on the first hole, then ripped a 10-footer past the cup on the second playoff hole that would have given him the victory. To his credit, Reed coaxed in par putts of five and six feet respectively in the playoff to stay alive, but it was Thomas who finally sealed the deal with a 3-footer for birdie on the 3rd playoff hole after he nearly hit his 2nd shot into the penalty area again.

It wasn't great golf in the extra session, but everyone played nicely in regulation. That is, until Thomas coughed up two shots in the final three holes to bring everyone back in it.

Interestingly, the three players who did make the playoff all seem set for big years on the PGA Tour. Thomas is one of the top 10 tee-to-green players in golf. If only he weren't an average putter. He can win any week, anywhere. Don't be surprised to see him do big, big things in 2020.

Schauffele is one of the most consistent players in the world. He's not a household name yet, but he might be soon. His putter betrayed him in the playoff, but his overall game is sublime. He just needs a big win or two to really get his confidence soaring.

And Reed, of course, is already a Masters champion and a player with an incredible amount of confidence and ability to match. His occasionally-wild driver is the only thing that holds him back from time to time, but there aren't many players in golf you'd rather have putt a six footer for your life than that kid.

Those three are going to be tough all year. Let's hope they stay tough once the Ryder Cup rolls around in September at Whistling Straits.

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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...


Derrick Henry is 6-foot-3 and 247 lbs. He ran for 182 yards Saturday night as the Titans went into Foxboro(ugh) and beat (not stunned, I don’t think) the Patriots in a Wild Card game. This came after the tragicomedy of the earlier Bills-Texans game in Houston that, it being the playoffs, someone was forced to win.

And yet…I still think the Ravens are fortunate to be playing the Titans this Saturday night. I’m glad they won, and not just in gratitude for (maybe) putting an end to the Patriots’ dynasty for good. Tennessee was an average football team in 2019. They made the playoffs by beating a Houston team that kept Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins on the bench in Week 17. Two weeks earlier, in Nashville, they had the chance to take charge of the AFC South in their own building and couldn’t beat the Texans.

Since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, the Titans are the first team to finish with a 9-7 record four years in a row. That’s who they are, and I don’t think that’s going to beat the Ravens at the Bank.

I’m also reminded of last year’s game in Nashville, when Marcus Mariota and the Titans could manage slightly more than 100 yards of total offense in a 21-0 Ravens’ win. In the third quarter, Joe Flacco lazily jogged to the wide receiver spot with his usual enthusiasm about it, and Lamar Jackson took a shotgun snap and ran 22 yards to set up his team’s final touchdown.

Watching the play now, it seems almost quaint. But take that one play away, and the Titans are just like the Seahawks, Patriots, Texans, Rams, 49ers, Bills and Jets. They’ve never played against Lamar Jackson, so let’s see if they can keep up.


The Ravens went into Foxboro(ugh) in the first month of the last decade and beat the Patriots in a Wild Card game, the last one New England had played in prior to Saturday. You’ll remember that Ray Rice ran 83 yards off tackle for a touchdown on the game’s first play from scrimmage, and the stellar Baltimore defense basically ended the game after the first quarter by handing the offense short fields thanks to a strip sack and an interception.

Joe Flacco threw 10 passes in that game, completing four. Thanks to Rice’s run, the Ravens ran for almost 250 yards. The following weekend, the 9-7 Ravens went into Indianapolis and lost convincingly to Peyton Manning and the Colts, as might have been expected.

On Saturday, the Titans went into Foxboro(ugh) and won, albeit less impressively than the Ravens did 10 years earlier. Ryan Tannehill threw 15 passes and completed eight of them. Thanks to Henry, they ran for more than 200 yards.

And now the 9-7 Titans head into Baltimore. Like Manning did after the 2009 season, Lamar Jackson is going win the NFL MVP award after this season. Like the Ravens did in 2009, the Titans clinched a playoff spot only by winning in Week 17.

According to Pro Football Reference, the final betting line on that playoff game in Indianapolis in January 2010 was 6.5 points in favor of the Colts. I’ve seen the Ravens listed as 10-point favorites this Saturday night. Maybe a bit high, but the Titans don’t have the kind of defense that kept the spread so low for the Ravens back then.

In 2010, the Ravens nearly outgained the Colts in that playoff game. If that happens on Saturday for Tennessee, I’m guessing it might come because of some unimportant late-game stat-stuffing.


Jackson was named first-team All-Pro at quarterback last week. That wasn’t a surprise, nor was the fact that it wasn’t unanimous, as “only” 47 of the 50 voters chose Jackson for the award. The other three voters chose Seattle’s Russell Wilson, the consensus second choice for the MVP award that has yet to be announced. It’s not like they picked Duck Hodges or something.

The All-Pro announcement still made news though, because one of the three who didn’t vote for Jackson was Bill Polian, the former NFL executive who suggested prior to the 2018 draft that Jackson ought to work out at wide receiver.

Polian did admit he was wrong about Jackson a couple months back, but “only because I used the old, traditional quarterback standard with him, which is why John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome were more prescient than I was,” he said.

Now, it would be easy to say that the “old, traditional quarterback standard” refers specifically to Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Peyton Manning, who happened to be the leaders of the Bills and Colts teams for which Polian worked. If you had those guys, you’d certainly be looking for someone like them.

And just because Polian didn’t vote for Jackson here, it doesn’t mean he’s reneged on his mea culpa. Maybe he just thinks Wilson is a better player than Jackson, though the Seattle quarterback isn’t exactly a traditional quarterback either.

Still, you just have to wonder whether he (and too many others) still think that Jackson is only a good quarterback because other people found a way to make him one, that he’s good because of Greg Roman or the pistol formation or some other nonsense. In the end, it doesn’t matter why someone is having a transcendent season, does it?


Random notes.

1. Watching the game from Philadelphia on Sunday, I was reminded again that the playoff system in the NFL should change immediately. It’s fine to give each division winner a playoff berth, but the teams should be seeded after that. In the NFC, the Seahawks should have been at home, against Minnesota, and the Eagles should have been in New Orleans. The AFC matchups worked out “correctly,” for this year anyway.

2. Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia has a bit more atmosphere to it than M&T Bank Stadium does, I think. It might be the somewhat “open” end that looks out toward the Philly skyline. No matter what you think of the Philly teams, the South Philadelphia Sports Complex is perfect. It’s convenient, the parking is plentiful and well-organized, and there are more than a few ways to get in and out.

3. I’ve had enough of the recorded player intros on NBC football broadcasts—the elementary school, THE Ohio State University, made by Taco Bell, etc. They always have to rush through them anyway so they don’t miss any of the first play of a drive.

4. After rushing for at least 1,200 yards in four straight years (2011-2014), Marshawn Lynch has rushed for about 1,600 yards in the years since, stopping to retire twice. The Seahawks couldn’t have signed him in the hope that he’d actually give them any real production, his touchdown in Philly notwithstanding.

5. Anecdotal observation, after a Wild Card weekend of football watching—none of the eight teams that played on Saturday and Sunday is anywhere close to the 2019 Baltimore Ravens. They can’t move the ball in the same way or as efficiently. It’s just a lot harder for them. But you already knew that.

6. Five days out, it looks like a rainy and warm Saturday night for Ravens-Titans. No predictions yet for 13 days from now in the same spot.

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Sunday
January 5
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1959



on a silver platter, now


The #1 seed vs. the #6 seed. It's all set up that way for the Ravens now after last night's 20-13 Tennessee win over New England.

When's the last time the "6" beat the "1" in the NFL playoffs?

I'm glad you asked. It happened in 2010. Both 1's lost that year, as the Jets won in New England and Green Bay beat the Falcons in Atlanta.

Since then, #1 seeds are 8-0 vs. #6 seeds, and they've won those eight games by an average of 7.8 points.

So, unless they lay a 9-year egg, the Ravens are going to the AFC Championship after dismantling the Titans in Baltimore next Saturday.

That's what should happen, anyway.

The Ravens are the best team in the NFL and the Titans were lucky to make the playoffs. I don't see much reason for worry next Saturday in Baltimore.

The Ravens will have to contend with Derrick Henry, the NFL's leading rusher, next Saturday night in Baltimore.

And let's be serious. If the Ravens lose next Saturday night and squander a 14-2 regular season and a semi-cakewalk to the AFC title game, they don't deserve to play for the world championship in Miami on February 2nd.

I don't see it happening. It would be a shocking conclusion to an otherwise out-of-this-world season. But the Titans are coming to town with an 18-wheeler for a running back and a quarterback who found some mid-season mojo after learning how to lose in Miami to start his NFL career.

Tennessee might have finished 9-7. And they surely took advantage of a Houston team that had almost nothing to play for in the regular season finale. But this Titans team coming to Baltimore has won four straight games on the road, by far its most impressive team accomplishment of 2019-2020.

Tennesse's also the same team that lost 14-7 to offensively challenged Buffalo -- in Nashville -- and were blanked at Denver, 16-0.

But they're clearly a team with nothing to lose and everything to gain next Saturday night. They're the hunters. The Ravens, of course, have everything to lose.

This week will be filled with lots of pre-game analysis and internet trolls sniping back and forth about how Tennessee hasn't ever seen anything like Lamar Jackson and how the Ravens haven't seen this Derrick Henry. The Titans will stroll into town next weekend as the free wheelers they are and the Ravens will have to avoid tightening up and keeping Tennessee in the game.

The ball isn't round and it bounces in strange ways, but the Ravens should plow through the Titans with relative ease next Saturday night. Nothing except the intervention of luck will make the game close.

The Ravens aren't about to be a statistic. Not after a two-week bye. Not after doing what they did in the regular season. Not with the MVP of the league at the helm.

Tennessee's comeuppance is six days away.

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saints and seahawks


The two NFC playoff games offer an obvious contrast in both expectations and future capabilities.

Only the Saints figure to have any shot at all in making some noise in the NFC. But they first have to get past a pesky Minnesota team that could pose problems for them if Kirk Cousins is able to produce a quality effort.

Drew Brees and the Saints host Minnesota this afternoon, with a trip to Green Bay on the line for the Saints.

The Saints went 13-3 in the regular season but that was only good enough for a 3rd seed, while Minnesota didn't really try all that hard in losing their season finale to Chicago and finished at 10-6 instead of a more respectable 11-5. Record aside, though, the Vikings had some quality wins during the regular season. They can run the ball effectively and throw it well, too. Their defense is decent but...they won't be playing the Lions or Bears this afternoon. They'll be playing perhaps the league's best QB-WR combination in the league in Drew Brees and Michael Thomas.

New Orleans will be on the road next weekend at Green Bay should they win today. Minnesota would go to San Francisco if they can pull off the upset in Louisiana.

We like the Saints in this one. Their improving defense will be in "bend don't break" mode for most of the day and that's about what they'll do, as New Orleans wins, 34-24.

In Philadelphia, the 9-7 Eagles probably don't deserve to host a playoff game, but the league says they get that privilege, even though Seattle (11-5) was the much better team and came within one inch (really, one inch) of hosting a game today in Seattle instead of traveling across country to play in the City of Brotherly Love.

And even though the Eagles stumbled into the post-season -- by accident, almost -- and clearly look to be up against it today, it's still reasonable to think they cobble together a decent defensive performance and stay in this game.

But it's also more likely that the Seahawks figure out a way to out-quality Philadelphia when the game is on the line.

We're going with the visitors here as Seattle jumps out to a 17-7 halftime lead and hangs from there to win 26-21.

And in case you missed the playoff opener yesterday in Houston, the Texans won the Can't-Coach-Bowl, 22-19 in overtime. It was a game that featured some incredibly awful decisions by both Bill O'Brien of the Texans and Sean McDermott of the Bills.

O'Brien gave the Bills life with 1:16 remaining with a bizarre decision to go for it on 4th down when a field goal would have likely salted the game away. McDermott completely botched the final two minutes of the first half, as the Bills kicked a late field goal to go up 13-0 instead of perhaps scoring a TD to enter the locker room ahead, 17-0.

There were probably five other strange coaching moves throughout the game. And saying "probably five" means you could come up with ten and we'd agree with you.

Predictably, the referees got involved on several occasions and their decisions were game-altering, potentially.

From a second half kick-off "fumble" by Houston that was changed to a touchback because the receiver "gave himself up" by tossing the ball to the ref, to a missed play clock expiration on a huge overtime throw and catch by the Texans, the officials most certainly weren't at their best on Saturday. There was also a crack-back block in overtime that stymied a potential game-winning field goal attempt by Buffalo, one that former head of officials Mike Perreia said after the game was the incorrect application of the rule. Imagine that.

In the end, though, far more than Houston deserved to win the game, Buffalo deserved to lose. And, they did.

They gave up a 3rd and 18 throw in overtime on the aforementioned "play clock" play and then surrendered another big play moments later that sealed their fate. In the end, the better team might have lost, but the better team also squandered a 16-0 lead.

And the losing quarterback played like a man possessed. Sometimes Josh Allen was possessed with greatness and sometimes he was possessed with madness. It was entertaining, if nothing else.

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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 roll past poor-shooting indiana


The Maryland Terrapins rolled to a 75-59 victory yesterday afternoon in the XFINITY Center against a poor shooting Indiana Hoosier team that had no answer for the second half Maryland offensive explosion. Jalen Smith led all scorers with 19 points and he also shared high rebound honors (8) with Aaron Wiggins.

The Terps put up 47 points in the final 20 minutes, despite only hitting 2 three-point shots during the second half. It was the ability of the Maryland guards to penetrate and score, or get inside and dish for an easy basket or trip to the foul line, that sealed Indiana’s fate. Maryland also dominated the foul line against an Indiana team that prides itself on making more foul shots than their opponents even attempt.

Yesterday, Maryland made 21 shots from the charity stripe while the Hoosiers had just 18 attempts.

Aaron Wiggins chipped in 13 points on Saturday as the Terps blew out Indiana.

Mark Turgeon’s Terps were propelled to a 28-20 halftime lead behind some spirited defensive play and an Indiana offensive drought that saw the Hoosiers make just one lone field goal during the last 9:32 of the first half. Neither team displayed offensive proficiency in the opening half, but Maryland was able to score 20 points during the last 10 minutes after posting just 8 in the initial 10.

It was back to back threes by Jalen Smith, coupled with spurts of physical assertion by Daryll Morsell, that pulled Maryland out of their own early offensive funk. Morsell tallied 9 points in the opening 20 minutes.

Both teams shot under 30% from the field for the half, but Maryland’s 4-1 advantage in three-point shots made, and their 6-3 advantage from the foul line helped account for their 8-point lead. The Terp guards committed just 2 of Maryland’s 4 first half turnovers while Indiana coughed it up six times.

Not to be discounted was Maryland's first half defensive effort. Their ball pressure was essential in keeping Indiana from being able to make the entry passes needed to ignite the Hoosier inside game. The second half began with Indiana looking like they would be in this game for the long haul. Six second-half minutes had elapsed and the Hoosiers trailed by just 3 points, 36-33. 10 minutes later, Maryland led by a whopping 30 points, 71-41.

During that 35-8 run, the Terps scored inside in every way possible. Run outs, drive and dish, taking the ball to the rim, and one on one moves in, and around, the paint were all contributors to the blowout that this game became. In growing the lead from 3 to 30, Maryland had bursts of 8 points in 2 minutes and 7 points in just 1 minute. They were quite impressive streaks for a team that made just two three-point shots during the entire second half.

Meanwhile, the Hoosiers were missing just about every shot they attempted. They were just 1 for 15 shooting threes until they stroked several during garbage time.

Early in each half, Indiana had some success scoring inside. Both Joey Brunk and Trayce Jackson-Davis appeared too big while having no issues pushing Terp defenders around the bucket and scoring inside. That strategy should have been the focus of Archie Miller’s offense all game long, but as they have done in other games this year, the Hoosiers failed to consistently pound the ball down low.

Once they fell behind, Indiana’s poor three-point shooting sealed their fate. Without the ability to score points in bunches, they had no chance to make a comeback, and played like they knew it for a large portion of the second half.

With Anthony Cowan putting up 13 points and 6 assists, along with 13 points from Wiggins, 12 from Morsell, and 7 from Eric Ayala, the Terps guards outplayed their Big Ten counterparts and in doing so guided Maryland to victory.

Next up is a very good Ohio State team on Tuesday night at the XFINITY Center.

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Saturday
January 4
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1958



count on the offensive linemen


I got involved in this discussion on Friday and wound up being on the island all by my lonesome. Imagine that.

There were several of us discussing the Ravens and the main topic of the conversation centered on the most "reliable department" on the team. These are apparently the things you discuss when your team has a bye on the first playoff weeekend.

"Our secondary is dope!" exclaimed one of my friends. Yes, he's under 40. Otherwise, he would have been laughed out of the room for using "dope" in that context.

"Yeah, the secondary is the best thing we have," countered another friend. He didn't use the word "dope". He's in his mid 50's, like me. "They're as good as any secondary in the league."

"What about our tight ends?" asked the other guy in the conversation. "They can do it all. Block, catch, get yards after the catch. Everything."

None of those answers were wrong, per se. Our secondary is ----- dope? Those three tight ends are outstanding. Each has a unique talent, yet all three fit nicely with the Ravens' offense.

But I don't see the secondary or tight ends being more reliable, game in and game out, than the offensive linemen. And I don't see any "department" on the team being as underappreciated as those five guys who line up on every offensive play with a well thought out, systematic "method" that has to be executed to near perfection for everything to fall into place.

Lamar Jackson recently gave Marshal Yanda and the offensive linemen Rolex watches as a show of appreciation for their hard work in 2019.

And here's the best thing about offensive linemen.

They get no credit.

They seek no credit.

They don't even really want the credit.

And that's why they're the best department on the team.

"We can achieve anything as long as we don't care who gets the credit" is my favorite coaching axiom these days. At any of my coaching seminars I present these days, it's always part of the discussion no matter the team, sport, etc.

If you can identify players who don't care who gets the credit, they're keepers. They might be few and far between, but they're keepers.

Offensive linemen...

The play gets called and they get into position. The center knows what he has to do once the ball is snapped. The guard knows his role. He can't really deviate from it or the play breaks down. The tackle knows what the guard and center are going to do and he follows accordingly. He, too, is keenly aware that the play falls apart if he's not able to execute his role to near perfection.

For all of the discourse about the value of a great offensive line coach or offensive coordinator, the undeniable fact is that the players make or break all of the game planning that gets put in place.

You see, the offensive line, on roughly 60 players per-game, simply can't be "off". They can't freewheel it. Can't read the play and improvise. Can't do anything except run the play call through their mind and then execute what they're supposed to do for those four to seven seconds.

And here's the best part of the whole thing: When they've done their job -- the one they've been coached to do -- they don't hop around like Kevin Bacon in Footloose. They don't spin the ball like a top, moonwalk like Michael Jackson, point down the field or taunt the opposition.

I had to laugh last Sunday when the Pittsburgh running back was tackled and Marcus Peters ran up to the pile and was picked up by the end zone microphones calling the Steeler a "b*tch" three times. I don't even remember Peters actually even being involved in the tackle. Yet there he was, front and center, sifting through the pile of players and blasting the running back.

I get it. That's football. It's emotional. Taunting and needling the opposition are part and parcel of the competition.

But you rarely ever see the offensive linemen do anything except "play". There's the occasional rough-housing after a blocking sequence and if someone takes a shot at the quarterback you'll often see an offensive linemen come to his aid. But you won't see much gloating or showboating from an offensive linemen. When's the last time you saw Ronnie Stanley showboat? Or Marshal Yanda?

Offensive linemen know going in they're not getting the credit.

They know if they do their job well it's going to help the quarterback make $25 million while they "only" make $10 million.

They know the running back gets all the SportsCenter highlights and the Madden covers while they get shoulder surgery.

They know the wide receivers want all the glory, none of the blame, and can't function properly unless the ball comes their way a dozen times a game at a minimum.

Offensive linemen make all of those things happen and you hardly even know who they are. They just show up to work, do the job, punch out at 5 o'clock, and go home for a cold beer and the news on TV.

No one is more reliable and underappreciated than an offensive lineman.

They don't need any credit to do their job. They just do it.

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patriots and texans


As is often the case when you're down to the last six teams in each conference, the slate of first weekend playoff games are very interesting.

There's not one result that would shock me over the next two days, although I guess I'd say I can't see any way that Minnesota goes to New Orleans and wins. Still, it's football. And at this stage, just about any team could beat anyone else on any given Saturday or Sunday.

Can the Buffalo defense limit DeAndre Hopkins today in Houston?

I definitely understand the favor Tennessee has been getting this week in advance of their anticipated matchup with the Patriots. The Titans, despite losing two of their last three, come into the game as one of the league's hottest teams. New England couldn't even beat Miami at home on the final Sunday of the season. And they were trying, remember.

Nearly everyone thinks New England's "run" is over. And from 35,000 feet, that's probably right. Even if they restock in the off-season and get Brady a few quality wide receivers, Father Time is finally starting to win the battle in Foxborough.

But I'm not sure today's the day for a playoff upset in New England. I think they have one more hour of pride left in them before they go to Kansas City next Sunday and lose 37-17. I like the Patriots to win tonight, in a tight one, 20-17.

The afternoon game is very intriguing. They say "defense travels" in sports. And if that's the case, the Bills certainly have an advantage in Houston, although J.J. Watt's return to the Texans should provide some kind of extra spark for the hosts.

The question, of course, is whether Kyle Allen is ready for prime time. We assume DeShaun Watson can handle the heat of the post-season, even though he doesn't have much of a track record in "big games" in his professional career. Allen, though, is playing the biggest game of his young career today in Houston. This isn't September. It's January. Throw a pick at the wrong time today and you're on the first tee Wednesday afternoon in Naples.

Buffalo's offense isn't much to write home about, but if they can somehow cobble together a 10-0 lead or any kind of two-score advantage, they could hang on and let their defense win this one.

I'm banking on the first-time playoff jitters for Allen being the difference in this one.

While a Buffalo win wouldn't surprise me in the least, I suspect Houston wins this one 24-19.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner


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 indiana today


Much has happened to the Maryland basketball team since they last played a Big Ten game.

Since their loss to Penn State on December 10, Maryland came to a “mutual agreement” with the Mitchell twins who announced they will both end their careers with Maryland and enter the transfer portal, and Chol Marial (and his giant wing span) made his debut.

That sequence of moves leaves the Terps very thin at the 4 and 5 spots, but in reality, the collective 4 points and 5 rebounds per game contributed by the Mitchell twins can easily be made up.

About a week before their official announcement, I received a text from a reliable source that the Terp locker room was in disarray. I wasn’t made privy to the who and what of the situation, but it seems that the issue has been handled. Other than an occasional breather for Jalen Smith, Maryland losses little by the departure of the Mitchell twins. On to today’s game.

Mark Turgeon and the Terps need a win today against Indiana to improve to 2-1 in Big Ten play.

The 17th ranked Terrapins will try to improve to 2-1 in conference play and 12-2 overall when they take on the Indiana Hoosiers at noon in the XFINITY Center.

I won’t save my prediction for the end of the piece. I’ll come out and say right now that the Terps will win this game, but it will be tight. Although they will be dominated on the interior, I think the Terrapin guard play can propel them to a win.

Without a true interior scoring threat, and with the outside shots not falling, Maryland’s shooting percentage is horrid. At 42% (Indiana hits 48%) they are last in the league. Both teams hit just 31% of their 3-point tries, but Indiana is better offensively because they are one of the most effective teams in the country inside of the three-point line. The Hoosiers get in trouble when they forget to force the ball inside.

Expect Indiana’s Justin Smith (6’7”), Joey Brunk (6’11”), and Trayce Jackson-Davis (6’9”) to get the boatload of front-court minutes for the Hoosiers. Pay particular attention to the freshman, Jackson-Davis. He leads Indiana with 15.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. The crafty lefty is nimble around the basket (66% shooting percentage) and knows not to venture too far from the hoop for his shoring opportunities.

Smith is a tough matchup because of his ability to slash while using his size to get off short shots. I look for Maryland’s Darryl Morsell or Aaron Wiggins to share time checking the Hoosier three-man. Brunk is a big body in the paint, but not a major threat to put up big points.

With Maryland clearly out-gunned inside, it will be the Terrapin backcourt that must prove superior if the Terps want to win this game. Indiana coach, Archie Miller, will send out Al Durham (6’4”) and Devonte Green (6’3”) to defend the Terp guards. Off the bench, Rob Phinisee (6’1”) and Armaan Franklin provide very productive minutes.

On paper, the guard match-up would also seem to favor Indiana, but sometimes stats are deceptive. Durham and Green both connect on about 39% of their three-point tries, but they don’t attempt very many. Phinisee hits 37.5 of his deep balls, the rest of the team misses often. The turnover stats only slightly portray how sloppy the Indiana guards can be. I look for Maryland to finally pressure the opposing guards, and as a result, get more steals and turnovers than they usually force.

There are a host of keys for Maryland if they want to avoid a home Big Ten loss. For one, they have to keep Indiana off of the foul line. Indiana is a top five team, nationally, in free-throws attempted. This may mean frequent double teams inside, and frequent blocks of time playing a zone defense. The Terps must get transition baskets to help offset their lack of inside fire-power, and most importantly, the Terp guards need to penetrate on offense. Stopping dribble penetration has been a Hoosier defensive weakness in the games that I watched and the Terp guards can exploit this deficiency.

The best player on the court may be Indiana’s Jackson-Davis, but the best guard on the court will be Maryland’s Anthony Cowan. Not only must Cowan have a big game, but Eric Ayala, Wiggins, and even Serrell Smith must come through for Mark Turgeon’s team. I think they can.

It’s a home conference game for Maryland and the crowd should be rocking. Jalen Smith will have his hands full inside, and whoever plays alongside him will need to step up also. Chol Marial and his massive wingspan are too much of a wildcard to expect much help other than a few rim protections. However, the Terps guards will play up to expectations and carry Maryland to a tough victory.

The early line posted Maryland as an 8-point favorite. I think that’s real generous for the home team and see a tough, low scoring, Terp win. I’ll go with 66-63.

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Friday
January 3
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1957



things you know...and don't know...


You might not know -- I don't really follow college football all that closely. I think it mostly stems from the fact that in my 56 years here, I've never once felt like the University of Maryland ever really tried to market their product to me. And because I don't have an alma mater, per se, I don't have a school close to my heart.

I don't dislike college football, by the way. I just don't follow it all that closely. That said, I'll go chalk and call a victory for LSU next Monday night, 44-32 over Clemson.

You probably know -- I really appreciate when an athlete or coach takes time to honor the Glory of God in a post-game press conference or field interview. In that moment where they have 30 seconds or so to answer questions and, for the most part, talk about themselves, it's heartwarming to hear someone like Trevor Lawrence recite an Ephesians verse or Dabo Swinney say, "To God goes the Glory!"

I remember once after Florida won a big football game and Tim Tebow was interviewed with "John 3:16" in black marker under his eyes, it was told afterwards that 93 million people did a "John 3:16" Google search. If just one of those 93 million people grew closer to God because of that search, Tebow's biggest victory that day wasn't beating Tennessee.

You definitely don't know -- When I was 11 years old, I bowled a 144 duckpin game at Southwest Lanes. It was, then, the "house record" for an 11-year old and stayed that way for 4 years. Here's the thing, though: It was a total fluke. I was a good bowler for my age, routinely carrying a 105 average.

But that 144 game was insanely out of character. I think my next best game, ever, was 127.

You probably know -- I think the New Year's Day NHL game is one of the best "one-off" sporting events in our country. Pond hockey -- which is what the league is trying to replicate with the traditional outdoor game -- is near and dear to almost every NHL player's heart. But here's the deal...the game's cosmetic appeal suffers somewhat when it's not played in a cold weather venue.

I think the folks in Dallas did a great job this past Wednesday, but winter, outdoor hockey is never played in Texas. The venue should always be Buffalo, in my opinion. Or Detroit. Let those two places alternate the game, with different visiting teams, I say.

Pete Rose bet on baseball games he managed. Hall of Famer? No chance.

You might not know -- I'd never, ever cast a Hall of Fame vote for Pete Rose. I've been pretty staunch in my stance against Clemens, Bonds and the other known steroid users, but I probably could be talked down from that position over time. But, the Rose issue? ZERO chance I'd ever vote for him. He bet on baseball games that he managed. My guess is he bet on baseball games he played in, too.

And I'd never believe that Rose only bet on his team in the days of his wagering addiction. I'm willing to bet (ha ha) that he most certainly bet against his team, as well.

You probably know -- I like lists and ranking things. I saw something recently that suggested LeBron James was the Athlete of the Decade for 2010-2019. Fair enough. He was definitely fantastic. But....ummm...Serena Williams won 12 Grand Slam singles titles in the decade.

She also won a bunch of other tournaments and a number of Grand Slam doubles titles, but we all know that Grand Slam singles are what matter most. And she won 12 of them in the decade. By the way, Serena won those at at age 30, 32, 34 and so on. In her 30's, she still won...a lot.

You definitely don't know -- One year when I was working radio row at the Super Bowl, I got up to use the bathroom in between guests and when I came back, there was a large group of people around our broadcast table. Glenn Clark handed me an information sheet and said, "You only have Phillip for about 4 minutes. He has to be over at the Cleveland station next." I looked down at the guest chair and there was a guy, mid 20's, jeans and a flannel shirt.

I sat in the chair, put on the headset and looked at the promotional sheet Glenn had given me. At the top it said, "Phillip Phillips and Duracell Batteries". I had no idea who Phillip Phillips was. I knew I didn't have time to b.s. or come up with a wacky way of figuring out who he was, so I just blurted it out right before we went back on the air. "Dude...please don't think I'm being disrespectful to you...but I have no idea who you are." And, I didn't. Later, I'd own a couple of his CDs and wound up enjoying his music, but on that occasion, I had no idea who Phillip Phillips -- the winner of American Idol in 2012 -- was.

You might be surprised to know -- I've never owned a Ravens jersey. In fact, the only piece of Ravens apparel I currently own is a winter ski hat that I keep in my locker at Eagle's Nest for cold weather golf. I'll probably go out and buy "something purple" for the upcoming playoff games, though. My children own Ravens jerseys, mainly because they can wear them on Fridays during football season as part of "out of uniform day" and my son wears his to games that we attend together. My daughter wears my son's old Steve Smith Sr. jersey and my son has a Mark Andrews jersey.

I do own three pieces of Orioles apparel, interestingly enough. I own nothing at all with a University of Maryland logo, but do have several pieces of Towson University apparel. And I own a Lee's McRae College sweatshirt and tee shirt. The story there? It's a small school in Banner Elk, North Carolina. My parents attended that school and met there.

Only a select few people know this -- On a Blast team flight in the 1990's, I sat next to Yoko Ono on a 3-hour flight from Dallas to Los Angeles. We (the Blast) had a marketing deal back then with TWA and would routinely get several first-class tickets on flights that weren't full. On the flight to L.A., I sat down next to this quiet, Asian woman who had a hat that she positioned in such a way that you really couldn't see her face from the side. I didn't initiate any discussion with her and wound up sleeping during most of the flight.

When I got off the plane, the players all wanted to know what "we" talked about. "Who?" I asked. "Yoko Ono, you dope. You just sat next to her for 3 hours," they replied. I honestly had no idea. I was never a Beatles fan. And I seriously didn't know it was her.

You have to know -- I'm not a big fan of the Philadelphia Flyers. I can honestly say I don't dislike any other team in sports, pro or college, anywhere close to as much as I don't like the Flyers. In fact, I play this little game with people all the time to show how much disdain I have for the Flyers.

If there was a way to guarantee that the Flyers would go 0-82-0 next season -- losing every game in regulation -- I'd sign off on the Steelers, Yankees and Duke winning the next two championships in a row. I'm a bad guy...I know this. Editor's note: It's with great delight I report last night's score from Nevada: Golden Knights 5 - Flyers 4.

You just never know -- A month or so ago, I was with a friend who asked me to pick out some songs to play while we were driving. In succession, I knew all the words to Eminem's "Square Dance", Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" and Judas Priest's "You've Got Another Thing Coming".

"You have the absolute strangest taste in music, ever," he said.

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nfl hall of fame finalists set


"The room", as they call it in the NFL, is now set for this year's Hall of Fame class.

After eight months of pondering, the Hall of Fame voters have narrowed down this year's potential class to 15 finalists. It works this way every year.

As many as five of the finalists will be chosen Feb. 1 -- the day before Super Bowl LIV -- for the Hall's Class of 2020 by the board of selectors. The Class of 2020 will be formally introduced during the NFL Honors show that evening.

Here are the 15 finalists: Reggie Wayne, Troy Polamalu, Steve Atwater, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Tony Boselli, LeRoy Butler, Sam Mills, Zach Thomas, Bryant Young, Alan Faneca, Steve Hutchinson, Edgerrin James, John Lynch and Richard Seymour.

Wayne and Polamalu appear to be consesus picks in this, their first year of eligibility respectively. Isaac Bruce figures to finally make it this year, which could mean Torry Holt has to wait yet one more year for his hopeful entry into Canton.

If you put any stock in what some of the national media folks are saying -- many of whom are in the room and have a say in the voting on February 1 -- Steve Hutchinson and Richard Seymour are going to be getting a heavy push this time around.

Me? I'd vote for Wayne, Polamalu, Holt, Bruce and Atwater as my five Hall of Fame selections.

Who are your five? Use the comments section below and cast your votes.

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Thursday
January 2
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1956



maybe it's supposed to be this way?


Perhaps once you win the Super Bowl MVP award -- and your team wins, too, of course -- you should always be treated with some kind of special reverence.

Joe Flacco might very well deserve that, after all.

Maybe it's supposed to be this way when you show up from a small school in Delaware and wind up riding in a car on Pratt Street as a Super Bowl champion.

You can bark all you want about "he only had one great month" or "the defense carried the franchise back then" or "if the 49'ers don't screw up in the last minute, we lose", but those are all basic opinions. What's a fact is this: Joe Flacco was the Super Bowl MVP in 2013 when the Ravens won the game over San Francisco.

Lots of things about Flacco can be debated. That "fact", though, can not be debated. Or changed.

I can't profess to being an expert on the Chicago sports scene but maybe longtime Bears fans believe Jim McMahon was also "great" because he was the quarterback of record when the Bears won the Super Bowl in 1985. McMahon, folks might forget, was actually a "great" college quarterback and, despite Chicago's well-known defense in the mid '80's, was also more than capable during his NFL career. But I think it's safe to say McMahon's NFL career didn't culminate in him being considered a "great" quarterback.

I have no idea if Brad Johnson buys a meal in Tampa Bay these days. They've only won one Super Bowl and he was their quarterback that season. I suspect he gets some special treatment down there, still.

Joe Flacco did more smiling than frowning during his 11 seasons in Baltimore.

So now, 10 months after his departure, it still amazes me that Flacco defenders bare their fangs with alarming ferocity when Joe's name is brought up and heaping, glowing, over-the-top praise doesn't follow along in the very next hashtag.

Isn't his MVP award in the biggest game all the medicine his supporters need?

I recently posted something on Twitter that came from a national sports show where three analysts listed their most underappreciated NFL player of the decade. One of them, Peter Schrager, listed his choice as -- Joe Flacco.

I then remarked that I thought it was good that recency bias didn't come into play for Schrager. Joe, after all, had a nice 5-year run to start the decade, then kind of petered out over the last five years. Typically, I mused, a guy with that sort of track record (good a while back, not so good now) would be overlooked. Recency bias, they call it.

I thought I was complimenting Flacco.

I was, in fact. I thought Joe was a good quarterback in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. I figured that's what Schrager was also pointing out. "Great" quarterbacks are very rarely underappreciated, which is why Schrager didn't list Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. He listed a guy who was good -- and probably didn't quite get the due he deserved: Joe Flacco.

I didn't think Joe was great from 2010-2019. He was great in January of 2013, for sure. Greater than great. He had a "historical month", actually. But overall, in those five years, I thought Joe was good. If I were to give him a report card for his total body of work, he'd get a "B" for his play in the regular season and an "A" for his playoff performances. It would work out, I suppose, to a solid grade of: B+.

That wasn't good enough for the Flacco lovers. Several wanted an explanation from me, or, at the very least, wanted to remind me that Joe wasn't just "good". He was "great".

We engaged in a silly battle about the difference between those two words. I said "good", they said "great". I said "Nope, he was good", they said, "You're nuts, he was great."

And on we went. People brought up his wide receivers, the offensive lines he worked with, the coordinators the team employed, and so on. I fully suspected a breakdown of the weather he was forced to play in over the decade, but it never did quite come to that. They wanted so badly for me to say, "Joe Flacco was a great quarterback."

I even got involved in a discussion with someone -- somehow -- about Eli Manning vs. Joe Flacco. All I said was this: "Eli Manning will someday get into the room as a finalist for the Hall of Fame. I'm not sure he's going to get in, but he will be one of the 15 finalists at some point later this decade. Joe will never get in the room as a finalist."

That created more angst. Stats were thrown at me. Offensive lines were discussed. David Tyree and Lee Evans were brought up. Fate played a role, I was told. I was, again, apparently disrespecting Joe Flacco.

I can't stress this enough. I liked Joe Flacco. I always did, from the day he set foot in town. I thought he was a good quarterback, and a welcomed sight after what had become a lengthy stint looking for a "real" franchise quarterback. I thought he had some great games, both in the regular season and the playoffs. I also thought Joe was a "winner", in the way that, say, perhaps Aaron Rodgers also is and Dak Prescott and Matt Ryan aren't.

But when you stop poking the water with a stick and the muddy surface gives way to clarity, I also believe Joe was just a good quarterback. Over 11 years, he turned out to be "good". And I can't see why there's anything at all wrong with that.

In a weird way, it gives credence to Peter Schrager's stance that Joe was underappreciated, even though I believe I most certainly "appreciated" him for everything he did in Charm City. I just don't think he was "great", that's all.

Tom Brady? Great.

Drew Brees? Great.

Aaron Rodgers? Great.

Joe Flacco? Good. And a Super Bowl MVP, too. And that, I'd say, should be more than enough for him and the folks in town who still support him.

(Now Lamar Jackson? He's great. So far...)

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ten golf predictions for 2020


The golfing off-season is over. At least on the PGA Tour, that is.

It might be 26 and cold here in Balwmer this morning, but it's 89 and beautiful in Hawaii today and that's where the TOUR kicks off the 2020 portion of its schedule with the Tournament of Champions, an event for all winners of official TOUR events from last season. Only Tiger Woods (why bother?) and Brooks Koepka (knee) aren't in the field. Everyone else who won a tournament last season is teeing it up.

We'll have our major championship predictions later on in the year, but for now, we thought we'd throw ten potential storylines at you and see how we fare. As always, we encourage you to print this out and stick on the 'fridge for later evaluation.

These are in no specific order of importance or anything like that. Just random predictions as they come to mind.

1. Kuchar is in the hunt at a major -- He's been oh-so-close on a couple of occasions and his game is tailor made for Augusta and the British Open. Could this be the year Matt breaks through, finally? We see him in the hunt somewhere along the line, with a chance to win on the back nine in the final round. What happens? Stay tuned.

2. Koepka slides back -- He's not going to look like a 10-handicap or anything, but Brooks Koepka's run of three straight years with a major title comes to an end in 2020. There, at least you know one name we won't be picking to win one of the biggies this year.

Finally, a big win for Tony Finau? That's what we see.

3. Spieth wins by May -- Who knows when and where...but Jordan Spieth will break his almost three year winless streak with a victory before May. Our guess? Valspar.

4. Reed gets suspended -- I know, that's a shocker, right? But after a nasty public display of frustration at a tournament early in the season, Patrick takes a seat for a month in a rare suspension handed down by the Commissioner's office.

5. Hovland wins twice -- The only one of college golf's big three to not win once they turned pro last summer, former Oklahoma State star Viktor Hovland, will win twice in 2020. And he'll make the European Ryder Cup team as well.

6. Ernie still has it -- Ernie Els will win a "significant" tournament in 2020. By significant, we mean either a major (10%), a World Golf Championships event (20%) or one of the "Invitationals" like Riveria, Bay Hill or Muirfield Village (40%). There's still good golf left in the Big Easy.

7. Mickelson sniffs around at Winged Foot -- He won't win, but Phil Mickelson will be a major part of the story at Winged Foot this June as he tries to capture that elusive final leg of the career grand slam. Phil gets into contention on Saturday with opening rounds of 68-69 and stands on the 8th tee of the third round with a two shot lead, but.........you know how this one ends, unfortunately.

8. Finau wins a big event -- Tony Finau finally closes the door on that "he can't win" theory that seems to surround him. Finau will slip into the winner's circle at either a WGC event or something else "major" like TPC Sawgrass, Bay Hill, Muirfield Village or, yikes!, maybe even a major.

9. DeChambeau, feast or famine? -- We're not sure what to make of Bryson's added 20 pounds of muscle and his newly found 15 more yards of distance off the tee. It adds up to one of two things. He either stomps everyone and wins four times or his new body flattens his golf game and he doesn't win once. Which one? We have no idea.

10. Number 6 for Tiger? -- Tiger will be on the first page of the leaderboard when Jim Nantz ushers in the Sunday Masters broadcast like this, "Hello friends. The sun is out, the skies are blue, and the azaleas are wondering if they're about to witness history today, as Tiger Woods steps to the first tee just two shots off the lead, the exact same spot he was a year ago when he stunned the golfing world with his 15th major championship." Does Tiger win? You'll have to tune in to find out.

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the plays that make you smile


I’ve never much cared for end-of-year lists or New Year’s resolutions. While time marches on—irreversibly it appears—the natural world hurtling through the universe, how we measure time is quite artificial.

There is no difference between 11:59 p.m. December 31 and 12:01 a.m. January 1, besides the passage of time. We don’t “lose” or “gain” an hour in March and November, respectively; we simply change the numbers on a clock or hands on a watch. In the Hebrew calendar, we are in the middle of the year 5780, which is the beginning of a different decade, I guess.

So, no end-of-decade best-ofs, or a catalog of wishes for this year, or any jokes about 20-20 vision or wanting to be sedated. I’d rather talk about universal things, sports bits and pieces that make me smile no matter when they happen.

Take the deep ball, for instance. My father was like any Baltimorean of his generation; he never could stop talking about Johnny Unitas. In my mind, Johnny U. never did anything but throw it long, “50 yards off the shoulder” as Dad used to say, and used to attempt out in the street in front of the house.

Lamar has done plenty to make Baltimore smile over the last 14 months.

As many highlights as Lamar Jackson had in 2019, the deep throws were my favorites. The one to Hollywood Brown on Opening Day in South Florida, after which I texted several friends reminding them that the Super Bowl would be there. The next week on 3rd-and-long against Arizona that sealed the game. Long ones at the start of games in Seattle, to Miles Boykin, and in Cincinnati, once again to Brown. Even one against the Jets in the direction of Brown that would have been a touchdown without pass interference in the end zone.

The textbook deep ball is magical, neither too high in the air nor too low to the ground, arriving in the receiver’s hands in perfect stride without the defender having a chance to make it fail. The ball must be thrown early enough, yet not so early that the receiver can’t possibly get to the spot.

It’s my favorite play in football, no matter when it happens, which isn’t as often as you’d think.

Then there’s the perfectly-executed play on the basketball court. So often, a basket is made or missed due to one-on-one effort. Where and in whose arms a rebound ends up is often the result of great fundamentals, but other times it’s just luck. Sometimes, though, something happens exactly how it was drawn up.

I saw this just the other day, in an otherwise forgettable basketball game between Maryland and Bryant (which is in Rhode Island, if you didn’t know). The Terps had the ball with three seconds left on the shot clock and were inbounding the ball from midcourt. There are so few options in that situation, yet the Terps had a good one. A long pass toward the far elbow, at the same time a screen was being set away from the ball, led to a great chance for Anthony Cowan, the kind of three-point shot that would have been a good one in any situation.

Cowan missed the shot, but that was almost immaterial. He’d probably make it if they ran the play again the same way. I once spent 10 minutes after a game talking to a coach about a length-of-the-court play in the final seconds in the attempt to tie a game. It didn’t work, but it was such a cool play that I had to ask him about it.

Great golfers are magicians around the greens, and these days possess sheer power that you might never guess by looking at them. What makes me smile the most, however, is watching somebody “work” the ball— curve it, hit it low, or use/fight the wind to their advantage.

Tiger Woods hit a ridiculous sliced nine-iron in Mexico last year, but that was hardly the only time I saw something worth remembering in that way. These are the shots that tend to be hard to understand for most of us—even on good days—who still worry about making decent contact with the ball on every shot.

I can tell you the best shot I hit in 2019, because it was one of the few times I was able to visualize the exact shot I wanted to hit. It was a low-drawing six-iron to a back pin on the fifth hole at Rum Pointe, a windy spot surrounded by water where I’d literally never hit a good shot before. I almost wanted to leave right then and there, as a feeling I’d only thought about before actually crawled up my arms.

There are plenty of other plays in sports that are quite common, yet always make me realize the skill required to make them happen.

Last season, Major League Baseball teams grounded into 3,463 double plays, an average of more than 115 per team; how many of them required an almost-perfect sequence of events? How many times has Alex Ovechkin stood on the left wing on the power play, his “office,” and slapped a howitzer past a hopeless goaltender? So many that it’s old news, but it’s still enough to make you stand up and cheer his greatness.

Back to football, there’s something beautiful about a simple running play, like one I saw from Gus Edwards against the Steelers. There was the double-team on the nose tackle, the great kick-out block from the right offensive tackle, the timely block by the tight end on the middle linebacker and finally the “wham” on the safety from the wide receiver who had come in motion prior to the snap.

Someone sent me the “All 22” angles of that play, and I watched them over and over again. It must be fun for a team to work hard on every fundamental aspect of that play in practice and have it work to perfection in a game against a team that certainly has some idea of what’s coming. It was almost as fun to watch as all those long passes in the previous 15 games.

New years, as we define them, bring change. There are new laws, and there are the repeated routines of every new year. New decades, as we define them, give us a chance to reset, and to think about how quickly the world can change even in just 10 years. They even give us a chance to joke about how the “Roaring Twenties” are back, hopefully not followed by the return of the Depression.

There are some things, however, that don’t fit into any decade. Or, to put it differently, they probably fit into any decade. Sports has a lot of them, and that’s one of the reasons we keep paying attention to the games no matter how old we are.

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Wednesday
January 1
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1955



new year, new look, new impact


Happy New Year to all of you. Welcome to 2020!

Over the next month, we'll be doing some new things here at #DMD. We're doing our best to not stand still. Not all of those things will be of interest to all who visit. We know that going in. But the new elements to #DMD are important to us and we'll move forward with great enthusiasm and hope you'll come along!

You'll start seeing some new additions in the next week or so. The rest we'll roll out in January and February.

The first of those new ideas isn't mine, frankly. It comes from reader John Lippa, who suggests we host a "guest columnist" each week. I'll agree to that providing that contributors allow for editing for space. I love the idea of having readers become writers, even on a part-time, once-in-a-blue moon basis.

We'll run the guest columnist piece on Tuesday and/or Friday, depending on subject matter and how many we have in the queue, if any.

To submit your written piece of no more than 750 words, just send it to me: drew@drewsmorningdish.com. It must be sports related, obviously, but can be on any subject of your choosing. Know some chess tricks? Author a story! Interested in sharing your darts secrets? Share them with us! Or, just write about the Ravens, O's, Terps, etc.

We're caught up in Ravens fever, like everyone else in town! We're helping folks secure playoff tickets for the first game on January 11 and the (hopeful) AFC Championship Game on January 19. If you're in need of tickets, please reach out to me via email (drew@drewsmorningdish.com). We'll help if we can.

Our Super Bowl travel party is taking shape. We do still have a few spots remaining. If you're interested, just reach out via email and I'll get back to you with details.

I'd like to start 2020 by reminding all of you that the marketing partners you see here at #DMD are critical to our success. We ask that you patronize them whenever you can. All of the local partners are people I've worked with in the past. I'll vouch for them any day!

I'll be taking another small group of golfers to Pebble Beach in October. While a majority of the people on the trip are part of our marketing partner base, we will have a few openings for readers, friends, etc. If you and a friend (you must do the trip as a twosome) would be interested in going with us to Pebble Beach, please send me an email and I'll get you the details. Note: Your golf handicap is not important. Our trip last October featured players with handicaps ranging from 1 to 20. If you love golf, that's all that matters.

Thank you for your support since 2014. Here's to a great 2020!

DF


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20 for 2020


Predictions?

Of course!!

The best part about making them on January 1 is they're mostly forgotten by the summer.

Here are 20 predictions for 2020.

1. The O's get better -- I know, it's hard to not improve on a 54-win season. 2020 will see the Birds improve by a whopping six games, as they finish 60-102. Baby steps...

2. The Blue Jays emerge -- Toronto will be a surprise in the American League. When September rolls around, they'll still be in the playoff hunt.

Can Trout and the Angels get back to the playoffs...finally?

3. A first-time Masters champ -- I already know who it is, but I'm saving it for April. But this year's Masters winner will be a first-time major champion. In a playoff. It ends on the 2nd playoff hole.

4. NCAA hoops Final Four -- Memphis, Butler, Auburn, Ohio State. Buckeyes basketball makes up for Buckeyes football?

5. Rays win!! Rays win!! Rays win!! -- Tampa Bay beats Atlanta in the World Series.

6. Reagor is a Raven -- "With the 32nd pick in the 1st round of the NFL Draft in April, the Ravens select...Jalen Reagor, wide receiver, Texas Christian University."

7. Giannis, Bucks break through -- Milwaukee beats the Clippers in the NBA Finals.

8. Antonio Brown resurfaces -- Once he's cleared by the NFL (and suspended for 6 games), the wildly mercurial wide receiver will spend the final 10 games of the 2020 regular season with.......the Philadelphia Eagles.

9. Ravens stay hot -- They won't duplicate their 14-2 regular season of 2019, but the Ravens will take advantage of an easy schedule and cruise to a 12-4 mark in 2020 and easily win the AFC North again.

10. Chase wins at Daytona -- Chase Elliott holds off Joey Logano to win the Daytona 500.

11. Bieber fever! -- Shane Bieber of the Indians wins the A.L. Cy Young award (19-5, 2.24 ERA).

12. It's an Avalanche! -- Colorado defeats the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals.

13. Clayton's comeback -- Clayton Kershaw throws a perfect game in May and a no-hitter in September, goes 20-7 with a 2.05 ERA, and wins his 4th Cy Young award.

14. Davis improves -- Chris Davis actually improves in 2020, finishing the campaign with a .229 batting average with 19 HR's and 59 RBI. Still not a $20 million player, but better than he's been.

Back in the major winner's circle for Justin Rose?

15. Roman stays, Wink goes-- Greg Roman stays in Baltimore, pampered by a new contract that pays him nearly as much as most NFL head coaches make. But Wink Martindale takes the job in New York, with the Giants, and beats the Ravens in Baltimore in October, 24-20.

16. Justin Rose wins his 2nd major -- Harding Park in San Francisco (PGA), Winged Foot (U.S. Open), British Open (Royal St. George's). Rosey is winning at one of those sites in 2020.

17. Ravens franchise Judon -- They're not letting him get away, but they're also not giving him $70 million and $25 million guaranteed, either. Instead, he'll get $18 million or so in 2020 and try to duplicate his awesome 2019 campaign.

18. Buck is back! -- No, not in Baltimore. But O's fans will see Buck when he comes to town with the Seattle Mariners, who fire Scott Servais after a 14-31 start and hire the former Baltimore skipper.

19. Tiger wins three times, including... -- Woods wins three times in 2020, including a "big tournament" that will be his 83rd career win, moving him past Sam Snead as the PGA Tour's all-time wins leader.

20. Maddon matters -- Joe Maddon goes to L.A. and helps the Angels right away. Mike Trout and newcomer Anthony Rendon help, too, as the Angels capture one of the two A.L. wild card spots.

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Tuesday
December 31
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1954



something for everyone


First of all, I hope all of you have a safe and enjoyable New Year's Eve celebration this evening. If 2019 was a great year for you, I hope 2020 is even better! If 2019 wasn't great for some reason, I hope 2020 shows a marked improvement for you!

My 2019 was a year to remember. I'm looking forward to 2020 with great enthusiasm.

The older I get, the more value I see in prayer. Prayer has a lot of components within it, "hope" being among them.

Romans 5:5 -- And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my 2019. I hope your 2020 is awesome.

DF


Let's start with something fun...

Here, in my estimation, are the top 10 Ravens from the recently completed 2019 season.

#10 -- Matt Skura (C) - incredibly underrated and was terrific until a late November knee injury ended his season.

#9 -- Chuck Clark (S) - led the team in tackles (67) and was an instrumental part of the defensive calls supplied by Wink.

MVP...MVP...MVP...MVP...MVP...MVP...

#8 -- Mark Andrews (TE) - emerged as Lamar's favorite receiving target and one of the league's best tight ends.

#7 -- Marcus Peters (CB) - only played half the season or he'd be higher on the list...definite game changer.

#6 -- Brandon Williams (DT) - a run stuffing star, when he was on point, few teams could use the ground against the Ravens.

#5 -- Marlon Humprhey (CB) - shut down corner, opportunistic ball hawk, legit All-Pro player for years to come.

#4 -- Matthew Judon (DE) - made himself a lot of 2020 money in 2019...a massive force getting after the opposing QB.

#3 -- Ronnie Stanley (OT) - keeping Lamar upright and healthy is largely on Stanley's watch and he was exceptional in '19.

#2 -- Mark Ingram (RB) - one of the best off-season signings in team history...run, catch, swagger, he did it all.

#1 -- Lamar Jackson (QB) - might not ever have another season like the one he had in '19...historically superb.


More fun...

At the beginning of the season here at #DMD, I had the Saints beating the Eagles in the NFC title game (I guess that could still happen) and the Patriots beating the Chargers in the AFC (that one, not so much).

In the Super Bowl, I had New Orleans beating New England, 27-23 (could still happen, but let's hope not).

Now, four months later, I'm saying it will be the Ravens and Saints in the Super Bowl in Miami.

Selfishly, if the Ravens somehow get eliminated, I sure would love to see Kansas City and Minnesota play in Miami on February 2nd. I'd be having a biiiigggg party somewhere if that happens. Greens fees and red wine on me. I entered a mid-season pool and had to pick two teams who -- at the time -- had more than 2 losses to make the Super Bowl. I took those the Chiefs and Vikings. Fingers crossed...but only if it's not the Ravens, obviously.


And this could be the most fun...

I am coordinating an AFC title game party for a client on January 19 and we have 8 spots available for anyone who is interested. We have reserved a heated tent adjacent to the stadium which will be open from 12:30 pm to 3:00 pm.

You can purchase any number of spots at the party that you like. Solo purchasers are welcome.

Included in the package are the following things: a ticket to the AFC Championship Game between the Ravens and (?), a premium food buffet with filet, crab cakes, salads and much more, unlimited soda and beer (over 21), a Ravens hat and other trinkets, a VIP entrance to the stadium (rather than waiting in the general line) and (we're working on this) potentially a visit from a former Raven sometime during our party.

You must pay for your spot by this Friday, January 3rd. The cost is $600 (and, yes, that includes the game ticket). Obviously, if the game winds up not being played in Baltimore, you will get all of your money refunded.

I realize the uncertainty of the game and all, but the Ravens and the NFL don't play the "wait until you make it" game. They sell tickets and tents weeks in advance, which is why we're putting this together now.

If you're interested in our AFC Championship Game package, please email me: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

FYI: Individual game tickets on the secondary market are now rising over $500 each and most "decent" seats are in the $850 range at this point. Depending on who the opponent is on January 19, they could go up by another 15% or so. Our party price of $600 is a "locked in" price for the ticket, food, drinks, etc.

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golf's five biggest stories of the decade


I recently participated in a national media survey distributed by Sirius-XM/PGA Tour Radio where they asked the participants to rank their top 5 stories from the world of golf from 2010 through 2019.

It took me a couple of days to wittle my original list of 12 down to 5. Oddly enough, my #1 story was also their #1 story and my #2 story was their #4 story. Other than that, my other three were different.

I'll post my Top 5 over the last five days of the decade.

#5 - McIlroy goes "major-less" for five years -- After winning four majors in three years, Rory McIlroy went from 2015-2019 without winning a major title.

#4 - Sergio Garcia wins a major -- The highly-charged Spaniard went 17 years without winning a major title before finally breaking through at the 2017 Masters.

#3 -- Jordan Spieth rises and falls -- Jordan Spieth won 3 majors in 3 years, rose to world #1, then lost his golf game in 2018 and 2019.

Tiger Woods won 11 times in the decade despite going winless in six of those ten years.

#2 -- Brooks Koepka wins four majors in 24 months -- From "just a guy" to the world's #1 player in two years. An amazing spike in success.

#1 -- Tiger's revival: He was done. Came back. Done again. Came back. Done again. Came back. Done again. Came back...and kicked everyone's tail. All within a decade.

The decade started off with a horribly organized press conference in February of 2010 where Woods met the the media for the first time since the discovery of his extra marital affairs in November of 2009.

Woods was still playing decent golf at that point, although his 2010 season was pretty much a loser. He did finish 4th at both the Masters and U.S. Open, but his personal life mirrored his golf game; in shambles.

After a winless 2010 and 2011, Tiger won three times in 2012 and five times in 2013. Folks kind of forget that Woods won EIGHT tournaments in 2012 and 2013. Some high quality players didn't win eight tournaments in their entire career.

And then...the second decline began. Quickly. Publicly.

Tiger couldn't hit a fairway. He developed the chipping yips. He had a bad neck. There was a surgery. Or two. He got arrested for driving while under the influence of something.

It was over.

But he came back in 2016 and gave it a whirl...again. Third time's the charm, maybe?

Again, his back went out and his game left him.

Another surgery.

He returned, yet again, but was more of a sideshow than anything. He'd play for two months, disappear for six months, return, disappear, and so on.

No wins in '14, '15, '16 or '17.

It was all over, now.

But he cobbled together four days of "the old Tiger" in October of 2018 at East Lake in the TOUR Championship, the closing event of the '17-'18 campaign, and won a golf tournament, the 80th of his career.

In 2019, he did the unthinkable. He won a major championship for the first time since 2008, capturing the Masters by a single shot over a bunch of guys who used to watch Tiger on TV when they were 12 years old. In winning at Augusta last April, Tiger also came from behind to win a major championship for the first time in his career.

And then, in October, after missing two months with knee surgery, Woods tied Sam Snead's record for career wins at 82 when he won the Zozo Championship in Japan.

The topper was a 3-0 performance at the Presidents Cup in early December, 2019, when Tiger -- the playing captain -- lugged Justin Thomas around for two winning partner-events on day one and two, then blistered Abraham Ancer in their singles match on day four as the U.S. came back to win the competition, 16-14.

The decade started off terrible, got better for two years, bottomed out for four years, and turned around completely in 2018 and 2019 when the greatest player the game has ever seen defied the odds and silenced his critics for good with a major championship and a record-tying win after not touching a club for two months.

No other story in golf from 2010-2019 could have moved the needle like Tiger's did over those ten years.

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Monday
December 30
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1953



from the hunter to the hunted


Now, finally, the Ravens will face what the Patriots have faced time and time again over the years.

For the first time since John Harbaugh took over in 2008, everyone in the AFC will be hunting the Ravens in January.

No longer are they doing the hunting, as they've routinely done when finishing 10-6 and making the post-season as the 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th seed. This time around, the Ravens are the ones in the crosshairs as the dog top in the AFC.

It's a luxurious position, no doubt. But it's also filled with potential disappointment if the Ravens don't win two home games and move their way to Miami for Super Bow LIV on February 2nd.

As great as this regular season has been -- the greatest in franchise history, no question -- it will be greatly diminished if the Ravens squander this #1 seed opportunity they've earned. Not many people remember the Ravens' regular season record when they won the Super Bowl in the 2012 season. They just remember the three playoff wins and the thrilling victory over San Francisco in New Orleans.

Will John Harbaugh be celebrating like this in Miami on February 2nd?

On the other side of the coin, a loss in one of the upcoming AFC playoff games will take the luster off of this regular season. It won't mean Lamar Jackson misses out on the MVP award. He's winning that. It's a regular season award. And it won't take away John Harbaugh's Coach of the Year honor, either.

But if the Ravens lose on the weekend of January 11-12 or on January 19, it will be what we remember most about the 2019 season.

"Remember 2019? We had that awesome 14-2 regular season and then we lost at home in the playoffs..."

It's the way everyone couches their memory of 2006. "Remember the '06 team that went 13-3 and was the #2 seed in the playoffs?"

"You mean the one that laid the egg at home against Indianapolis when they couldn't score an offensive touchdown and lost 15-6?"

"Yeah, that team."

This position, of course, is far, far better than being the #3 seed and having to play three games to get to the Super Bowl. Being the #1 seed is light years better than scooting in on the last day as the #6 seed like Tennessee did yesterday.

But it's fair to remember that starting next Saturday, everyone's 0-0.

The Ravens' 14-2 regular season mark won't mean anything to the Titans, Bills or Texans when they come to town on January 11-12 to take their anticipated 35-16 beating.

There's a huge difference between being the hunter and the hunted. The mindset is completely different in both situations.

When you're doing the hunting, you're not necessarily expecting to catch anything. When you're being hunted, you expect that you'll survive. When you don't, it's shocking.

This Ravens team looks, feels and smells like a Super Bowl team. There's nothing about what we've seen over the last 12 weeks that tells us otherwise.

Other than a scare from the 49'ers in late November, the Ravens ran roughshod over everyone in their path from October 6th through December 29th. They didn't just "beat" people. They demolished them.

True story. If the Ravens would have needed to win yesterday's game, their team -- with full starters intact -- would have hung up a 56-10 win over the Steelers. They're that much better.

They punked the Seahawks, Rams, Patriots, Texans and Bills. Four of those five teams are in the playoffs and the other was just in the Super Bowl a season ago before floundering a bit this year.

I completely expect the Ravens to win twice in January and advance to the Super Bowl.

I will be shocked beyond all get out if they lose at home. Shocked.

And that's what makes the whole thing so unsettling. These magical, nothing-goes-wrong, 14-2 seasons don't come around very often. In fact, it's the first time the Ravens have ever experienced one. And when they do come around, you can't squander them.

You just can't let someone hunt you down.

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a wild ending in seattle


The destination of four teams in the NFC was decided by six inches last night in Seattle.

The penultimate play of the 49'ers-Seahawks game determined four of the six seeds. It also decided who covered, betting wise, as well.

What a wild, crazy scene it was, as the Seahawks needed a touchdown to win the NFC West and secure the #3 seed in the conference. If Seattle scores on that next-to-last play, Green Bay is #1, New Orleans is #2, Seattle is #3, Philadelphia is #4, San Francisco is #5 and Minnesota is #6.

Russell Wilson's throw to the goalline looked like it was enough to get Jacob Hollister into the end zone. But replay confirmed that Hollister was stopped just inches shy of the end zone. With nine seconds remaining, San Francisco then ran one play forward to end the game at 26-21. Had they taken a safety there to make it 26-23, Seattle would have covered the 3.5 point spread. Instead, the 49'ers covered with the 5-point margin of victory.

One play sure meant a lot to a lot. It changed travel plans and betting window visits.

By winning, the 49'ers are now #1, Green Bay is #2, New Orleans is #3, Philadelphia is #4, Seattle is #5 and Minnesota is #6.

So the schedule is set for wild card weekend, with the Patriots facing the rare 3-weekend post-season after they choked -- as 16.5 point home favorites -- against the Dolphins on Sunday and coughed up the #2 seed to Kansas City in the process.

The AFC will play next Saturday and the NFC will play on Sunday.

BUFFALO AT HOUSTON, 4:35 PM

TENNESSEE AT NEW ENGLAND, 8:15 PM


MINNESOTA AT NEW ORLEANS, 1:05 PM

SEATTLE AT PHILADELPHIA, 4:40 PM

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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...


Fact. The Ravens are the top AFC seed, will play at home on either January 11 or January 12, and would then play at home again in the AFC Championship game on January 19 if they were to win.

Opinion. The Ravens are the best team in the AFC, and whatever happened with other teams on Sunday is of little importance to me. I’ll take anybody on. Wouldn’t you?

It’s no surprise that Tennessee, in position for a while now, snagged the No. 6 seed and could potentially be the Ravens’ divisional round opponent. Meanwhile, it’s been obvious for at least a month that Houston and/or Buffalo would be likely foes in that game. Would it be nice to play a .500-ish team in a playoff game? Sure. Would Houston play better than it did the last time it visited? Probably.

But it doesn’t matter to me. At all. Someone’s coming into town in two weeks, and the Ravens are going to play like the Ravens do. I don’t like to guarantee anything, but I’ll get as close as possible to it.

Lamar and the Ravens danced to a 14-2 regular season in 2019, something we won't soon forget in Charm City.

Lamar Jackson is going be his MVP self, the Ravens’ interior run defense will be strong, and the secondary will be interested in playing. The tight end group will all be out there, and Marquise Brown will be a constant threat to hit a big play.

Ok, there’s the one thing. It’s possible that Mark Ingram won’t be able to play, no matter what he says. The long break between games makes it likely that he’ll at least give it a try, of course.

Enough of all that, though. A team’s heading to town, and you ought to be as confident as you were in any other game this year.

I loved the way the Ravens played yesterday, except for the 4th-and-3 in the third quarter on the Pittsburgh 43 when they were only pretending to go for it. You know how I feel about that—RGIII, #LJ8 or whatever initials Trace McSorley goes by.

Anyway, the Ravens essentially did nothing. They gave nothing away. I came into the game thinking that they’d run the ball on literally every play until such time as a pass was absolutely necessary, and that’s exactly what they did.

They understood there would be somewhat limited energy in the stadium, and even less with the weather, and they did a good job of making their own energy. Plus, you can only put seven guys on the inactive list — a lot of starters were out there - and many of them played as well as they have the rest of the season. Matt Judon and Michael Pierce come to mind.

Honestly, the only thing John Harbaugh really did wrong (except for that silly thing I just mentioned above) was not challenge the spot when Justice Hill slid past the first-down marker in the fourth quarter. But hey…the fake punt on the 11-yard line a few moments earlier was downright awesome.

Meanwhile, whatever you think about a higher power in the universe, it was amazing how “stuff” happened in the final moments of the game that made the score closer to what it would have been had the Ravens been at their full strength. The suddenly biblical rain showers made the punter drop a perfectly good snap, and somehow the Ravens got close to 30 points again.

Ben Roethlisberger says he’s coming back next year, which I can understand after he was forced to watch the Steelers play offense without him this season. So, assuming he either shaves his beard or figures out a way to get it under his facemask, I have no reason to doubt his sincerity.

He turns 38 on March 2. After his injury, I wonder what he will be when he hits the field next season. Philip Rivers just turned 38, and he’s clearly not who he used to be. Tom Brady was still pretty good at 38; it’s taken a few more years after that for him to look average. Drew Brees is a short-passing specialist at 40 (soon to be 41 in January); can Roethlisberger be that kind of a quarterback? I’m not sure.

As for Mike Tomlin and the Steelers, turnabouts are fair play, right? The Ravens missed the playoffs three years in a row with mediocre teams that somehow found a way to be in the conversation at season’s end, at least for the final two years. That’s now happened two years in a row with Pittsburgh, one time with their quarterback and the other time without him.

Can a 38-year-old Roethlisberger lead a relatively untalented offense to better things in 2020? They are certain to be better than this season, but the Steelers have a great chance to be mediocre next year…much greater than they have to be good. I don’t think you can say the same thing about the Ravens.

Anyway, I’m done thinking about the Steelers for now. They were painful no matter who you root for.

Random notes. One…the Ravens have played a lot of games in the rain over the last two years. Obviously, the way the Ravens want to play is really made for the rain. I would note that Joe Flacco used to throw the ball in the rain as if it was 75 and sunny, and Lamar Jackson does not…nothing against Lamar Jackson.

Two…Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts of CBS were on the call for the Ravens five times this season, in games against the Chiefs, Steelers (both times), Texans and Bills. That exactly half of the 10 CBS games for the Ravens this year. I understand the way the world works, but I think it’s ridiculous that Jim Nantz and Tony Romo only had one Baltimore game this season. Back to Ian and Dan…Eagle is a great pro, no matter what the sport, and Fouts has seen better days.

Three…not to repeat something that was said on television, but I will only because I was thinking the exact same thing just moments before he said it. It was Nate Burleson, at halftime of the Ravens-Steelers game, when he mentioned that Robert Griffin III looked “frantic” running the same offense that Lamar Jackson does. I’m with Burleson…it’s hard making it look easy, and only a guy like Jackson can do it.

Four…this whole thing has been awesome, pretty much every second of every game since Marlon Humphrey recovered the fumble in overtime in Pittsburgh. The Ravens put together one of the greatest regular seasons in recent NFL history, scoring 531 points while allowing 282 and setting an NFL record for rushing yards in a season. You’ll remember this year for a long time, no matter what happens now.

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golf's five biggest stories of the decade


I recently participated in a national media survey distributed by Sirius-XM/PGA Tour Radio where they asked the participants to rank their top 5 stories from the world of golf from 2010 through 2019.

It took me a couple of days to wittle my original list of 12 down to 5. Oddly enough, my #1 story was also their #1 story and my #2 story was their #4 story. Other than that, my other three were different.

I'll post my Top 5 over the last five days of the decade.

#5 - McIlroy goes "major-less" for five years -- After winning four majors in three years, Rory McIlroy went from 2015-2019 without winning a major title.

#4 - Sergio Garcia wins a major -- The highly-charged Spaniard went 17 years without winning a major title before finally breaking through at the 2017 Masters.

#3 -- Jordan Spieth rises and falls -- Jordan Spieth won 3 majors in 3 years, rose to world #1, then lost his golf game in 2018 and 2019.

Brooks Koepka won back-to-back U.S. Opens in 2017 and 2018.

#2 -- Brooks Koepka dominates -- There might be some recency bias in play here, but the performance by Brooks Koepka in 2017, 2018 and 2019 was so good and so dominating that he can't be ignored.

Koepka was a good player still trying to find his way on the PGA Tour as recently as 2016, which isn't really all that long ago. He won his first TOUR event in 2015 in Phoenix, but for the most part he was just another guy trying to make a living playing golf.

But that all changed in 2017.

Koepka won the U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

In 2018, he won the same event, this time at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island, repeating at U.S. Open champion.

Two months later at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, he held off Tiger Woods to win the PGA Championship.

That was three major victories in six tries for Koepka. He won the 2017 U.S. Open, didn't win the British or PGA that year, missed the '18 Masters due to injury, then won the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

Only other player over the last 20 years has won 3 majors in 6 major starts. Tiger Woods is his name.

Then, after finishing one shot behind Woods in the 2019 Masters, Koepka won the PGA at Bethpage Black (it was moved to May from its usual August spot).

Brooks Koepka won 4 majors in 8 tries.

Oh, and how about the other two majors in '19? He finished 2nd at the U.S. Open to Gary Woodland and tied for 4th at the British Open to Shane Lowry.

Oddly, Koepka now has 7 career TOUR wins. And four of them are majors.

But he has clearly become the game's most dominant player over the last three years.

Look at his run in majors since 2017.

2017 -- Masters (T11), U.S. Open (1st), British Open (T6), PGA (T13).

2018 -- Masters (DNP), U.S. Open (1st), British Open (T39), PGA (1st).

2019 -- Masters (T2), PGA (1st), U.S. Open (2nd), British Open (T4).

He made the cut in all 11 majors he played in that span, had one finish outside the Top 25 and had seven top 10-finishes in 11 events!

#DMD GAME DAY
Week 17


Sunday — December 29, 2019
Issue #1952

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

4:25 PM EST

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD

Spread: Ravens (-1.5)


another lay-up


The last of the boring visitors has finally arrived.

Starting in mid-January, the games and the visiting teams get serious again.

But please bear with the Ravens this one last Sunday in 2019, as they welcome the offensively challenged Pittsburgh Steelers to town for a game that means everything to the visitors and nothing to the hosts.

Like nearly every game we've seen since mid-October, expect this one to be over by the middle of the third quarter.

Unless the Ravens lay a colossal egg today, there's little chance the Steelers steal a win here. They simply don't have the offense to do it. Their defense is certainly decent enough to keep RGIII and his cast of back-ups in check, but even that might not be enough.

Mike Tomlin and his Steelers desperately need a win today in Baltimore.

The Ravens second-stringers and their back-ups are good enough to beat this mostly lousy Pittsburgh team. In fact, that would likely be one of the few ways John Harbaugh could motivate the back-ups today. "If you lose to these bums, maybe we should find other back-ups and third stringers."

In a weird kind of way, it's a shame the shine has disappeared from this annual match-up in Baltimore. You only get one of them each regular season, after all, and it's without question the most anticipated game of the 16 regular season contests for Ravens fans -- and the players alike, probably.

But the Steelers are what they are these days. They're average, and that's being kind. They're an 8-7 team who couldn't beat the Bills at home or the Jets on the road in situations where wins in either of those spots would have gone a long way towards securing a playoff spot. Now, they need a win in Baltimore against the best (shorthanded) team in the league and a Tennessee loss in Houston for the right to make the post-season and get beat 37-10 next weekend in Kansas City.

Oh, and a dude named "Duck" is starting at quarterback for them today, although it's almost a slam-dunk guarantee that someone named Paxton Lynch winds up entering the game at some point today as Pittsburgh's signal caller. I'm sure the Ravens are scared to death of him...

I'll save the typical "How Drew sees today's game" space and just tell you here, now, that this one goes to the Ravens today, 20-10. If the weather forecasters are right, this one will be wet and sloppy from start to finish. Offense and ball security might be at a premium. But Robert Griffin III will get the team into the end zone a couple of times and Justin Tucker will do his thing two times and that will be more than enough.

As long as no one on the home team (or visiting team, for that matter) gets injured, the day is a success no matter the final score. But Baltimore wins this one. Easily.

This has been one heckuva regular season. A win today would qualify it as the best ever...even better than the 2006 team that went 13-3 before blowing it at home to Peyton and the Colts on the second weekend of the playoffs.

And it would be icing on the cake to end Pittsburgh's dwindling playoff hopes using the "B team" on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

The times sure have changed...

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show me the money


We're going to have a losing regular season, thanks in part to those choking dogs in Arizona and Washington D.C., who both squandered "in the books" covers earlier this season. Rat finks...

But it should be noted that we've bounced back from a lousy start to right the ship over the last six weeks. We're heading into the post-season as hot as Joe Burrow on a Saturday night facing LSU.

So, with that...let's make you some money to close out the year and help you start 2020 on a good financial note.

PACKERS AT LIONS (+12.0) -- Green Bay has everything to play for (or, a lot, at least) while the Lions haven't played meaningful game since early October. Green Bay blows them out here. 12 points is a lot of points, of course, and in particular it's a lot in a divisional road game. But Detroit has checked out. Green Bay wins going away, 34-19.

Drew Brees and the Saints could still finish as the NFC's #1 seed.

DOLPHINS AT PATRIOTS (-16.5) -- This is a weird one in Foxborough today. New England has the 2nd seed on the line and the Dolphins are just playing for fun. Miami's defense...not so good. Miami's offense...can be effective. That might not bode well for New England. We'll go with a Patriots win -- but wouldn't at all be surprised to see the Dolphins keep it close or pull off an upset victory. Miami covers the 16.5 points but Tom Brady and Company win the game, 26-22.

SAINTS AT PANTHERS (+13.5) -- Another one of those games where one team (New Orleans) is playing for something and the other (Carolina) is thinking about golf on Tuesday morning somewhere in Florida. This one, though, feels different. We're thinking Carolina puts up a fight in this one. And while the Saints have something on the line (top seed, potentially), they're also going to use their star players carefully. Michael Thomas might only see limited action, for example. We'll take the Panthers and the 13.5 points at home as New Orleans wins, 27-20.

EAGLES AT GIANTS (+3.5) -- Philadelphia needs a win to capture the NFC East and end the coaching tenure of Jason Garrett at the same time. Both of those reasons-to-win should be more than enough to handle a Giants team that you know would love to keep their southern neighbors from celebrating in their stadium. We'll take the Giants and the 3.5 points at home, but Philly wins by a field goal, 24-21.

49'ERS AT SEAHAWKS (+3.5) -- Wow...Seattle...at home...in a huge game, getting 3.5 points. My the mighty have fallen, huh? The 49'ers have something to prove in this one after getting squashed at home by the Falcons a couple of weeks back. The Seahawks have already lost three times this season in Seattle (New Orleans, Baltimore, Arizona) and today figures to be the fourth defeat for them within the confines of their park. 49er's win, but Seattle covers, as San Fran hits a field goal in overtime to win, 34-31.

RECORD TO DATE: 44-51-1*

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 4-2

RAVENS AGAINST THE SPREAD: 7-9

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 7-9

*Indicates our record would be 46-49-1 if not for Arizona choking away an easy 9.5 point cover in the final 30 seconds of the game in San Francisco on November 17 and the Redskins giving up a meaningless TD on the final play of the game to squander a 6-point home cover against the Eagles on December 15.

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lawrence, burrow shine in playoff wins


It was a good day to be a great quarterback in college football.

Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence engineered their teams to win in the two college football playoff games on Saturday, with Burrow single-handedly destroying Oklahoma and Lawrence leading Clemson to an improbable 16-point comeback against a gritty Ohio State team.

LSU and Clemson will meet in the national championship game on January 13 in New Orleans.

Burrow, who will play for the Bengals next season unless they do something crazy and pass on him with the first pick in next April's draft, threw 7 first half touchdowns and finished with 8 for the day in a 63-28 romp over a completely overmatched Oklahoma team. It was 49-14 at the half.

Clemson's road to the title game was much different, as they fell behind 16-0, battled back to take the lead, lost it early in the 4th quarter and then Lawrence piloted a 94-yard drive that culminated with the go-ahead touchdown with two minutes remaining.

Lawrence and head coach Dabo Swinney also took time in their post-game remarks to give glory to God, which is always heartwarming to hear, particularly on a national stage with an audience of millions looking on. The more often the word of God gets spread in unfiltered forums like that, the better.

LSU are early 5-point favorites in the title game and it will take Clemson's best effort to challenge the SEC champions on January 13. While it might not be the blowout that the Oklahoma game turned out to be, Clemson hasn't faced an offense like the one they'll see in New Orleans.

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golf's five biggest stories of the decade


I recently participated in a national media survey distributed by Sirius-XM/PGA Tour Radio where they asked the participants to rank their top 5 stories from the world of golf from 2010 through 2019.

It took me a couple of days to wittle my original list of 12 down to 5. Oddly enough, my #1 story was also their #1 story and my #2 story was their #4 story. Other than that, my other three were different.

I'll post my Top 5 over the last five days of the decade.

#5 - McIlroy goes "major-less" for five years -- After winning four majors in three years, Rory McIlroy went from 2015-2019 without winning a major title.

#4 - Sergio Garcia wins a major -- The highly-charged Spaniard went 17 years without winning a major title before finally breaking through at the 2017 Masters.

Jordan Spieth won 11 times in the 2010-2019 decade, but hasn't seen the winner's circle since 2017.

#3 -- Jordan Spieth sparkles and sputters -- Jordan Spieth was a childhood phenom in Texas and later starred for the national championship University of Texas golf team before turning professional in 2012. By 2013, he had a huge pocket of money from the folks at Under Armour and his first professional win -- at age 19 -- when he won the John Deere Classic in a playoff.

Spieth would share the 54 hole lead at the Masters in 2014 before Bubba Watson pulled away for his 2nd green jacket. But the following April, Spieth blew away the field at Augusta National, finishing at 18-under par for the Masters victory and his first major championship.

In June of 2015 at Chambers Bay in Washington, Spieth won his second major, although it's always fair to note that Dustin Johnson's sloppy 3-putt from 12-feet on the 72nd hole of regulation gift-wrapped that one for Jordan. Either way, he had as many championships as guys like Norman, Langer and Olazabal at that point.

Speith won the FedEx Cup title and the $10 million first place check in 2015. He was the #1 golfer in the world at that point.

At the 2016 Masters, Spieth was cruising along with a five-shot lead as he reached the 10th hole. One hour later, he trailed, having hit two balls in the water at the famous 12th hole. Danny Willett was the benefactor of Spieth's back nine collapse, as the Englishman captured the green jacket thanks to Spieth's poor golf on the incoming nine holes.

He then won the 2017 British Open with a stirring back-nine surge against Matt Kuchar. Spieth was "back", apparently.

Except...

It all stopped.

He hasn't won since that British Open victory.

And, in reality, he hasn't been all that close to winning, either.

He played so poorly in 2018-2019 that he didn't make the TOUR Championshp at the FedEx Cup last August. And he was bypassed as a captain's pick for the U.S. President's Cup team. He'll need to win a major, most likely, in 2020, in order to secure enough points to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team that plays in September at Whistling Straits.

Jordan Spieth went from the #1 player in the world to a guy trying to find his game again in two short years.




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Saturday
December 28
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1951



the (potential) impact of winning


Winning is always better than losing. We know that, right?

As far as the Ravens go, all they have to do is win their last three games of the season and they'll capture the league's ultimate prize.

But with those three wins -- two in January and one in February -- come potential issues. And these aren't "little things". They could be of the "big" variety.

If the Ravens go on to win the Super Bowl, what will the players do about the traditional White House visit?

How will the Ravens organization handle a White House invitation from President Trump if they win the Super Bowl on February 2nd?

They could be, of course, the final NFL team of the President Trump era that's forced to make a decision on this topic.

Will the players go, en masse?

Will they stay away, in total, vowing to "go as a team" or "stay home as a team"?

Will a handful of players go -- say, 6 to 10 -- and the other 40-some stay at home and eschew the trip to Washington DC?

And, most importantly, what will the organization's public statement be concerning the President's invitation?

We all remember Steve Bisciotti's 4-word response in 2017 when 12 players took a knee during the playing of the national anthem in London.

"We support our players."

Those words and that response created a massive season of backlash, both from ticket buyers, corporate sponsors and general fans of the team.

So, if the Ravens win on February 2nd, what happens in March when President Trump invites the team to the White House?

The decision by the Ravens roster and coaching staff -- and the organization's public statement about those decisions, will be vitally important. And you just know the fan base will be waiting...

How would a Ravens Super Bowl victory impact Steve Bisciotti's ownership tenure?

Coupled with the potential backlash from a White House-visit "protest", would a Super Bowl win create a sell-the-team thought by Bisciotti? He'd have two Super Bowl titles as the team's owner. His $600 million purchase would now be worth well over one billion dollars, perhaps even as much as $1.5 billion, some analysts suggest.

When would a 60-year old man who loves the sun and spirit of Florida and still has the energy for 18 holes a day say "enough is enough?"

After two Super Bowl wins, perhaps?

Insiders have said for several years that Bisciotti's ownership "enthusiasm" took a massive hit during the Ray Rice saga. He was shocked at hearing his name muddied both locally and nationally and quietly told those around him, "I don't need this kind of aggravation."

What better time to sell the franchise than after a Super Bowl win?

And with the potential for a CBA-related work stoppage in 2021, would Bisciotti really want to endure another one of those situations where he has to actively support his 31 ownership "brothers" and stand tall against the players he obviously cares so much about?

And for those who think just any new football owner in Baltimore would be OK, take yourselves back to 1992 when the baseball ownership changed in Charm City.

Last but not least, this scenario would require more than just a winning Super Bowl this coming February. But it's completely possible that this particular chain of events is entirely within the realm of reason given what we've seen in 2018 and 2019.

Lamar Jackson is going to be the MVP this season. That's a done deal.

If the Ravens win the Super Bowl with Lamar at the helm, that's the double-whammy of all double whammies.

Just for kicks...what if he wins the Super Bowl MVP award?

What would an MVP in 2019 and 2020 mean for Lamar Jackson's contract value in 2021?

And then...let's pretend he repeats his 2019 performance in 2020. Just for kicks and giggles, let's say he wins the MVP award again in 2020 and the Ravens finish 12-4 and again win the AFC North.

Jackson would be in position to demand the highest contract in the NFL at that point. Right then and there, three years into the league, his value would eclipse that of any other player.

And remember...a player must play at least THREE years before he's allowed to sign a new, re-negotiated contract.

Despite Jackson's humble, folksy personality, he would be under an immense amount of pressure from the NFLPA to re-do his deal after the third year and hammer the Ravens for something completely crazy...like $200 million for the next 4 years.

And if the Ravens objected, Jackson would then be pressed -- incredibly hard -- to sit out until a new, "fair" deal is given to him. That would go against the grain of his personality, it would seem, but the player's association has a way of making guys do things.

It's the way the game works.

"Get your money now!" the players would all be telling Lamar. "Get it now, get as much of it guaranteed as you can, and help the future stars of the league the way guys like Manning and Rodgers and Ryan helped you in the past."

A lot of things have to go Jackson's way for that scenario to play out, but ask yourself this: Since Lamar Jackson started playing mid-way through the 2018 season, what hasn't gone his way?

The Chargers playoff game is the only real down moment Lamar has had thus far.

I think he's a safe bet -- barring injury -- to continue this style of successful play well into 2020. And the Ravens, with gobs of money available on the '20 salary cap, don't look like they're going away anytime soon.

A Super Bowl victory on February 2nd would be awesome.

But with it would come three potential issues.

And each would have a unique challenge all to its own. Challenges that could potentially alter the Ravens franchise for a long time.

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golf's five biggest stories of the decade


I recently participated in a national media survey distributed by Sirius-XM/PGA Tour Radio where they asked the participants to rank their top 5 stories from the world of golf from 2010 through 2019.

It took me a couple of days to wittle my original list of 12 down to 5. Oddly enough, my #1 story was also their #1 story and my #2 story was their #4 story. Other than that, my other three were different.

I'll post my Top 5 over the last five days of the decade.

#5 - McIlroy goes "major-less" for five years -- After winning four majors in three years, Rory McIlroy went from 2015-2019 without winning a major title.

#4 - Sergio Garcia finally wins a major -- The "Best Player Without A Major" label is a tough one for veteran players to own. In one way, it's a semi-compliment. It means you're a really good player -- with lots and lots of "regular" wins -- who hasn't had that breakthrough moment that everyone expects. But it's also a knock of sorts. You're "good enough to win one, but you haven't figured out a way to do it just yet."

17 years into his professional career, Sergio Garcia finally claimed his first major title at the 2017 Masters.

Thankfully, most great players eventually figure out a way to win one. It took Mark O'Meara until the October of his career to win his first (a Masters), and then he followed that one up a few months later with a win at the British Open.

The same for Tom Kite. He had the "Best Player Without A Major" tag for a long time until he captured the '92 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Davis Love III was "that guy" until his win at the '97 PGA.

A couple of big names, unfortunately, never did find the major winner's circle; Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood. It's worth noting that Westwood is still playing, though his best days are likely behind him now.

Currently, Matt Kuchar wears the "Best Player Without A Major" merit badge, with Rickie Fowler close behind.

Sergio Garcia was the best player without a major championship for 17 years. That is, until he finally won the 2017 Masters.

The interesting element of Garcia's win at Augusta National was that the one thing that portrayed him for so long in crucial situations -- the putter -- bailed him out time and time again down the stretch at the '17 Masters.

It was as if, finally, Garcia's time had come.

He rolled in a birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat Justin Rose.

Despite a controversial career, Garcia has been a sensational player both in the U.S. and Europe. His performances on the European Ryder Cup team are legendary. He's a slam-dunk Hall of Famer someday, but no great player considers his career complete without at least one major golfing championship to his credit.

Sergio had several near misses in majors, including a playoff loss to Padraig Harrington at the British Open in 2007. Ten years after that loss -- where he had a 10-foot putt to win on the 72nd hole and just missed it -- Garcia finally cashed in at Augusta National.

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(almost) last call for our caps-flyers bus on jan. 8


Our Capitals-Flyers road trip on January 8 is still on sale (see the "Caps-Flyers" link above the header) but we've reached "last call".

Check out Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals on January 8 in Philadelphia! It makes a great holiday gift for the hockey fan in your family!

We'll leave the Towson area at 5 pm on Wednesday the 8th and head up I-95 for the final regular season meeting (in Philly) between the Caps and Flyers in 2019-2020. The puck drops at 7:30 pm.

We're offering lower concourse and upper concourse seating at the Wells Fargo Center.

I know someone's bound to ask, so I'll tell you now: Yes, Flyers fans are allowed to purchase seats and join us on the trip. There's no guarantee you'll get a ride home, but we'll at least ride you up there.

I'm kidding...

We'll give you plenty of food and drinks on the bus ride to Philly and we'll have a Caps trivia contest with a cash prize for the winner.

If you haven't been to a game in Philadelphia, it's well worth going. Yes, even though it's Philly...

Please join us for a great one-night trip to Philadelphia to see the Caps beat up on the Flyers.


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Friday
December 27
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1950



memories


I stumbled upon a very unsettling Facebook post yesterday. It was both sad and terrifying at the same time. More on that in a minute.

When I first started working for the Blast in 1981, I quickly learned one of the most valuable lessons in sports. Get the media on your side.

As we see in today's political climate, what the media posts and publishes about you is paramount to the way you're viewed. If that media entity's agenda clashes with your platform, you're in for an uphill battle.

It wasn't much different in 1981 when I was part of the P.R. team with the Blast, trying every day to secure coverage for the young franchise in a fledgling league. Drawing 10,000 people a game didn't hurt our efforts, obviously, but it was still soccer -- and indoor soccer at that -- and this was a city of media folks, at the time, consumed only with the Colts and Orioles.

Yesterday's search through Facebook connected me with someone I worked with back in the mid 1980's. I was saddened, greatly, to read the news.

By now, most of you know that Bill Kistner passed away yesterday (December 25) after open heart surgery. He went in on Christmas Eve and had the procedure and came out of it OK but then overnight developed some complications. He was transported to a D.C. hospital for further care and sadly, he didn't make it.

As I read the words I couldn't believe it.

Just days before, I'd read Bill's Facebook post where he jokingly remarked that "doctors have found something wrong with my heart, confirming an idea many of the women I have dated over the years also discovered."

Bill Kistner, left, with his two children, in a photo that was probably taken sometime around 2012.

He later posted that quadruple-bypass surgery was initially set for Christmas Day, but that the surgeons were impressed with his platelet levels and that he was good to go for a Christmas Eve operation instead.

At some point on Christmas Eve, I read a post from a friend who said Bill was out of surgery and doing fine.

So you can imagine my shock yesterday when I read the news about Bill's passing. He leaves behind a girlfriend and two children. Bill was, I believe, 55 years old.

Bill was a producer at Channel 11 television in the mid 1980's. That's where I met him. While the on-air guys were the stars, the producers were the "in the trenches" types that sports P.R. people needed to connect with on a daily basis. They were the ones who created the daily 3-minute TV sportscast. They assigned photographers. If you wanted your team or player promoted for 45 seconds on the evening news, you had to somehow sell that idea first to the producer.

Bill Kistner was a good man. He, along with another solid fellow named Will Schwarz, were two TV producer-types I befriended with on a personal level back then, mostly because we were the same age. Will and I played a lot of golf together. Bill and I had some adult beverages and tried to impress young ladies in downtown Baltimore together back in the late 1980's. We were pretty good at the adult beverages part. The girl-chasing was much more successful for Bill. He was a funny, witty guy.

As I read the news on Facebook yesterday and saw the stream of messages from folks who were hurt by his passing, it reminded me of a time when a lot of people in Baltimore helped make those early Blast days a success.

From 35,000 feet, it probably looked pretty simple. There was a new team in a new league and the downtown area was being revitalized and this "thing" caught on like wildfire and, eventually, 12,000 people showed up for 56 consecutive games in the mid 1980's.

But the real truth of the matter is the TV media in town had a huge impact on the success of the Blast. And digging more deeply, the producers at the (then) three big stations in town were the engineers behind a lot of the coverage and promotion we received.

Mike Gathagan and Joe Hammond were the primary producers at Channel 2 back then. Jack Dawson Scott Garceau, Martin Wyatt, the late John Saunders...those guys all gave us respect and fair play when the team first came to town. Mike would actually go on to work for me with the Spirit (nee Blast) soccer team in the mid 1990's. He and I became good friends. He now serves as the Assistant Athletic Director at Towson University.

Over at Channel 11, I worked closely with Bill Kistner, Will Schwarz and Mark McGrath. Vince Bagli and I became golfing buddies. A little known fact, actually: I made the first eagle of life with Vince on the 9th hole at Wakefield Valley sometime in the late 1980's. You remember those things. Vernon Glenn and the late Chris Thomas were part of that Channel 11 team in the mid 1980's. I've shared several stories over the years about Vernon and Chris. Gerry Sandusky arrived in the early 1990's and was also a guy who treated the franchise with respect.

At Channel 13, Mike Pupo and Jeff Hoffman were the producers early-on. Those two guys were great. Gayle Gardner, Lou Tilley, Chris Ely, Keith Mills and John Buren were the on-air folks throughout the halcyon days of the Blast. Lou and Chris did some play-by-play of Blast soccer on TV. Keith and I actually lived near one another in Glen Burnie for a short time in the 1980's.

John -- or "Bevo" as I knew him -- became one of my best media friends. We played a lot of golf together until the late 80's when he (a 4-handicap) abruptly gave up the game one day on the 8th hole at Hunt Valley after shanking a 3-iron on his second shot at the par 5 hole. He would later become one of Maryland's best over 50 tennis players. John and I still talk today and have quarterly breakfast get-togethers to stay up to date with one another's lives.

The on-air guys in town are the ones you know. You see them, hear them and they get to be part of your life's routine, almost.

But the producers...the behind the scenes people...are like offensive linemen. The quarterback and wide receivers get mobbed at the mall, while the offensive linemen stroll through in relative anonymity.

Trust me on this: The producers are the ones to thank. I wish I would have had the chance to thank Bill Kistner one final time. He was a good man.

As for the other other producers in town, and the on air talent who helped the Blast get off the ground, I hope they can somehow see this and know they are still appreciated, even today, some 30 years later.

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golf's five biggest stories of the decade


I recently participated in a national media survey distributed by Sirius-XM/PGA Tour Radio where they asked the participants to rank their top 5 stories from the world of golf from 2010 through 2019.

It took me a couple of days to wittle my original list of 12 down to 5. Oddly enough, my #1 story was also their #1 story and my #2 story was their #4 story. Other than that, my other three were different.

I'll post my Top 5 over the last five days of the decade.

#5 - McIlroy goes "major-less" for five years -- This one seems almost impossible, right? Rory McIlroy won four major titles in a little over three years. He was 25 and had four major championships already. There was, of course, some very early talk about the Irishman being the next guy to chase after Tiger (then, 14) and Jack (18) and their respective major championship accomplishments.

Rory McIlroy -- somehow without a major for five straight years to close out the decade.

But something weird happened after that.

McIlroy didn't win a major in 2015. Or 2016. Or 2017. He didn't win one in 2018, either. And he didn't win one this year.

For the Flyers fans who are still reeling from too much Christmas egg nog, that's FIVE straight years without a major title for McIlroy.

He had several chances along the way, including the the hard-to-forget back nine blowup at Augusta National in 2015, where he gagged away a 4-shot lead over the final nine holes. That triumph would have given him the career grand slam. Instead, it seemingly kick-started a 5-year run of major failures.

McIlroy is still one of the game's top players, obviously. He already has 18 PGA Tour wins and captured the $10 million FedEx Cup first prize this past season. He will, presumably, win more major championships.

But after winning the U.S. Open in 2011, the PGA in 2012, the British Open in 2014 and the PGA, again, in 2014, it's almost shocking to realize that Rory hasn't won one of the four big ones in the five years since.

A player with that much talent and that much "aura" can't go five years -- especially in his late 20's -- without winning. Yet, that's what McIlroy has done.

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last call for our caps-flyers bus on jan. 8


Our Capitals-Flyers road trip on January 8 is still on sale (see the "Caps-Flyers" link above the header) but we've reached "last call".

Check out Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals on January 8 in Philadelphia! It makes a great holiday gift for the hockey fan in your family!

We'll leave the Towson area at 5 pm on Wednesday the 8th and head up I-95 for the final regular season meeting (in Philly) between the Caps and Flyers in 2019-2020. The puck drops at 7:30 pm.

We're offering lower concourse and upper concourse seating at the Wells Fargo Center.

I know someone's bound to ask, so I'll tell you now: Yes, Flyers fans are allowed to purchase seats and join us on the trip. There's no guarantee you'll get a ride home, but we'll at least ride you up there.

I'm kidding...

We'll give you plenty of food and drinks on the bus ride to Philly and we'll have a Caps trivia contest with a cash prize for the winner.

If you haven't been to a game in Philadelphia, it's well worth going. Yes, even though it's Philly...

Please join us for a great one-night trip to Philadelphia to see the Caps beat up on the Flyers.


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Thursday
December 26
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1949



here's what 2030 will look like


The NBA is the first league to do it, but you can bet that others are going to follow.

As the decade comes to a close, the league will change things up next year, reducing the number of regular season games (from 82 to 78) and introducing a new, mid-season "tournament" that will handsomely reward players who are willing to put some emphasis on the early part of the schedule.

They'll also "re-seed" during the playoffs, meaning, for example, the Lakers and Clippers could actually wind up playing one another for the NBA title instead of having a team from the Western Conference and a team from the Eastern Conference play in the Finals.

The mid-season tournament is an idea borrowed from European soccer, where there are as many as three different seasons going on within the actual regular season. It gives organizations more games to play, more tickets to sell, more TV rights to negotiate and, obviously, just more soccer for the people to enjoy.

Whether it boosts the NBA's popularity remains to be seen, but it's certainly a worthy gamble, particularly for a league that features a handful of teams who are never "in it" from day one of the season and just sort of cruise around for six months as everyone's homecoming game three nights a week.

I have no idea what 2020-2021 is going to look like for the other leagues in the U.S., but I'll take a swing at what two others might look like in 2030. Keep this on your refrigerator and check back with me and let's see how I do.

NFL --

The NFL will be the first team to go almost entirely to a pay-per-view format, as in 2025 they'll introduce a concept that has every team's regular season games available only on a pay-to-watch basis. You'll pay $299 per-season for the right to watch all of your team's games, only, plus several weekly team produced shows that will be included in the package.

One of these days, a field goal from 55 yards might be worth 4 points to Justin Tucker.

You can watch the rest of the league (any game, including Thursday and Monday Night) and the first two playoff rounds for an additional $99.

Each team will play one "free" game each season on Sunday night. The league will air one game on Sunday night throughout the season that is "free" to the viewing public.

The AFC and NFC title games will be combined with the Super Bowl for one low price of $29.99.

Starting in 2025, each team will play 20 regular season games, spread out over 24 weeks from September through February, with the Super Bowl in early March, just prior to the NCAA basketball tournament.

By the time 2030 rolls around, the league will be down to 28 teams. Gone from the current rotation of teams will be Jacksonville, Miami, Arizona and Buffalo.

Starting in 2029, points will be rewarded based on length of kick. A "standard" kick of anything inside 49 yards will be worth 3 points. A "lengthy" kick of 50-59 yards will be worth 4 points. And a "mammoth" kick of anything outside 60 yards will be worth 5 points.

Additionally, teams will be permitted to choose the length of their extra point try based on the point value they need or feel can be most easily achieved.

MLB --

Major League Baseball will finally get the hint and reduce the number of games from 162 to 130 by the 2025 season. This will enable the league to begin its schedule in mid-April and end the regular season by late August and have the World Series completed by the end of September'ish.

Historians will be urged to consider statistical relevance on an average per-season basis rather than a total per-season basis. In other words, if someone hits 65 home runs in 130 games (average of .50 home runs per-game), he will be considered the all-time single-season home run leader (Bonds is the current leader at 73...or .45 per-game).

There will be 26 teams in the league by 2028. Gone from the current rotation: Tampa Bay, Miami, Seattle and Minnesota.

Starting in 2027, the scoring system in baseball will be altered, connecting run value to length of home run hit. In other words, a home run of 325 feet to 410 feet will still be worth one run. 411 feet to 429 feet will be worth two runs (to the hitter) and anything above 430 feet will be worth three runs. This means, obviously, a team within six runs in the bottom of the ninth could tie the game with a grand slam hit over 430 feet (three runners on base = 1 run each, hitter is rewarded with 3 runs).

Beginning in 2028, the league will introduce "one extra out" per-game. A team may, at any time, use one extra out, in any inning except the 9th. If the person who comes to the plate (using the extra out) gets on base by a hit, there is no penalty. If the person who comes to the plate doesn't get a hit of some kind, the team loses an out in the 9th inning.

Like basketball, Major League Baseball will introduce a 4-team round-robin tournament in mid-season that will replace the All-Star Game in 2028. The top three teams, win percentage wise, after the 60 game mark, will face off in a pre-determined city for a $7.5 million per-player winner's purse. Additionally, the team with the best record from the second half of the previous season also gets an automatic entry into the event. The four teams will play 6-inning games on Monday and Tuesday to determine the round robin winner and the 7-inning championship game will be held on Wednesday.

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down to the wire!


With one regular season game left in our "Pick the Winner" contest, two #DMD readers have the amazing possibility of going 17-for-17 with ALL ROAD WINNERS during the regular season!

David Stanmore and Scott Blick both have the maximum number of points through 16 weeks -- 48. They picked all road teams and haven't missed yet, although Stanmore was in trouble last week when he picked New Orleans to beat the Titans in Nashville and they fell behind early, 14-0. Blick is using New Orleans this weekend.

Dan Murtaugh's lone miss this year (he also picked all road teams) was earlier this month when the Eagles lost at Miami, 37-31. Jason Collier was perfect until this past Sunday when he had the Steelers beating the Jets in NY. Taylor McKay and Chris Phillips were both perfect until Week 15 when they each had Cleveland winning at Arizona.

Additionally, we have three players who are perfect for the season, but a majority of their picks were home teams, which is how they are perfect but not in the Top 10. Winning home picks are worth 1 point and winning road picks are worth 3 points. Joe Crumbling, Addison McCarthy and Jason Boniface are all 16 for 16.

1. David Stanmore (48 points - 16 road winners, Green Bay in Week 17)

Scott Blick (48 points - 16 road winners, New Orleans in Week 17)

3. Jason Collier (45 points - 15 road winners, Cleveland in Week 17)

Dan Murtaugh (45 points - 15 road winners, Green Bay in Week 17)

Taylor McKay (45 points - 15 road winners, New Orleans in Week 17)

Chris Phillips (45 points -- 15 road winners, Philadelphia in Week 17)

7. Bob Feltner (39 points -- 13 road winners)

Jeff Porter (39 points -- 13 road winners)

9. B.J. Carroll (32 points -- 10 road winners, 2 home winners)

10. M. Carbonetti (31 points) -- 9 road winners, 4 home winners)

We thought this contest would be difficult, but apparently not. A lot of folks have displayed some incredible game-picking prowess this year!

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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.


the right things to do


There’s not much else to say about the Ravens right now. I assume we’ll see the real team, hopefully with Mark Ingram, back at M&T Bank Stadium in about 17 days. That’ll be fun. Oh…and Lamar Jackson makes several reads/throws per game that would make Peyton Manning stand up and cheer.

I do want to bring up a pair of situations from this past Sunday’s game in Cleveland, however. After seeing reaction from fans in Maryland and Ohio, and reading opinions from veteran reporters, I feel the need to bring them up.

I’ll warn you…this is an analytics discussion. I’m not an expert on that subject, just someone who reads about it a lot. So I’m not preaching here…just asking people, including the “experts” who cover these teams every day, to do some of their own research, so they begin to understand that what seems so “obvious” to them isn’t so obvious.

Before I start up, it’s worth mentioning the background of all of this, which is play data that has been analyzed over many years to determine “win probability.” But I’ll translate that into columnist-speak, because we scribes like to make broad pronouncements as much as anyone and would rather not talk about DVOA or other acronyms.

The coach of an NFL team should make every decision based on what improves his team’s chances of winning more.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh seems to be leaning more and more on in-game analytics these days.

Not on keeping the score close, or giving the fans in the stands more hope, or on the belief that his experience as an expert X’s and O’s football coach (which he is!) must be more important than any data analysis, or because of hazy concepts like “momentum.”

The NFL coach in 2019 simply must understand, for instance, that if his team scores a touchdown to pull within two points in the third quarter, he is hurting his team by sending his kicker out on the field instead of trying to tie the game, even though “there’s a lot of time left.” Go for two and make it, and his team’s chances of winning go way up. Miss it, and the disadvantage of being down by two points instead of one is close to negligible.

But back to Situation #1 in Cleveland on Sunday, when Mark Andrews was stopped short of the line of gain on a short pass on third down. The Ravens were in 4th-and-3, on the Cleveland 41-yard line, with 7:16 left in the first quarter. There was no score in the game.

A team in that situation, that early in the game, should keep its offense on the field in the attempt to gain the first down 100 percent of the time. Any NFL team, with any NFL quarterback, should keep its offense on the field, not just a team with the likely league MVP who’s the best dual QB threat in league history.

The Ravens didn’t attempt to gain the first down Sunday in Cleveland because “that’s what they always do,” or because they were 12-2, feeling good and in love with each other and the Browns were 6-8, making tee times and yelling at each other. They did so because the situation made it the proper play.

If the Ravens had made the first down, it would have improved John Harbaugh’s team’s chances of winning more significantly than punting in that situation would have, while failing (which happened) made very little change at all to his team’s win probability considering the time and score of the game.

This has been proven, by data analysis, and it’s not that complicated. On 4th-and-3, from somewhere near midfield until a field goal is a better option, just go for it until the point in the game where time and score actually matter.

You’ll never be wrong, even if you don’t make it. Yet coaches and fans still believe that (maybe) pinning a team close to its end zone is a much better option than actually keeping the ball.

On to Situation #2, when the Browns scored a touchdown with 8:05 remaining in the game to cut the Ravens’ lead to 24-15. Like the Bills did against the Ravens several weeks ago in a similar situation, the Browns attempted a two-point conversion.

Buffalo converted, while Cleveland didn’t. As the quarter continued, the Bills had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, and the Browns didn’t, because Buffalo didn’t allow the Ravens to march down the field and score again.

But in both cases, you can make a case that it was the right move.

With a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit, any team’s win probability is very low. From 1994 through 2011, for example, there were 81 instances when a team trailing by 15 points scored a fourth-quarter touchdown, and only five of those teams went on to win the game. Only nine of those 81 teams tried a two-point conversion down by nine points, and you can argue the other 72 were making a mistake.

Remember… the coach of an NFL team should make every decision based on what improves his team’s chances of winning more.

Is it potentially demoralizing in that situation to miss on the two-pointer? Of course. Is it any more demoralizing to miss the two-pointer in that situation than it is to miss the two-pointer with five seconds left when trying to the game? No. In fact, I’d say it’s way more demoralizing to miss in the final seconds, because at that point you have no chance to win the game.

Think about it this way…your team scores a touchdown to pull within 31-22. There are seven minutes remaining, and you kick the extra point, thinking you can tie the game later. Then you stop the other team with about four minutes left, forcing a punt. Sounds great, right? Your team has a chance.

The “problem” is that your team is then likely to take its time driving down the field, looking for that tying touchdown. They score with 30 seconds left, but then miss the two-point conversion. The game is over.

Had your team missed the conversion earlier, it would have played with more urgency. It would have tried to score more quickly, in the hope that a potential onside kick would allow more time to drive for a game-winning score. Remember…it’s a long shot to win no matter what.

Obviously, your team is trying for success on every two-point conversion. But if you’re going to miss one, doing it earlier significantly improves your odds of making the comeback…because if you miss it late, you have almost no chance.

And another thing…it’s not the fact that your team went for it “early” and missed that lowered its chances of winning…it’s just that you missed it. When you missed it makes no difference.

A team’s chances to win football games in the NFL have a lot to do with the players on the field, the schemes used by the coaching staff, and even a little luck. But there’s no reason any team should disadvantage itself by making tactical decisions that are more likely to lead to losses.

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last call for our caps-flyers bus on jan. 8


Our Capitals-Flyers road trip on January 8 is still on sale (see the "Caps-Flyers" link above the header) but we've reached "last call".

Check out Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals on January 8 in Philadelphia! It makes a great holiday gift for the hockey fan in your family!

We'll leave the Towson area at 5 pm on Wednesday the 8th and head up I-95 for the final regular season meeting (in Philly) between the Caps and Flyers in 2019-2020. The puck drops at 7:30 pm.

We're offering lower concourse and upper concourse seating at the Wells Fargo Center.

I know someone's bound to ask, so I'll tell you now: Yes, Flyers fans are allowed to purchase seats and join us on the trip. There's no guarantee you'll get a ride home, but we'll at least ride you up there.

I'm kidding...

We'll give you plenty of food and drinks on the bus ride to Philly and we'll have a Caps trivia contest with a cash prize for the winner.

If you haven't been to a game in Philadelphia, it's well worth going. Yes, even though it's Philly...

Please join us for a great one-night trip to Philadelphia to see the Caps beat up on the Flyers.



Wednesday
December 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1948



"a savior is born"


Luke 2 --

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

Merry Christmas! I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating with family and friends.

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from the men at helping up mission..."thank you"


Thanks to many of you reading this today, the men at Helping Up Mission received one of the best gifts they could possibly receive on Tuesday, December 17th.

The gift?

Someone cared enough about them to take time out of their day to provide the men with much needed clothing as they embark on a stay at Helping Up that very well might change their lives.

Once again this year, for the 11th straight December, Glenn Clark and I stood in awe as the men went through the clothing so many of you donated. We delivered over 3,000 pieces of winter apparel this year, ranging from sweatshirts and hoodies to winter jackets and heavy coats, plus a huge array of children's and women's clothing as well, all of which comes in handy at this time of year. Many of the men don't have money for a gift for their loved ones. So being able to give their child a shirt or a jacket or the woman in their lives a pair of gloves or a scarf means everything to those guys.

We couldn't do this without you. End of story. Glenn and I just carve four hours out of a December day to go down to Helping Up and distribute the apparel. Those of you who donate items are the ones that make it all happen.

It's also worthwhile to note the assistance of guys like Brad Foxwell and John Novak. They take time off of work to help us transport the clothing from various points in the Towson area to the downtown Helping Up facility on Baltimore Street.

We must have heard "Thank You" about 100 times on December 17. And I'm not talking about a wave and a "thanks". I'm talking about men coming up with clothes in their arms, hand extended, with a genuine "Thank You" and a smile on their face.

I wish all of you could be there to see it for yourself. But I hope this message and the videos below convey a little bit of the pride we all have in helping make the holiday season a little brighter for the men who are starting over again at Helping Up Mission.

More than anything, though, we say "Thank You" to those who donated clothing this year.




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last call for our caps-flyers bus on jan. 8


Our Capitals-Flyers road trip on January 8 is still on sale (see the "Caps-Flyers" link above the header) but we've reached "last call".

Check out Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals on January 8 in Philadelphia! It makes a great holiday gift for the hockey fan in your family!

We'll leave the Towson area at 5 pm on Wednesday the 8th and head up I-95 for the final regular season meeting (in Philly) between the Caps and Flyers in 2019-2020. The puck drops at 7:30 pm.

We're offering lower concourse and upper concourse seating at the Wells Fargo Center.

I know someone's bound to ask, so I'll tell you now: Yes, Flyers fans are allowed to purchase seats and join us on the trip. There's no guarantee you'll get a ride home, but we'll at least ride you up there.

I'm kidding...

We'll give you plenty of food and drinks on the bus ride to Philly and we'll have a Caps trivia contest with a cash prize for the winner.

If you haven't been to a game in Philadelphia, it's well worth going. Yes, even though it's Philly...

Please join us for a great one-night trip to Philadelphia to see the Caps beat up on the Flyers.



Tuesday
December 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1947



it's gift giving time


We don't do much around here on December 24 and 25. Unless the Ravens happen to play the day before or day after, we tend to slow things down for a couple of days and enjoy the Christmas holiday.

But we're still here today and we'll have a message tomorrow, too.

And in the spirit of the holiday, we thought it would be wise to hand out some much deserved gifts for the Ravens as they close in on what could be the best regular season finish in the team's 24-year history.

One player needs to make room in the trunk for all of his gifts.

I imagine you know who that is.

Let's go ahead and set the gifts out. I'm sure the guys are anxious to come downstairs and see who got what.

Biggest moment -- Despite all of the heroics from the quarterback, one play might have announced the Ravens' presence with authority in 2019. And it was turned in by Marcus Peters, who slipped in front of a Russell Wilson pass in Seattle on October 20 and returned it for a touchdown that put Baltimore in the lead for good in a 30-16 win over the Seahawks. That play seemed to do something to the Ravens. They haven't lost a game since then.

MVP -- We all know it's Lamar Jackson. The question is...how close is someone to Lamar's perch? The answer: Not close at all. The Ravens could win three games in a row with any other player on the team being injured. They might have to win three in a row without Mark Ingram, for example. And they can do that. But there's no way they can win three games in a row without Lamar Jackson. Not only is he the Ravens' MVP, he's the MVP of the entire league. And that race isn't really close, either.

Offensive MVP -- Stay by the tree, Lamar. We'll get the door for you while you put both of those gifts in the trunk. No player on offense did as much as Lamar Jackson.

Biggest surprise -- In what would turn out to be a critical development for the team's offense, Bradley Bozeman became a starter in just his 2nd year in the NFL and has been magnificent all season long. Some would say Chuck Clark has been a surprise as well, and that's true, but Clark has had a number of "down" moments in coverage, particularly over the last month of the season. Bozeman has operated with near flawless efficiency in 2019.

One of the biggest reasons the Ravens are 13-2 and own the #1 seed in the AFC is....Earl Thomas.

Best newcomer -- Football is a sport where leaders make a difference. Typically, you need one on both sides of the ball. And the locker room needs a couple of them during the good times and in the bad times. With all due respect once again to Marcus Peters, the best newcomer to this team and organization in 2019 is Earl Thomas. One look at the way the players entered the stadium in Cleveland last Sunday tells you a lot about the difference between the way Thomas views the game and the way others do. Player after player streamed into the Cleveland stadium from the team bus that was parked outside. Players strolled in wearing headphones, sunglasses (we're inside, guys, please take those off), crazy hats, and wild attire. Most of them pulled along a big suitcase or travel bag on wheels, as a lot of players will change on the flight home and head out for an evening on the town when they return to BWI airport from a road game. The "walk in" is a big show to a lot of players. They want to be seen. Earl Thomas walked in on Sunday wearing sneakers, jeans, and a long sleeved button down top. No hats, glasses, necklaces, travel bag, headphones, etc. He was walking in to "work". That moment struck me as acutely representative of the effort and energy he has brought to the organization. His arrival reminds me a lot of the way Rod Woodson helped the Ravens defense when he showed up two decades ago after a successful career in Pittsburgh.

Defensive MVP -- Some guys will gather around the tree to collect their gift for this one and they'll leave disappointed. It's nearly impossible to give the MVP award to a guy who came in roughly at mid-season, so that eliminates Marcus Peters. But it's worth noting how good he's been since arriving in mid-October. He's been better than good. Marlon Humphrey has also been very good. So, too, has Brandon Williams. One look at the way Nick Chubb and the Cleveland running game torched the Ravens in Baltimore on September 29 when Williams was out of the lineup tells you how valuable the big defensive tackle has been to the 2019 Ravens. But in a league where the quarterback and the passing game dictates just about everything, no Ravens defensive player has been more valuable than Matthew Judon. Eric DeCosta faces a huge decision at season's end. Judon will be a free agent and coveted by a number of teams around the league.

Unsung hero -- Patrick Ricard will saunter up to the tree in a minute to pick up this gift, but he'll simply be handing it off to Nick Boyle, who is the team's Unsung Hero in 2019. Ricard is an interesting asset, for sure, but he's simply a decent player on both sides of the ball. Nothing more, nothing less. Boyle has emerged as one of the top three blocking tight ends in the NFL and is critically responsible for some of Lamar Jackson's success in the RPO system. And Boyle is a competent pass-catching tight end as well. It's also interesting to note that Boyle is one of the lone offensive skill position players still in the mix from the Joe Flacco era.

Best rookie -- Only four of the team's seven picks in 2019 have played a role in the regular season (Brown, Ferguson, Boykin and Hill) and none of them have been extraordinarily impressive. Brown is just a go-route receiver at this point, but he has speed to burn. Ferguson has been good at times, but gets pushed around a lot by bigger offensive linemen. Boykin has been underused and not all that useful when he does get in. And Hill has faced an uphill battle for playing time with Ingram and Edwards ahead of him on the depth chart, but has showed flashes of "something" when he does get the ball. By default, Hollywood Brown gets the best rookie gift. He hasn't had a "bad year" by any means. He just has a lot of room for development in 2020 and beyond.

Most reliable -- Every year, this guy just shows up, does his job to near perfection, and remains one of the most unknown entities in the organization. He doesn't do a lot of Royal Farms commercials or anything like that. But Sam Koch is the most reliable performer, game in and game out, both with his punting duties and the very underrated "holder" role on all place kicks from Justin Tucker. The kicker's job is a tough one, of course. He has to put the ball through the uprights with the game on the line. But the holder has four jobs, basically. And all of them are critical and require incredible precision. He has to keep his eye on the clock, time everything perfectly, call for the snap, grab the ball, spin it so the laces face the goalpost, and position the ball perfectly on a slight backwards angle to ensure the kick's trajectory goes over the defensive line. All of this happens in about 2 seconds. Sam Koch can't play forever. When his days are done, the Ravens will have a huge hole in their 53-man roster.

Best story -- We finally have a gift for John Harbaugh. Coaches are interesting people. They typically have a set of core beliefs they stick with -- depending on the sport -- and they do their best to not stray from them. I have one in coaching golf. If you give me a young man who can hit the ball straight and find the fairway with regularity, no matter how far he hits it, I'll take him over the kid who can hit it 300 yards but half of his drives wind up in the woods or otherwise out of play. I tend not to stray from that philosphy. Teaching "distance" off the tee is far easier than teaching "accuracy", I've found. John Harbaugh, in my view, has strayed from a lot of his coaching axioms over the last year. An old school "ball coach" would look at Lamar Jackson and his style as too gimmicky or hard to fit into a team system. An old school coach wouldn't let the quarterback yell over to him "we're going to go for it here!" when it's 4th and 3 at their own 47 yard line. An old school coach wouldn't have a "leadership council" that meets with him every Monday to advise him how to handle practice that week and list the players that might need a day off. Harbaugh has coaching in his blood, going all the way back to his father, of course. The changes he's made to his own style and those of his team over the last year are extraordinary. It might pay off with a Coach of the Year award this year or it might not. But it might pay off with something even bigger in Miami on February 2nd, for if Harbaugh's Ravens win their second Super Bowl, it will likely be enough to get in the Hall of Fame someday. And he still has several years with Lamar Jackson, at the very least. There could be more rings on the way.

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a very special holiday cd from drew


In the past, I've created Holiday CD's that have featured my all-time "best" from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews. I add two songs per-day, they eventually total up to 14 or 16 songs (depending on total time) and it's my way of creating something for you that you might enjoy throughout the year.

This holiday season, I'm going with something different.

I'm putting together a CD of songs and/or artists that I'm hoping you might not have previously heard.

I probably won't go 16-for-16. In fact, I'm quite sure that somewhere along the way, you'll have heard of a couple of these artists and bands, at least. But I do think it's safe to say I'll open your eyes and ears to some new music that you might wind up enjoying throughout 2020.

I hope you've enjoyed the holiday CD. The last song is particularly meaningful. "One Day" has a message we can all hopefully agree on, regardless of our race, nationality, religious or political affiliations.

Song #15, "On Top Of The World" -- Imagine Dragons is an American pop rock band from Las Vegas, Nevada, consisting of lead vocalist Dan Reynolds, lead guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee, and drummer Daniel Platzman. The band first gained exposure with the release of their single "It's Time", followed by their award-winning debut studio album Night Visions (2012), which resulted in the chart-topping singles "Radioactive" and "Demons". Rolling Stone named "Radioactive", which holds the record for most weeks charted on the Billboard Hot 100, the "biggest rock hit of the year". MTV called them "the year's biggest breakout band", and Billboard named them their "Breakthrough Band of 2013" and "Biggest Band of 2017" and placed them at the top of their "Year In Rock" rankings for 2013, 2017, and 2018. Imagine Dragons topped the Billboard Year-End "Top Artists – Duo/Group" category in 2018.

Song #16, "One Day" -- Matisyahu is an American Jewish reggae singer, rapper, beatboxer, and alternative rock musician. Born in West Chester, PA, Matthew Paul Miller has used "Matisyahu" as his stage name, which means "Gift of Yahu (God)" in Hebrew.

Known for blending Orthodox Jewish themes with reggae, rock and hip hop beatboxing sounds, Matisyahu's 2005 single "King Without a Crown" was a Top 40 hit in the United States. Since 2004, he has released five studio albums as well as two live albums, two remix CDs and two DVDs featuring live concerts. In addition, Matisyahu played the role of Tzadok in The Possession, a supernatural horror film directed by Ole Bornedal and co-produced by Sam Raimi. Through his career, Matisyahu has worked with Bill Laswell, reggae producers Sly & Robbie, and Kool Kojak.




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JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

last call for our caps-flyers bus on jan. 8


Our Capitals-Flyers road trip on January 8 is still on sale (see the "Caps-Flyers" link above the header) but we've reached "last call".

Check out Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals on January 8 in Philadelphia! It makes a great holiday gift for the hockey fan in your family!

We'll leave the Towson area at 5 pm on Wednesday the 8th and head up I-95 for the final regular season meeting (in Philly) between the Caps and Flyers in 2019-2020. The puck drops at 7:30 pm.

We're offering lower concourse and upper concourse seating at the Wells Fargo Center.

I know someone's bound to ask, so I'll tell you now: Yes, Flyers fans are allowed to purchase seats and join us on the trip. There's no guarantee you'll get a ride home, but we'll at least ride you up there.

I'm kidding...

We'll give you plenty of food and drinks on the bus ride to Philly and we'll have a Caps trivia contest with a cash prize for the winner.

If you haven't been to a game in Philadelphia, it's well worth going. Yes, even though it's Philly...

Please join us for a great one-night trip to Philadelphia to see the Caps beat up on the Flyers.



Monday
December 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1946



what we know...and don't know


Lamar Jackson is the NFL MVP for the 2019. This, we know. It doesn't matter if he sits out next week and it doesn't matter if Russell Wilson goes 24-for-30 for 339 yards and 4 TD's in a thrilling 31-28 win over the 49'ers next Sunday night. The MVP race is over. I get it, Lamar isn't all that worked up about it...but it's a done deal. Pretty good for a running back.

The AFC playoff picture is still very much a muddied mess. Who gets the #6 spot? We don't know. If the Titans go to Houston and win, Tennessee is in as the 6 seed. If the Titans lose and the Steelers win in Baltimore, Pittsburgh is in. Oh, and Oakland could still make it, too. More on that in a second. Buffalo will travel to Houston in one of the AFC match-ups. That could send the Bills to Baltimore if they beat the Texans -- and if the 6 seed loses to the 3 seed.

There's a game next Sunday in Baltimore that doesn't matter at all to the Ravens. This, we know. There is zero reason to play Lamar Jackson next Sunday against the Steelers. And, no, he doesn't need to play a series or two or the first quarter "just to stay sharp". That's silly talk. If Jackson steps on the field for ONE play, you're risking an injury to him. Other starters who should sit next Sunday include Ingram, Andrews, Thomas, Brown, Smith and either Stanley or Yanda. Sit all of those guys so they're fresh and clean for January 11-12.

"Sean McDermott as Coach of the Year? That's really funny."

Who is going to be the NFL Coach of the Year? We don't know. But I would say this: Pittsburgh's loss to the Jets severely damages the chances of Mike Tomlin receiving strong consideration for the award. If the Steelers do make the playoffs next Sunday, Tomlin goes back in the hopper for discussion about the award. But if Pittsburgh doesn't make it, that definitely improves the chances of John Harbaugh being the winner. Sean McDermott of the Bills will also get some consideration. And rightfully so. In fact, an informal national media poll last week had him collecting the most first-place votes. But at this point, it's Harbaugh's award to lose, somehow. That is, if you ask me.

Prior to this past weekend's slate of games, Oakland needed a 10-team parlay to make the playoffs. This, we know. Well, guess what? They're halfway there. Yesterday, the Raiders needed the following five things to happen to stay alive in the playoff race: Raiders beat Chargers, Saints beat Titans, Jets beat Steelers, Ravens beat Browns and Colts beat Panthers. All five happened. Next weekend, they need five more things to go their way and the Raiders would be in at 8-8: Raiders beat Broncos, Browns beat Bengals, Ravens beat Steelers, Texans beat Titans, Colts beat Jaguars. That's all the Raiders need next Sunday and they're in.

Where would the Ravens be this season if they hadn't lost to Cleveland? We don't know. But it's more obvious by the day that something happened on September 29 when the Browns came to Charm City and trounced John Harbaugh's team, 40-25. I wouldn't say "panic" set in, but perhaps it did. The organization knew changes had to be made, even from just seeing things go haywire in the loss at Kansas City the week before coupled with that home shellacking at the hands of the Browns. New guys came in, veterans left. And those changes sparked what has now become an 11-game regular season winning streak and the #1 seed in the AFC. Remember this down the road, for it's true: Sometimes a loss isn't so bad after all.

There was a pass interference call in yesterday's game in Cleveland that was really weird. This, we know. On the play, Jimmy Smith was flagged for pass interference on Odell Beckham Jr. It looked like Smith made contact with Beckham. It also looked like Beckham might have initiated it. But the NFL being an offensive league and all, the flag went against Smith. And even though it might have been ticky-tack, you can understand how the call was made. But here's the weird part. The ball landed 3 yards out of bounds, at least. There was no way -- none -- that OBJ could have caught the ball, even without pass interference. So...why the flag? I just don't understand how a ball that's in no way catchable could be connected to a pass interference call.

How will the Ravens react to being the #1 seed? We don't know. It's crazy to think about this, but it's true. The Ravens have been in the NFL since 1996 and they've never been the #1 seed in the playoffs. It's not an automatic trip to the Super Bowl, despite what everyone might think. Kansas City, of course, lost the AFC title game at home just last January. Sure, the Ravens would rather be at home than on the road in their next two playoff games, but they won't be facing the Dolphins, Bengals, Browns or some other laughingstock on the weekend of January 11-12. That said, I hope you've been heeding my advice over the last month and getting those hotel reservations worked out in South Florida.

Let's make sure Eric DeCosta is remembered. He's been really good in 2019. This, we know. While Lamar Jackson and the revitalized Baltimore offense gets most of the credit for the team's 13-2 record, it's important to give some major props to general manager Eric DeCosta. He's the one who signed off on Mark Ingram and Earl Thomas, remember. He's the guy who moved Tim Williams out and ushered Marcus Peters in. It was DeCosta who plucked L.J. Fort and Josh Bynes out of the unemployment line, you might recall. When the dust settles in early February and you're calling out sick so you can go to the Ravens parade, remember DeCosta, please.

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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…

(Editor’s Note: This columnist was traveling during yesterday’s Ravens’ game)

The “problem” with Mark Turgeon, for some people anyway, is that he’s not in danger of losing his job, or on some kind of hot seat, no matter what it felt like when the Terps had just seven points 15 minutes into the first half against Seton Hall. Not even close.

Maryland is headed for a good season. The Terps are going to make the NCAA tournament, and likely with a seed of No. 5 or better. I’d be very surprised if Turgeon’s team finishes worse than 13-7 in conference play, and that’s being cautious.

That will make five NCAA tournament appearances in the last six seasons for a coach who in 2016 was signed to a four-year contract extension, in which he averages about $2.5 million per year, that has him locked up through the 2023 season.

In addition, there’s no buyout in Turgeon’s contract. It’s a little complicated, but if the university were to fire him, the only thing he’d miss out on are any bonuses he hadn’t reached. By the end of his contract term, he’d have all of his base and supplemental salary dollars.

He’s not going anywhere. He’s a successful coach, locked into a contract that was a big-time statement of confidence in him. Sure, the athletic director who signed him is gone, but the current athletic director was around then too.

The Terps would have to go into a serious tailspin of long duration, or something off-the-court would need to happen, before it would be “worth” firing Mark Turgeon, no matter what you think of him when his team plays like it did last week at Seton Hall.

The New England Patriots won the AFC East again, dominating the Bills in the final 20 minutes or so Saturday in Foxboro. For about an hour, against a very good defense, the Patriots actually looked like the Patriots.

11 straight AFC East titles for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. That seems to be pretty good playing up there in Foxborough.

Bill Belichick’s team has now won its division in 11 consecutive seasons. Including ties for the division lead, the Patriots haven’t finished with fewer wins than the division champion since 2000, when their division included Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts and Tom Brady was a rookie who saw action in one game behind Drew Bledsoe.

Not to beat a dead horse, but a first-place Patriots team of old would not have even been in a game with this Bills team. This Patriots team, however, isn’t really much better than Buffalo. This Patriots team would be a serious underdog against the Ravens on the road in a playoff game, which still sounds weird.

It was an exciting game in Foxboro. Was it a game that gave you confidence for great success in the playoffs if you are a fan of either team? I doubt it.

Tom Brady still does some things well, In particular, his play-action faking is still really good; I’ve always thought that was an underrated part of his game. Meanwhile, Josh Allen doesn’t seem like the smartest guy who ever played quarterback in the NFL, but at least he tries to make a play, and he’s got the athletic ability to do it sometimes.

Even though I’ve already seen both of those teams against the Ravens, watching Saturday’s game between them was heartening. I still don’t see any reason to believe either one of them is any better than they appeared earlier in the season.

Gerrit Cole signed a $324 million, nine-year contract with the Yankees last week. During his introductory press conference, he brought with him a sign from 18 years earlier, when he attended the 2001 World Series in New York as an 11-year-old.

“Yankee Fan Today Tomorrow Forever,” the sign said.

Cole grew up in California—Newport Beach—but his father was raised in Syracuse, which like most of Upstate and Central New York is Yankees territory. Cute story, I guess. Way better than Jeffrey Maier, anyway. Kid brings a sign to a World Series game, a few photos are snapped, and 18 years later, there he is as the team’s ace.

For whatever reason, though, I keep thinking back to Maier. Not to what he did in 1996—which was hardly a crime—but to an article he wrote in Bleacher Report a few years ago, during Derek Jeter’s final year, actually.

I remember thinking that he was an excellent writer, not surprising for a graduate of Wesleyan University, where he was an outstanding baseball player. I laughed a bit when he mentioned that, in 2003, while working at a baseball camp in New Jersey, he found out that Tony Tarasco was coming to speak. They had a nice conversation, and Tarasco made it clear that he didn’t begrudge a young kid for wanting to catch a ball at a game.

One thing bothered me though. At the end, Maier said he’ll never look back on his infamous play with any regrets.

I would have preferred that he said that he was wrong to do what he did. But he’s never said that. He’s never said that he interfered with a ball in play, and that he wished he wouldn’t have done that. The Yankee fan in him doesn’t allow it.

In case you were wondering, the Ravens’ schedule is set for the 2020 season, now that the Patriots clinched the AFC East. As I mentioned last week, expect a lot of primetime games, and some 4:25 p.m. “national” slots as well.

At home, in addition to their three AFC North opponents, the Ravens will play Tennessee and Jacksonville from the AFC South, Dallas and New York from the NFC East and also Kansas City, the champion of the AFC West.

On the road, in addition to their three AFC North opponents, the Ravens will play Houston and Indianapolis from the AFC South, Philadelphia and Washington from the NFC East and also New England, the AFC East champion.

Let’s see. Neither the Titans (ok, a play or two in 2018) nor the Jaguars have played against Lamar Jackson yet. Assuming neither Dallas nor Philadelphia ends up being a potential Super Bowl opponent for the Ravens, add those two teams to the list for sure.

Indy will see Jackson for the first time too. The same can be said for the Redskins and Giants. So that’s at least seven wins right off the bat. You heard it here first…I predict that the Ravens will finish at least 7-9 next season.

In all seriousness, the schedule is a good one for fans who want to go on the road, as it always is when the NFC East and/or AFC East divisions are on the docket. And it’s a good one for the team as far as travel is concerned, as the longest trip is Houston.

And an interesting note. The Ravens’ “road” game against the Jaguars in 2017 was in London, not Florida. If the teams don’t play in 2021 or 2022, the 2023 game between the teams will only be the second in Jacksonville in a 12-year time period.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

a very special holiday cd from drew


In the past, I've created Holiday CD's that have featured my all-time "best" from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews. I add two songs per-day, they eventually total up to 14 or 16 songs (depending on total time) and it's my way of creating something for you that you might enjoy throughout the year.

This holiday season, I'm going with something different.

I'm putting together a CD of songs and/or artists that I'm hoping you might not have previously heard.

I probably won't go 16-for-16. In fact, I'm quite sure that somewhere along the way, you'll have heard of a couple of these artists and bands, at least. But I do think it's safe to say I'll open your eyes and ears to some new music that you might wind up enjoying throughout 2020.

I hope you've enjoyed the holiday CD. The last song is particularly meaningful. "One Day" has a message we can all hopefully agree on, regardless of our race, nationality, religious or political affiliations.

Song #15, "On Top Of The World" -- Imagine Dragons is an American pop rock band from Las Vegas, Nevada, consisting of lead vocalist Dan Reynolds, lead guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee, and drummer Daniel Platzman. The band first gained exposure with the release of their single "It's Time", followed by their award-winning debut studio album Night Visions (2012), which resulted in the chart-topping singles "Radioactive" and "Demons". Rolling Stone named "Radioactive", which holds the record for most weeks charted on the Billboard Hot 100, the "biggest rock hit of the year". MTV called them "the year's biggest breakout band", and Billboard named them their "Breakthrough Band of 2013" and "Biggest Band of 2017" and placed them at the top of their "Year In Rock" rankings for 2013, 2017, and 2018. Imagine Dragons topped the Billboard Year-End "Top Artists – Duo/Group" category in 2018.

Song #16, "One Day" -- Matisyahu is an American Jewish reggae singer, rapper, beatboxer, and alternative rock musician. Born in West Chester, PA, Matthew Paul Miller has used "Matisyahu" as his stage name, which means "Gift of Yahu (God)" in Hebrew.

Known for blending Orthodox Jewish themes with reggae, rock and hip hop beatboxing sounds, Matisyahu's 2005 single "King Without a Crown" was a Top 40 hit in the United States. Since 2004, he has released five studio albums as well as two live albums, two remix CDs and two DVDs featuring live concerts. In addition, Matisyahu played the role of Tzadok in The Possession, a supernatural horror film directed by Ole Bornedal and co-produced by Sam Raimi. Through his career, Matisyahu has worked with Bill Laswell, reggae producers Sly & Robbie, and Kool Kojak.




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SAFFER banner

last call for our caps-flyers bus on jan. 8


Our Capitals-Flyers road trip on January 8 is still on sale (see the "Caps-Flyers" link above the header) but we've reached "last call".

Check out Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals on January 8 in Philadelphia! It makes a great holiday gift for the hockey fan in your family!

We'll leave the Towson area at 5 pm on Wednesday the 8th and head up I-95 for the final regular season meeting (in Philly) between the Caps and Flyers in 2019-2020. The puck drops at 7:30 pm.

We're offering lower concourse and upper concourse seating at the Wells Fargo Center.

I know someone's bound to ask, so I'll tell you now: Yes, Flyers fans are allowed to purchase seats and join us on the trip. There's no guarantee you'll get a ride home, but we'll at least ride you up there.

I'm kidding...

We'll give you plenty of food and drinks on the bus ride to Philly and we'll have a Caps trivia contest with a cash prize for the winner.

If you haven't been to a game in Philadelphia, it's well worth going. Yes, even though it's Philly...

Please join us for a great one-night trip to Philadelphia to see the Caps beat up on the Flyers.



#DMD GAME DAY
Week 16


Sunday — December 22, 2019
Issue #1945

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns

1:00 PM EST

First Energy Stadium
Cleveland, OH

Spread: Ravens (-10.0)


tale of two teams


When the NFL schedule first got released back in April, everyone looked at Week 16, Baltimore at Cleveland, and thought, "That one might decide the AFC North."

Not so much.

The Browns got hosed by the schedule makers and never could dig themselves out of a very difficult early season slate. Their season highlight was a 40-25 win over the Ravens in Baltimore back in week four.

The Ravens, meanwhile, are one win away from hosting the AFC Championship Game in Charm City. Two more wins and they'll set a franchise record by going 14-2 in the regular season.

Hang in there Cleveland football fans...you guys might get good again by 2027.

Yes, things are much different than most folks expected back in April when week #16 had the Ravens at Browns.

The question isn't which Ravens team will show up today. We know the answer to that one.

The question is...which Browns team will show up?

The outcome could very much depend on that answer.

If the 6-8 Browns team shows up, the one that got beat badly in Arizona last Sunday, this one will be a laugher. But if the Browns team that won three straight games last month and beat playoff-bound Buffalo six weeks ago shows up today, it could be a good football game.

The Browns have nothing to play for today...except pride.

The Ravens have everything to play for today. A win and they'll secure home field for two playoff games including, potentially, the AFC Championship Game on January 19. A loss and they'll have to beat Pittsburgh next Sunday or hope New England falls to the Dolphins at home.

It's also worth noting that the Ravens could possibly still finish as the 3 seed in the AFC if they lose out, New England wins next Sunday, and the Chiefs win their final two games. A longshot...but we mention it nonetheless just to put out all of the paremeters.

There's not a lot of unfinished business remaining for the Ravens in the regular season. Today's game is one of the lone pieces of collateral damage John Harbaugh's team would like to repair before the playoffs begin -- that 40-25 home loss back in week #4 that probably wasn't as close as the 40-25 score would indicate.

And a win today would give Harbaugh and his coaching staff the opportunity to rest some veteran players next Sunday in the season finale or at least treat the game like a pre-season contest if nothing else. That would be a valuable first step in reaching the AFC title game on January 19.

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how drew sees today's game


This one, I think, is all about "having something to play for". The Browns look around and says, "If we can just finish the season without getting hurt, we're in good shape."

The Ravens say: "We have to demolish these guys, secure the #1 seed, and get ready to win a couple of games in January and go to the Super Bowl."

Ravens tight end Mark Andrews will find the end zone again today.

One of those postures yields itself to good, quality football. The other lends itself to getting clobbered.

The Ravens will jump out to a quick 7-0 first quarter lead after Marlon Humphrey intercepts a Baker Mayfield pass and gives Lamar Jackson and the offense a short field. Jackson hits Mark Andrews with a big throw near the goalline and moments later, Mark Ingram plunges in from short distance.

It's 10-0 in the second quarter when Mayfield and the Cleveland offense generate some excitement for one of the few times all day. Mayfield hits Jarvis Landry with a long completion, then gets Landry the ball again in the end zone from 24 yards out and the Browns are to win 10-7 late in the 2nd quarter.

But Lamar and the offense go right down the field in 7 plays, capped off by a 29 yard TD throw to Hollywood Brown just as the half expires. It's 16-7 after Justin Tucker misses the extra point.

After a decent Cleveland drive to start the third quarter ends with a fumble on the Baltimore 15 yard line, the Ravens go down the field with ease and Jackson hits Mark Andrews from 10 yards out to put the Ravens up 23-7.

Mayfield and the Browns finally get on the scoreboard again with a TD throw to Landry, again, and it's 23-14 heading into the 4th quarter.

Marcus Peters gets in the act with a pick six on Cleveland's first drive of the 4th quarter to make it 30-14.

A Justin Tucker field goal with 3:00 remaining makes it 33-14.

Mayfield hits Landry for a third and final time with 20 seconds left in the game. The extra point is missed, and the Ravens win 33-20.

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show me the money


Don't let last week's 2-4 record fool you. We got ripped off by the gambling gods. Again. We had a 3-3 record all locked up until the Redskins fumbled the ball on the game's final play and turned a 6-point home cover into a loss because the Eagles rumbled down the field and scored a meaningless touchdown at the buzzer.

That's twice now this season we've been on the bad end of a horrible, horrible beat. It stinks. But we're back for six more games today, and hoping to put a little Christmas shopping money in our pocket at the same time.

You already know we're taking the Ravens and laying ten points today against Cleveland. Let's move on to the rest of the games and see what's in store.

BENGALS AT DOLPHINS (+2.0) -- How on earth the guys in Vegas have the Bengals as the favorite in this one is beyond me. I feel like this is easy money -- really easy money -- for anyone taking the Dolphins, which is what we're going to do. We love Miami plus the two points here, and we're calling an outright win to the tune of 30-23. Note: This is also our Best Bet of the Day selection.

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs need a win and some help from the Dolphins next week to finish as the #2 seed in the AFC.

STEELERS AT JETS (+3.5) -- Pittsburgh has everything to play for and the Jets are done. Seems like an easy play, right? Yes, it does, except for the fact that the Pittsburgh offense is lousy. They might not reach 20 points today. In fact, they probably won't. But the Jets aren't really any good, either, and they're looking like a team trying to get its coach fired if you ask me. We'll take the Jets plus the 3.5 points "just because", but Pittsburgh wins a tight one here, 19-17.

COWBOYS AT EAGLES (+2.5) -- Wow. It all (likely) comes down to one game in Philly, for the right to make the NFC playoffs as the East Division winner. Good job, schedule makers. This one feels like a Dallas win to me. Philly barely escaped a home thriller with the Giants back on December 9 and the Cowboys seem to be coming on a bit down the stretch. We're going with Dallas to win this one on a late field goal, 27-24.

CARDINALS AT SEAHAWKS (-9.0) -- Nothing about this game tells us the Cardinals should hang around. Their offense is OK, but their defense is really bad. And then, suddenly, the offense will go in a funk and their defense will man-up and have a good game. We can't imagine Seattle lays off the gas pedal in this one. Seahawks win at a home in a blowout, 34-17.

CHIEFS AT BEARS (+6.0) -- Kansas City still has a lot to play for. They can still finish as the #1, #2 or #3 seed in the AFC, although a Ravens win earlier in the day would eliminate the potential for a #1 seed. Nonetheless, the Chiefs have a lot on the line tonight and the Bears don't have much of anything to play for. We're going with the Chiefs, in a close one, as they win 27-20.

RECORD TO DATE: 40-49-1*

LAST WEEK'S RECORD:2-4**

RAVENS AGAINST THE SPREAD: 6-9

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 6-9

*Indicates our record should be 42-47-1 if not for Arizona choking away an easy 9.5 point cover in the final 30 seconds of the game in San Francisco on November 17 and **the Redskins giving up a meaningless TD on the final play of the game to squander a 6-point home cover against the Eagles on December 15.

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and the unsung hero of the decade is...

Well, we had quite the turnaround on day two of voting for Baltimore's "Unsung Hero of the Decade".

Ravens punter Sam Koch held a comfortable lead after day one.

But he couldn't hold on to it.

Instead, it was Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy who came out on top by a mere three percentage points, finishing with 35% of the vote to Koch's 32% of the vote.

Darren O'Day was next with 17% of the vote, finishing in 3rd place.

Former Ravens center Matt Birk garnered 10% of the vote.

And Ravens kicking coach Randy Brown collected 6% of the vote.

So, congratulations to #2, J.J. Hardy, who wound up finishing #1.

Saturday
December 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1944



saturday musings


We're a day late on this but Mark Turgeon has to be concerned with his team's every-game-habit of starting out more asleep than Buck Showalter in a Toronto dugout in October.

It's not a crime to lose to Seton Hall on the road. That is, until you realize that same Seton Hall team -- minus their two top players -- had just lost to Rutgers by 20 points five days earlier. Rutgers, you might know, isn't very good.

Oh, and nine days earlier, Maryland went up to Penn State and got beat -- again.

So, while Maryland is 10-2, there are too many troubling tendencies that stick out. They start out slow, find their sea legs about 15 minutes into the game, scratch their way to a lead and then fight for their lives to hold on to the lead. In his 8 year tenure at College Park (prior to this one), Turgeon's teams have typically been really good at winning five minute games. That's been a strength over the years: Keep it close for 35 minutes and then win the final 5 minutes.

But at some point, that sort of witchcraft comes to an end. It worked two weeks ago when Illinois forgot how to play in the final three minutes of a game they should have easily won at College Park, but Penn State and Seton Hall both came through down the stretch and the Terps...did not.

Someone asked me yesterday if I thought Turgeon was on the hot seat. "Of course he is," I said. "But that's because he's always on the hot seat around here. And always will be. The first guy to replace Gary Williams will be on the hot seat until the day he either A) wins the NCAA tournament in April or, B) gets fired or quits."

As Maryland rounds out the fantasyland portion of their schedule with a home game against something named Bryant on December 29 and gets ready for 10 weeks of Big Ten play, Turgeon needs to figure some things out about his predictable Terps team. If he doesn't, the seat's going to get hotter.

Two Buffalo wins and two New England losses would give the Bills the AFC East title...and push the Patriots to the #5 seed in the AFC.

Today's slate of three NFL games is like Thanksgiving Day all over again except you won't be filled to the brim with turkey and mashed potatoes. But unlike those Thursday games last month, these three games today actually matter. Houston is at Tampa Bay (1 pm), where the Texans need to win to hold on to the top spot in the AFC South. Buffalo is at New England (4:30 pm) in a game that could decide the AFC East. And the Rams and their flickering playoff hopes head to San Francisco (8:30 pm) for a huge NFC West contest.

The Buffalo-New England game is one worth watching in Baltimore, because it very well might be that a Buffalo loss could propel them to a rematch with Baltimore on the weekend of January 11-12 in the Ravens playoff opener.

If the Bills finish as the top wild card team (#5 seed), they'll play the #4 seed in the first round of the playoffs, which is all but certain to be the AFC South winner. As long as the #6 seed (Pittsburgh? Tennessee?) doesn't upset the #3 seed in the first round, Buffalo -- assuming they win over Houston/Tennessee -- would come to Charm City the following weekend.

By the way, all of these scenarios assume the Ravens win one of their final two regular season games and clinch the #1 seed, which I'd say is about 97.5% certain.

The Bills are an interesting team. I'm not sure they're actually "good", but I'd say they're interesting. They might actually think they're really good, which makes them a tad bit dangerous come playoff time. I'm not saying the Ravens should be afraid of Buffalo. Not at all. But I also don't think you can sleepwalk your past them in January, no matter the venue.

Let's get a head start on Sunday's "Show Me The Money" feature here at #DMD. I like the Texans (-3.5) today, even though they haven't been all that hot on the road. Tampa Bay (7-7) is playing for nothing but pride. The Texans could still lose today and win the AFC South next week with a home win over the Titans, but I like Houston to cover and win today, 26-20.

I also love, love, love the 49'ers (-6.5) over the Rams in the evening game. San Fran is coming off an embarrassing home loss to the Falcons, while the Rams have finagled their way back into the playoff picture, although they need two wins and two Minnesota losses to snag the final NFC wild card spot. I can't see the 49'ers losing this one and I think it's more like a San Fran romp than a nailbiter, so we'll go with the 49'ers here in a bit of a blowout, 30-17.

We got ripped off again last week here at #DMD when the Redskins suffered the 2nd worst "bad beat" of the season when they allowed the Eagles to score a touchdown on the game's final play when the outcome had already been decided moments earlier.

Washington was getting six points at home over Philly, and led 27-24 until late in the game when the Eagles scored a TD and kicked the extra point to go up 31-27. No biggie, though. You're still in good shape if you have the Redskins plus 6.0, right? Wrong. On the last play of the game, near midfield, Philly's Nigel Bradham picked up a fumble and scooted 48 yards into the end zone to finalize the scoring at 37-27. Never mind that he could have just run out of bounds to end the game or fallen to the ground to end the game. No, no, no. He had to RUN INTO THE END ZONE! Merry Christmas.....to everyone who had the Eagles.

The Capitals rolled on last night with a 6-3 win over the hapless Devils, which gives me an opportunity to remind you that we're heading up to Philadelphia on January 8 to see the Capitals take on the worst franchise in the history of the sports.

We still have seats left on the bus and really good lower and upper concourse tickets available for those who want to go along with us.

The bus will leave from the Towson area at 4:45 pm. We'll provide dinner and drinks on the bus ride to Philly and we'll have a cool Caps trivia contest with a cash prize for the winner!

If you're interested in joining us, just click "Caps/Flyers" on the top of the page and you'll be directed to the order form.

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unsung sports hero...of the decade


OK, so this one requires some real thought. Unfortunately, we've narrowed down your choice to just five, but you can write-in a candidate in the comments section below if you like.

Who is Baltimore's Unsung Sports Hero...of the decade?

Wow. There's a lot to unpack there, huh?

Editor's note: We're running this poll a second day and will have the results tomorrow here at #DMD. It's a tight race thus far. Let's just say a certain football "figure" has the lead.

Recency bias being what it is and all, it takes a lot of revisionist thinking to go back to 2010 and start thinking about who played, who was really good but didn't get their due, and so on.

Truth of the matter, we had a hard time coming up with five. But we did, finally.

J.J. Hardy -- His slide into home plate in the 8th inning of Game 2 of the 2014 ALDS vs. Detroit was enough to get him on the list. But the quiet, talented shortstop did a lot more than that earlier this decade. Hardy spent 7 seasons in Charm City (2011-2017) and was a central figure in the three Orioles playoff teams ('12, '14, '16). He won three gold gloves in Baltimore and averaged .252 at the plate with 107 home runs in those 7 campaigns.

Is Ravens punter Sam Koch the Unsung Hero of Baltimore sports for the decade 2010-2019?

Sam Koch -- It feels like he's the only punter in Ravens history. That's not accurate...but it sure *feels* that way. Koch has been with the Ravens since 2006 and most certainly would be worthy of NFL Hall of Fame consideration if, in fact, they considered punters to be "football players" in Canton. As it is, the Ravens will have a quandry on their hands someday, because Koch -- without question -- should be in the team's Ring of Honor after he retires. He has performed at an extremely high level throughout this decade. But no one seems to notice.

Matt Birk -- He only played three seasons in the decade ('10, '11, '12) but Birk's arrival also connected with the Ravens offense perking up, culminating in two consecutive AFC title game appearances and a Super Bowl title in 2012. He was a 6-time Pro Bowl selection in Minnesota, then turned in a similar level of play in his four full seasons in Baltimore. The center position was in good hands when Matt Birk was in town, that's for sure.

Darren O'Day -- The O's right handed relief pitcher spent 7 seasons with the team in this decade, and was an integral part of the dominant bullpen in the 2014 campaign. He pitched to a superb 2.40 ERA in his 7 seasons, striking out 424 batters in 374 innings of work. As good as Zach Britton was back then, O'Day was the man who got through the eighth inning and presented Britton with his chance to shine.

Randy Brown -- Who? I know that's the first thing you said a second ago when you read: Randy Brown. Randy Brown is the guy who has served as the Ravens kicking coach throughout this decade. Yes, believe it or not, Justin Tucker has actually used some "coaching". So, too, has Sam Koch. Brown first joined the organization in 2008 as a "consultant", but has been part of the team's staff for the last six years and is largely responsible for the development of "The Wolfpack" (Cox, Koch, Tucker). Ask anyone at Owings Mills how important Randy Brown is to the team's success and they'll all answer with one word: Very.




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a very special holiday cd from drew


In the past, I've created Holiday CD's that have featured my all-time "best" from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews. I add two songs per-day, they eventually total up to 14 or 16 songs (depending on total time) and it's my way of creating something for you that you might enjoy throughout the year.

This holiday season, I'm going with something different.

I'm putting together a CD of songs and/or artists that I'm hoping you might not have previously heard.

I probably won't go 16-for-16. In fact, I'm quite sure that somewhere along the way, you'll have heard of a couple of these artists and bands, at least. But I do think it's safe to say I'll open your eyes and ears to some new music that you might wind up enjoying throughout 2020.

I'll add two songs per-day for the next eight days. When the 16 songs are finally available in full order, we'll figure out a way to make the full download available to you if you'd like to put them on a CD or add them to your playlist on your phone/tablet.

Song #13, "Give It Up" -- Hothouse Flowers are an Irish rock group that combines traditional Irish music with influences from soul, gospel, and rock. Formed in 1985 in Dublin, they started as street performers. Their first album, People (1988), was the most successful debut album in Irish history, reaching No. 1 in Ireland and No. 2 in the UK. After two more albums and extensive touring, the group separated in 1994. Since getting back together in 1998, the band members have been sporadically issuing new songs and touring, but also pursuing solo careers.

Song #14, "Teach Me To Know" -- The Lone Bellow is an American musical group from Brooklyn, New York. The Lone Bellow began as a songwriting project for Zach Williams, whose wife had suffered temporary paralysis following a horseback riding accident. During his wife's recovery, Williams coped with the experience by writing in a journal. At the urging of his friends, Williams learned how to play the guitar and turned his journal entries into songs. Following his wife's recovery, the couple moved to New York City in order to pursue their creative endeavors.

Previously, Williams had been performing as a solo act around Brooklyn and New York City, occasionally being backed by a hired band. Williams recalls when The Lone Bellow's guitarist and old friend, Brian Elmquist met at Dizzy's Diner in Park Slope. Williams invited fellow singer Kanene Pipkin to join them at the diner, and it was then that the trio was initially conceived. Initially known as Zach Williams and the Bellow, the band shortened its name to The Lone Bellow before putting out any official releases. In 2012, the group signed with Descendant Records, a newly formed imprint of Sony Music, and released its self-titled debut, produced by Charlie Peacock, in January 2013. It was recorded at local NYC venue Rockwood Music Hall over the course of three days.




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Friday
December 20
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#1943



the real mvp is...


I can't believe Lamar Jackson spilled the beans earlier this week.

Who tipped him off?

While discussing his 2019 play during a mid-week gathering with the media, Jackson revealed who the real MVP is.......and much to everyone's shock, it's not the talented Ravens quarterback.

Asked what keeps him humble in the midst of the historical season he's having, Jackson gave credit to the real MVP: "The Lord," Jackson said.

“I give Him all his praise, the glory, the honor, because without Him I could have been doing anything,” Jackson continued. "I'll be thinking about it, talking to Him throughout the day like, ‘Man, appreciate You. I thank You.’ Because, when you feel like you’re bigger than the Lord, that's when all that success dies. It goes away. You have to let Him know He's the reason you're having that much success.”

Jackson also referenced his teammates, coaches and family.

“We’ve just got to keep going and let the Lord know he’s No. 1,” he said.

These days, with Christianity under constant attack from all angles, it's indeed refreshing to see or hear a prominent citizen step up with praise for God and his son, Jesus.

Instead of focusing on government and money and power and whistleblowers and debates and impeachments and parties that divide instead of connect, perhaps it's time to go back to church and start from the ground up. Every Sunday when I'm in church, no one there is fighting or bickering. No one is tearing one another down. No one is mean or filled with ill spirit. I've never been to my church and left there angry or outraged.

And funniest of all, I have no idea what anyone's political affiliation is in my church. We all just show up, shake hands, follow as best we can the word of God, and everything moves along from that starting point. Democrat? Republican? Aquarius? Scorpio? Wealthy? Middle class? I have no idea. Everyone in my church seems like a good person, which is all that matters.

Our nation can't seem to figure it out but Lamar Jackson has. Maybe he should run for President. I know one state that would vote for him.


a #dmd podcast with kevin van valkenburg


Two warnings.

The #DMD podcast below (over 40 minutes in length) with ESPN's Kevin Van Valkenburg is 97% about golf and 3% about the Ravens.

And Van Valkenburg is a huge Tiger fan. So for those of you who constantly whine about how much the media loves Tiger, you should probably skip the first 12 minutes of the podcast so you don't spit up turkey and carrots on your bib.

But if you can tolerate two guys talking golf for 40 minutes, please give it a listen. We delve into the weird world of Patrick Reed, the Presidents Cup, the main cast of characters on the PGA Tour, and whether or not "ghosts" really do exist at Augusta National Golf Club.




#DMD PODCAST

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unsung sports hero...of the decade


OK, so this one requires some real thought. Unfortunately, we've narrowed down your choice to just five, but you can write-in a candidate in the comments section below if you like.

Who is Baltimore's Unsung Sports Hero...of the decade?

Wow. There's a lot to unpack there, huh?

Recency bias being what it is and all, it takes a lot of revisionist thinking to go back to 2010 and start thinking about who played, who was really good but didn't get their due, and so on.

Truth of the matter, we had a hard time coming up with five. But we did, finally.

J.J. Hardy -- His slide into home plate in the 8th inning of Game 2 of the 2014 ALDS vs. Detroit was enough to get him on the list. But the quiet, talented shortstop did a lot more than that earlier this decade. Hardy spent 7 seasons in Charm City (2011-2017) and was a central figure in the three Orioles playoff teams ('12, '14, '16). He won three gold gloves in Baltimore and averaged .252 at the plate with 107 home runs in those 7 campaigns.

Is Ravens punter Sam Koch the Unsung Hero of Baltimore sports for the decade 2010-2019?

Sam Koch -- It feels like he's the only punter in Ravens history. That's not accurate...but it sure *feels* that way. Koch has been with the Ravens since 2006 and most certainly would be worthy of NFL Hall of Fame consideration if, in fact, they considered punters to be "football players" in Canton. As it is, the Ravens will have a quandry on their hands someday, because Koch -- without question -- should be in the team's Ring of Honor after he retires. He has performed at an extremely high level throughout this decade. But no one seems to notice.

Matt Birk -- He only played three seasons in the decade ('10, '11, '12) but Birk's arrival also connected with the Ravens offense perking up, culminating in two consecutive AFC title game appearances and a Super Bowl title in 2012. He was a 6-time Pro Bowl selection in Minnesota, then turned in a similar level of play in his four full seasons in Baltimore. The center position was in good hands when Matt Birk was in town, that's for sure.

Darren O'Day -- The O's right handed relief pitcher spent 7 seasons with the team in this decade, and was an integral part of the dominant bullpen in the 2014 campaign. He pitched to a superb 2.40 ERA in his 7 seasons, striking out 424 batters in 374 innings of work. As good as Zach Britton was back then, O'Day was the man who got through the eighth inning and presented Britton with his chance to shine.

Randy Brown -- Who? I know that's the first thing you said a second ago when you read: Randy Brown. Randy Brown is the guy who has served as the Ravens kicking coach throughout this decade. Yes, believe it or not, Justin Tucker has actually used some "coaching". So, too, has Sam Koch. Brown first joined the organization in 2008 as a "consultant", but has been part of the team's staff for the last six years and is largely responsible for the development of "The Wolfpack" (Cox, Koch, Tucker). Ask anyone at Owings Mills how important Randy Brown is to the team's success and they'll all answer with one word: Very.




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a very special holiday cd from drew


In the past, I've created Holiday CD's that have featured my all-time "best" from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews. I add two songs per-day, they eventually total up to 14 or 16 songs (depending on total time) and it's my way of creating something for you that you might enjoy throughout the year.

This holiday season, I'm going with something different.

I'm putting together a CD of songs and/or artists that I'm hoping you might not have previously heard.

I probably won't go 16-for-16. In fact, I'm quite sure that somewhere along the way, you'll have heard of a couple of these artists and bands, at least. But I do think it's safe to say I'll open your eyes and ears to some new music that you might wind up enjoying throughout 2020.

I'll add two songs per-day for the next eight days. When the 16 songs are finally available in full order, we'll figure out a way to make the full download available to you if you'd like to put them on a CD or add them to your playlist on your phone/tablet.

Song #11, "This Is The Last Time" -- Keane are an English rock band from Battle, East Sussex, formed in 1995. The band currently comprises Tom Chaplin (lead vocals, electric/acoustic guitar), Tim Rice-Oxley (piano, synthesisers, bass guitar, backing vocals), Richard Hughes (drums, percussion, backing vocals), and Jesse Quin (bass guitar, acoustic/electric guitar, backing vocals). Their original line-up included founder and guitarist Dominic Scott, who left in 2001.

Keane achieved mainstream, international success with the release of their debut album, Hopes and Fears, in 2004. Topping the UK charts, the album won the 2005 Brit Award for Best British Album and was the second best-selling British album of 2004. It remains one of the best-selling albums in UK chart history. Their second album, Under the Iron Sea, released in 2006, topped the UK album charts and debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200. Their third album, Perfect Symmetry, was released in October 2008.

Keane are known for using keyboards as the lead instrument instead of guitars, differentiating them from most other rock bands. The inclusion of a distorted piano effect in 2006 and various synthesisers were a common feature in their music which developed on the second and third albums. Keane have sold over 13 million records worldwide.

The band released their fifth studio album Cause and Effect on 20 September 2019. It was announced on 6 June 2019 with the release of lead single "The Way I Feel".

Song #12, "Summertime" -- Victoria Vox is a singer, songwriter and musician specialising in the ukulele. A native of Green Bay, Wisconsin and former Baltimore resident, Vox now resides in Costa Mesa, California when not on tour.

Listeners to Drew's radio show will recall Vox appearing several times in 2012 and 2013. The two originally met when Vox performed at a summer concert series in Towson, MD and Drew invited her on his show to sing Christmas songs.

Vox married musician Jack Maher in 2016 and the two currently perform as Jack & the Vox. Their honeymoon was spent on a tour of Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain and Ireland where they participated in the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival.

A considerable amount of Victoria's work can be found on YouTube.




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Thursday
December 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1942



10 things to say to your young athlete


I've been doing a lot of group discussions recently, both with parents and athletes alike. While I don't necessarily have an audience preference, I can say without hesitation I find parents of young athletes to be the more diverse group, if you will. Some parents were high level athletes, some merely dabbled in sports as a youth, and others didn't play at all.

So, a while back I created a "primer", for lack of a better term, that I think parents can find useful when trying to navigate the sometimes murky waters of youth sports.

Some of these you might have heard before. Some might be new to you.

We live in an age where parents are more prone to emphasizing their children's athletic success than the children do themselves.

Funny thing...no 8-year old who ever won the Little League championship or the Fall soccer tournament ever parlayed that particular event into being a great husband, wife, father or mother.

But parents, for some reason, are adamant about winning. And playing time. And the way their son or daughter is coached.

If you're a parent who has lost their way, these 10 comments could help get you back on track. Try them. Not only will it help your children, it will help you.

"I really enjoyed watching you play today." -- This is the very first thing you should say to your child at the completion of the game. Forget the result, how they played, what impact they had or didn't have. Just put your arm around them, kiss their forehead and say "I really enjoyed watching you play today." There is nothing else you can say that impacts them in a more positive way than this statement.

"The officials weren't the reason you lost." -- All you do when you agree that the officials lost this game is open the door for that same excuse to be used in the next game. "The officials weren't the reason you lost" is the best answer you can give if the subject of officiating comes up after a loss.

"Have Fun. Smile. Laugh. Enjoy yourself." -- This should be the last thing you say to your child before they head to the field for warm-ups. It's the ultimate message you want them to remember. Don't say "play well!" or "good luck!" or "score some goals!". Tell them to "Have Fun. Smile. Laugh. Enjoy yourself." If they do those things, the rest of that stuff (playing well, scoring, etc.) is more likely to happen.

"It won't be the last time you (do that)" -- When your child misses a big shot, strikes out with the bases loaded, misses a 3-foot putt, drops a pass, etc., it's important to remind them that there are certain realities in life and one of them is they will occasionally fail. It's part of competing. If one of my golfers makes a triple bogey and I sense it's lingering with him, I make a point of pulling him aside after the match and saying, "I have news for you. This will NOT be the last triple bogey you make in your life. There will be others. It's part of competing. The key is to not let it change the way you play in the future."

"The coach is right." -- This one is ultra important. Those four words are vital to the development of an athlete. Too many times, the players think they know more than the coach. The parents definitely believe they know more than the coach. And all that contention does is create confusion and a poor player-coach relationship. "The coach is right." It's clean, simple and doesn't leave much wiggle room for discussion. So, the next time your young athlete plops down in the car and starts bellyaching about the coach, it's helpful for you to simply say, "The coach is right."

"Take the day off." -- Vitally important. This doesn't mean skip practice or a game. It means, "take the day off" and don't touch a bat, a club, a stick, a ball, etc. I find it valuable with my golfers to tell them this in advance, say, a week or so out. "Next Friday is a day off. Do not touch a club, period. Don't go near the golf course. Get away from golf for a day." In times where a young athlete's schedule is really packed and intense, giving them two days off is even better. They're not going to forget how to play baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, golf, etc. if they don't play Thursday and Friday.

"You can't be a sore loser." In the same way that athletes have to learn how to win, they also have to learn how to lose. This is not to say that you have to "like" losing or be "comfortable" with it. There's an old saying: "Show me someone that likes to lose.....and I'll show you a loser." But there's a right way to lose. Shake hands, say, "Well done" and move on. Give them a real handshake. Look them in the eye. Be genuine. The other team/player tries, too.

"You're getting out of it what you put into it." -- Another awesome philosophical statement. This applies to virtually everything and works on both ends of the spectrum. If your child is working hard and getting good results, they're "getting out of it what they put into it." And if they're not working all that hard and not getting good results, they're "getting out of it what they put into it." Sometimes young athletes need to be reminded of this simple axiom. You're getting the results the system is designed to give you.

"You talk to the coach. I'm not doing it." -- This one is really hard for parents to accept, but it's a critical position to adopt with your young athlete. If they want to know why they aren't playing more, playing at all, playing a different position, etc., they'll often cry on your shoulder and you'll say, "Yeah, I agree. Let me talk to the coach." No, no, no. Let your child do the talking. Let them ask the questions. This will create a sense of independence with them and also do wonders for their relationship with the coach. "You talk to the coach. I'm not doing it." Try it. And stick with it.

"Be a great teammate." -- There's nothing in team sports more important than this. Nothing. If your child can be a great teammate, that's far more important than being a great player.

If any of you would like me to speak with your winter sports team, coaching group or parents, please reach out. I'd love to do it: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

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video of the year?


OK, so we are living in a world that's dominated by video, right?

Everyone's doing it, whether it's with their cell phone, Go-Pro, etc. Likewise, we're taking stuff we see on TV or YouTube and making those moments into videos as well.

Well, someone on Twitter that goes by @puttoutgolf put the golf world into hysterics on Wednesday with the release of a video from the recent Presidents Cup. For those who didn't see what happened in real time, on the final hole of the Tiger Woods vs. Abraham Ancer match, Woods rolled in a 20-foot putt on the 16th hole that ended the match. As you'll see in the video below, Woods took off his hat to shake hands with Ancer just after the ball rolled over the edge of the cup and dipped into the hole.

After the match, Woods said he knew the putt was in and the match was over when the ball was still six feet from the hole.

And now the fun begins. @puttoutgolf took it a step further, creating a hilarious video that shows Woods taking off his hat when the ball is about five feet off his putter.

I've seen a lot of funny videos in 2019. I haven't seen one more funny than this one. And more well done. It's hard to discern the doctored video from the real highlight.




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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.


payback time


The Ravens don’t need any extra motivation as they head to Northeast Ohio this weekend. A win against the 6-8 Cleveland Browns would mean the No. 1 seed in the AFC, home field throughout the conference playoffs (finally) in their 12th trip to the postseason (1).

A win might also mean some unexpected rest in Week 17 against the Pittsburgh Steelers (2). Don’t think for a moment that a 13-year veteran like Marshal Yanda isn’t thinking how nice it would be to keep the pads off that day.

That said, the Ravens have a pair of opponents they need to pay back. It starts Sunday and, based on Patrick Mahomes’s performance in a Missouri snowstorm last weekend (3), it might come to a climax at M&T Bank Stadium against the Chiefs on the third weekend of January.

But let us start with the Browns, who came into Baltimore on a very warm September day and put on a performance that, these days, we’d describe as “Raven-like.” The score was 40-25, but it would have been 40-18 if not for a meaningless 50-yard touchdown catch by Willie Snead in the final 30 seconds.

We know now that the game was the catalyst for changes on the Ravens defense. Josh Bynes was sitting at home watching football on television that day; seven days later, he was intercepting a first-quarter pass in Pittsburgh. Kenny Young (4), who made a litany of poor plays against the Browns, went from starting to inactive and then traded.

It was proven weeks ago that Eric DeCosta and the coaching staff were right to make those changes. But it’ll probably feel better for everyone if they can make it right when they head to Cleveland. I don’t think the Ravens have been trying to beat teams 45-6 and 49-13. They’re just very efficient, with a bit of spectacular sprinkled in from time to time. This time, though? I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a number in mind, at least privately.

Baker Mayfield is 2-1 vs. the Ravens thus far in his career. The Ravens owe him some payback for that 40-25 defeat in Baltimore back in late September.

And there’s a real chance a blowout could happen.

The Browns just got routed in the second half by a lousy Arizona team that had lost six in a row. Mathematically, Freddie Kitchens’ team is still alive for the playoffs (5), but they know better than that. They’ve been done for a while now, and I wonder how much they really care about a potential sweep of the best team in the NFL.

Have you read any of the clips out of Cleveland in recent days? Odell Beckham (6) might want out already…what a surprise! News is that his friend Jarvis Landry is maybe thinking the same thing. Kareem Hunt said, publicly, that a lot of players didn’t give 100 percent on every play in Arizona.

That’s Cleveland. As for Baltimore, every NFL team gets one week with three extra days off thanks to Thursday Night football (7), and this happened to be that week for John Harbaugh’s team. The players were away from the building in Owings Mills for a few days, with the hope they’d be refreshed when they reported on Tuesday for a normal practice week. The extra time should help the players with “minor” injuries and gives hope that left tackle Ronnie Stanley can get out of concussion protocol.

Other teams, and other players besides Lamar Jackson, took the spotlight this past Sunday. Dallas (8) and Philadelphia will play essentially a winner-take-all game for the NFC East this Sunday. All of that is probably a good thing for the Ravens, who with three hours of focus can eliminate all the scenarios that might still be out there for others.

On the other hand, there’s a reason why the Browns and Chiefs have been the two teams to hand the Ravens a loss this season. They are, by far, the two most talented offensive teams on the schedule. They are among the most talented offensive teams in the NFL. They can make a defense uncomfortable in ways the Bills can’t, even in ways the Patriots and Seahawks can’t.

Nick Chubb is the leading rusher in the NFL with 1,408 yards, and he broke an 88-yarder back in Baltimore in September (9). For whatever reasons, Baker Mayfield had his most prolific passing day of the year that day too. In three career games against the Ravens, he’s thrown for almost 1,100 yards. He’s also thrown five balls to the other team, and I’m guessing at least one more of those is coming on Sunday.

And finally, even though Beckham and Landry like to take turns complaining about how many passes come their way, they’ll both be 1,000-yard receivers by year’s end (10).

In other words, the Browns can beat the Ravens on Sunday, in a way that the Steelers might not if the Ravens don’t rest any starters the following week. The Browns can outscore almost any opponent, and they have the kind of offense that can stay on the field for long drives.

They probably won’t, but I thought I’d at least remind you of the possibility.

Notes --

1 - Forget about the No. 1 seed. The Ravens have only hosted a game in the divisional round twice, against the Texans (a win) following the 2011 season and against the Colts (a loss) following the 2006 season.

2 - I almost think it would be smart to activate and start rookie Trace McSorley in that situation instead of Robert Griffin. More likely is that Lamar Jackson hits the field for one drive and then sits down.

3 - Football games in the snow are the coolest games to watch. Sitting in the upper deck in the first half of the 2013 Ravens-Vikings game was one of my favorite sports experiences ever.

4 - According to Pro Football Reference, Young has played a grand total of zero defensive snaps since joining the Rams after the trade. Let me repeat. Zero.

5 - The Browns can make the playoffs if they win both their remaining games, both the Titans and Steelers lose their remaining games and a bunch of other stuff happens.

6 - Seriously, did anybody with a decent head on his or her shoulders really think that OBJ was going to work out in Cleveland in the long term?

7 - As long as every team has the same advantage/disadvantage once during the season, I have no problem with Thursday Night football.

8 - I don’t understand how the Cowboys are 7-7. They absolutely have the talent to win the Super Bowl…once they get in the playoffs, of course.

9 - The kind of long run that Chubb had late in that game is the one thing the Ravens’ defense is most vulnerable to. The Ravens don’t tackle well at all at the “second level.”

10 - Mark Andrews needs 241 receiving yards in the Ravens’ final two games to get to 1,000 yards on the season. Unlikely, but possible I suppose.

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a very special holiday cd from drew


In the past, I've created Holiday CD's that have featured my all-time "best" from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews. I add two songs per-day, they eventually total up to 14 or 16 songs (depending on total time) and it's my way of creating something for you that you might enjoy throughout the year.

This holiday season, I'm going with something different.

I'm putting together a CD of songs and/or artists that I'm hoping you might not have previously heard.

I probably won't go 16-for-16. In fact, I'm quite sure that somewhere along the way, you'll have heard of a couple of these artists and bands, at least. But I do think it's safe to say I'll open your eyes and ears to some new music that you might wind up enjoying throughout 2020.

I'll add two songs per-day for the next eight days. When the 16 songs are finally available in full order, we'll figure out a way to make the full download available to you if you'd like to put them on a CD or add them to your playlist on your phone/tablet.

Song #9, "Mind Over Matter" -- Young the Giant is an American rock band that formed in Irvine, California, in 2004. The band's line-up consists of Sameer Gadhia (lead vocals), Jacob Tilley (guitar), Eric Cannata (guitar), Payam Doostzadeh (bass guitar), and Francois Comtois (drums). Formerly known as The Jakes, Young the Giant was signed by Roadrunner Records in 2009, and they released their eponymous debut album in 2010. The band's first three singles, "My Body", "Cough Syrup", and "Apartment", all charted on the US Alternative Songs chart.

Song #10, "The Stoop" -- Little Jackie is an American duo consisting of Imani Coppola and Adam Pallin. Little Jackie, which derives its name from the 1989 hit song "Little Jackie Wants to Be a Star" by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, released a hit single in 2008 called "The World Should Revolve Around Me" from their debut album The Stoop.

In 2008, Coppola and Pallin signed a contract with S-Curve, an independent label owned by Steve Greenberg, to issue an album. This coincided with the duo's television debut on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Album promotion is by Nabbr, a company that has created viral video campaigns for Justin Timberlake and Amy Winehouse. On August 3, 2011 Little Jackie digitally released their second album, Made4TV, on Bandcamp.com, a website that allows artists release their music and merchandise directly to their fans. They digitally released their third album, "Queen of Prospect Park," in 2014.




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Wednesday
December 18
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hope.....and worry.....


I hope Ravens fans don't become new-age Patriots fans, but I sense a trend in that direction. One glance at your social media pages shows a fan base growing more obnoxious by the day. I understand our city very well. I'm born and raised here. I get the "chip on our shoulder" thing, tucked between New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC. I know we want our due and this season, at least up to now, the Ravens are giving it to us in Super Size form. But some of the complaining and whining and breathless demands for mea culpas and respect from the national media are very Patriots-fan-like. Let's do our best to avoid that scarlet letter.

I worry that the Orioles are going to be unwittingly impacted by the Ravens if the purple birds wind up winning the whole thing in Miami in early February. The Birds are already at rock bottom in terms of general fan interest, ticket plan buyers, and so on. Some of that, of course, is due to their rebuilding project. But a Ravens Super Bowl win would most certainly impact the baseball team in terms of sponsorship dollars in 2020 and 2021. There's only so much corporate money to go around. And if one team is winning the Super Bowl and one team is winning 50 of 162 games, you know where the money's going.

I hope Patrick Reed learned something from the last two weeks of his life. I think he's an extraordinary player. You don't play as well as he did in college and then win 9 times in 9 years -- including the Masters -- unless you're a world-class performer. But his answer to the question ("What did you learn?") wasn't great. “I think the biggest thing is just to continue grinding and not let the crowds or let people get in the way of what you’re trying to do, and that’s play golf,” he said. Better than involving others and trying to use their behavior to motivate himself, would have been this: "I have to understand that I'm responsible for the things I do on and off the course. There's an accountability level that perhaps I haven't embraced before. I need to realize this is on me to fix. I owe it to the sport."

If the Ravens win the Super Bowl, John Angelos immediately has one task to complete: Figure out a way to clear September 10, 2020 off the Orioles home schedule.

I worry about two AFC teams in the upcoming playoffs and the Ravens will most certainly face one, if not both of them. And you know who they are: Kansas City and New England. I do think the Ravens match up better against the Patriots. I could see that one playing out in a similar fashion to the Sunday Night game back on November 3rd. Ravens win by 17 or so, in other words. But I'm also smart enough to know only a fool would take the Patriots for granted in a post-season game. Just ask the Chiefs from last January's AFC title game in Kansas City. As for this year's K.C. team, I'm leery of their offense. They're the one team that could put up 30 points on the Baltimore defense, no matter the venue. No one else but those two teams worry me and I'd say Kansas City worries me on a "7" scale and New England worries me to a "5". Buffalo, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Houston? They worry me to a "3". Ravens 35 - Any of them 14.

I hope local golf enthusiasts who read #DMD don't put any stock in some of the recent dumb comments here about the "stature" of the International team in last week's Presidents Cup. Some people apparently think professional golf is ONLY played in the United States. But folks who have a TV and the internet realize that the International side had just as many high-quality "young guns" as the U.S. team. Sungjae Im, Ben An, Cameron Smith and C.T. Pan are four extraordinarily talented players under the age of 30. Adam Scott and Marc Leishman are both multi-tournament winners on TOUR. Hideki Matsuyama might very well be the current "Best Player Without A Major" although Matt Kuchar fans would debate that claim. Trust me, the International team was much better than couch-potato-golf-followers realized.

I worry that Maryland football is in a state of flux that can't be repaired. "You can't get blood out of a stone" as the saying goes, and trying to get star-quality players to choose College Park over Ann Arbor, Columbus and Happy Valley is a defeat-in-waiting. That's not to say that Maryland shouldn't try and improve their football program. But there's a concern that perhaps they're spending more money on chasing a ghost than they should be spending. Spend the money on basketball, soccer and lacrosse and win national titles in those sports. Football is what it is at Maryland. They're closing in on being everyone's homecoming game.

I hope people in Baltimore now realize how exceptional John Harbaugh is at coaching a NFL team. Not only is he arguably the best coach in Charm City football history (Don Shula supporters step up, please), there's most certainly a debate that he's been the best coach in the NFL not named Bill Belichick since getting the head gig in Baltimore. Sean Payton would get some votes. Mike Tomlin and Andy Reid would as well. So, too, would Pete Carroll. But you can go ahead and make a case for those guys and I'll argue on Harbaugh's behalf and feel great about it. I've always been an unabashed Harbaugh fan. I believe he's an extraordinary person and a high quality head coach. We're lucky to have him. Very lucky, in fact.

I worry that we might have a conflict next September 10 in Baltimore. It's a Thursday. The Orioles play at home that night against Toronto. And, well, it's also the Thursday Night opener for the NFL. Typically the host of that game is the team that won the previous season's Super Bowl, although you might recall that didn't happen back in 2013 when the Orioles and the White Sox couldn't figure out a way to clear the schedule. The Orioles are also at home on Sunday afternoon, September 13 against Milwaukee.

You might recall that this season, the defending champs (New England) opened on Sunday night at home because the league wanted to honor its 100th anniversary by having the Bears and Packers play the traditional Thursday Night opener instead of having the Patriots host the game. One would assume next season's schedule would have the 2019 champion host the Thursday night game. You know where I'm going with this, of course. If the Ravens win the Super Bowl on February 2, 2020, the Orioles better announce the following day that they have worked something out with the Blue Jays (who play three series' in Baltimore in 2020) and the schedule is completely clear for the Ravens to host the Thursday Night opener on September 10.

No gimmicks, no tom foolery, no ballyhoo. The Orioles simply can't mess this up.

We shouldn't have to worry one minute about this come February 3, 2020.

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how much will you pay?


So, you've figured out the travel arrangements and you've somehow secured a room in South Florida for early February.

Now, all you need are tickets to see the Ravens take on the Saints, Packers, 49'ers, Vikings or Cowboys. (Just seeing if you're paying attention).

Unless you're one of the fortunate PSL holders who get tickets through the Ravens' lottery, you're going to pay big bucks for tickets in Miami. The price will be based somewhat on the opponent, by the way. If Dallas were to make it, for example, the price of the tickets would shoot through the roof. The Saints getting in would also bump up the price. Green Bay and San Francisco would probably not impact ticket costs all that much.

But no matter who gets in, you're looking at a minimum of $3,000 to get in the stadium, and you'll probably only get a $3,000 ticket if you're willing to buy singles and/or having the patience to wait it out until Saturday night or Sunday morning.

How much are you honestly willing to pay for a Super Bowl ticket?

I did a lot of Super Bowls in my radio career and have become very familiar with ticket pricing over the last five years while running #DMD. If you're asking me, right now, I'd say you should plan on paying $3,000 at a minimum, but more like $3,500 or more.

You have the airfare, hotels and the time off of work. You just need the ticket.

What's the maximum you're willing to pay to see the Ravens in Miami?



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a very special holiday cd from drew


In the past, I've created Holiday CD's that have featured my all-time "best" from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews. I add two songs per-day, they eventually total up to 14 or 16 songs (depending on total time) and it's my way of creating something for you that you might enjoy throughout the year.

This holiday season, I'm going with something different.

I'm putting together a CD of songs and/or artists that I'm hoping you might not have previously heard.

I probably won't go 16-for-16. In fact, I'm quite sure that somewhere along the way, you'll have heard of a couple of these artists and bands, at least. But I do think it's safe to say I'll open your eyes and ears to some new music that you might wind up enjoying throughout 2020.

I'll add two songs per-day for the next eight days. When the 16 songs are finally available in full order, we'll figure out a way to make the full download available to you if you'd like to put them on a CD or add them to your playlist on your phone/tablet.

Song #7, "Windows Are Rolled Down" -- Amos Lee (born Ryan Anthony Massaro, June 20, 1977), is an American singer-songwriter whose musical style encompasses folk, rock, and soul. He was born in Philadelphia and graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in English. After working as a schoolteacher and bartender he began to pursue a career in music. His manager Bill Eib, an artist manager and new artist development agent, submitted a demo recording to Blue Note Records which resulted in a recording contract and an association with singer Norah Jones.

Since that time Lee has recorded five albums on Blue Note Records and has toured as an opening act for Norah Jones, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, Merle Haggard, Van Morrison, John Prine, Dave Matthews Band, Adele, the Zac Brown Band, Jack Johnson, The Avett Brothers, and David Gray. His music has appeared on the soundtracks of numerous TV shows and movies. He has performed on several late night TV shows and at a voter registration rally for Barack Obama. In 2011, his album Mission Bell debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Song #8, "Up All Night" -- Beck Hansen, known mononymously as Beck, is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and record producer. He rose to fame in the early 1990s with his experimental and lo-fi style, and became known for creating musical collages of wide genre styles. Today, he musically encompasses folk, funk, soul, hip hop, electronic, alternative rock, country, and psychedelia. He has released 14 studio albums, as well as several non-album singles and a book of sheet music.

Born in Los Angeles in 1970, Beck grew towards hip-hop and folk in his teens and began to perform locally at coffeehouses and clubs. He moved to New York City in 1989 and became involved in the city's small but fiery anti-folk movement. Returning to Los Angeles in the early 1990s, he cut his breakthrough single "Loser," which became a worldwide hit in 1994, and released his first major album, Mellow Gold, the same year. Odelay, released in 1996, topped critic polls and won several awards. He released the country-influenced, twangy Mutations in 1998, and the funk-infused Midnite Vultures in 1999. The soft-acoustic Sea Change in 2002 showcased a more serious Beck, and 2005's Guero returned to Odelay's sample-based production. The Information in 2006 was inspired by electro-funk, hip hop, and psychedelia; 2008's Modern Guilt was inspired by '60s pop music; and 2014's folk-infused Morning Phase won Album of the Year at the 57th Grammy Awards on February 8, 2015. His thirteenth studio album, Colors, was released in October 2017 after a long production process, and won awards for Best Alternative Album and Best Engineered Album at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. His fourteenth album, titled Hyperspace, was released on November 22, 2019.




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Tuesday
December 17
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#1940



tuesday nuggets


In honor of my friend Steve Pavlosky, owner of Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, I present these Tuesday nuggets. Steve rolled out the red carpet for everyone last night as we welcomed Bradley Bozeman of the Ravens (and his wife, Nikki) and local sports legend Mo Gaba to his White Marsh location. Those three were on hand to help us bring in coats and winter apparel for today's distribution at Helping Up Mission. We had an awesome night and Mo even got to ride in a big limousine, courtesy of Steve and his family.

I fully understand the Patriots have a long history of bending the rules. Some of those things were important (SpyGate, for one) and some were laughable-witch-hunts (DeflateGate was an embarrassment...QB's all over the league inflate and/or deflate the footballs to their liking). Lots of teams have bent the rules, by the way, including our own Ravens, who have been slapped on the hand for various training camp and OTA violations over the last 12 years. But this latest New England flap, with the filming of the Cincinnati sideline during a supposed "Do Your Job" series, is so silly it's -- well -- silly. If the Patriots don't know by now that every move they make is being watched, they're just dumb. It doesn't even matter if they were "trying to cheat" or just made an innocent mistake a couple of weeks ago. They were filming the sideline of an upcoming opponent. It's against the rules. Whatever punishment they get is justified. They need to be much smarter. End of story.

There's no doubt Terrell Suggs was an outstanding Raven. He's arguably on the team's Mount Rushmore, in fact. But there's also no arguing this: The Ravens don't need him. So I wasn't quite sure why everyone was so hot and bothered yesterday when the Chiefs snagged off the waiver wire. The Ravens are 12-2 without Suggs. They're likely going to go 14-2 without him, assuming they try to win that last game against Pittsburgh. Terrell Suggs being a Raven or not being a Raven for the team's final 5 games of the season will not dictate at all whether the club wins the Super Bowl. They'll be fine without him. They've been fine without him all season. There's a reason why the club didn't offer him $7 million last off-season to stick around. His time had come and gone.

Already one of the best American players in the game, Xander Schauffele's performance at the Presidents Cup could kick-start him to a career year in 2020.

Someone yesterday asked me to rank the 24 players in the Presidents Cup from best-to-worst over the four day event. I don't know if I have the energy for that, but I can easily do the top five performers from the 16-14 United States victory.

1) Tiger Woods -- By far, he played the best golf of anyone. It's the best he's putted in a long time.

2) Abraham Ancer -- Getting run out of the gym by Tiger was the only blemish on an otherwise terrific event. He had his coming out party in Melbourne. This guy has nerves of steel.

3) Sungjae Im -- The PGA Tour's Rookie of the Year was sensational, with an out-of-this-world short game on full display. The sky's the limit for that kid.

4) Patrick Cantlay -- Great driver of the golf ball, solid iron player, made gobs of 10-foot putts at Melbourne. He'll win something big in 2020, watch and see.

5) Xander Schauffele -- Disposed of local hero Adam Scott in the singles. One of the most complete tee-to-green players in the world. If he ever putts like Tiger did circa 2008, he'll win 5-6 times a year.

The NFC is totally up for grabs, still. New Orleans looked great last night, but didn't look so hot a few weeks back when Atlanta lit them up at home. The 49'ers didn't look so good against those same Falcons this past Sunday. Seattle got clobbered by the same Rams team that went down to Dallas last Sunday and got punched in the mouth by the Cowboys. Green Bay barely got past Washington and Chicago on back-to-back weekends. Which leaves...the team a lot of folks might not want to face in January: The Minnesota Vikings. I know people are going to say "They can't win a Super Bowl with Kirk Cousins at the helm". And I'll remind you that guys like Joe Namath (more career INT's than TD's), Trent Dilfer (journeyman, at best) and Brad Johnson (might not have even reached "journeyman" status) all won Super Bowl rings. If they can do it, so too can Cousins.

I'm admittedly not a NBA junkie but I follow it enough to know that what LeBron and the Lakers (24-3) are doing thus far is very impressive. I know their schedule was a little luke warm at the beginning of the season, but 24-3 is 24-3, especially in the NBA where players and teams are prone to taking every 5th night off "just because". LeBron has done a lot in his NBA career, obviously. But delivering a title to the Lakers would be his crowning moment given where the franchise was a few years back. It's one thing to prop up a Cleveland franchise that was lousy before he got there and will always be lousy without him. It's another thing, entirely, to restore the glory to one of the iconic sports "brands" in the world.

Twitter has been on fire over the last few days with "heat" about the Coach of the Year award. Baltimore football fans think John Harbaugh is a lock for the award. This Baltimore football fan, though, thinks otherwise. The Coach of the Year award does not automatically go to the coach of the team with the best record. If it did, we wouldn't really need any conjecture, right? The award goes to the Coach who did the best job with his team and shouldn't -- at least to me, anyway -- be totally connected to his team's final record. You want three guys to discuss at the water cooler besides Harbaugh? I've got them for you. Mike Tomlin, Sean McDermott and Brian Flores.

Could Mike Tomlin be a Coach of the Year candidate if the Steelers somehow make the playoffs?

It's a miracle what the Steelers have done (8-6) with zero offensive talent. Sure, their defense is good, but you have to score some points occasionally to win. How Tomlin has crafted this group of offensive snoozers into a winning side is unreal. If Pittsburgh makes the playoff -- and that's a big IF -- Tomlin should receive serious consideration for the honor.

Sean McDermott has guided the Bills to the playoffs (10-4) and, possibly, the AFC East title if things roll their way over the next two weeks. I get it, they've played a light schedule. But they've won, somehow, even with a pedestrian offense (and that's being kind) and a recent history of losing. McDermott has done a nice job of changing the culture up there in Buffalo. They won't get run over by the Patriots in New England this weekend. It will be a dogfight.

As for Flores, they blew up the Dolphins (3-11) a week before the season started, getting rid of several quality players, benching the quarterback they picked up in the off-season, and starting a league neanderthal in Ryan Fitzpatrick for most of the season. Yes, they were easy fodder at the beginning of the season. But instead of "tanking" and throwing in the towel, the Dolphins have won 3 of their last 7 games and look nothing like the team the Ravens blew out 59-10 on opening day. Yes, I realize Brian Flores isn't really a candidate for the award, but it's worth nothing he's done a terrific job there this season despite the front office blowing up his team in late August.

By the way, I'm not saying John Harbaugh doesn't deserve significant consideration for the award. He's done a great job in 2019. I'm merely pointing out that just because the Ravens finish 14-2 doesn't necessarily mean the honor gets gifted to him. The Ravens have seven high quality offensive players (Jackson, Ingram, Andrews, Stanley, Yanda, Boyle and Brown Jr.). Pittsburgh has two (Pouncey, Smith-Schuster), Buffalo has one or two...maybe. Miami has one or two...maybe. Baltimore's lineup is LOADED on both sides of the ball.

And one last thing on Suggs. I'd say there's a 10% chance he ever plays one down for the Chiefs. My guess is he reports there, because he can collect money that way, but then figures out a way to simply make himself undesirable to Andy Reid and his staff. I can't imagine he wants to put himself through the trouble of six more weeks of football (potentially) for $350,000, plus playoff monies. And let's face it, he wouldn't really get any joy out of playing for Kansas City for two months and winning a Super Bowl with them. It would feel hollow. If he would have made it back to the Ravens and won a Super Bowl with them, it would have had a completely different feeling. I'd be shocked if he plays in Kansas City.

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a very special holiday cd from drew


In the past, I've created Holiday CD's that have featured my all-time "best" from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews. I add two songs per-day, they eventually total up to 14 or 16 songs (depending on total time) and it's my way of creating something for you that you might enjoy throughout the year.

This holiday season, I'm going with something different.

I'm putting together a CD of songs and/or artists that I'm hoping you might not have previously heard.

I probably won't go 16-for-16. In fact, I'm quite sure that somewhere along the way, you'll have heard of a couple of these artists and bands, at least. But I do think it's safe to say I'll open your eyes and ears to some new music that you might wind up enjoying throughout 2020.

I'll add two songs per-day for the next eight days. When the 16 songs are finally available in full order, we'll figure out a way to make the full download available to you if you'd like to put them on a CD or add them to your playlist on your phone/tablet.

Song #5, "How Long Do I Have To Wait?" -- Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings were an American funk and soul band signed to Daptone Records. They were part of a revivalist movement recreating mid-1960s to mid-1970s style funk and soul music. In December 2014, the band was nominated for a Grammy, in the category Best R&B Album of the Year for "Give the People What They Want". Sharon Jones died in 2016, with the band releasing the posthumous final album "Soul of a Woman" in 2017.

Song #6, "The Only Place" -- Best Coast is an American rock duo formed in Los Angeles, California in 2009. The band consists of songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Bethany Cosentino and guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno. Cosentino, a former child actress, began writing music as a teenager and was formerly a member of the experimentalist drone group Pocahaunted. After a brief tenure at college in New York City, Cosentino returned to the West Coast and began recording lo-fi demos with Bruno, whom she met in the Los Angeles music scene.

After a string of 7-inch and cassette-only singles, the band signed to Mexican Summer, who issued the band's debut, Crazy for You, in 2010. Crazy for You became an unexpected commercial success following Internet buzz surrounding the duo. Best Coast added a touring drummer, Ali Koehler of Vivian Girls, and spent much of 2011 on the road for festival appearances and tour dates. Best Coast's sophomore effort, The Only Place, was released in 2012 and featured a cleaner sound than their previous releases. In 2013, the duo released an EP, Fade Away, and their third studio album, California Nights, was released in May 2015.




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Monday
December 16
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it's never too late


My wife says I always figure out a way to weave sports into a conversation, whether it's talking about my son's homework, or an issue she's having at work or, like last week, when I somehow knitted sports into a discussion with a local Pastor who was visiting our church in the days after the passing of Father Michael Carrion.

Most times she just raises her eyebrows but occasionally, sensing how awkward it is for her husband to always reference sports, she might say, "This is not about sports, dear."

You might be Presidents Cup'd out by now and you most certainly might be Tiger Woods'd out by now. If so, I get it. But if you're also someone who can see the good in anything, you might want to follow along. If you'd rather not, that's OK too. The world needs grumpy people for balance. I saw that on a bumper sticker somewhere.

The evolution of Tiger Woods reached new heights over the weekend when he led the U.S. to a come-from-behind win over a spirited International team at the Presidents Cup. From a golf history standpoint, the win was a win and really nothing more. It's the Presidents Cup, after all, a two-decade old event that is still trying to snag a piece of importance in a sport with four majors every year, a handful of other significant tournaments, and a season-ending playoff where a bunch of guys get the gift of playing golf for $10 million.

Oh, and there's the Ryder Cup, played every other year on alternating continents. That event does mean something to the players.

So, even when putting the Presidents Cup in its proper context, what happened over the weekend in Melbourne was yet another way we can learn from sports. We just have to be paying attention long enough to let it soak in.

Off topic but worthy of discussion nonetheless: It's really a shame Sports Illustrated couldn't have actually waited until the entire year was over to name their 2019 "Sportsperson of the Year", because Tiger most certainly did more in 12 months than Megan Rapinoe did in four weeks. But, as we know, Tiger wouldn't have fit S.I.'s agenda, either. So, anyway...

At 44 years old (in two weeks), Tiger is certainly on the back nine of his career. But a Masters win in April, an unlikely victory in Japan in October, and a glorious performance in the Presidents Cup have reminded us, again, that Woods can still make birdies on the 13th and 14th holes. In other words, back nine or not, he still has a lot of golf to play.

A man surrounded by his friends.

No, this isn't about Woods being, even now, the biggest needle mover in all of sports. We'd have to open up two bottles of wine to sift through the layers of that discussion.

This is about change.

This is about discovering what you missed, perhaps.

And it's about realizing that it's never too late.

If you saw Woods in 2019, you know what I'm talking about.

"There was a time, a while back, when Tiger was comfortable if you were uncomfortable around him," TV analyst Paul Azinger said during a broadcast over the weekend. "Now, Tiger's uncomfortable if you're not comfortable around him. I've seen it myself. He's a changed man."

I can't believe something so poignant came out of the mind of a golfer. Azinger was spot on.

There was a time, 15 years ago, when Woods wanted no one to be comfortable around him. He led a life few of us could ever understand, in the same way he likely couldn't have understood our lives, respectively. But it was in that time, circa 2006, when Woods was probably at his lowest point. He was clearly leading a double life of sorts, dodging the media, hiding things from his friends and family, and doing it all well enough to justify it in his mind.

Then it all fell apart and Woods was left without the one thing everyone needs: Friends.

Oh, it's true. Just watch It's A Wonderful Life and George Bailey will tell you all about it in the final scene.

Friends. If you pile up more of those than money, you've lived a great life.

Woods eventually recovered from his wrecked personal life and tried to play golf again, but his body wouldn't allow him to compete in the manner in which he was accustomed. Now, he was friendless and golfless, too.

And then somewhere, somehow, Tiger figured out he'd been missing the point all along.

He actually needed friends more than he needed golf.

And if you watched the Masters in April, or the Zozo Championship in October, or the Presidents Cup this past weekend, you've seen it all in high definition. Tiger has friends now. And he has friends now because he's allowed those people to get close to him in a way he never did a decade or more ago.

Oh, and guess what? Tiger's happier now. He might not win as much as he once did, but the other players are trying too, and Father Time is winning now more than ever before.

He's finally figured it out. If people close to you are happy, that often increases your happiness. Look no further than Saturday at the Presidents Cup, when Woods sat himself out in both matches so others could play. A decade ago? There's no chance Woods would have sat out twice. Not even once, actually. But he understands, now, that others need to be happy in order for you to be happy.

If you saw the way his players treated him on Saturday when the Cup was clinched, you understand. If you saw the way his family and friends treated him after the Masters win, you understand. And if saw the way other professional golfers treated him when he won for the 82nd time in October, you understand.

There was a time when those same people resented Tiger. In the grand scheme of things, ten years really isn't that long. And a decade ago, Woods didn't have those kind of friends, even though he was still winning golf tournaments, still driving TV ratings, and still generating gobs and gobs of money for people other than himself.

The scene at the trophy presentation on Saturday told us all a lot about change. Woods was presented with the Presidents Cup after the American victory. Rather than stand there with it, smile for the cameras, kiss the trophy, etc., the first thing he did was --- take it over to the team and share it with them. He shared it with his friends.

There was that moment immediately after the final putt at the Masters in April when Woods gave his caddie a hug and said, "We did it." A decade ago, that exchange wouldn't have included the word "we".

A decade ago, people were uncomfortable around Tiger and he liked it that way.

As we roll into 2020, his friends are comfortable around him, and he likes it that way.

Tiger figured something out -- in his mid 40's apparently -- that a lot of us realized in our mid 20's. Friends are priceless. You can't buy them. Not real ones, anyway. There's no price tag on the value of friendship. The more friends you have, the richer you are.

George Bailey lost everything and he figured it out, too. Friends and family matter more than anything else.

All of this is to say, simply: You can always change. Whatever might be going on in your life, just remember that. You can change. It's never too late.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 -- (16) Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (17) For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (18) So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Don't lose heart. Even though on the outside it might look like you're struggling, on the inside, if you are striving for change, you're being renewed every day.

Whether you have employment woes, addiction issues, personal and family troubles, or anything else that's limiting you and your pursuit of happiness, just remember that it's never too late to change.

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"The Keen Eye" of
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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


Presented without comment…In 14 games, Lamar Jackson has thrown 33 touchdown passes and six interceptions. He has run for 1,103 yards on 159 attempts, an average of 6.9 yards per carry. Okay, I do have some comment. WTF? OMG! LOL and LMAO :)

Presented with comment…The Orioles traded Jonathan Villar to the Marlins on December 2 and sent Dylan Bundy to the Angels two days later. Why anybody would be upset about either of these transactions is beyond me. What is the point of having “established” Major Leaguers on the roster if those established players don’t help you win baseball games? As for Bundy, it’s always a shame when such a can’t-miss prospect doesn’t pan out exactly the way you’d hope. There were a couple games when you saw it, though. A one-hit shutout of the Mariners late in the 2017 season stands out.

Presented without comment…In the category of good starts, the Washington Capitals are 24-5-5. The Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers are each 24-3.

Presented with comment…The Ravens played three primetime games this season, outscoring those three opponents by a combined 124-47. The other day, this website’s owner said that he actually likes primetime games. Good news for him…he’s going to like next year’s Ravens’ schedule. I believe the NFL-imposed limit is five of those games for a team. Let’s see…we’ll have the Chiefs and (95% chance) the Patriots. The Cowboys for sure. Maybe the Steelers will get back in a primetime slot after a one-year hiatus. Also, in 2021…I hereby predict the Ravens as the Thanksgiving opponent for the Detroit Lions.

Presented without comment…There are 40 FBS bowl games, beginning with the Bahamas Bowl December 20 and concluding with the CFP championship game January 13.

Presented with comment…Former Raven and Gilman graduate Cyrus Jones had to undergo open heart surgery this past week in Denver after the discovery of a congenital heart malfunction. First, best wishes to Cyrus for a speedy recovery. Second, Cyrus made one of the greatest plays I’ve ever seen live and in person. October 7, 2011. Gilman and Calvert Hall were tied at 21. Three minutes to go in regulation. For some reason, Cyrus picked up a bouncing ball on a punt at his own three-yard line. He should have let it go into the end zone. Except for the fact that he was Cyrus Jones, so he ran past 11 guys on the way to a 97-yard punt return. I don’t even think he got a block to do it either.

Presented without comment…Before Tuesday’s loss to Penn State, Maryland had moved up to a No. 1 seed in Joe Lunardi’s NCAA tournament “Bracketology” on espn.com.

Gerrit Cole's $324 million contract with the Yankees will make for a very nice Christmas in the Scott Boras household.

Presented with comment…The U.S. Presidents Cup team performed better in foursomes (alternate shot) than it did in four-ball play. The Americans won the former 5.5-3.5 and lost the latter 6.5-2.5. This is actually unusual. American players are famously bad at the alternate shot format, and there are numerous theories behind that. Some say that Americans don’t grow up playing that format, which is much more common elsewhere in the world. Others say that the “teamwork” required in such a format has never been comfortable for us. I don’t know the answer, but I will say that I don’t understand how any serious golf competition can be decided by an alternate shot format.

Presented without comment…Scott Boras clients Gerrit Cole ($324 million), Anthony Rendon ($245 million) and Stephen Strasburg ($245 million) all landed free-agent contracts this past week.

Presented with comment…The Eagles and Cowboys meet next week in a game that might decide the NFC East title, and each team will be 7-7 heading into the game. There’s been more talk this week about changing the NFL playoffs, a conversation that happens every time a division champion finishes 8-8 or even worse. I’m all in for a compromise solution. Keep the divisions as they are, and keep the division winner as a playoff team no matter its record, but simply seed the teams by record after that. In last year’s AFC playoffs, the Ravens would have been the No. 5 seed and on the road for Wild Card weekend.

Presented without comment…The Ravens have won the outright AFC North title for the second straight year, the first time in franchise history they’ve accomplished that feat.

Presented with comment…Adam Gase’s Dolphins lost 38-6 in Baltimore in 2016 and 40-0 here in 2017. His Jets lost 42-21 on Thursday night in his third trip in four seasons. The 2016 game was, I think, the best regular-season game Joe Flacco had in a Baltimore uniform. He completed 36 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns. The following year, Flacco was the recipient of a cheap shot by Miami’s Kiko Alonso; the quarterback might have missed the next game with a concussion if not for extra days of rest after the Thursday night game. If I’m Adam Gase, I don’t want to come to Baltimore again for a long time.

Presented without comment…LeBron James, who’ll be 35 in two weeks, is averaging 25.9 points, 10.8 assists and 7.1 rebounds per game this season for the Lakers.

Presented with comment…In KenPom’s power rankings, Towson is the highest-ranked Baltimore-area college basketball team, at No. 148. After a down year in 2018-19, the Tigers have a real chance in this year’s Colonial Athletic Association race, as there doesn’t seem to be a dominant favorite. Loyola, inside the Top 200 for the first time in years, should finish much higher in the Patriot League standings than it has in its previous six years in the league. UMBC looks like it’s headed for a down year, as the Retrievers have won just twice in eight games against Division I opponents so far.

Presented without comment…The Ravens’ last loss was September 29 against Cleveland, the same days as the Orioles’ last loss, a game that concluded several hours later up in Boston.

Presented with comment…Navy beat Army 31-7 up in Philadelphia on Saturday. The win snapped an unusual three-game losing streak for the Mids in the series. Occasionally, you can see the option offenses of the service academies within the Ravens’ read option schemes. Once in a while, in short yardage, Lamar Jackson will fake to Mark Ingram and then simply dive in and hide behind him, as if Ingram was a wishbone fullback and not an NFL tailback. Honestly, though, I think most people are fine watching Navy play football once a year. It’s discipline, as would be expected, but it’s really boring.

Presented without comment…Tiger Woods will turn 44 on December 30. He was 20 years old when he won his first tournament, the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational.

Presented with comment…The 49ers beat the Saints 48-46 in the Superdome in Week 14. The teams combined for 53 first downs and nearly 1,000 yards. I can’t imagine playing consecutive games in more disparate conditions than the 49ers did on their recent road trip. It makes you wonder what scoring averages would be if every NFL game was played in a dome. Drew Brees is a Hall of Famer, of course, but there’s no doubt his gaudy numbers have been bolstered by at least eight climate-controlled games per year. Which reminds me…there’s no guarantee it won’t rain when the Ravens play in the Super Bowl in South Florida on February 2.

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a very special holiday cd from drew


In the past, I've created Holiday CD's that have featured my all-time "best" from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews. I add two songs per-day, they eventually total up to 14 or 16 songs (depending on total time) and it's my way of creating something for you that you might enjoy throughout the year.

This holiday season, I'm going with something different.

I'm putting together a CD of songs and/or artists that I'm hoping you might not have previously heard.

I probably won't go 16-for-16. In fact, I'm quite sure that somewhere along the way, you'll have heard of a couple of these artists and bands, at least. But I do think it's safe to say I'll open your eyes and ears to some new music that you might wind up enjoying throughout 2020.

I'll add two songs per-day for the next eight days. When the 16 songs are finally available in full order, we'll figure out a way to make the full download available to you if you'd like to put them on a CD or add them to your playlist on your phone/tablet.

Song #3, "The Borders" -- Samuel (Sam) Thomas Fender (born 25 April 1994) is an English actor, singer-songwriter and guitarist. After starting his acting career, he then was signed as a singer and released several singles independently, named one of the BBC's Sound of 2018. Fender signed to Polydor Records in June 2018 and released his debut EP, Dead Boys, in November 2018. He won the Critics' Choice Award at the 2019 Brit Awards the following year and released his debut album, Hypersonic Missiles. The album entered the UK Albums Chart at number one in September 2019.

Song #4, "Give Me A Try" -- The Wombats are an English indie rock band formed in Liverpool in 2003. The band is composed of lead vocalist and guitarist Matthew Murphy, drummer Dan Haggis and bassist Tord Øverland Knudsen and has been since its inception. The band is signed to 14th Floor Records in the United Kingdom and Bright Antenna in the United States. The Wombats' albums have sold over 1 million copies worldwide.

The group met while they were in university and released several EPs before their 2006 album Girls, Boys and Marsupials, which was only released in Japan. Their debut studio album A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation was released the following year, featuring some tracks first released on Girls, Boys and Marsupials. After releasing another EP in 2008 touring for three years, the band released their second album This Modern Glitch in 2011. Two years later, in 2013, the single "Your Body Is a Weapon" was released ahead of their third album Glitterbug, which was not released until mid-2015. The band released their fourth album, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, on 9 February 2018.




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meet bradley bozeman of the ravens 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'd love to see you tonight, Monday, December 16, at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square! Glenn and I will be joined by Ravens offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

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.

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.

Please join us on tonight and meet Ravens' offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman or visit Jerry's Chevrolet or Jerry's Toyota and help us make the holiday season a great one for Helping Up Mission!


Sunday
December 15
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#1938



american rally


Forget the 82 career wins and the 15 major championships.

Sunday in Melbourne, Australia was Tiger Woods' Mona Lisa.

He's painted a lot of pretty pictures in his 23-year professional career, but perhaps nothing was produced with more pride than the United States' 16-14 win over the International team in the Presidents Cup yesterday.

Woods did it all.

On the course, he went 3-0, neatly disposing of International upstart Abraham Ancer 3&2 in the session opening singles match on Sunday.

Off the course, he captained a team that was behind at the conclusion of play on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but Woods somehow kept the group together and believing they could still pull off the victory.

"Tiger, you got me...again," Ernie Els said at the post-event ceremony, allowing a second or two of dead air in between "me" and "again", a stiff reminder that this wasn't the first time Els was left to ponder a loss administered to him by Tiger.

82 wins, 15 majors and now 1-0 as a team event captain, in what will likely be the first of many captaincy roles for Tiger Woods.

Every U.S. player contributed at least a half-point over the four days, with perhaps the biggest of those ties in the singles coming from two unsuspecting sources; Tony Finau and Bryson DeChambeau.

Finau was 4-down to Hideki Matsuyama through 10 holes in what certainly looked to be a full point for the home team, but the captain's pick rallied to win four straight holes and pull off an all important half-point tie. DeChambeau, who only played once in team competition due to a sluggish few days of practice, hung on for a half-point against Adam Hadwin.

As it turned out, the three veteran Americans that Tiger and his co-captains stashed at the end of the lineup would be the difference. Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler picked up the two points that turned a 16-14 loss into a 16-14 win.

Simpson, playing fourth from the end, turned back Ben An, who was one of Els' best players over the four days. Kuchar, in the penultimate pairing, earned a half-point tie against Louis Oosthuizen, rolling in a five-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to give the Americans 15 and a half points, which was enough to secure the Cup. And Fowler, in the last match of the day, also tied with Marc Leishman, battling back from an early 2-down deficit.

Simpson's performance was particulary important given that he spent the first three days babysitting Patrick Reed and was on the verge of a completely wasted week Down Under if he couldn't get a point of some kind from Ben An. But the former U.S. Open champ turned in an outstanding performance, shooting 3-under over 17 holes, and put the Americans in position to retain the Cup with his win.

And speaking of Reed, he did something on Sunday he hadn't done all week. He showed up, played well, and let his clubs do the talking...for once. Reed raced out to a 6-up lead on C.T. Pan, then saw that advantage dwindle in half before finally coming out on top. It was still an embarrassing overall performance from the former Masters champ, who authored yet another chapter in his book on how not to comport yourself.

But in the end, when that putt by Kuchar snuck in the right side on the 17th green, it was a Presidents Cup painted by Woods.

His captain's picks all earned points in the four days of competition and his decision to add Rickie Fowler after Brooks Koepka pulled out also wound up being a great move. Other than the late alternate-shot collapse with Justin Thomas on Saturday, Fowler played exceptional golf when put in the lineup.

And, well, Tiger's decision to add himself -- the subject of great speculation at the time -- was also a terrific move. He was the best player at Royal Melbourne by everyone's standards, although Sungjae Im's play was almost nearly as outstanding.

But when all the dust settled on Sunday, perhaps Tiger's most important decision was the one that mystified us the most. With his team trailing 9-5 after the Saturday morning better-ball matches, Tiger left himself out of the lineup in the afternoon, a move that no one except perhaps for the captain himself agreed with or understood. It was as if Woods was saying to the other 11 players, "I'm not going to bail you out this time around. You guys need to figure this one out on your own. I trust you to play the kind of golf you're capable of playing. Now go do it."

And that they did, rallying in the alternate shot session to pull within 10-8 heading into the final day of singles on Sunday.

"Every button Tiger pushed seemed to work," a disappointed Adam Scott said afterwards on Sunday. "He's been around a long time. He knows what works and what doesn't work. And we knew Tiger would be going out first and we threw our best guy at him and that still didn't slow him down."

Nothing, it seemed, slowed Tiger down. Not the 26-hour flight. Not the jet lag. Not the relatively unknown course. Not the crazy Australian fans who ramped up the beer consumption and intensity to staggering levels on Saturday and Sunday. Not even Abraham Ancer, whom the International side handpicked to go up against the soon-to-be 44-year old.

Tiger's Masters win last April might have been golf's most obvious 2019 highlight. But the U.S. Presidents Cup win that Tiger authored was probably his proudest moment, if he'd be willing to tell the truth.

He pulled together 11 personalities -- several of them needing extra attention, to say the least -- and figured out a way to turn back a spirited International team that was desperate for a triumph at a course they set up to help themselves win for just the second time in the history of the competition.

There's no telling what Tiger might paint in 2020, but it's going to be hard to top his Mona Lisa in Melbourne.



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Ho hum, another winning Sunday seven days ago.

I'm as hot as the Ravens...almost.

Only the Colts failing to hold a late lead in Indy kept me from going 4-2 last Sunday. Instead, Tampa Bay (-3) kicked a field goal to create a push in that one, so we finished 3-2-1 for the weekend.

Bad news, though. We're already 0-1 today because we took Jets to lose to the Ravens by 16 on Thursday night when they were getting 16.5. They lost by 21.

So let's have at it, as Brian Billick used to say, and help you with some of that extra holiday shopping money you need.

By the way, this is the worst Sunday of the season in terms of "liking" games. I don't feel good about any of 'em.

OK, here we go.

BUCCANEERS AT LIONS (+5) -- Everything about this game tells me to take Tampa Bay. But they're so hot and cold there's no telling what kind of performance they'll produce today. It really feels like an upset special here. But we're going with Tampa Bay, against all good judgment, to win and cover, 30-22.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers need a win today to keep the Vikings at bay in the NFC North.

BEARS AT PACKERS (-4.5) -- Another game where everything tells us to take the Packers. They can't beat Chicago by a touchdown in Green Bay? Of course they can. But something's not right with that Packers offense, and even though Chicago's offense isn't all that great, we think this one goes down to the wire. We'll take the Bears and 4.5 points as Green Bay hits a field goal at the buzzer to win 22-21.

BRONCOS AT CHIEFS (-9.5) -- Denver's starting to find their sea legs, huh? Too little too late. Drew Lock will discover the difference between playing in Houston and Arrowhead Stadium today. Chiefs win in a romp at home and cover the 9.5, 34-20.

EAGLES AT REDSKINS (+6.0) -- This one's really spooky. Vegas thinks the Eagles are good enough to win a road game by 7 points or more? The Redskins have actually looked good on occasion over the last weeks. Sure, Philly needs this one and all, and we think they'll pull off a last minute victory, but we're going with the Redskins and those 6 points at home, with Philly winning 24-20.

BILLS AT STEELERS (-1.0) -- We learned enough about Buffalo last Sunday. They're not all that good. At least not offensively, anyway, which is why we're going with the Steelers at home, 20-17. Note: This is also our Best Bet of the Day selection.

RECORD TO DATE: 38-45-1*

LAST WEEK'S RECORD:3-2-1

RAVENS AGAINST THE SPREAD: 6-8

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 6-8

*Indicates our record should be 39-44-1 if not for Arizona choking away an easy 9.5 point cover in the final 30 seconds of the game in San Francisco on November 17.

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a very special holiday cd from drew


In the past, I've created Holiday CD's that have featured my all-time "best" from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews. I add two songs per-day, they eventually total up to 14 or 16 songs (depending on total time) and it's my way of creating something for you that you might enjoy throughout the year.

This holiday season, I'm going with something different.

I'm putting together a CD of songs and/or artists that I'm hoping you might not have previously heard.

I probably won't go 16-for-16. In fact, I'm quite sure that somewhere along the way, you'll have heard of a couple of these artists and bands, at least. But I do think it's safe to say I'll open your eyes and ears to some new music that you might wind up enjoying throughout 2020.

I'll add two songs per-day for the next eight days. When the 16 songs are finally available in full order, we'll figure out a way to make the full download available to you if you'd like to put them on a CD or add them to your playlist on your phone/tablet.




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Song #1, "Stuck Between Stations" -- The Hold Steady is an American rock band from Brooklyn, New York, formed in 2003. The band consists of Craig Finn (vocals, guitar), Tad Kubler (guitar), Galen Polivka (bass), Bobby Drake (drums), Franz Nicolay (keyboards) and Steve Selvidge (guitar). Noted for their "lyrically dense storytelling," and classic rock influences, the band's narrative-based songs frequently address themes such as drug addiction, religion and redemption, and often feature recurring characters based within the city of Minneapolis.

Formed four years following the break-up of Finn and Kubler's former band, Lifter Puller, The Hold Steady released the debut album Almost Killed Me in 2004. They came to prominence with the release of their third studio album, Boys and Girls in America, in 2006. In 2010, keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Franz Nicolay left the band prior to the recording of their fifth studio album, Heaven Is Whenever (2010). During the band's subsequent tour, the band became a five piece, once more, with the addition of guitarist Steve Selvidge. The band released their sixth LP, Teeth Dreams, on March 25, 2014.

Nicolay re-joined the band on May 4, 2016, and the band has since embarked on several concert residencies in the US and the UK. To coincide with each new event, The Hold Steady releases stand-alone singles, marking the first recorded material of the six-piece line-up. The band's seventh LP, Thrashing Thru the Passion, was released in August 2019.

Song #2, "Hands Up" -- The New Respects are an American band from Nashville, Tennessee. The band consists of singer/guitarist Jasmine Mullen (daughter of Nicole C. Mullen), bass player Lexi Fitzgerald, guitarist Zandy Fitzgerald, and drummer Darius Fitzgerald. In March 2017, the released their debut EP, Here Comes The Trouble. The New Respects released their debut full-length album in 2018 titled Before The Sun Goes Down.

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Saturday
December 14
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1937



presidents cup: u.s. fights back


If you follow golf and I said to you, "One of the player's caddies got in a fight with a fan" at the Presidents Cup, which player would you guess that to be?

You'd said "Patrick Reed" presumably.

And......

You'd be right.

If you follow golf and I said to you, "The best player in the Presidents Cup sat out both matches on Saturday (Friday in the U.S.) and the American side somehow trimmed a 3-point deficit to 2-point deficit", how surprised would you be?

It happened.

"Captain America" is 0-3 thus far in the President's Cup and to make things worse, Patrick Reed's caddie was involved in an altercation with a fan on Saturday and won't be on the bag for today's singles matches.

And I was as surprised as anyone that Tiger Woods sat himself all day yesterday and the U.S. scratched their way back to a 10-8 deficit with today's singles matches left on the table.

And if you follow golf and I said to you, "The best American team would have a 5 hole lead with 8 holes to play and somehow only tie", you'd probably assume that choking duo would include Dustin Johnson, who has looked about as interested in playing in Australia as you would in having a root canal on Christas Eve.

You'd be wrong. It was the team of Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler who couldn't make an alternate-shot par on 16, 17 or 18, frittering away that seemingly insurmountable 5-up lead and tying their match with Marc Leishman and Abraham Ancer. In fairness, Leishman and Ancer played great coming downt the stretch, but a 5-up lead with 8 to play should never end in a tie.

It's been a wild Presidents Cup thus far, that's for sure.

From Reed and the circus he brings along with him to Tiger's mysterious decision to sit out on Saturday and to the U.S. hanging on for dear life, there's been something for everyone thus far.

And, so, it all comes down to the singles session that will start at 6:00 pm tonight (EST) when Tiger goes out against Abraham Ancer in the opening match.

The Americans need to win 7.5 points to retain the Cup, while the International side needs just 5.5 points to win for the second time at Royal Melbourne GC. Unlike the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup can end in a 15-15 tie. There's no playoff and a tied event doesn't give the Cup to the defending winner.

There's too much to unpack from Saturday's set of eight matches, but here are a few player notes from both sides:

Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele are two of the three Americans (Thomas is the other) who played in all four matches and they've forged an eye-opening partnership in both the fourball and foursomes competitions. Cantlay in particular has been a stalwart, and with a victory in the singles over Joaquin Niemann, would be among those considered "best U.S. performer" in the Cup. The Cantlay-Schauffele partnership could be a Ryder Cup pairing in the future as well.

Justin Thomas (left) and Rickie Fowler authored one of the great all-time Presidents Cup collapses on Saturday, losing a 5-hole lead with 8 to play in earning a tie in the alternate shot format.

Tony Finau emerged as a spotlight-seeker on Saturday with some stellar play in both matches, partnering with Matt Kuchar to win half points in each. Finau single-handedly helped the U.S. garner a huge half point in the fourball match with birdies at 17 and 18. He has completely justified Tiger's decision to add him as a captain's pick.

Rickie Fowler was enjoying a solid event himself until the back nine collapse with Justin Thomas in the alternate shot session yesterday. Fowler, who got the call to join the team when Brooks Koepka was injured, made several huge putts on Friday and Saturday after sitting out the opening session on Thursday. He was so good on Saturday morning, in fact, that Tiger felt comfortable keeping him partnered with Justin Thomas in the afternoon. And those two were doing great until they couldn't make a par in the last hour. In fairness to Rickie, Thomas' 10-handicap drive on the 18th tee yesterday afternoon wasn't his fault. The Presidents Cup could come down to Rickie Fowler today. He faces Marc Leishman in the last of the 12 singles matches.

Patrick Reed has been a colossal disappointment, culminating in having his caddie get into an altercation with a fan yesterday and getting removed from his duties for today's singles competition. Reed's play has been terrible, his position in the team room has to be fragile at best, and everywhere this guy goes, conflict seems to travel along with him. There was no way Woods could have removed him from the team after last Friday's "incident" in the Bahamas, but the U.S. side has essentially been playing with 11 players this week. The other guy is on the team...but that's about it.

Dustin Johnson might be interested in the Presidents Cup but you'd never know it by looking at him. Johnson's on-course personality makes Joe Flacco look hyperactive. And his golf carries along that same sort of "eh" kind of look. He hits some great drives and a few decent wedges, but his putting is always hot and cold and, in general, Johnson just appears as if he'd rather be anywhere else but on the golf course in mid-December playing for no money and no trophies.

Tiger Woods played the best golf of anyone on Thursday and Friday, then understandably sat out on Saturday morning in order to fulfill his captain duties and -- everyone thought -- prepare himself for the afternoon alternate-shot format, where he was outstanding on Friday with Justin Thomas. Instead, Woods shocked everyone Down Under by also sitting out the afternoon matches. Although he was coy about it in interviews after the pairings were announced, the rumor mill at Royal Melbourne suggests Tiger is battling a hamstring injury that occurred when he was jogging on Friday morning as a warm up to his Friday afternoon match. There's obviously no telling who Tiger would have partnered with on Saturday afternoon, but it would have likely been Justin Thomas. And we all don't know much, but we know this. Tiger and his playing partner wouldn't have gagged away a 5-hole lead with 8 holes to play.

The Asian contingent from the International team continues to be -- along with Mexico's Abraham Ancer -- the difference in the matches. Sungjae Im and Ben An have been outstanding, which shouldn't surprise anyone who follows the TOUR closely. Hideki Matsuyama and C.T. Pan have also played great golf along the way, although Matsuyama is always going to miss a key putt at the worst time imaginable because it's just what he does. A few weeks ago, Ancer said he's relish the opportunity to face Tiger in the singles competition. Well...ask and ye shall receive, young man. Ancer goes out first today and faces American team captain Tiger Woods.

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ravens: to suggs or not to suggs?


There's nothing like a little Friday afternoon news dump to get Ravens nation excited.

The Arizona Cardinals sent Terrell Suggs packing yesterday, putting the future Hall of Famer on waivers after a less than impressive 13-game campaign to date.

Could we see this again in Baltimore?

The Cardinals called it a "mutual decision", of course, because that's what you do when you gave $7 million to a guy in the December of his career because you thought he might be a valuable veteran presence in a team filled with young players -- and he turned out to just be collecting one final check from an unsuspecting employer.

So...back to Baltimore?

Would the Ravens bring "Sizzle" back? He'd only cost roughly $700,000 for the final couple of games.

Should they bring him back?

The two obvious sides of the coin are, well, obvious.

He wouldn't cost much. He's well liked in the locker room. The fan base -- not that it matters -- would love to see him back in Baltimore.

But he can't really play anymore. I mean, he can "play", but he's not going to make an impact in the grand scheme of things. And is it worth bringing someone in now (barring an injury) that could potentially disrupt what's already been built through 14 games?

I'm good with it either way. I won't howl at the moon if the Ravens elect to claim him off waivers (assuming the other teams all pass) and I won't scream if they don't take him.

It's not a big deal. They're 12-2 without Terrell Suggs. They can certainly go 14-2 without him. And they can win three post-season games without him, too.

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Friday
December 13
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1936



another one bites the dust...


OK, where do I start?

What on earth was Lamar Jackson doing in the football game when it was 35-7 in the 4th quarter?

Did John Harbaugh really allow some kind of personal job-interview-beef with Adam Gase to get in the way of coaching his playoff bound team?

One crazy hit, one missed block by James Hurst, one anything and Lamar Jackson limps off. And the season could end.

Our head coach apparently found the Jets' head coach to be "arrogant" and a "know it all" when Gase interviewed for the Ravens offensive coordinator job back in 2015 and, apparently, hasn't forgotten about it.

Did he risk his star quarterback last night in an attempt to run up the score on Gase and his team?

You're better than that, Harbs.

Coach wouldn't have been smiling last night if his star quarterback would have been injured in a 35-7 game.

And those Baltimore special teams last night...

Not. So. Special.

Justin Tucker missed an extra-point for just the third time in his career. The Jets picked up significant yardage on nearly every kick-off and punt return, then later blocked a punt for a touchdown early in the 4th quarter. It was, by nearly every account, one of the worst special teams efforts in the Harbaugh era.

Was that a one-off thing? Or do we need a revamp of the coverage units between now and the December 22nd visit to Cleveland? Chris Board can't be that important, right?

And the Ravens allowed creaky weekend-bowler Le'Veon Bell to rush for 87 yards, his highest total of the season. And Sam Darnold threw for 218 yards against the Baltimore defense.

There, that's all the bad stuff, I think.

Harbs playing with fire.

Special teams looking terrible.

And the Ravens defense appeared listless throughout the first half and had one of their more pedestrian games of the last two months.

The good?

Lamar Jackson.

You might have heard by now. He's setting records and doing crazy stuff almost every week. He had five more touchdowns last night in the 42-21 win, including a sparkling deep ball to Hollywood Brown that he simply wouldn't have been able to pull off this time a year ago.

At this point, Lamar would have to put up two stinkers in weeks 16 and 17 to not win the MVP award. And if the Ravens win in Cleveland on December 22 to clinch the #1 seed in the AFC, Jackson won't even play on December 29 against the Steelers.

If Jackson stays healthy, the Ravens have a great shot at winning two playoff games and advancing to the Super Bowl.

Let's hope the coach values his quarterback's health as much as the rest of us do.

A return to trip to Miami is on the horizon.

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presidents cup, day two: u.s. rallies late


There was a point midway through the back nine of yesterday's foursome matches at Royal Melbourne GC that the Internationals were on their way, possibly, to a 9-1 lead after two days of the Presidents Cup.

But the tide turned over the last 60 minutes of the session, with Patrick Cantlay and Justin Thomas both making match-winning putts on the 18th hole and Rickie Fowler coaxing in a nervy 6-footer to snag a half-point in the day's final match.

From 9-1 to 6.5-3.5. Quite a stunning turnaround for the Americans.

Patrick Cantlay has been one of the few bright spots for the American side thus far in the President's Cup. His putt on the 18th hole yesterday secured a big point for the U.S. as they charged back against the International team.

From "this one's just about over after two days" to "maybe the Americans finally found their sea legs".

There's still a lot of golf to play and all the Americans did by hanging close on Friday was guarantee themselves some excitement on Day 3, but they were on the verge of getting blown out before Cantlay and Xander Schauffele made an alternate shot birdie on the final hole.

That win seemed to spark Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas, who led early, fell behind at the turn, then worked their way back into the match and to the 18th hole, where Woods hit an iron to 17 feet and Thomas made the putt to win a full point from the strong International duo of Hideki Matsuyama and Ben An.

For the second straight day, Woods was the best player in the field. His ball striking was sublime and he rolled in several meaningful putts as Thomas struggled getting the ball close to the hole both with his irons and putter.

Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson got clobbered and Reed started to snipe back at the partisan crowd who are still letting him have it over last Friday's "episode" in the Bahamas. But that didn't stop Captain Woods and his assistants from running those two back out there today in the third match of the better ball session, which will be the morning set of matches.

In what will undoubtedly be the most questionable decision thus far, Woods sat himself in the morning session, opting instead to "captain" during the better ball format and, we all assume, rest up for the afternoon slate of matches, which returns to the alternate shot format.

The Reed-Simpson Part 3 gamble is a big one for the Americans. They face Hideki Matsuyama and C.T. Pan.

Rather than five matches that were scheduled on the first two days, day three has two sessions -- morning and afternoon -- with four matches in each one. So instead of two players from each team sitting per-sesson, four players sit out.

Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler will be the lead group for the U.S. at 3:02 pm against Marc Leishman and Haotong Li, who is making his Presidents Cup debut in that match.

Fowler putted very well in yesterday's match, where he and Gary Woodland pulled off a tie and an important half point. Thomas rode Tiger's coattails for most of the first two days, although he seemed to play a little better in yesterday's alternate shot format.

On paper, they're the strongest U.S. team, which is why they're out in the lead match.

Schauffele and Cantlay will partner together again in the second match. Those two could be a formidable Ryder Cup pairing down the road, with Cantlay's gritty work on the greens matching Schauffele's superb iron play.

And in the final match of the morning, Woods went with Matt Kuchar and Tony Finau.

Americans sitting out the better-ball match: Woods, Johnson, Woodland, DeChambeau.

Internationals sitting out the better-ball match: Hadwin, Oosthuizen, Niemann, Smith

Approximately one hour before the afternoon matches are set to begin, Woods and Ernie Els (International captain) will submit their lineups for the alternate shot format, with four groups again going out.

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we need your help this monday 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, this Monday night, December 16, at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square! Glenn and I will be joined by Ravens offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

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.

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 on Monday night and meet Ravens' offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman or visit Jerry's Chevrolet or Jerry's Toyota and help us make the holiday season a great one for Helping Up Mission!


Shop for Washington Capitals Gear at Fanatics.com

#DMD GAME DAY
Week 15


Thursday — December 12, 2019
Issue #1935

New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens

8:20 PM EST

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD

Spread: Ravens (-16.5)


you can watch the 11 pm news


I like these evening games.

I know some folks don't like them. And under "normal" circumstances, the thought of staying up until 11:30 or later -- on a weeknight -- isn't all that appealing.

But the 2019 Ravens are a joy to watch on these weeknights because you know you'll be in bed by 11 pm.

Or you can watch the 11 pm news...if people even do that any longer.

The #DMD crystal ball has bad news for Jets fans tonight.

Remember the headline I authored here a few weeks back when the Ravens played in Los Angeles on a Monday night? You'll be in bed early.

Well, the same general theme applies tonight when the Ravens host the Jets. You won't need to stay up for the whole thing if you'd rather not.

I can't imagine it's going to be close, although I am taking the Jets plus the 16.5 points if you're someone interested in that sort of thing.

The absence of Ronnie Stanley might matter a little bit. And if Mark Andrews doesn't play, his loss could dampen the offense's enthusiasm.

But even without those two, it's still cruise control for the Ravens tonight.

This one feels like a 26-10 Baltimore win. As they have a habit of doing, the Ravens will hop out quickly to a first quarter lead. They'll be up 17-3 at the half.

It will be 20-3 in the third quarter before the Jets miraculously finally score a touchdown. Two 4th quarter field goals from Justin Tucker will finalize the scoring at 26-10.

You can stay up and watch it all or head to bed by 11 pm if you like.

Or you can do what I'm going to do, which is mostly watch the Presidents Cup and occasionally check back to see if the Ravens have scored again.

The Ravens aren't losing to the Jets tonight, folks. You'll get a good night's sleep.

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presidents cup, day one: u.s. in trouble


Well, at least Tiger showed up Down Under.

No one else on the U.S. team was able to do much, but the playing-captain flexed his muscles if nothing else.

On day one of the Presidents Cup yesterday (or, actually, today, I think...), Tiger beat Marc Leishman and Joaquin Niemann by himself, basically, as he earned the lone American point with a 4&3 win in the opening match of the event in Australia.

Tiger had a lot to smile about in his match with Justin Thomas on Thursday, but not much else was enjoyable about day one of the Presidents Cup.

Justin Thomas partnered with Woods, although you wouldn't have known it for most of the round.

"I think I helped out somewhere along the way," Thomas quipped after the match, "but it was all Tiger out there today. He started strong and never let up."

Thomas did manage to make two birdies in the match, but Woods poured in six birdies of his own and was nearly flawless in the win over Leishman and Niemann.

The rest of the day didn't go well at all for the Americans.

The International team won the other four matches on Thursday in Melbourne, with Americans Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson giving a good account of themselves in the final match, only to lose to Hideki Matsuyama and C.T. Pan, 1-down.

Reed was heckled early and often by the partisan crowd and then again later on in the match when the pace of play crawled to snail's pace, but he produced some quality shots and a handful of good putts. Simpson didn't seem to mind being paired with the event's most polarizing player and the two were in the match the whole way until Pan stuffed it to four feet at the 17th hole and Matsuyama rolled in a 20-footer of his own before Pan even had the chance to make his short one.

A 4-1 deficit isn't insurmountable by any means, particularly with the Americans getting a crack at the International side in the foursomes format (alternate shot), which has always favored the U.S. side for some reason. But trailing 4-1 after day one has most certainly made this Presidents Cup interesting right from the start.

If nothing else, the event is now officially "on" after just one round. If the International team could somehow cobble together a win in the five matches today, they'd be in control heading to the weekend. The American side can't afford to lose the foursomes competition today.

Woods and Thomas will go back out, as expected, playing in the fourth spot against Hideki Matsuyama and Ben An, which on paper looks to be one of the International's better sides.

Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar will lead things off today. Johnson struck the ball great on Thursday in the better-ball event but putted like Jose Feliciano. Kuchar was one of two Americans who sat out the opening match.

Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele will go out in the second pairing. Both guys struggled on the greens in Thursday's opening round.

Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson will pair up again after their almost-successful better-ball partnership on Thursday. Simpson is a perfect teammate for Reed. If he plays good golf, which is always a coin-flip, Simpson could help the team.

And in the last match, Rickie Fowler goes out with Gary Woodland.

Bryson DeChambeau, who drove the ball wildly yesterday, takes a seat today, along with Tony Finau.

The International side has vastly improved and one of the main reasons is the influx of Asian players, four of whom play regularly on the PGA Tour with great success. Matsuyama is the best of them all from a rankings standpoint, but Sungjae Im and Ben An are the two up-and-comers to watch, along with C.T. Pan, who won on TOUR last summer. Haotong Li rounds out the group, although a virus has bothered him so much this week that he has yet to play.

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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.


oh, brother (in-law)


It hasn’t been all bad for Don Amlin. He grew up in a close family in Queens and attended the top public high school in Manhattan. While studying abroad in London during his junior year at Washington University in St. Louis, he started dating a University of Maryland student who was also studying abroad.

Back in the States, he went to law school and then got married to that woman. Twelve years later, they have three boys. He has a great family, lives in a nice house and has a good job, assuming the federal government isn’t shut down that day.

Unfortunately, he’s also a lifelong fan of the New York Jets, who will miss the NFL playoffs for the ninth consecutive season in 2019. He’s a fan of a franchise with an all-time record of 406-499-8, an organization whose greatest accomplishment by far came before the AFL-NFL merger, and one which is still trying to live down a “butt fumble” from seven years ago.

What’s does that feel like, exactly, as the Jets visit Baltimore tonight in what most surely will be a coronation of the Ravens as AFC North champions for the second year in a row?

“It’s the hope of having hope, mixed with the physical pain of an infected paper cut,” he says.

Ouch. Not the kind of pain you’d wish on anyone. But one wonders, where exactly is that hope coming from? The kind of hope that has a guy thinking double-digit wins every summer on the beach. It can’t just be sheer madness, can it?

The author's sister on the right, pretending to be a Jets fan.

Any preseason hopes this year were severely misguided. The team had hired a new coach, Adam Gase, who had finished with a 23-25 record in three years with a division rival, the Dolphins. That’s right…they’d seen him up close twice a season, and surely noticed that his last two Miami teams finished 6-10 and 7-9, and then hired him anyway. I guess his 5-1 record against the Jets was enough.

And that was before his introductory press conference in January, where he honestly looked deranged as he sat next to Christopher Johnson, the Jets’ CEO. Fine…what a guy looks like doesn’t mean he can’t be successful. But it sure wasn’t a good omen.

Meanwhile, the team made splashes in free agency on both sides of the ball. They signed Le’Veon Bell to a huge deal, hoping his year of holding out in Pittsburgh would leave him fresh for 2019. They plucked C.J. Mosley off the Ravens’ roster for five years at $85 million, hoping he’d make another Pro Bowl in a different uniform.

Each contract was questionable. Bell was a great player in Pittsburgh, but the Jets were taking a big chance on both his attitude and his play. Mosley is an excellent player, certainly better than any of the people who’ve replaced him at linebacker on the Baltimore roster this season. But why was Eric DeCosta so uninterested in re-signing him in the first place?

But those two signings, along with second-year quarterback Sam Darnold, were enough to turn the hope of just reaching .500 into the hope of challenging New England for the AFC East title. It’s New York…or at least New Jersey. Go big or go home. It’s almost as if the Jets’ front office didn’t realize that doesn’t ever work in the NFL. How is Cleveland doing again?

All of this makes you wonder…exactly what is it that makes a franchise so unsuccessful in the NFL? With an entire system designed to create parity, why is that the Ravens will soon play their 25th playoff game in 24 years, the same number the Jets have played in 60 years?

The easiest answer is the quarterback position, of course, the most important single position in all of sports. After Joe Namath, and one year of a 39-year-old Brett Favre, the list isn’t a great one. There have been high draft picks that started well—think Mark Sanchez—only to fade quickly. There have been more than a few old-guy signings in the hopes of fountain-of-youth seasons—think Vinny Testaverde—and those dreams haven’t often come true.

The Jets famously chose seven-year starter Ken O’Brien instead of Dan Marino in the 1983 draft, though 25 other teams passed on Marino too.

Another answer is coaching. Sometimes the Jets have picked the wrong guy—such as Todd Bowles—and other times they’ve lost patience, such as when they fired Eric Mangini after a 9-7 season in 2008.

Bill Belichick was the team’s coach for one day after Bill Parcells retired for the third time; it’s almost hard to believe how much that one decision changed the football world in the 21st century.

And it’s certainly worth noting that the Jets have an identity problem, and it’s been that way since they moved to the Meadowlands 35 years ago. For 25 years, they played in Giants Stadium, a name that storied franchise understandably refused to change.

Nowadays, the Jets are full partners in MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, but that only came about because their hopes of building their own stadium on the West Side of Manhattan were dashed.

All of those are worthy of discussion, and by someone with a greater understanding of Jets’ history than I have. But sometimes, such less-than-mediocrity can’t really be explained.

Sometimes, you’re just the sad sack. That’s just the way it is.

The Jets are 5-8 as they visit M&T Bank Stadium tonight. When Darnold came back from an early-season bout with mononucleosis (the kind of injury/illness that only happens to teams like the Jets), they started playing better, but it was too late. They’ve beaten the Cowboys and Raiders at home, but also have lost to the Bengals and Dolphins on the road.

With games against the Ravens, Steelers and Bills upcoming, there’s a great chance they’ll finish 5-11. If that were to happen, it would be four years in a row with five wins or fewer.

Meanwhile, the Ravens are 11-2, having beaten six teams in the last two months that would qualify for the playoffs if the tournament began today. They’ve blasted through team records in points and touchdowns…with three games left in the season.

They’re about to make the playoffs for the eighth time in 12 seasons under John Harbaugh, perhaps earning home-field advantage throughout for the first time.

They have the kind of superstar player that’s supposed to be in New York, not Baltimore.

On Tuesday, my friend Manish Mehta wrote a story that appeared in the New York Daily News, and later in the Baltimore Sun, both owned by Tribune Publishing. The tabloid editors in New York went with the following headline for the story: “Lamar Jackson Is About To Embarrass the Jets.”

Tabloid or not…are they wrong? Unless Lamar doesn’t play, probably not.

I feel bad for Don Amlin, who has tried to turn his kids into Jets’ fans to no avail. The hope he thought he might have by now is once again gone.

Luckily, by this point, the pain has no doubt subsided to a dull twinge that’s become familiar over the last decade.

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Wednesday
December 11
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#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 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 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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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.



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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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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 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.



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#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.

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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.



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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.

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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.

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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.



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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.



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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.


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.

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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.



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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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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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.



#DMD HD-TV

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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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