Late For Work is back from a one-day haiatus for Thanksgiving. As you try to overcome your turkey tryptophan coma and work off those calories after stuffing your face, I'll catch you up on your Ravens news.
Patriots Fans Upset With Ray Lewis
Welp. Apparently folks up in New England are upset with future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis.
It's because he gave a pregame speech to the Buffalo Bills prior to going on air as an ESPN analyst for their Monday Night Football matchup against the New England Patriots.
Lewis' obvious connection to Buffalo is to their head coach, Rex Ryan. Ryan coached in Baltimore for a decade, including as the defensive coordinator for four years. Lewis was around for all of it, and the two shared a special bond that went beyond football.
So there's no hiding that Lewis has some bias toward Ryan, just like Lewis has for the Ravens anytime he's an analyst for one their games. It's just like commentators Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest and Heath Evans have a rooting interest for the Patriots:
"There are conflicts of interest every day in sports announcing — the coach calling his brother's game, the coach calling his former team's game, the coach calling the game of a team he'd like to coach, the wife of a tennis player's agent analyzing other players on Tour, a tennis coach commenting on his pupil's next opponent and basically everything that happens on NFL pregame shows," wrote USAToday's Chris Chase. "You don't think it's weird when [Mike] Ditka analyzes a Bears game, Ray does a Ravens game, Dan Marino talks Miami or Cris Carter just says anything? So why the consternation now?"
I should note that Chase actually doesn't like Lewis as an ESPN commentator, but that's because he thinks Lewis' commentary is ridiculous. For example, Lewis made headlines that very Monday night because he said, "If you're asking me Bill Belichick or Rex Ryan, I'm taking Rex Ryan all day because Rex relates to players, as well as myself, more like a father."
As you can see in the video below, fellow ESPN analyst Steve Young's face disagrees.
You can think what you want about Lewis' sports opinions, but in terms of whether Lewis can give a pep talk to one team before he goes on air, NFL Network's Albert Breer didn't mince words:
Love Steve Youngs reaction when Ray Lewis said Rex was a better coach than Belichick. "Aww not this idiot again" pic.twitter.com/eTJ0cYfMJj — David Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) November 24, 2015
Fake Ray Lewis Gives Thanksgiving Pep Talk
Speaking of Ray Lewis speeches, the fake Ray Lewis is at it again.
This time, he gave a pep talk for Thanksgiving dinner, and it was once against hilarious. This is the latest of a series of impersonations from Andre Boyd.
League Could Strip Ravens Of Primetime Games
This is exactly why the NFL agreed with television networks to "flex" games out of Sunday night slots. It's to avoid highlighting games in December that have little effect on the playoff picture.
Based on the Ravens' 3-7 record heading into the final stretch of the season, there's a decent chance they could be removed from their final two primetime matchups.
"Barring a dramatic turnaround in Baltimore and total collapses elsewhere, the Ravens aren't likely to be a serious player in the AFC postseason picture over the final six weeks of this season," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Alexander Pyles. "That might knock them out of two primetime games at M&T Bank Stadium."
Baltimore is currently scheduled to play under the lights against the Seattle Seahawks (5-5) on Dec. 13 and the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) on Dec. 27. Both NBC games would kick off at 8:30 p.m.
The league must inform teams of schedule changes 12 days in advance, so Baltimore and Seattle should learn their fate next week. The decision for the Steelers game will come the following week.
"It's hard to figure why the NFL would want Ravens-Seahawks in primetime," wrote Pyles.
I concur. The two teams don't have a longstanding rivalry, and neither is the Super Bowl contender analysts once thought they would be before the season began. Plus, the Ravens have lost a lot of star power with Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, Steve Smith and Justin Forsett out for the season. Pyles thinks the Falcons-Panthers game or the Steelers-Bengals matchup could draw larger audiences.
As for the Ravens-Steelers game, that still might be worthy of primetime billing. After all, regardless of who is on the field, these two teams hate each other and it's always a slugfest. Even though the Ravens haven't won much this season, they keep games close and interesting. All their losses have come by one score.
The AFC North rivals would be competing against the Packers-Cardinals, Vikings-Rams, Falcons-Panthers (again if they aren't flexed in Week 14) and Patriots-Jets games for the national TV slot.
"If the Ravens are booted from primetime, the league will move the game to an open Sunday afternoon slot," wrote Pyles. "Don't worry, though, if you like watching the Ravens at night: ESPN is stuck with this coming Monday's game against the Browns (2-8)."
"Monday Night Football games can't be flexed – otherwise, this one might be the most obvious candidate on the schedule this season."
No London Games For Ravens in 2016
Someday the Ravens will play in London. Someday.
Owner Steve Bisciotti predicted that day would have a 75 to 80 percent chance of coming in the next four years.
But that year will not be 2016.
The league announced its international lineup on Wednesday, and one AFC North team is among the six that will travel across the pond.
Week 4: Jacksonville Jaguars will host Indianapolis Colts (Wembley Stadium)
Week 7: St. Louis Rams will host the NFC East team that finishes in the same spot in the standings as the
Rams do in the NFC West (Twickenham Stadium)
Week 8: Cincinnati Bengals will host Washington Redskins (Wembley Stadium)
The Ravens have made it clear that they would like to travel to London for a game, but they are not willing to do what the Bengals did to get there: sacrifice a home game. If the Ravens make it to London, it's because the league designates them as a visitor.
"I would absolutely love going to London. I think it would be great," Bisciotti said in April. "Hopefully it would be the time of year that we could get a lot of fans over there, whether it be near Christmas or near Thanksgiving, or September when the weather is still beautiful, even in the U.K."
Ravens Pro Bowl Voting Results, Including One Travesty
Punter Sam Koch, kicker Justin Tucker, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and guard Marshal Yanda are all off to a good start in fan Pro Bowl voting, as all currently rank in the top 10 at their respective positions.
There's one obvious omission from defensive tackle, and that's the beast known as Brandon Williams.
The third-year veteran is graded as the third best in the AFC at his position by Pro Football Focus, and best run defender in the entire NFL, but fans haven't caught on to his dominance yet.
Hopefully when the coaches and players' votes are factored in, they will get Williams the trip to Hawaii he deserves.
Schaub Has A Million Reasons To Be Thankful
As quarterback Matt Schaub counts his blessing this Thanksgiving weekend, he can add one million more to the list, says ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
Per Schaub's contract, he has to play 10 percent of the Ravens' offensive snaps in order to earn a $1 million bonus this season. That should be very doable with Joe Flacco done for the year … as long as Schaub stays healthy himself.
"Now, that's obviously something to be thankful for," wrote Hensley.
WhyImThankful: Ravens players share what they are thankful for [CSNMidAtlantic.com]
Funny !!!? But yes I had 2 slices Happy Thanksgiving #RavensNation https://t.co/8jfFn8oZEo — Steve Smith Sr.(@89SteveSmith) November 26, 2015