Late For Work 8/22: Forbes: Ravens Fans Among NFL's Best

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Forbes: Ravens Fans Among NFL's Best

Most of you already knew it, but now there's evidentiary proof.

The Ravens fan base is one of the best in the NFL, and, sorry terrible towel holders, THE best in the AFC North. Yes, Ravens fans can officially say they are better than Steelers, Bengals and those die-hard Browns fans.

At least, that what Forbes says after an in-depth study.

How do they know?

The business magazine ranked  purple and black addicts fifth in the league, third in the AFC and first in the division. And the rankings were compiled based on five criteria:

  • Hometown crowd reach, defined as the percentage of the metropolitan area that watched, attended, or listened to a game in the last year.
  • Three years' worth of television ratings.
  • Three years of stadium attendance based on the percentage of capacity reached.
  • Three years of merchandise sales, according to NFLShop.com.
  • Social media reach, using a combination of Facebook and Twitter followers based on the team's metro population

Combine the rankings in each of those categories and – boom! – Ravens are No. 5.

The teams ahead are the Green Bay Packers (No. 1 overall and in hometown crowd rank, attendance and social media), Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, and New England Patriots.

Ravens' category rankings:
Hometown Crowd Rank: 4
TV Audience Rank: 6
Stadium Attendance Rank: 1
Social Media Rank: 8
Merchandise Rank: 12

For fans that live next to pesky Redskins (n/a, didn't make top 10) or Steelers (No. 7) fans who are constantly buzzing, Forbes armed you with a pretty legit arsenal to argue with and swat them away.

A Player We Can't Wait To See In Regular Season

There are some players that we just can't wait to see completely unleashed in the regular season.

For me, I'm interested in watching fullback Kyle Juszczyk, wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. and cornerback Jimmy Smith potentially explode in 2014.

For SI.com's Chris Burke, he's interested in getting running back Bernard Pierce under the bright lights of games that count.

"A not-so-well-kept secret: Pierce is about to steal Ray Rice's job," wrote Burke. "Some of that is of Rice's own doing, with a two-game suspension awaiting him when the regular season begins. But Pierce pushed Rice for playing time in a wholly disappointing Baltimore run game last season, and his running style is better-suited than Rice's for new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's zone-blocking scheme. Add it all up, and Pierce's third NFL season should be his best yet, even if Rice comes back strong in Week 3."

I'm not so sure about stealing Rice's job – the seventh-year player has looked explosive and strong himself this preseason – but Kubiak's system should elevate all the running backs' production, including the healthy Pierce.

Pierce is averaging an impressive 5.4 yards per carry this preseason, and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro is leading the NFL in rushing with 130 yards. It's an encouraging sign heading into the season opener.

"Does this mean the Ravens' ground game is suddenly fixed?" asked ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "Are the Ravens going to be a top-10 rushing attack? Even coach John Harbaugh cautioned about jumping to such conclusions.

McPhee Among Best NFL Pass Rushers So Far

Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee wants to lead the Ravens in sacks. In fact, he's predicting double-digit numbers.

Those are lofty goals, but if he continues on the road he's started in training camp and the preseason, he might realize them.

"Pernell McPhee hasn't just been the best pass rusher on the Baltimore Ravens this preseason," wrote Hensley. "He's been among the best in the NFL." 

At the preseason midway point, McPhee leads the league (tied) with five quarterback hurries, and he is rated as the top outside linebacker by Pro Football Focus. And how can we forget the pummeling he gave to Dallas Cowboys Brandon Weeden last week.

McPhee was second on the team in sacks (six) his rookie year in 2011, but only six Ravens have ever recorded 10 or more in a single season. And McPhee has only notched a total of 3.5 sacks since that rookie season.

But …

"The biggest difference with McPhee this year is he's healthy," Hensley wrote. "This is the first offseason he's not recovering from a surgery." 

And by the way, McPhee isn't the only Raven to rank high in PFF's position ratings. Eight players rank in the top 10 at their position through two preseason games: fullback Kyle Juszczyk (No. 1), wide receiver Deonte Thompson (2), kicker Justin Tucker (2), guard Marshal Yanda (5), center Jeremy Zuttah (6), cornerback Dominique Franks (6), safety Brynden Trawick (7) and wide receiver Jacoby Jones (10).

Could Two Steelers Arrests Impact Division?

The Pittsburgh Steelers' top two running backs, Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount, were stopped by police Wednesday for possession of marijuana inside Bell's car. The incident happened approximately two hours before the Steelers flew to Philadelphia for their preseason matchup.

Bell was taken to a hospital for a blood test, and will also receive a citation for driving under the influence (DUI), Ross Township detective Brian Kohlhepp told ESPN. He had to find his own way to Philadelphia. Reports indicated both players were arrested, but CBS Sports.com's Jason La Canfora reported that Blount was not charged.

The question everyone is asking now: Will the pair of Steelers running backs be suspended? And if so, when?

"The two probably face no more than a one-game suspension and that won't come anytime soon," wrote Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette. "Bell could be in for a tad more if tests at the hospital yesterday showed he indeed was driving under the drug's influence."

The NFL is expected to review the incident, but that usually happens after the legal process plays out. Each player is subject to a one- to four-game suspension that likely wouldn't happen until next season, according to ESPN.

However, the Steelers have suspended their own players in the past for poor off-the-field conduct, and SI.com's Don Banks and Chris Burke discuss the possibility of a team-enforced suspension for the first week of the season against the Cleveland Browns, which could impact the division standings early.

Quick Hits

  • The legacy of No. 57 for the Ravens began with former linebacker and current Senior Advisor to Player Development O.J. Brigance. "Long before the ALS ice bucket challenges dominated social media, the Baltimore Ravens have been reminded of the courage it takes to fight the devastating disease every time linebacker C.J. Mosley steps onto the field," wrote Hensley. "Mosley, the team's first-round pick, is wearing No. 57, a privilege not bestowed upon a Ravens player for the past six years." [ESPN]
  • "The Cincinnati Bengals are looking smart by locking up linebacker Vontaze Burfict to a four-year contract. Burfict looks pretty smart, too," wrote Bo Smolka. The two sides agreed to a reported four-year, $20 million deal prior to Burfict playing out the final year of his contract. [CSNBaltimore.com]
  • Torrey Smith won the Tim Wheatley Award, which was created in 2010 by the Baltimore Sun Media Group to honor local athletes whose contributions off the field are as important as those on the field. The award is named after Baltimore Sun editor Tim Wheatley, who was killed in a car accident Oct. 5, 2009 while driving his daughter to school, and was a strong advocate for community service. Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis won the award last year. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Understated Ravens defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson hoping to make some noise. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Lardarius Webb featured in the "Great Things Happen When We LIVE UNITED" national ad campaign.
  • @aceandsmitty: The face deuce makes when daddy is going to score as a raven! !!!!! I want my momma face.... baylee is taking a selfie and deuce he ain't trying to have it.... lol #Stevesmithjr #agent89II Laughter is healthy [Instagram]
  • @334upshaw41: #52 #LastRide #Greatness #Legend #SBXLVIIChamps [Instagram]
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