Denver Columnist: Oher Is In Trouble
The nightmare that is Broncos second-year outside linebacker Von Miller is coming to town.
And according to one Denver columnist, "Michael Oher is in trouble."
Miller is in the conversation to become the NFL's 2012 Defensive Player of the Year and is ranked third in the league with 16 sacks.
"You can't block Von Miller one-on-one because he has three assets: speed, athleticism and flexibility," said the Denver Post's Mike Klis.
"People here talk about how he's able to bend or contort his body to slip from blocks. And he doesn't stop. His sacks – plus tackles for losses, which I think lead the league – put him over the top as a defender."
Actually, Miller is second in the league in tackles for loss (24), but that technicality won't mean anything come Sunday when the offensive line is trying to prevent him from getting at quarterback Joe Flacco.
While Miller is near the top of his game right now, Oher has struggled as of late, allowing two sacks that have led to critical fumbles in the last two games.
The onus to protect Flacco won't only fall onto Oher.
Miller has "dominated" right tackles this year, says ESPN's Jamison Hensley, so rookie Kelechi Osemele, who has allowed eight sacks this season, will need to step up too.
The Broncos defense as a whole is ranked second in the league in sacks. And the timing to draw the matchup couldn't be worse with the Ravens' best offensive lineman, right guard Marshal Yanda, nursing an ankle injury.
Yanda's status for Sunday is unknown, which could cause a last-minute reshuffle along the offensive line. At this point, it's unclear whether Oher and Osemele will even be the left and right tackles, the positions they've played all year, as the Ravens could opt to re-insert at left tackle, where he started all 16 games last season.
Whoever is in the lineup, Hensley has a piece of advice to counter Denver's attack:
"In an effort to slow down the pass rush, look for new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell to use more no-huddle (to wear down the Denver linemen), go with more maximum protection schemes and get the ball to Ray Rice on screens."
Smarter To Tick Off: Lewis Or Manning?
It seems odd to compare a middle linebacker and quarterback when it comes to deciding who the NFL's scariest player is.
But The Denver Post's Mark Kiszla does just that with Ray Lewis and Peyton Manning, warning: "Irk them at your own risk."
Denver wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who played with Lewis in Baltimore when he came into the league in 1999, was asked which man would be smarter to tick off.
"Well ... I don't know," he said. "I think I wouldn't want to make either one of them mad. On the football field, they're both the type of player that seems like the madder they get, the better they play."
And if* *you're Lewis or Manning's teammate, you had better play at a high level. Otherwise, "you won't be on that team very long," Stokley said.
What would be most entertaining, however, is to see Manning and Lewis tick off each other Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. But for that to happen, Lewis would have to be moved to the active roster after injuring his triceps muscle in Week 6. Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday that Lewis has a chance to do so.
"The fun part about watching [this matchup] is the verbal chess match between Manning and Lewis," said Hensley. "Manning does his famous audibles at the line, and Lewis counters by yelling at his teammates on where to move."
Goodell Considering Expanding Playoffs To 16 Teams
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced yesterday that he is considering expanding the playoff system to include up to 16 teams, which would allow half the league to make the postseason.
"Right now we're with 12 teams obviously. We'll look at probably 14 or 16 teams," he said.
Goodell said the competition committee has considered such an expansion in the past, but it obviously was never passed. One of the potential benefits to more playoff games is more television deals and more money.
It comes as little surprise that outsiders don't like the idea.
"I absolutely, positively oppose watering down the playoffs. Foolish, foolish idea," tweeted SI.com's Peter King. "The NFL has to stop thinking of ways to make more money, and start thinking of ways to keep the game the best game in America."
Part of the draw of a 12-team playoff is that advancing to the postseason is a true accomplishment and the chance to earn byes for the best teams make late-season games important.
"Only the best of the best get in, and even with 12 teams, a mediocre squad or two usually makes it through (2010 Seattle Seahawks, anyone?)," wrote NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal. "Allowing half the NFL to make the postseason would erode some of the special feeling of the NFL playoffs and reduce the importance of the regular season.
"Fans would watch the games, and the NFL knows it, but that doesn't mean it's in the best interests of the sport's long-term health."
Pro Bowl Leaders: Williams Out, Oher In
Just as they did two weeks ago, the Ravens still have six players leading in fan Pro Bowl votes at their positions.
But two names have changed.
On Nov. 28, starting cornerback Cary Williams was leading in fan votes, but the Broncos' Champ Bailey has taken the top spot over. It was not revealed how far behind Williams is.
Oher has taken over the AFC's top spot at tackle with 187,320 votes.
Here are all six leading Ravens and their vote total:
- Fullback Vonta Leach: 165,723
- Tackle Michael Oher: 187,320
- Kick returner Jacoby Jones: 117,455
- Defensive Tackle Haloti Ngata: 305,830
- Strong safety Bernard Pollard: 91,746
- Free safety Ed Reed: 117,807
You can place your vote for the 2013 Pro Bowl online. Voting will continue through Dec. 17. Teams will be announced on Dec. 26, and the game will be played on Jan. 27, 2013 in Hawaii.
Ravens Select DE/OLB Lemonier In Mock Draft
With the college season over, ESPN's Todd McShay published his initial first-round projections for the 2013 draft.
Based on the Ravens current record (9-4) and playoff seeding (No. 4), the Ravens are predicted to get the 26th pick. McShay sees Auburn's defensive end/outside linebacker Corey Lemonier as a good fit.
The Ravens would continue a youth movement on defense with this pick," McShay wrote. "Lemonier might not come off the board this high, but he's an underrated prospect who played hard all season long on a bad defense. He's versatile and tough, has explosive upfield burst, closes quickly and shows some pop at the point of attack."
- @jeffzrebiecsun: There is a pretty good chance that the #Ravens will face Peyton Manning on Sunday without their three top inside linebackers. [Twitter]
- @ravensinsider: Marshal Yanda: 'I'm getting healthy as fast as possible, that's the plan. I'm going to treat it and get back as fast as possible.' [Twitter]
- "[It's] not regarded as a lock [for Ellerbe] to return this week and it's considered more of a sure thing that he'll be back healthy for the following week against the New York Giants," wrote Wilson. [The Baltimore Sun]
- Ray Rice on Cam Cameron's dismissal: "It's a wake-up call for everyone around the building. If you can let go the offensive coordinator in the middle of the season … Nobody here wants that to happen, but it's a wake-up call for everyone around the building that the expectation is to win around here." [BaltimoreRavens.com]
- The Broncos are hoping Manning changes their Baltimore jinx. Denver is 0-5 against* *Baltimore, but Manning has won eight straight against the Ravens. [ProFootballTalk.com]
- @torreysmithwr: Don't forget about my toy drive!! Come out!! [Twitter]
- @bmoreeisenberg: Thrilled that my book Cotton Bowl Days is being published as an e-book, with a new intro and new title: Chronicles of a Dallas Cowboys fan [Twitter]
- @baltimoreluke: The #Ravens are 2 1/2 point underdogs vs. Denver. It would be their first game as a home underdog since 11/22/09 -- against Manning's Colts. [Twitter]