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Report: Terrell Suggs out for the season after tearing his Achilles’ tendon

Baltimore Ravens Terrell Suggs watches as his team plays the Indianapolis Colts in Baltimore, Maryland on December 11, 2011. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Perhaps the Ravens didn’t select Alabama defender Courtney Upshaw just because he was a value in the second round.

As it turns out, they’re going to need him to be a major contributor this season.

According to 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore, Terrell Suggs is out of the 2012 season with a torn Achilles’ tendon. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has already confirmed the news (so you know it’s true) and reported that Suggs injured himself playing basketball. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year will apparently have surgery sometime next week.

This is a massive blow for a team that has had Super Bowl aspirations the last couple of seasons. Suggs is coming off his best season as a pro while recording career highs in both sacks (14) and forced fumbles (7). He was part of a Baltimore defense that finished third in both yards (4,622) and points allowed (16.6).

Heading into the draft it didn’t appear as though linebacker was that big of a need for the Ravens, even after Jarrett Johnson signed a four-year deal with the Chargers in free agency. But with Suggs on the shelf, the Ravens were fortunate that a first-round talent like Upshaw fell to them in the second round. (Although GM Ozzie Newsome clearly wasn’t desperate to add marquee defensive help since he traded out of the first round entirely. Still, he was fortunate that Upshaw slid out of the first round.)

The Ravens will now rely on Upshaw, Paul Kruger and Pernell McPhee to pressure the quarterback next season. 2011 second round pick Sergio Kindle was reportedly on the roster bubble (or would be heading into training camp), but his job appears to be safe for now. The Ravens are going to need bodies after the injury to Suggs.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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2012 NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round Preview

Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers is chased out of the pocket by New York Giants Jason Pierre-Paul in the first quarter in week 13 of the NFL season at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on December 4, 2011. The Packers defeated the Giants 38-35 and remain undefeated for the season at 12-0. UPI /John Angelillo

Saints @ 49ers, Saturday, 4:30PM ET
It’s no secret that the Saints have been a different team on the road this year than at home. As I pointed out in this week’s edition of “Five Questions…,” they’ve outscored opponents 329 to 143 at home this season and only 218 to 196 on the road. Sean Payton has seemingly been more conservative with his play calling as Drew Brees has thrown less touchdowns (29 to 17), more interceptions (6 to 8), has a lower average per pass attempt (8.75 to 7.99), and has been sacked more (8 to 16) on the road than at home. Gregg Williams’ defense doesn’t play with the same confidence that it does inside the Superdome either. It’s not that the Saints are a bad road team (they were 5-3 during the regular season), but they’re not the juggernaut they are at home. On the other side, there’s not much that San Francisco doesn’t do well defensively. They’re outstanding against the run, they get after the quarterback, and they’re solid in pass coverage. They also have a great special teams unit so if the Saints are sloppy on Saturday, they will fall. The question is whether or not the Niners will generate enough offense if the Saints start firing on all cylinders. San Fran doesn’t pass protect very well and if it can’t open up running lanes for Frank Gore, that’s when Alex Smith starts to get turnover-happy. It’ll be interesting to see how this matchup unfolds come Saturday.

Broncos @ Patriots, Saturday, 8:00PM ET
Tim Tebow better strap in tight because he’s not likely to see as much one-on-one coverage as Dick LeBeau showed him last week. Bill Belichick will likely keep a safety over top of Demaryius Thomas at all times and force Tebow to go through all of his reads. If he doesn’t and he starts chucking the ball up thinking he can beat New England deep like he did Pittsburgh, he could be in for a long night. On the other side, it’ll be interesting to see if Denver’s stout defense can rattle Tom Brady. One of the biggest reasons the Patriots lost in their first postseason game the last two years is because Baltimore and New York harassed Brady to know end. But New England’s pass protection has been better this season than it was last year, so if the Broncos can’t generate pressure then Brady could eat them alive. It would behoove Denver to jump out to an early lead like Miami and Buffalo did on New England the past two weeks. But with Tebow running the show, that could prove to be difficult.

Texans @ Ravens, Sunday, 1:00PM ET
This game is all about Houston’s defense. If Wade Phillips’ unit can’t slow down Ray Rice, force turnovers and create good field position for the offense, then the Texans’ season will end in Baltimore this Sunday. The Ravens’ run defense is the best in the league and they were stout in pass coverage as well. The combination of Arian Foster and T.J. Yates isn’t going to get the best of Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis. The best Yates can do is not turn the ball over and take what Baltimore gives him. Otherwise, if he’s forced to make plays then the Texans are in trouble. The Ravens were unbeatable at home this season and there are mismatches that they can take advantage of this weekend. As long as they don’t get caught looking ahead, it’s hard to envision the Ravens falling on Sunday.

Giants @ Packers, Sunday, 4:30PM ET
If the Giants play with the same confidence, swagger and determination this week at Lambeau as they did last Sunday versus the Falcons, then they have a shot. In fact, they already have a shot. The Giants have always been a dangerous underdog and when they think everyone is against them, they raise the level of their play ten-fold. It’s no coincidence that the Giants have played their best football over the past three weeks. They’re healthy and the strength of their defense (i.e. their defensive line) is now fully intact. As I’ve written so many times before, the way to beat an elite quarterback like Aaron Rodgers is to pressure him with your front four. If Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Rocky Benard and Justin Tuck play with the same relentless attitude this week as they did the past three, the Giants will have a shot to pull off the upset. Because their offense is certainly capable of matching Green Bay score-for-score thanks to that receiving corps and the Packers’ suspect defense. That said, Green Bay will not hand the game over on a silver platter like Atlanta did last Sunday. The Falcons played not to lose. They were timid – scared even. Rodgers plays with reckless abandon and he’s not going to be afraid to take shots downfield against New York’s vulnerable secondary unlike Matt Ryan, who never once tried to throw deep. Atlanta never adjusted its opening game plan either. You can expect Mike McCarthy to change things up if the Giants are getting the better of the Packers early on. This is going to be a great matchup and a wild ride.

Eight key players to watch in the NFL Divisional Round

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It’s the playoffs, where team matters more than individual players. But there are several key players that hold their team’s hopes in their hands this weekend and we’ve listed eight of them (one for each team) below.

In no particular order…

1. Terrell Suggs, Ravens
The Ravens have been waiting for this guy to return to form and he finally has. Suggs looks hungry, motivated and determined to get the Ravens to a Super Bowl. If Baltimore’s front seven is able to take away Rashard Mendenhall and force the Steelers to be one-dimensional this Saturday, then Suggs needs to get after Ben Roethlisberger. Mike Wallace is a true homerun threat and can score from anywhere on the field, so Suggs and Co. can’t give Big Ben time to throw. Getting pressure on the quarterback is always vital in football, especially in the postseason where one or two plays can decide the outcome of a game.

2. Troy Polamalu, Steelers
I realize this is an obvious one but I don’t care: Polamalu is the key to whether or not the Steelers will be playing in the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks. He’s vital to their defense because when he’s not on the field, it’s a completely different unit. When the Steelers and Ravens met in Pittsburgh late in the season, it was his forced fumble of Joe Flacco that set up Pittsburgh’s offense to score the eventual game-winning touchdown. He’s a playmaker in every sense of the word but he’s also been battling an Achilles/ankle injury so he’s not 100 percent. If he’s able to fly around the field and create havoc like he normally does, then Baltimore will have a tough time moving the ball this weekend.

3. James Starks (Packers)
The football world is now enamored with this young man – and for good reason. The past two games, Starks has given Green Bay something it’s been searching for all year: balance. The Packers have already proven that they can win when Aaron Rodgers has to throw the ball but it’s much tougher on a defense when they can’t sit back in coverage on most downs. In the first meeting between the Packers and Falcons, Atlanta didn’t have to respect the run. But after Starks rushed for 123 yards on 23 carries last weekend against the Eagles, the Falcons may not have the luxury of dropping extra defenders into coverage.

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Terrell Suggs chats with The Scores Report

BALTIMORE - SEPTEMBER 27:  Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens takes the field against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on September 27, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Browns 34-3. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

Following defensive coordinator Rex Ryan’s departure from Baltimore after the 2008 season, pundits started to question whether or not the Ravens could still be a dominant defensive unit without him. But after finishing 2009 with a winning record, making the playoffs and absolutely obliterating the Patriots in the Wild Card Round, it’s clear that as long as the Ravens have players like Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis, Baltimore’s defense will be just fine.

Suggs was kind enough to chat with us recently about what the key to the Ravens’ success was last season, what it’s like to play alongside Ray Lewis and what ultimately made him decide to stay in Baltimore when he signed a new deal last offseason. Since he knows a thing or two about the topic, Terrell also broke down what makes a great pass rusher and whether or not he’d like to see the Ravens acquire Julius Peppers and/or Brandon Marshall this offseason.

The Scores Report: Hi, this is Anthony.

Terrell Suggs: How you doing, this is Terrell Suggs.

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NFL Playoff Preview: Sunday games

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
1:00 pm ET
TV—CBS

Last season, the Ravens began their playoff journey as a wild card by upsetting the AFC East champion Dolphins, and then upsetting the top seeded Tennessee Titans, before losing to the eventual champion Steelers in the AFC championship game. This season the Ravens went 10-6 and eked into the playoffs in Week 17, but their losses have mostly been close games, including a 27-21 defeat in New England in Week 4. The Ravens’ fifth ranked rushing attack is led by RB Ray Rice, and they will once again use their stout defense (ranked third overall) to try and stop Tom Brady, Randy Moss and company. The Patriots will try to run the ball to control the clock and keep it away from Rice, and also try to use said running game to allow Brady and his receivers to stretch the field. Of course, everyone knows that Wes Welker is out for the season after jamming his knee into the Reliant Stadium turf last Sunday. But did anyone expect rookie WR (and 7th round draft pick) Julian Edelman to catch 10 passes for 103 yards and run up and down the field looking like a Welker clone doing it? Not really. Still, Brady didn’t have guys named Lewis, Suggs and Reed lining up on the other side last week, and those guys in purple jerseys could force him into making a few mistakes. The bottom line, however, is that the Patriots are 8-0 at home this season, and a Bill Belichick coached team is a tough out in the playoffs.
THE PICK: PATRIOTS 26, RAVENS 17

Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals
4:40 pm ET
TV—FOX

Amazingly, this game is the third contest of the weekend that is a rematch of a Week 17 game, and like the Philly/Dallas game, this one is also in the same building, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona. Will it be the same outcome though? Last week, the Packers played all of their starters in annihilating the defending NFC champs 33-7, but Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt did not use star QB Kurt Warner after the first quarter. Still, how much of that crap about tipping your hand before playing an opponent again do you believe? This is the NFL, and the team that executes their game plan usually wins. Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy believed that letting Aaron Rodgers and his receivers stretch the field against the Cardinals’ 23rd ranked pass defense, as well as mixing in a heavy dose of Ryan Grant and Ahman Green to run the ball and keep it away from Warner and Matt Leinart was an effective strategy. Of course, McCarthy’s Packers boast the #1 rushing defense in the NFL and the #5 passing defense, so they feel like they can stop whoever is trying to move the ball against them anyway, especially if star CB Charles Woodson suits up after aggravating a shoulder injury last week. Remember, though, that the Cardinals are recently playoff tested, and came within a brilliant Santonio Holmes touchdown catch from winning it all less than a year ago.
THE PICK: PACKERS 33, CARDINALS 30

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