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Ravens Grab Control of Sixth Seed, Fox to Return to the Broncos on Monday

From their 22-20 Thanksgiving win over the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7), the Baltimore Ravens (6-6) now sit in the driver’s seat for the sixth AFC playoff seed. The Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) are just 1.5 games ahead of them and there’s still plenty of time for things to change.

On Sunday, the Bengals will play the San Diego Chargers (5-6) and for now, it’s too early to call the winner (ev, 48 o/u). With numerous storylines for this game, a key one is whether good Andy Dalton or bad Andy Dalton will show up as he’s had eight picks in his last three games. Fortunately he’ll face a Chargers defense that sits at No. 29 in the league for takeaways.

The Bengals and the Ravens will meet for the season finale in Week 17 but before then, the Ravens will have a chance to improve their division position with games against the Minnesota Vikings (2-8), the Detroit Lions (7-5) and the New England Patriots (8-3). Should the Ravens continue their win streak, the matchup against the Bengals could decide the winner of the AFC North.

Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco

In Thursday’s game against the Steelers, Ravens kicker Justin Tuck had a busy night with a career-high five field goals. After last week’s dominant performance, the Ravens defense neither had any sacks nor forced any turnovers but quarterback Joe Flacco went 24 for 35, 251 yards and one touchdown.

Unfortunately the game may be best remembered for a third quarter play. Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones had a kickoff return and as he ran down the sideline, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin initially jumped out of the players’ way but then back on the sideline, effectively giving Jones’ run a pause.

Jones, who then went on the inside, was tackled by Steelers defensive back Cortez Allen. While he had a 73-yard gain, the next play resulted in a Ravens field goal not a desired touchdown.

The question remains whether Tomlin’s actions were on purpose or not. Flacco believed it was intentional but Tomlin said via ESPN.com, “I always watch the returns on the JumboTron. It provides better perspective for me. I lost my placement as he broke free and saw at the last second how close I was to the field of play.”

As for the Steelers, their playoff hopes have been dashed. They also left Thursday’s game with a rash of injuries including reserve tackle Mike Adams, left tackle Kelvin Beachum, defensive end Brett Keisel and center Fernando Velasco. Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell also went down and will be examined for a concussion.

Broncos coach John Fox to Return on Monday

While he won’t be on the sidelines for this week’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs (9-2), Denver Broncos (9-2) coach John Fox will be back on Monday and will be ready to coach for Week 14’s game against the Tennessee Titans (5-6).

John Fox

John Fox

Whether Fox is on the sidelines or upstairs coaching remains to be seen, but the Broncos released the following statement about him via CBS Sports:

“John Fox has been cleared by doctors to return as head coach of the Denver Broncos beginning Monday. We are very pleased that his recovery from a heart procedure on Nov. 4 has progressed so well.

Our organization is confident that his health will allow him to meet his head coaching responsibilities. While no formal restrictions will be placed on his workload upon return, he will continue to be monitored by our medical staff as his well-being remains our No. 1 priority.

We look forward to Coach Fox’s return to the team on Monday.”

In Fox’s absence, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has been the interim coach and has led the team to a 2-1 record.

For this week against the Chiefs, look for another Broncos win (-5.5, 48.5). They sit at 7/2 to win the 2014 Super Bowl.




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