Rex Ryan talking tough, as usual

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Rex Ryan talking tough, as usual

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

Patriots fans who want Rex Ryan to shut up have to keep waiting.

On Wednesday morning, while New England slept under a foot of snow, the Jets head coach spoke with the media via conference call. His attitude was typical: unapologetic, outspoken and controversial.

"In this country you're allowed to have opinions and all that kind of stuff," Ryan said. "Obviously, as an organization we respect Tom Brady, there's no question about it. But is there dislike between us and Brady and Brady and the Jets? Of course there is.

"We're not apologizing for anything. Did we vote Brady to be the starting quarterback in the Pro Bowl? Yeah, we did. There's plenty of respect without being all lovey-dovey. We have a right to our opinion. A comment like that is no big deal."

The treatise was Ryan's defense of cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who, the coach says, will not be punished for calling Patriots QB Tom Brady an a------. And why would he be? Ryan has set the tone for this Jets team and speaking ones mind is at the heart of its weekly grind.

And that means taking subtle, or not so subtle, jabs at Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

"Maybe they do follow my lead in the fact that we can say what's on our mind or whatever. I don't say that, 'Whatever we do, don't say this or don't say that.' We're a transparent organization. We let our guys speak. We don't tell them what to say or what to say."

That one's an uppercut.

Of course, the tight-lipped Belichick won't even flinch, but that's not what Ryan is after anyway. His words are meant to be an injection of steel into the spines of his players and he's been doing it since boasting Super Bowl intentions on the first day of training camp.

Heading into a playoff matchup on New England's home turf, the Jets will need the confidence.

When the teams last met in Week 13, the Patriots inflicted a 45-3 beatingon New York. It was a complete turnaround from the 28-14 loss Belichick's team took in Game 2 and showcased a much-improved Pats defense and an unbridled Brady.

Ryan was forced to acknowledge the complete defeat ("It's the biggest butt-whipping I've taken as a coach in my career.") To shrug it off would have been ridiculous. And that's not Rex, right?

"Danny Woodhead is in football because of the New York Jets. It was an excellent pick-up for them."

Well, that's an odd way to describe waiving a player, isn't it. Classic Rex Ryan spin. Just a coach looking at the NFL world through hunter green-colored glasses.

"I'm not worried about their injuries," he said on the conference call. "We lost Kris Jenkins for the entire season and I don't know if they lost anyone as big as that. Statistically, they've improved since we played them last. They've got some big guys."

What about the injuries to Leigh Bodden, Kevin Faulk, Ty Warren and Mike Wright? They don't even register on Ryan's radar. Apparently, congratulations are due to Belichick and The Replacements for making the compensation for those roster hits look like a breeze.

But wait! Not so fast. Ryan didn't waste much time complimenting New England before bouncing back to his favorite vacation destination: his Happy Place.

"If you visit Revis Island, the success rate going to that island is not real good," the coach pontificated. "Brady knows that. He can look at a different matchup that he likes better than that matchup. This is a once-in-a-lifetime corner. He is, in my opinion, the best corner in football. It's not smart business to target him.

"I'm not worried about anything," he continued. "I'm concerned, but I'm not worried."

Not worried and not done talking. The only ridiculous thing, with regard to Rex Ryan, would be to expect otherwise.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Know Thine Enemy: A complete breakdown of the Ravens

Know Thine Enemy: A complete breakdown of the Ravens

After a 3-0 start, the Ravens dropped a 28-27 decision to the Raiders in Baltimore. That started a four-game skid for Baltimore which included back-to-back losses at the Jets and Giants. But they got back on track against the Steelers and have won four out of five with their only being to the Cowboys. It’s hard to get a clean read on who they really are. 

They had narrow, early-season wins over crap teams like Cleveland and Jacksonville. They had a narrow loss to an outstanding Raiders team and were close with the Cowboys but got run over late with Dallas scoring on its last five possessions. They are coming off their most impressive team win, a 38-6 triumph over the Dolphins. 

This game is a big one in the AFC race not just because it’s a divisional leader but also because it will be a common game between the Patriots and Raiders. The Raiders already beat Baltimore. 

The Pats need to keep pace in a tiebreaker they currently trail. Weird schedule quirk? The Ravens have had only one road game that required a long commute since September. That was the game at Dallas. They just played six of their last nine and four of their last five at home.

LAST 5

Ravens 21, Steelers 14
Ravens 28, Browns 7
At Cowboys 27, Ravens 17
Ravens 19, Bengals 14
Ravens 38, Dolphins 6

OFFENSIVE STATS TO CHEW ON

More than half of Joe Flacco’s 323 completions have gone to three players: tight end Dennis Pitta (61 catches), wide receiver Mike Wallace (57) and wide receiver Steve Smith (54). Those players are 31, 30 and 37 respectively so it’s a veteran group.
Flacco is 114 of 159 (72 percent) with nine touchdowns and three picks in Baltimore’s last four games. He has 15 TDs and 11 picks this season.

The Ravens don’t run it much: 502 pass attempts, 287 rushing attempts. Terrence West and Kenneth Dixon are the lead backs. West has carried more than 15 times in a game on three occasions this season.

Rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley has been playing very well as has the rest of the Ravens offensive line in recent weeks. Still, Baltimore is just at 34.1 on third down conversions.

DEFENSIVE STATS TO CHEW ON

The Ravens have allowed 207 points this season, tied with the Patriots for lowest in the AFC and just behind Seattle (194) overall.
Baltimore’s allowing just 33.3 percent conversions on third down and only 3.4 yards per carry.

Opposing quarterbacks are completing 64.1 percent of their passes and have 21 touchdown passes and 14 picks against the Ravens defense. Ten of the Ravens 14 picks came against the Browns, Jaguars and in last week’s rout of Miami.
 
WHERE ARE THEIR HEADS AT

"I just think they've got a great team. They've got Tom Brady. They've been the best team in the conference, and it's going to be our toughest challenge of the year." – John Harbaugh, Ravens coach, on Monday night’s matchup

Bovada: Brady third in MVP race behind Elliot, Carr

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Bovada: Brady third in MVP race behind Elliot, Carr

Tom Brady has racked up some impressive numbers over eight games, but are they enough to surpass Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott or Raiders quarterback Derek Carr in the MVP race?

The Patriots have gone 7-1 since Brady returned from his four-game suspension to start the year, and the league's all-time winningest quarterback has completed 68.9 percent of his passes in that stretch (third in the league) for 2,470 yards. He has 19 touchdowns, he's been picked once, and he is averaging 8.2 yards per attempt (third), giving him a 113.1 quarterback rating (first). 

According to Bovada, he's currently the third-best bet to win MVP at 15/2, down from 4/1 last week. Ahead of him? Both Elliott (12/5) and Carr (7/2). 

The Carr comparison is an interesting one for obvious reasons. Because they play the same position, it's easier to match up their stats. In 12 games, Carr has completed 65.5 percent of his passes (12th) for 3,375 yards (fourth), 24 touchdowns (seventh) and five interceptions. He's averaging 7.4 yards per attempt (15th), and  he has a rating of 100.3 (seventh).

While Carr has the statistical advantage of playing in four more games than Brady has, he's also led his team to a record of 10-2 and the No. 1 seed in the AFC at the moment. (The Raiders hold the strength-of-victory tiebreaker edge over the Patriots, who are also 10-2.)

Meanwhile, Elliott, the talented rookie out of Ohio State who has the benefit of running behind arguably the league's best offensive line, has racked up 263 carries for 1,285 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. He's also posted 28 catches for 322 yards and a score. He leads the league in total rush yards, he's second in the league in rushing touchdowns behind Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount, and he's fourth in yards per attempt (4.9).