Late for Work 3/17: Breaking Down Ravens Options at Inside Linebacker –


Onwuasor’s potential suitors: Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars

Bradshaw’s analysis: “Despite just winning a Super Bowl, the defense has some glaring holes. Adding “Peanut” Onwuasor to the Chiefs front-seven makes them much more dangerous upfront. The Raiders pass defense desperately needed help over the middle and covering tight ends were far from their strong suits. The return of safety Jonathan Abram should help, but adding Onwuasor to the middle of that unit is a surefire way to help their leaky defense. [Jacksonville] felt the loss of Telvin Smith to retirement last year and needs a partner in crime next to Myles Jack. Onwuasor can be that partner in crime and will once again give Jacksonville legitimacy to their front seven.”

Pierce’s potential suitors: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Chargers, Dallas Cowboys

Bradshaw’s analysis: “The Arizona Cardinals were miserably bad against the run in 2019. … Getting Pierce into the middle of their defense would shore up a lot of their problems against the run. The Chargers have been in need of a true nose tackle for quite some time. Pairing Pierce up with Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and Jerry Tillery is a helluva front-four for whoever is playing linebacker for them in 2020. Dallas suffered in 2019 without any help from their interior defensive line even after the acquisition of Michael Bennett. Pierce is exactly what the doctor called for.”

Smith’s potential suitors: Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs

Bradshaw’s analysis: “The Vikings have quickly found themselves in dire need of cornerback help. Xavier Rhodes has been cut and Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander are likely to depart from Minneapolis. Smith would be a great get for the team. Smith won’t have to be Seattle’s ace out-wide but he could easily be their best piece in the secondary. The Chiefs currently only have one legitimate cornerback on the roster in Charvarius Ward and they weren’t exactly oozing with talent before. Smith would be their top-guy from the moment they signed him.”

2017 Ravens Among Best Teams Who Just Missed Playoffs in Past 30 Years

Now that the players have approved the league’s new collective bargaining agreement, it’s official that the playoffs will be expanded to seven teams per conference beginning this season.

With that in mind, ESPN’s Aaron Schatz ranked the best teams to just miss the playoffs over the past 30 years. All the teams would have made the postseason as seventh seeds.

The 2017 Ravens came in at No. 5 on the list, which was based on DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average). Every Ravens fan remembers the heartbreaking fashion in which that season ended.

Baltimore entered the season finale at home with a 9-6 record and just needing a win over the Cincinnati Bengals, who were 6-9 and had lost to the Ravens in the season opener, 20-0, to secure a wild-card berth.

The Ravens were just 53 seconds away from doing so, and had the Bengals in a fourth-and-12 situation just past midfield. In a moment that still seems surreal, Andy Dalton connected with Tyler Boyd for a 49-yard touchdown pass to beat the Ravens, 31-27, and keep them out of the playoffs.

Even with that disappointing loss, the Ravens still could’ve made the playoffs if either the Buffalo Bills or Tennessee Titans had lost. Neither did. Football Outsiders gave Baltimore a 97-percent chance of going to the postseason entering Week 17, per ESPN.

Baltimore, Buffalo, Tennessee and the San Diego Chargers all finished 9-7, but the Bills and Titans got the two wild-card berths via tiebreakers.

The Ravens were plus-92 in point differential that season, which was ninth-best in the league (the Bills and Titans were at minus-57 and minus-22, respectively), and ranked seventh in DVOA. A 2-5 record in one-score games proved to be their undoing.

Had there been a seven-team playoff field, the Ravens would have traveled to Pittsburgh to face the second-seeded Steelers in the first round.

“The Steelers swept the season series in 2017, but the second win took a last-minute field goal, 39-38,” Schatz wrote. “The two teams just ahead of Baltimore in DVOA, New England (sixth) and Philadelphia (fifth), ended up in the Super Bowl.”

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