Hey, Jamison!

November 28, 2008|By JAMISON HENSLEY

Each week, Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley will answer questions about the Ravens. To submit a question, e-mail sports@baltsun.com. Give your name and phone number so we can verify the e-mail.

: HEY, JAMISON: : If the Ravens and the Steelers end up in a tie atop the division, and the Ravens beat the Steelers when they come to Baltimore, assuming both teams end up 5-1 in the division, who will go into the playoffs as division champ?

Patrick Alford, Baltimore

HEY, PATRICK: : You're right that the first tiebreaker to settle a division champion is head-to-head. If the teams split, it goes to record within the division. Assuming the Ravens and the Steelers both end 5-1 within the AFC North, the next tiebreaker is record among common opponents.

At this point, the Pittsburgh Steelers have the edge because they have a 7-3 record among common opponents. The remaining common opponents are: home against Dallas, at Tennessee and home against Cleveland. The Ravens have a 5-4 record among common opponents. Their common opponents remaining are: at Cincinnati, home against Washington, at Dallas and home against Jacksonville.

HEY, JAMISON: : I'm new to football. When there's a kickoff, the kicker pushes in the tip ends of the football. [On Sunday] Steve Hauschka pushed in the ends, set the ball on the tee, got the team set and the ball rolled off. (Was that wind?) Anyway, why do the kickers push in the ends of the ball? Also, in past games we've been called for an illegal formation on offense. What makes a formation illegal on offense? There seem to be so many defensive formations and nothing is illegal.

Dorothy Baker, Baltimore

HEY, DOROTHY: : Kickers are always pushing in the ball to see if it is inflated enough. Just think of how many times you see basketball officials constantly pressing the ball to make sure it's not flat. When the ball falls off the tee, it's usually because of the wind. If the ball falls off a couple of times, teams will take a player on their kickoff coverage team to hold the ball.

Offenses will be penalized 5 yards when they have fewer than seven players line up on the line of scrimmage. A lot of times, teams get called for this penalty when a wide receiver or tight end is a step off the line. Defenses are not obligated to have a certain number of players on the line.

HEY, JAMISON: : Although I would love to see Ray [Lewis], Bart [Scott] and T-Sizzle [Terrell Suggs] all back in uniform next year, I doubt it will happen. I also feel there is a chance we may dump Chris McAlister and his huge cap figure next year, too, since Fabian [Washington] is playing well. I see these as all necessary evils because we need to divert some cap space usually devoted to the defense to our offense to support [Joe] Flacco. What do you see the Ravens doing in terms of wide receiver this offseason? We need to get Flacco a young receiver so they can grow together similar to [Peyton] Manning/[Marvin] Harrison. Roy Williams should be a free agent after this year. Do you see them making a bid for him with their freed up cap space?

Shawn Cousins, Felton, Pa.

HEY, SHAWN: : Receiver has to be the priority for this team. I am even more impressed by how Flacco has developed with the lack of weapons around him. Only Derrick Mason consistently gets open for him. But Williams isn't an option anymore. After he was traded to the Cowboys, he signed an extension through 2013. The top wide receiver in this free-agent class is the Bengals' T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but others could be available after teams make salary cap cuts.

The Ravens have tried for years to get a big-name receiver. But they have fallen short in trades for Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. It has been difficult to persuade free-agent receivers to come to the Ravens because of the uncertainty at quarterback. Now that Flacco has shown potential, it could be easier to attract top-notch targets here.

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