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Late For Work 10/28: Will There Ever Be Another Ray?

Plus Power Rankings, who is favored to win Sunday, Pro Bowl voting and Joe Flacco goes to school.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 at 9:13 am | Categories: Late For Work, Ryan Mink

Will There Ever Be Another Ray?

The New York Times says middle linebackers like the Ravens’ Ray Lewis are slowly becoming extinct.

The argument is that with more offenses relying more heavily on passing than running, teams are increasingly in need of middle linebackers that excel in coverage.

Since that’s a rarity, many teams are passing up on drafting middle linebackers in the first round in favor of smaller, quicker options in the second or third rounds. It allows teams to use a middle linebacker by committee strategy and save some money that would be spent on higher draft picks.

Therefore, the old adage of the middle linebacker being the gemstone of every NFL defense is falling by the wayside and pass-rushers are becoming the new superstars of defense.

The article said this will be on display this Sunday at M&T Bank field as Elvis Dumervil stacks up Denver’s defense against Lewis’ unit.

Dumervil, an outside linebacker, already has 10 sacks in six games for the Broncos and is on pace to obliterate Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record of 22.5. Lewis, on the other hand, is still very much the center and face of the Ravens defense and leads the team with 60 tackles.

Lewis is one of the few linebackers who has made a career out of stopping the run, rushing the passer and dropping back into coverage. If this trend continues, we may never see another one like him again.

Power Rankings Watch

These things were cool when the Ravens were No. 1. Not so much anymore. Still, I can’t resist checking them every week.

The Ravens’ three losses this season are against teams ESPN ranks No. 4, 5 and 6. The Ravens have a higher ranking than the Jets (4-3) and they are the highest-ranked team without a winning record.

FOX has the Ravens at No. 8, right behind the Bengals and Steelers in that order. Looks like they feel the AFC North race should be a good one. FOX has the Ravens above eight teams with better records, including the Giants (5-2).

ESPN: No. 14 (dropped from 11)
CBS: No. 14 (up from 15)
FOX: No. 8 (up from 10)
ProFootballWeekly: No. 14 (dropped from 13)
NFL.com experts: No. 13 (up from 14)

Ravens Favored to Win

Baltimore continues to baffle Vegas. Despite being on a three-game losing streak and facing the undefeated Broncos, the Ravens are favored by 3 1/2 points to beat Denver this Sunday.

This tells me that everyone outside the Ravens locker room is thinking the same thing as everyone inside it. This team has the talent to go on a major second-half run and it could start after this bye-week.

Here’s what NFL.com analyst and former Ravens head coach Brian Billick had to say about the matchup in an online chat.

“I think this is one of the great matchups in the league this weekend. Certainly, coming into Baltimore, and beating the Ravens, will be a tall task. Coming East for teams from the West has been a bit of a problem, on top of the fact that M&T Bank Stadium is a tough place to compete. But the Ravens have some issues of their own, particularly in the secondary, that Denver may have an opportunity to exploit.”

Pro Bowl Voting Has Begun

You can now go to NFL.com to vote for the Ravens for the Pro Bowl.

Looking at the competition, I’m predicting six Ravens make the list and of course hoping for more. But I decline to name names. I want to hear from you.

Which Ravens do you think will make the Pro Bowl roster?

Flacco Gets Quite a Reception

Joe Flacco made New Town Elementary School in Owings Mills sound like a Taylor Swift concert Tuesday – not that I would know from experience. Joe’s introduction had kids in the front rows covering their ears to dampen the shrieks.

Flacco was there because student Iman Linton, 10, won a WJZ-FM 105.7 The FAN radio contest, “Bring Joe Flacco to Your School.” How’s that for show-and-tell?!

The Baltimore Sun video is worth a look. Just check your volume first.

 

Beloved blogger Sarah Ellison will be back at the helm of Late For Work later this week.

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