Late For Work 10/6: Ravens Playoff Odds & Ray Lewis' Fun Way Of Welcoming Back Tom Brady

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Ravens Playoff Odds And Power Rankings

Despite suffering their first loss of the season, the Ravens still have good, not great, odds to reach the playoffs.

The folks at Football Outsiders determined teams' playoff odds by simulating the rest of the season 50,000 times, and Baltimore is still considered one of the top-six "favorites" to advance to the postseason out of the AFC. The Ravens' odds are only slightly lower than the Oakland Raiders, who beat Baltimore last week by one point.

"Baltimore and Oakland have actually been somewhat similar so far this year," wrote Aaron Schatz. "Both teams have only played games decided by a touchdown or less, and they have played similar schedules: 16th so far for Oakland, 20th for Baltimore. The difference is that Oakland has a strong offense (second) boosting a poor defense (31st), whereas Baltimore has a strong defense (fourth) boosting a poor offense (27th)."

Below are the six AFC favorites predicted to punch a playoff ticket:

1) Denver Broncos (4-0): 80.4 percent chance of making playoffs
2) Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1): 79.8 percent
3) New England Patriots (3-1): 71.8 percent
4) Oakland Raiders (3-1): 59.5 percent
5) Baltimore Ravens (3-1): 56.5 percent
6) Houston Texans (3-1): 45.6 percent

While Baltimore's playoff odds are strong, its reputation among NFL analysts is on the decline.

The Ravens have been on a roller coaster ride in national websites' power rankings. It's clear pundits don't know what to make of Baltimore, and at least one admits it.

"Honestly, it's just hard to read this team right now," wrote NFL.com's Elliot Harrison.

With all their games decided by six points or less, it's understandable why the jury is still out.

The Ravens jumped up several spots last week after their 3-0 start, but their first loss of the season led to a plummet. Their average ranking dropped from 9.2 to 12.7 this week.

Fox Sports: No. 11 (moved down three spots)
"The Ravens entered Week 4 having beaten teams with a combined record of 1-8. They ran into the 2-1 Raiders, who subsequently put the first blemish on their record. The Ravens have issues at running back and lack reliable playmakers on the outside, but they'll still challenge in the AFC North."

USA Today: No. 11 (moved down two spots)
"They might have found something in third-year RB Terrance West, who just produced a career-best 113-yard rushing effort."

CBS Sports: No. 12 (moved down four spots)
"They could easily be 4-0, but their late loss to the Raiders will sting. But how good are they?"

Bleacher Report: No. 12 (moved up one spot) 
"All four of their games were decided by six points or fewer, and only five teams have less fourth-quarter yardage. Blame pass protection, penalties and those costly drops for putting them in that situation to begin with. Flacco and Co. controlled another game. But they're not as good as their 3-1 record suggests."

ProFootballTalk.com: No. 13 (moved down six spots)* *"There's a fine line between finding ways to win and finding ways to lose."

ESPN: No. 14 (moved down four spots)
"Can the Ravens avoid playing such close games? Since the start of the 2015 season, Baltimore has played 18 games decided by eight or fewer points, including all four games this season. The Ravens have come out on the winning end three of four times, but it's a slippery slope."

NFL.com: No. 14 (moved down four spots)
"[I] had a fun debate with Ike Taylor in respect to the "elite" discussion that constantly surrounds Baltimore's franchise quarterback. Taylor, a long-time Steelers corner, took the Flacco side."

Yahoo! Sports: No. 16 (moved down four spots)
"When every one of your games is close, your record is going to even out eventually. Unless you're the 2015 and 2016 Broncos."

Ray Lewis' Fun Way Of Welcoming Back Tom Brady

Tom Brady is back.

His four-game suspension from Deflategate is over, he's fresh off a trip to Italy, and the future Hall of Famer will knock off any rust (if there is any) against the league's only winless team in the Cleveland Browns.

Brady returned to practice yesterday, and Ravens retired linebacker and future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis was kind enough to welcome him back via social media. He did it in the most Ray Lewis way possible:

Oh, how I miss those days.

Now it will be up to Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Timmy Jernigan and C.J. Mosley to carry on the tradition of knocking Brady around. They will get their chance in front of a national audience when the Ravens travel to Foxboro for a Monday night battle in Week 14.

With the way things are looking, it might be the toughest matchup on the Ravens' schedule this year. The Patriots have beaten the Ravens in three of the last four regular-season matchups since Head Coach John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco came to town. But, they've split the last four playoff games (2-2).

An already difficult matchup is expected to be even more difficult as many believe Brady will be on a revenge tour after being suspended and losing in a long court battle to overturn it.

"Tom Brady is out for vengeance," wrote FoxSports.com's Dieter Kurtenbach. "What's coming in the final 12 games of 2016 might be the all-time middle-finger season. Who is the NFL MVP right now, Matt Ryan? Carson Wentz? What's to say that Brady, playing like a man possessed after a bit of forced R+R, can't overtake those guys? Nothing."

What To Make Of Ronnie Stanley Not Practicing

No. 6 overall pick Ronnie Stanley was absent for his fourth consecutive practice, which doesn't bode well for a return in Week 5, but there's still hope that he'll protect Flacco's blindside against the Washington pass rush.

Harbaugh said Stanley could "probably play this week" on Monday, and the rookie echoed that sentiment Wednesday, saying it's a "possibility."

"It's getting better," Stanley told The Sun's Edward Lee. "I can't put a percentage on it, but it's gradually getting better.

"It's football, so you're not going to be healthy the whole season, and you're not going to be perfect. I think they're just making sure that it's nothing serious or long-term that could happen. They're just being cautious in that sense, and I can't blame them for what they're doing. I think we're pretty much on the same page on it."

Reports also indicate that Stanley will return.

"According to sources, left tackle Ronnie Stanley will be back this Sunday, which should be huge after Khalil Mack destroyed the Ravens' pass protection last week," wrote CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora.

Meanwhile, veteran returner Devin Hester also missed practice Wednesday with a thigh injury. He expects to still be in the lineup come Sunday.

"It's going to help out a lot," Hester told Lee. "Right now with this type of injury, I just need rest. I should be ready by game time."

Joseph Bauer Showing Signs Of Improvement

Ravens fan* *Joseph Bauer, who was assaulted at the Baltimore-Oakland game, remains in critical condition but is showing signs of improvement, according to his sister, Susan Bauer. He gave a thumbs-up sign when asked by doctors to respond.

"We have been encouraged by some signs we believe indicate he recognizes his wife," Susan told The Baltimore Sun. "The trauma doctor said she is 'cautiously optimistic' about his progress and he is trending in the right direction."

Bauer remains on a respirator at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, per The Sun, after suffering a brain injury during an altercation at the game with two New York men that have been arrested and charged with first- and second-degree assault.

"Whatever security has to be out there and whatever has to be done will be done, because this is just not what we're about," Harbaugh said Monday. "We're not going to have that at M&T Bank Stadium. Our prayers are with Joe and his family. We'll be pulling for him."

Ravens Work Out Another Safety

After The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec reported Tuesday that the Ravens worked out safety Shamiel Gary, another report surfaced yesterday saying the team got a look at second safety, Winston Guy.

Guy was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in sixth round of the 2012 draft, and he's since bounced around to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts. He has played in 34 games, starting two, notching 53 tackles, two sacks and two defensed passes.

Justin Forsett Keeping Sense Of Humor During Job Hunt

This is why former Ravens running back Justin Forsett is so likeable.

The soon-to-be-31-year-old back is pitching his services to NFL teams via social media, and he named his "freakishly" good looks as a resume asset.

I love this man's sense of humor even when he's out of work.

Meanwhile, the running back situation is far from settled in Baltimore. Terrance West currently leads rookie Kenneth Dixon and Javorius Allen for the starting role, but that could change. Harbaugh is not ready to anoint anyone as the featured back.

"I expect to get all the guys as many carries as we can," Harbaugh said Wednesday. "How it shakes out – who gets what carries – is kind of unpredictable."

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