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Late For Work 1/13: Does God Have A Favorite In Texans-Ravens Showdown?

Ravens draft re-grade, Flacco’s future, get inside Suggs’ mind, don’t be surprised by Reed.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Friday, January 13th, 2012 at 9:35 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Does God Have A Favorite In Texans-Ravens Showdown?

Hey! Maybe God really does have a sense of humor, because this is just getting crazy funny.

After a picture of a halo was spotted over Mile High Stadium during the Broncos’ win over the Steelers went viral, a new cloud shape picture is picking up steam on the web.

The picture to the right has a cloud in the shape of the Houston Texans logo. The Twitter user, Melissa Rendon (@MDRMissy), says it means God is rooting for the Texans when the travel to M&T Bank Stadium Sunday.

But hold on, Mellissa.

As part of our Purple Pride Fan Photo contest, we were sent this picture of a rainbow over a Ravens flag from Joy Zaben on her boat in the British Virgin Islands.

She wrote, “Look closely for proof that God wants the ravens to win it all.”

Kiper Raises Ravens’ 2011 Draft Grade

With the regular-season in the books, ESPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. re-graded the 2011 draft for all 32 NFL teams.

After seeing the impact Ravens rookies had on Baltimore’s season – especially Jimmy Smith, Torrey Smith and Pernell McPhee – Kiper raised the Ravens’ grade from a B-plus to an A-minus.

The entire Ravens’ draft class included CB Jimmy Smith (first round), WR Torrey Smith (second round), OT Jah Reid (third round), WR Tandon Doss (fourth round), CB Chykie Brown (fifth round), DE Pernell McPhee (fifth round), QB Tyrod Taylor (sixth round), RB Anthony Allen (seventh round).

“Given what we saw of Jimmy Smith when he finally got healthy, plus one big-time steal, this draft is looking better than I had graded it,” wrote Kiper. “Torrey Smith was a guy I thought might be gone in the first round, and the Ravens got a lot of value when they got him late in Round 2. In terms of value and early production, he’s one of the steals of the draft so far, with 841 yards receiving as a rookie. His speed has really added a dimension to that offense that it desperately needed.

“But Smith isn’t even the biggest steal here — that would be Pernell McPhee. The Ravens got the 3-4 defensive end with the No. 165 overall pick, and although he split reps, when he was on the field, he often played at a Pro Bowl level. If Jimmy Smith hadn’t gotten healthy and picked off two passes in his three starts, I’d have more hesitation. But you’re talking about three potential big-time players (and early returns) out of a draft in which the Ravens didn’t pick until No. 27, and they were still a playoff team. That’s pretty solid.”

Flacco’s Playoff Performance To Impact His Future?

Of all the four AFC quarterbacks – Joe Flacco, Tim Tebow, T.J. Yates and Tom Brady – left in the playoffs, SI.com’s Peter King thinks that Flacco is under the most pressure to play well.

“People are looking at their offense and saying their offense is what’s going to keep them down,” said King. “It’s not quite the offense that the defense had to survive to win a Super Bowl in 2000, but this offense really has lived and died with Ray Rice this year and not Joe Flacco.”

Last offseason, Flacco said he was interested in working on an extension to his five-year rookie contract. King says that contract could be affected by how well he plays this postseason.

“I think there are going to be questions entering this postseason about the long-term future of Flacco and how good he could be if Houston comes in and upsets them,” King said.

Don’t Be Surprised If Reed Makes Noise

Is Ed Reed concerned that he only had three interceptions in the regular season?

Not really.

“They’re not throwing my way. What do you want me to do?” Reed said, via The Baltimore Sun. “They’re not throwing my way. I can remember two interceptions that really touched my hands, and I didn’t make the play, but I’m not getting action. So this question is for the other teams and the other quarterbacks.”

ESPN’s Jamison Hensley thinks that Reed could make some noise in the postseason, noting that Reed has seven interceptions in nine playoff games.

Don’t be surprised if Reed makes an impact in the playoffs after a quiet regular season,” the AFC North blogger wrote. “Reed won’t drop a pass thrown at him like Cincinnati’s Chris Crocker did last week in Houston.”

Jump Inside Suggs’ Mind

Terrell Suggs is having the season of his life.

Asked what he’s improved upon this year, the jovial linebacker said his jokes have gotten better.

Ravens fans know that’s true, as they have been entertained all season by classic sound bites like owning Ben Roethlisberger’s behind or hailing from Ball So Hard University.

But in all seriousness, it is Suggs’ fun-loving, easy-going personality that may be contributing to his success.

“Where have I gotten better?” he said. “I don’t know. I think it’s just the anticipation of my game. Just kind of enjoying it and not really getting caught up in everything that really doesn’t matter but the overall goal.”

“I just try to enjoy it because these times are priceless. When the roller-coaster ride is over, you want to say, ‘I enjoyed it; I had a great time and did everything there was to do.’

To better explore Suggs’ mind, check out this in-depth feature from ESPN that tries to explain how pass rusher uses humor to deal with adversity.

Texans-Ravens Divisional Round Picks

None of the analysts below believe the Texans can pull off an upset this weekend.

They say the home crowd, the hungry Ravens vets, and a relentless blitzing defense will be too much to overcome.

“Ravens lose playoff games to Peyton and Big Ben,” Mark Viviano wrote for the Baltimore Sun. “They do not lose to T.J. Yates — especially not in Baltimore.”

Here are the picks:

Baltimore Sun: Seven of seven pick the Ravens
ESPN: Eight of eight pick the Ravens
SI.com’s Peter King: Ravens 30, Texans 20
USA Today: Eight of eight pick the Ravens
PFT.com: Two of two pick the Ravens
CBSSports.com: Five of five pick the Ravens

Inside Info On Yates

With T.J. Yates becoming the team’s starting quarterback in December, there is limited information to use when game-planning against the rookie quarterback.

But Ravens Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano has an edge that Yates’ previous opponents haven’t had.

Pagano spent a year with Yates in 2007 when the quarterback was a redshirt freshman and Pagano was the defensive coordinator at the University of North Carolina. Yates started every game that season.

Pagano, who has created a reputation for turning up the heat on opposing quarterbacks, was asked how much interaction he had with Yates.

“Other than blitzing him down there in the offseason?” Pagano asked, via MASN’s Dan Kolko . “No, we had a lot. He was just a young guy in a new system making his way. Watching him from afar after (I left) after a year and watching his maturation process and seeing how far he’s come, he’s done really good for himself. … He was in a pro-style offense (at UNC), so he was trained to do what he’s doing now.”

That said, Pagano believes the majority of what will be learned about Yates will come from the tape on his month and half of playing.

“Maybe understanding his strengths and weaknesses maybe a little more [helps to game plan], but what we see on tape is what we’re going to get,” Pagano said. “Six in one (hand), half dozen in the other.”

Quick Hits

  • A Madden simulation of the Texans-Ravens game has Baltimore winning 19-16, with a game-sealing interception from Reed. [ESPN]
  • SportsNation did a series of polls concerning Flacco: Does Flacco get a fair shake? Is he getting better? A milestone that merits more attention? Flacco or Tebow? Can the Ravens win a Super Bowl with Flacco? Check out the results. [ESPN]
  • The Texans are trying to prepare for the noise at M&T Bank Stadium.
  • Baltimore city gets decked out for what may be the purplest Friday yet [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Ray Lewis was Brian Cushing’s childhood hero. [ProFootballTalk.com]
  • This is insane. Check out the Ravens knowledge from this just-turned 3 year old.

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