Boston Movie Star Ben Affleck Is Terrified Of Ravens
I like Ben Affleck movies.
But Ben Affleck does not like the Ravens.
The Boston movie star and avid Patriots fan told TMZ that Baltimore was the absolute worst matchup his beloved New England team could have faced in the AFC divisional round.
The Gone Girl star also has a healthy fear of quarterback Joe Flacco, who has outdueled Patriots future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady in previous playoff showdowns (more below).
"Flacco is tough," Affleck said.
"I would have liked to have seen somebody else, but I believe in the Pats."
As you can see in the video above, Affleck is looking ridiculously SWOLL, resembling a linebacker or tight end. He was jokingly invited to join the Patriots squad, but humbly replied, "They don't want me."
Affleck seems to be more worried than his good friend and fellow Good Will Hunting star Matt Damon, who predicted the Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl (video below). Instead, Affleck is nervous about the competition, including the Ravens and potentially the Broncos, Seahawks and Packers.
"It's no joke," he said. "I don't like it."
(Mobile users, tap "View in Browser" at the top of the page to watch Damon and Affleck's NFL musings.)
Ravens Fan Takes Final Breath With Wild-Card Win
Here's a tear-jerker …
Ravens super-fan Ronnie Akers took his final breath Saturday, just minutes after learning his team beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and would advance in the playoffs, according to The Baltimore Sun.
"Who does that?" asked family friend Stephanie Ramirez. "People hold on for a long-lost relative. Who holds on for a football team?"
Akers, 65, died from cancer of the liver and esophagus. He was first diagnosed about a year ago and his health rapidly declined. He astounded friends as he clung to life day after day, despite losing his sight and no longer being able to eat, drink or talk.
"We couldn't figure out what he was holding on for," Ramirez said. "Then, someone joked that maybe he was waiting on that last Ravens-Steelers game."
Ramirez covered Akers with a Ravens hoodie and placed his "lucky cap" next to his pillow just before kickoff. He listened, but couldn't watch, and his wife and nephew helped describe what was happening.
His friends and family told him the final score when the game concluded. And within minutes, he passed.
"He wanted to see the Steelers getting their butts kicked one last time," said Mark Stapleton, Akers' nephew and friend.
RIP Ronnie Akers — Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) January 7, 2015
Harbaugh Next Chuck Noll? Coach Ravens Another 15 Years?
As Sports Illustrated's Peter King covered the Ravens-Steelers game Saturday night, the respected reporter said he got the "craziest" thought.
"John Harbaugh has a chance to be the modern-day Chuck Noll," he thought.
Noll* *stayed in Pittsburgh for a whopping 23 years (1969-1991). That longevity is just unheard of these days. Rex Ryan, Mike Smith and other Black Monday coaches know that all too well.
But flashing through King's mind was Harbaugh's incredible success and other favorable factors that could actually make it happen.
Harbaugh has 10 postseason wins, a Super Bowl trophy, a 29-year-old quarterback who knows how to win in the playoffs, respect from his players, a top-notch front office led by GM Ozzie Newsome, a patient Owner Steve Bisciotti, etc., etc.
So, King met Harbaugh in the corner of the visiting locker room in Pittsburgh, and pitched the idea. "I could see you being a Chuck Noll, lasting a long time in Baltimore. Could you?" King asked.
Apparently the question took Harbaugh by surprise, and he even got a little emotional answering it.
"Personally," Harbaugh said, "that would be the ultimate accomplishment. The Chuck Nolls, the Don Shulas … What those guys did, that would be the ultimate thing, because having success over a long period of time, the way the National Football League is set up nowadays, that would be an incredible thing. That would be … that would just be something, really."
The Man Who Scares Tom Brady Most
Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil will have their ears pinned back, hoping to feast on Brady Saturday night.
The fierce pass-rushing duo will be hunting, but the man who scares Tom Brady most won't lay a finger on him.
"That's because the scariest man on the Baltimore Ravens is 65 years old," wrote WEEI.com's John Tomase.
That man is Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees, who used to hold the same position in New England and knows Brady, and his tendencies, very well.
"It's a long shot [to beat the Patriots], but it's certainly possible, thanks to Pees, the Harley-riding, piano-playing former Patriots defensive coordinator (2006-09) with a penchant for getting in Tom Brady's head. (Not to mention his face)," wrote Tomase.
"Pees knows the key to slowing Brady isn't with obscure blitzes or fancily disguised coverages. It's with four-man pressure up the middle, because Brady likes to step up in the pocket when rushed. He murders teams that send extra men on the blitz. … It's all about keeping Brady uncomfortable, and this time around, Pees' pass rush will be paramount, because his injury-riddled secondary is porous and does not tackle particularly well."
Does Flacco Have Brady's Number?
Brady is a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback.
But while the nation is talking about how good Flacco is come postseason crunch time, it's also talking about how Brady's playoff performances have trailed off since 2004, when he won his third Super Bowl ring.
USA Today even asks whether Brady is overrated come January. Brady's postseason success pales in comparison to Flacco's since the Delaware product came into the league in 2008.
In the NFL Network video below, a panel discusses whether Flacco has Brady's number.
Ravens' Super Bowl Odds
The Ravens' Super Bowl odds improved after upsetting the Steelers last week, while the Patriots' odds are worsened. That said, the Patriots are still favored.
The odds below are courtesy of Bovada.
Super Bowl victory
Seattle Seahawks: 2/1
New England Patriots: 10/3
Green Bay Packers: 11/2
Denver Broncos: 6/1
Dallas Cowboys: 7/1
Baltimore Ravens: 18/1
Indianapolis Colts: 18/1
Carolina Panthers: 25/1
Harbaugh Stands By Claim Flacco Is Best QB
Good for John Harbaugh.
I'm not sure why anybody would ask him more about his belief that Flacco is the best quarterback in football, but reporters did Tuesday, and not surprisingly, he stuck by his claim.
"No, I said it. That's what I meant," Harbaugh said.
"It doesn't take much to figure out what I said – pretty clear cut. … I said it. I meant it. … You guys make your opinions. I'll have my opinion. I'm entitled to my opinion."
- Teams rarely win in Gillette Stadium, but the Ravens have twice, which is why they aren't scared. "When you've got a bunch of dogs on your team, no need to be intimidated," outside linebacker Pernell McPhee said. "We go in there with some warriors. Who wouldn't want to go to war with some warriors on our team? That's what we've got. We've got a team full of warriors who don't back down from no challenges." [The Baltimore Sun]
- Ray Lewis III is transferring from the University of Miami, where his dad and future Ravens Hall of Famer played, to Coastal Carolina after not playing last semester. The young Lewis posted on Instagram: "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door! #Round 2." [Instagram]