User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
Soccer
Boxing/MMA
More
Betting Tools

 
Rested Ravens intend to start anew in playoffs

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - The Baltimore Ravens are healthy and rested.

Advertisement
They hope such qualities serve them better in the playoffs than the momentum they would have gotten from winning the regular-season finale.

Baltimore's 23-17 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday had the feel of a preseason contest. The Ravens (10-6) already had clinched their second straight AFC North title, so coach John Harbaugh rested several injured players for the entire game and removed most of his starters before the end of the first half.

The defeat dropped Baltimore's record in December to 1-4. Now it's time to find out whether the Ravens can suddenly get hot when it matters most, beginning with Sunday's home playoff game Chuck Pagano's Indianapolis Colts (11-5).

``It's a whole new season,'' Harbaugh said Monday. ``It all starts fresh. It's the playoffs. We're all 0-0 at this point.''

The Ravens are the only team in the NFL to reach the postseason in each of the past five years. They won at least one playoff game in the previous four trips, but on each occasion they were coming off a win to finish the regular season.

Not this time.

``Whatever team plays the best in the playoffs is going to win it,'' Harbaugh said. ``So if you want to call it getting hot, it's pretty important. Starting this week, whoever plays the best will be the champion.''

That would call for a complete turnaround from December, when the Ravens lost to Pittsburgh, Washington, Denver and Cincinnati. The lone victory during the month was a 33-14 beating of the New York Giants on Dec. 23 that provided Baltimore with its second straight division title.

``We are going to hit our stride going into the playoffs,'' said running back Ray Rice, who watched the final three quarters of the Cincinnati game from the sideline.

``It doesn't worry us because this is the playoffs and it's different,'' safety Ed Reed said.

With little to play for in Cincinnati except the remote possibility of gaining the No. 3 seed, Harbaugh placed injured veterans Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Bernard Pollard and Marshal Yanda on the inactive list. He pulled most of his starters, including Rice, quarterback Joe Flacco and Reed, early in the first half.

All should be available against the Colts. The Ravens also hope to have middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who's been out since Oct. 14 with a torn right triceps. That, Harbaugh said, would be a ``game-time decision.''

Because the Ravens used so many backups against the Bengals, the defeat was far easier to swallow.

``Yeah, it's a loss, but this game is totally different than any of the other games,'' cornerback Corey Graham said. ``This is more of a get healthy, get ready for the playoffs thing. Some losses mean more than others, and this one here don't mean a lot.''

Harbaugh simply thought the health of his team was more important than charging into the postseason with a two-game winning streak.

``We took all that into consideration. We weighed it all out,'' he said. ``We felt like we could win the game with guys we had, and we almost pulled it off.''

The Ravens endured a hectic four months leading up to the postseason. Despite losing Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee) in mid-October, Baltimore used a 9-2 start to take control of the division. That gave the Ravens enough of a cushion to limp to the finish as the No. 4 seed in the AFC.

``We battled adversity, we battled injury and we battled everything else you can imagine for a football team,'' Rice said. ``We are a battle-tested football team. I'm not really concerned about the four (December) losses. I'm more concerned about this team getting healthy.''

Harbaugh likes where the Ravens are as the playoffs begin.

``I'm very excited about our team right now. I like us a lot,'' he said. ``I like the fact that we've overcome a lot of adversity, both personal and team. I like the fact that our guys have stuck together through a lot of that. I think that's what makes a team what it is and I'm looking forward to seeing who we are for the next one game through however many games we're able to play. It's going to be a great challenge.''

The opening opponent is intriguing. No one in Baltimore has forgotten that the Colts left for Indianapolis in 1984, or that Pagano was the Ravens' defensive coordinator in 2011 and is returning from three rounds of chemotherapy.

The Ravens won't let the off-the-field stuff deflect their focus from revving up some postseason momentum.

``I think we're very ready,'' tight end Ed Dickson said. ``We had a chance to get guys healthy (Sunday). We're going to be firing on all cylinders. If we put it all together, the sky is the limit for this team. It's a one-game season right now.''

Meanwhile, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta says he won't pursue GM openings with other teams.

``I love being a part of the Ravens and plan to stay here and help them win championships,'' he said in a statement. ``I have no intentions of leaving this team.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
HEADLINES
David: Total Talk - Week 13
Rogers: Pick Six - Week 13
Roberts: SNF - Panthers at Seahawks
Roberts: Vegas Money Moves - Week 13
Akins: Gridiron Angles - Week 13
Sportsbook.ag: Best Bets - Week 13
News: SuperContest Picks - Week 13
Marshall: Tech Trends - Week 13
Lawrence: Trends To Watch - December
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NFL Pro Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NFL Hot Streaks
9-3 L3 Sundays, +1,250 TY
9-2 Last 11 NFL Win Streak
7-0 L2 Thurs., 11-4 L15 Totals
10-4 L14 G-Plays, 9-4 L13 Totals
6-3 Run, 18-6 Totals, 22-11 L6 Sun.
10-4 L14 G-Plays, 27-14 L8 Sun.
5-1 Last 6 NFL Selections
24-13 Last 37 Win Streak
3-0 Record Sunday
8-3 Record Last 3 Sundays
5-2 Last 7 NFL Picks
4-0 Streak, 9-4 Totals TY
6-2 Guaranteed Plays TY
5-2 L7 Guaranteed Plays
3-1 Last Sunday
5-2 Record L2 Thursdays
NFL Pro Football Expert Sports Picks - Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints
2016 NFL SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Don Anthony + 1250
The Gold Sheet + 1009
Greg Smith + 470
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Pat Hawkins + 300
Dave Cokin + 300
Don Anthony + 290
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Don Anthony 62 %
The Gold Sheet 57 %
Greg Smith 56 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Pat Hawkins + 816
Scott Pritchard + 570
Micah Roberts + 453
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 912
Joe Williams + 832
Paul Bovi + 585
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Jimmy Boyd + 995
The Gold Sheet + 567
Paul Bovi + 537
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership