Ravens Doubters Already Predicting One-And-Done
These must be the "parrots" to whom Head Coach John Harbaugh was referring (video above).
Parrots is the new term for Ravens critics because, to Harbaugh, they say the same thing over and over, year after year, week after week, and soon it just becomes noise.
Case in point:
Hey, that tweet is from a Patriots fan. He's just rooting for his own team. So no big deal.
But the one-and-done notion isn't just coming from opposing fans. It's coming from fans, analysts and Las Vegas.
ESPN Steelers reporter Scott Brown actually suggested that Pittsburgh “rest” Le’Veon Bell this week against the Ravens so his knee can heal up. Not heal up for next season. Heal up for next week, implying the Steelers don't need their star running back, and perhaps MVP, to even get past Baltimore.
"Even if Bell doesn't risk more serious injury to his right knee by playing against the Ravens, it makes little sense for the Steelers to play the freshly-minted Pro Bowl running back – in what promises to be a hard-hitting game – if it only further weakens him," Brown wrote.
"They can't make a legitimate run at a Super Bowl title without a healthy Bell, so why not rest him for a week and put the ball in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's hands?"
Brown's thought process is that Bell only ran for 20 yards in the final Ravens-Steelers showdown of the regular season, and Pittsburgh still won by 20 points. Roethlisberger threw for 340 yards and six touchdowns, so the model works on paper.
Still, to suggest you can just bench Bell against the Ravens shows a lack of respect of Baltimore as a formidable opponent. And Harbaugh loooooves to use that kind of talk as motivation for his team.
CBSSports.com's John Breech agrees with Brown.
"Don't think for a second that the Steelers can't win without [Bell]," Breech wrote, adding little jabs to the secondary and quarterback Joe Flacco. He says the defensive backs are still "bad," and even though Flacco has been on a tear in his last six playoffs with a 5-1 record, Breech is betting against him.
"HOW CAN I PICK AGAINST SOMEONE ON A TEAR?" Breech asked. "The only team Flacco seems to struggle against in the postseason is the Steelers. If only the Ravens weren't playing the Steelers."
Then there are the Las Vegas Super Bowl odds. There are various sportsbooks out there, but many give the Ravens the worst odds in the AFC.
OddsShark gave the Ravens the worst odds of any playoff team (75/1) to make it to the Super Bowl, tied with the 7-8-1 Carolina Panthers.
Here are the Super Bowl odds for all 12 playoff teams:
Steelers : 16/1
So how do the Ravens respond to all their doubters?
"Parrots," wrote wide receiver Torrey Smith with this Instagram message.
Bell Must Fight Through Pain To Play
An MRI confirmed that Bell didn't have any structural damage to his knee, according to ESPN, but his status for Saturday is still up in the air.
"Bell will have to play through considerable pain if he is able to suit up Saturday night against the Baltimore Ravens, the source said, making the second-year man questionable at best for the prime-time AFC wild-card game at Heinz Field," reported Adam Schefter.
Rookie running backs Dri Archer and Josh Harris are the next two options, and only two, on the Steelers' 53-man roster. They only have 19 carries for 56 yards between them, as Harris had a 59-yard run against the Bengals called back Sunday night against Cincinnati.
Ravens-Cowboys McClain Trade Finalized With Season Wrapped Up
The Ravens will receive a 2015 sixth-round draft pick from the Cowboys, in exchange for linebacker Rolando McClain and a seventh-rounder, according to The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.
The deal has been finalized now that the season has wrapped up, and the terms of the deal can be determined with McClain's playing time. He participated in 606 of the Cowboys' 978 defensive snaps, per Wilson, which was more than the 50 percent he needed under the conditions of the deal.
McClain finished second on the team with 81 tackles, and added one sack, one forced fumble and two interceptions. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
"Now, with the trade complete, the wacky Rolando McClain era in Baltimore is finally over," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
The trade brings the Ravens' 2015 picks to six with the draft order still to be determined by the playoff race results. Hensley believes the Ravens will still get more compensatory picks because they lost four significant free agents in the offseason (Arthur Jones, Michael Oher, Corey Graham and James Ihedigbo).
Harbs Wondering If Bisciotti Will Loan Him Credit Card For Dinner With Reid
Harbaugh reached out to his mentor Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid to offer him dinner for lending a hand in the Ravens' playoff berth.
In addition to a win over the Browns, Baltimore needed the Chiefs to beat the Chargers to advance. Harbaugh joked in his Monday press conference that Reid "responded favorably" to the invitation and that it could get quite expensive.
In the CSNBaltimore.com video below, Chick Hernandez jokingly asked Harbaugh if there was a way the head coach could charge the dinner to the Ravens as a business expense.
"Do you call [Owner] Steve Bisciotti and say, 'Look, this might be a big meal, we're going to pay for it, but it's going to help us in the end?" asked Hernandez.
"Yes, the black credit card. The one with the high deductible – or whatever it is – I'll have that one ready. If I could get Steve's credit card for that, that would be great."
Forsett Determined To Prove He's Not Wearing Down
Running back Justin Forsett heard his critics say he appears to be wearing down, and he didn't like it.
After three consecutive 100-yard games, he followed them up with 71, 48 and 19-yard outings against the Dolphins, Jaguars and Texans.
"I guess people have been saying, 'You're wearing down and not having success," Forsett told Wilson. "I guess it comes with a preconceived notion about what a shorter back can do. I guess I still have some critics. The only thing I can do is talk with my pads."
He responded against the Browns by rushing for 119 yards on 17 carries.
"Yeah, not bad for someone wearing down," Forsett said with a laugh. "It's a team thing, man. When the run game is working, it's not just me. It's the line, it's everybody doing their job."
#RavensNation go to http://t.co/egXZ3R4ZvO and vote for Joe! pic.twitter.com/Rlhtn0FWDj — Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) December 29, 2014