Brush Dam, Buxton victorious in 592 football

first_imgBrush Dam and Buxton secured to hard-fought victories Sunday at the Buxton Community Centre ground in the inaugural ‘592 Beer Inter-Village Football Festival’. Brush Dam squeaked past Ann’s Grove 2-1. Stephen Dolphin and Allister Thomas scored in the 65th and 90th minute respectively. For the losers, Kevin Williams netted in the 55th minute.Similarly, Buxton needled Mahaica 1-0. Neil Hudson found the back of the net in the 86th minute. Following a cagey first half which failed to produce a goal, Ann’s Grove seized the lead through Williams. It was an unlikely conversion aided by a goalkeeping error, as a corner kick from the right side of the field, evaded everyone and settled into the left hand corner. The lead proved to be short lived as Brush Dam restored parity to proceedings in the form of Dolphin 10 minutes onward. It was a clinical strike from Dolphin who upon receiving a lobbed pass inside the right of the penalty area, rifled his effort into the bottom left corner.The awarding of a penalty for a clumsy challenge by the goalkeeper in the 79th minute, presented Ann’s Grove with ideal opportunity to take the lead. However the chance was spurned as a tame effort was denied by the Brush Dam custodian low to his right. Ann’s Grove was then made to pay for their aforesaid failure as Thomas secured the go-ahead winner in the dying moments, racing onto a through inside the right of the box and finishing past the advancing goalkeeper down the center of the net. Meanwhile a brilliant individual effort from Hudson sealed the result for the home side. The match which lacked noteworthy moments, was decided by the highlight of the evening and possibly the tournament.Spotting the goalkeeper standing in the center of the box, Hudson uncorked a powerful effort from 35 yards out in the center of the field, which sailed over the head of the back peddling custodian and settled into the back of the net.The event which resumes at the Golden Grove ground, features 12 teams battling in an initial group format. Group-A comprises Buxton, Plaisance and Mahaica, with group-B consisting of Friendship, Paradise and Victoria and group-C featuring Brush Dam, Melanie and Ann’s Grove.   Group-D comprises Annandale, Golden Grove and Beterverwagting [BV]. The winner of each group alongside the second place finisher will advance to the quarterfinal round. The grand finale is pegged for January 1st.The eventual champion of the event will pocket $300,000 and the championship trophy. On the other hand, the second, third and fourth place finisher will receive $150,000, $100,000 and $75,000 respectively and the corresponding trophy.Similarly, individual prizes will also be awarded for the Most Valuable Player [MVP] and the Best Goalkeeper. Some of the major sponsors of the tournament include Bakewell Guyana Incorporated, ExxonMobil, and the Colin Talbot Construction Services. Complete ResultsGame-1Brush Dam-2 vs Ann’s Grove-1Brush Dam Scorers Stephen Dolphin-65thAllister Thomas-90thAnn’s Grove Scorer Kevin Williams-55thGame-2Buxton-1 vs Mahaica-0 Neil Hudson-86thlast_img read more

GRFU could forfeit international matches

first_imgThe local 2020 rugby pre-season scrums off  Saturday at the National Park from 15:00hrs with a 15s match involving ‘North’ and ‘South’ players but concerns have been raised over the suitability of the National Park Playing Field for International competitions. According to a release from the Guyana Rugby Football Union (GRFU), pre-season action continues next Saturday at the same time and venue with a 10s match up. The match will see the President’s team tackling the Vice President’s side.From January 26, training for the respective U-19, women and senior teams will kick off ahead of matches against hosts, French Guiana. The dates are yet to be confirmed.Further, Guyana will commence its 2023 World XV International qualifier matches with a home game against arch rivals Trinidad and Tobago in late March or early April in the Southern Zone. This would be followed by an away game in late April or early May. The Northern Zone is set to commence in March. Winner of the Southern Zone will play the winner of the Northern Zone for the right to advance further. The USA, Canada and Mexico continue to be the juggernauts of North American Rugby.Meanwhile, international home games listed for Guyana may see GRFU having to forfeit same due to the lack of international size pitches an official of the Union disclosed. Works would have commenced by the National Sports Commission to upgrade the Rugby Field at the National Park to international standards but the inclement weather and lack of materials would have stalled that project which does not have a definitive completion date as yet.What is definitive however is the date of the GRFU’s Annual General Meeting and election of office bearers. That exercise will be held on January 31st at 17:00hrs at the headquarters of the Guyana Olympic Association at Liliendaal.last_img read more

Pollard urges attention to detail ahead of St Kitts doubleheader

first_imgST GEORGE’S, Grenada, CMC – Captain Kieron Pollard has urged his side to pay attention to the small details and improve their bowling discipline, as they seek to come from behind and win the three-match Twenty20 series against Ireland. Labelling those areas as the “one percenters,” Pollard said doing the small things properly was often the difference between winning and losing a cricket match, and said the Windies had been guilty of not paying attention to these details.West Indies slumped to a narrow four-run defeat to Ireland in Wednesday’s opening T20 International here, to leave themselves with the challenge of winning the next two matches in St Kitts at the weekend in order to avoid a third straight T20 series defeat.“The attitude of some of the guys in the field, that cost nothing. It’s just a matter of showing up for 120 balls and again, the discipline was out the window again with the wides and no-balls,” Pollard pointed out. “[There were problems with] backing up and mis-fielding and when we’re batting, not having that urgency running between the wickets.“We know we’re a good power-hitting team but again when the singles are there, when the twos are there, we need to run hard between the wickets and not just settle for one.“We saw that when Ireland was batting – they hit the ball to a fieldsman and they ran and that is something we didn’t do. At the end of the day, it’s all a learning experience. I was very, very disappointed we didn’t get over the line because we were in the chase for most of the way. He added: “But it was good to see the batsmen coming out with that sort of intent and that sort of intensity. We have a couple things to speak about [as a team] and now we move on to St Kitts.”West Indies were under pressure from early as Paul Stirling (95) and Kevin O’Brien (48) smashed a record 93 inside the first power-play, before going on to add 154 for the first wicket.Though West Indies eventually pulled the scoring back, they found themselves chasing 209 which proved insurmountable, as only opener Evin Lewis with 53 and Pollard with 31, managed to really get going. “Ireland came out and came hard and they took the initiative in the first 10 overs or so but I thought the bowlers really came back well when we decided to bowl one side of the wicket and tried to execute our skills,” Pollard said.“I thought Hayden Walsh in all the carnage that was taking place – he bowled four overs on the trot – was consistent with his line and length as well. So there are still some positives in the bowling aspect but we need to execute our skills properly.”He continued: “Batting wise, all the way through we were in with a chance but in the last overs we let it slip.”last_img read more

Lady Jags – success with underlying failures

first_imgThe campaign of the Lady Jaguars in the CONCACAF Women’s U20 football championships where they created history by becoming the first national U20 female team from Guyana to play in that 16-team tournament reflected somewhat the relative uncertainties and eventual successes which occur in the beautiful game. A quarterfinal appearance combined with a record of three wins and two losses in the preliminary rounds can be viewed as nothing but a successful campaign for the team.Leading up to the quarterfinal, victories were recorded against Nicaragua (3-1), Puerto Rico (2-1) and the Cayman Islands (2-0).Their defeats, which were predicted by analysts and objective thinkers alike, occurred against defending champions Mexico and regional giants Haiti whose men’s team in in 1974, became the second Caribbean nation to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Finals following Cuba in 1938. The anticipated conclusion at the hands of the Haitians came via a 3-0 score line, the identical score of the Mexico defeat in the earlier group round.The aforementioned victories must be put into context as the Lady Jaguars were among eight teams making their respective debuts at this juncture of the CONCACAF U20 competitions.The other Caribbean representatives were Barbados, Bermuda, Grenada, Puerto Rico, St Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia. El Salvador was the final debutante and is a member of UNCAF, a sub-confederation of CONCACAF. Previously, Nicaragua featured in the championship rounds of the 2002, 2008 and 2018 competitions. They also participated in the 2012, 2014 and 2015 qualifying rounds. Cayman Islands made their first appearance in the 2014 championship, but as the host nation.The Puerto Ricans featured in the 2012, 2015 and 2018 qualifying tournaments. Likewise, Guyana also featured in the 2012 qualifying tournament, making it all the way to the second round. Further analysis indicates that Guyana entered each fixture and owing to their status as a debutante and following years of inactivity, were the lowest ranked side at 23rd.The rankings of their opponents are as follows: Mexico – 2nd, Haiti – 4th, Nicaragua – 12th, Puerto Rico – 15th and Cayman Islands – 16th. Simply put, Guyana’s respective adversaries were more experienced and, as such, the positive results must be heralded and championed. Well done ladies! Head-coach Dr. Ivan Joseph during post-match comments had remarked, “Haiti was physical, they were fast, they were technical, they were tactically sound, they were well-organised, they were well disciplined; we were overmatched. Having said that, I am proud of the way the girls played; they fought with heart, they hustled to the end. They were committed, they worked hard, I’m proud of the effort and how they portrayed themselves in this tournament.”According to the head-coach, the quality displayed by the Haitians was realised following investment from their government, the Haitian Football Federation, and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).He explained, “You see what the investment of the government, the federation and FIFA can do. They have their own academy; their own school system, they’re training 11½ months a year, they are training five hours a day, they’ve got a full-time staff of three and for us to even be able to be on the same field with them is testament to how well this team has played.” Dr. Joseph’s comments are in essence correct. Investment is required if development is to occur in the women’s game. Interestingly, the question that arises is, which entity or individual, team or otherwise, should be afforded the praise for this monumental accomplishment? The management, staff and the players?  Why certainly. The GFF, probably not.The Lady Jaguars programme junior or otherwise, has been immune from the criticisms faced by their male counterparts, the Golden Jaguars. Although both programmes have witnessed the proliferation of foreign-born players within their rosters, the Lady Jaguars have escaped criticism due to the absence of local female football and overall lack of development of the women’s game. Admittedly, the Lady Jaguars setup has featured more foreign-born players than the Golden Jaguars programme.Conversely, their successes are not as acclaimed in comparison to the men’s programme. The evidence is the Lady Jaguars 2010 Gold Cup qualification, an achievement which occurred nine years before the Golden Jaguars accomplished the identical feat, yet they were not afforded the equivalent level of pageantry in celebrating the achievement.Andrea Johnson, President of the National Association for Women’s Football (NAWF), the local body which governs the women’s game, was a member of the travelling U20 contingent and would have experienced the euphoria surrounding the successful campaign. However, reality sets in, as the core of the current team, 85 per cent to be exact, are products of the ‘Maple Leaf’ (Canada) and not Guyana, and this has become an inconvenient truth. The team featured 17 foreign-born or based players, all of whom train and play in Canada with colleges, clubs and academies. A far cry from the three locally-based players who were a part of the team.Analysis of the minutes accrued for the local contingent indicates the expected and correct dependency on the foreign-based players.  Of the 450 regulation minutes which formed the team’s campaign, the local players featured in 192 or 42%. Local player, Tiandi Smith accounted for 101 minutes or 52% of the local contingent playing time. She featured against Nicaragua – 25 minutes, Mexico – 45 minutes, Cayman Islands – 14 minutes and Haiti – 17 minutes.The other two, Shamya Daniels and Horicia Adams, accumulated 53 and 38 minutes respectively. Daniels made appearances against Puerto Rico – 7 minutes, Mexico – 45 minutes and Cayman Islands – 1 minute, while Adams played against Mexico – 30 minutes and Cayman Islands – 8 minutes. This missive is not a criticism of the team especially its foreign contingent. It is also not a marketing piece dismissing the inferiority of the locals. Frankly, the local players cannot compete with their foreign counterparts due to the dearth of quality training, infrastructure and playing minutes via regular competitions, elements that do not affect the foreign players in their advantageous first-world ecosystem.The success of this team has less to do with the GFF and more to do with the ability of the management team and overall quality of its foreign cadre. The players and the coaching staff deserve all the praise and accolades for their accomplishment.The million-dollar question is how will the local women’s game benefit from this historic accomplishment? Haiti is the ideal example of a CARICOM nation that has created a sustainable blueprint for local development, especially in the women’s game. The Haitians, whose squad comprised of more than 70 per cent locally based players, were developed at Camp Nou, the country’s national football academy which was commissioned in 2012. They are also in the process of creating several regional academies to support in the development of the sport.This against the backdrop of being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita of $870 and a Human Development Index ranking of 168 out of 189 countries in 2018. According to United Nations Development Programme, 24.7 per cent of the locals live in extreme poverty, which is less than US$1.25 per day. Even more, approximately 59 per cent of Haitians live on less than US$2 a day.The GFF receives annual funding from FIFA towards the development of women’s football. However, the populace remains unaware of the amount received or the avenues the received funds are expended on. The federation has often remained mum on this issue and often, are unable to provide detailed information on this subject. It is time that the GFF and the Government of Guyana, take a similar approach to that of Haiti and create a blueprint for local development.last_img read more

Australia skipper Finch fears for mental health of players in ‘bio-bubbles’

first_imgMELBOURNE, (Reuters) – The mental health of cricketers confined to biosecure bubbles during COVID-19 will be tested over the next two years, and Australia’s staff are working hard to prepare players for the challenges, limited overs captain Aaron Finch said yesterday. Finch will lead a 21-man squad to England for a T20 international series starting Sept. 4 in Southampton, followed by a one-day series at another bio-secure venue in Manchester.Some of Finch’s squad are also expected to travel to United Arab Emirates for the Indian Premier League before returning to Australia to prepare for India’s tour during the home summer.To mitigate the risk of infections, players’ movements will be heavily restricted during competition, which could take a toll on their mental wellbeing, said Finch. “I definitely feel it’s going to be a real issue and a real factor over the next couple of years, in particular,” Finch told reporters in a video call.“It’s going to be something to monitor heavily. Because it could be a few months that guys are in these bio-bubbles and being stuck in a hotel room by yourself for a couple of weeks on end – or four-five months … that could be really tough.”Melbourne-based Finch, along with about five million other people in Australia’s second city, has been locked down for all but a few weeks since March as authorities battle to control COVID-19 outbreaks. Finch said the Australian team’s sports psychologist Michael Lloyd had tailored plans for players and was talking to each about recognising “when things might be a little bit off”.The 33-year-old opener added that players were on notice about adhering to biosecurity protocols, a month after England paceman Jofra Archer was sanctioned for a breach during the test series against West Indies.“We’ve been really strong with the guys in the last couple of weeks …. Because at the end of the day, if that falls over then we’re all out of jobs.”last_img read more

Sporting Index predicts 52 points for the Toffees next year

first_img Campaigners call on Boris to ban gambling sponsorship in football February 26, 2020 StumbleUpon Frankie Dettori rides with Sporting Index  May 29, 2020 Scottish FA sponsorship deal with William Hill to end February 21, 2020 Share Related Articles Share Submit Everton will finish the 2016/17 Premier League season on 52 points, according to spread betting company Sporting Index. Having parted ways with manager Roberto Martinez as of yesterday, traders at Sporting Index expect the Toffees will improve upon this season’s points haul – regardless of who the next manager is.The 52 points predicted would have seen Everton finish in the top half of the table in the previous three Premier League seasons. Following a downward spiral the club are currently on 44 points and face already relegated Norwich at the weekend meaning the very best they can manage this season is 47 points and 11th place.Ed Fulton, Sporting Index Trading Spokesman, said: “With so many of the usual suspects faltering this season, Everton should have been in with a shout of the European places, but it just hasn’t happened.”“Next year’s Premier League will be challenging for whoever is appointed manager at Goodison Park, and looks set to feature new managers for both Chelsea and Manchester City, and we may yet see the return of Jose Mourinho to these shores.“With Liverpool one win away from winning a European cup and a young Tottenham team building for the future on solid foundations, it could be one of the most competitive league campaigns in a long time.“Many Everton supporters will be looking at Leicester City and wondering if they can emulate the Foxes next season – but we think 52 points is the best our traders think Everton fans can hope for.”(Image Credit)last_img read more

RGA appoints KPMG to support self-exclusion scheme

first_img Share Share The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) has announced that it has retained the services of KPMG to undertake a scoping study which will shape the development of the National Online Self-Exclusion Scheme (NOSES), and to advise the RGA during its implementation process.The aim of NOSES, which should be in place by the end of 2017, is to provide consumers with a single process whereby they can self-exclude themselves from all the online gambling operators licensed by the Gambling Commission.It was confirmed by the commission in February that the industry should take the project forward to design. The website will also set out other measures that are available to help people manage their gambling, and signpost specialist advice and support services for those who might need them.Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive of the RGA, commented: “Self-exclusion can be a vitally important tool, especially for problem gamblers or those who are at risk of developing problems. Self-exclusions have long been offered on a company basis, but in terms of consumer protection it will be a huge step forward to have a single national scheme of the type envisaged by government and the Gambling Commission.“Establishing a cross industry system of this kind raises a host of complex legal, technical, and governance issues. We are therefore delighted to have retained KPMG to help us successfully navigate our way through all of these details with a view to having everything in place before the end of 2017.”Paul Hope, Programme Director for the Gambling Commission, said: “We are very pleased that the RGA is developing the scheme on behalf of the online sector. The Commission will work with the RGA to achieve our shared objective of a scheme that is focused on what works best for people that would benefit from using it.”Micky Swindale, Director of KPMG Gibraltar, added: “KPMG are delighted to be working with the RGA on an important opportunity for the industry to work together to put in place a customer-focused, user-friendly system.” Related Articles RAiG members back radical overhaul of UK gambling’s affiliate landscape June 30, 2020 Senet Australia appoints Paul Newsom as new client advisory lead  August 27, 2020 UKGC hails ‘delivered efficiencies’ of its revamped licence maintenance service  August 20, 2020 StumbleUpon Submitlast_img read more

Suggs questionable; Ellerbe, Dickson ruled out against Redskins

first_imgOWINGS MILLS, Md. — After returning to the practice field on Thursday, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was listed as questionable on the team’s final injury report going into Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins.The 30-year-old linebacker worked on a limited basis two days this week after acknowledging a need to test out his torn right biceps. Suggs described himself as a game-time decision earlier this week.Coach John Harbaugh was pleased with the progress of the 2011 Defensive of the Year in returning to the practice field and once again deferred to Suggs in determining whether he will play at FedEx Field.“[His arm] held up real well,” Harbaugh said. “He practiced for two days partially. As far as if you are asking what he is going to do, I really don’t know yet. We’ll just have to see where it goes on Sunday.”Suggs used the practices to test his range of motion as well as his ability to complete simple football moves such as wrapping with his arms to make a tackle and engaging with blockers at the line of scrimmage in his role a pass rusher.Teammates were encouraged by the five-time Pro Bowl selection’s work by the end of the week.“He’s just getting it back,” linebacker Paul Kruger said. “Practice at this point in the season is always going to be a little slower and more low-key for everybody. I think he’ll be back in no time.”The news wasn’t nearly as good for tight end Ed Dickson and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe as both players were ruled out and will miss their second straight game after suffering injuries in the Ravens’ win over San Diego two weeks ago. Neither have practiced at all over the last two weeks. “They’re working hard to get back,” said Harbaugh before the two were officially declared out. “We probably thought that they would maybe be back last week, and it didn’t work out. We’ll just have to see for this week.”Cornerback Jimmy Smith practiced on a limited basis on Friday as he did all week but was listed as doubtful. The second-year defensive back was not expected to play this week in his first workouts since undergoing sports hernia surgery.The 2011 first-round pick had the surgical procedure on Nov. 15.“He’s out there practicing [and] did a nice job,” Harbaugh said. “[He] moved around pretty well, broke up some scar tissue and things like that. That’s really important.”Though not listed on the injury report because he’s ineligible to return to game action until next week, linebacker Ray Lewis practiced again on Friday as it’s appearing far more likely that he’ll come off injured reserve next week against the Denver Broncos.Originally feared to be lost for the season with a torn triceps muscle in his right arm suffered on Oct. 14, Lewis would be returning to action a little over eight weeks following surgery for an injury estimated to have a recovery time of four months or more. His return to the practice field this week provided a boost to a Ravens team trying to bounce back from a disappointing and rare home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday.“He moved around really well,” Harbaugh said. “You know Ray is going to stay in great shape. It’s not that long since he’s played, so he moved around really well. It was fun to have him out there. I know I was uplifted by it.”The Redskins have listed linebacker London Fletcher, cornerback DeAngelo Hall, and offensive tackle Trent Williams as questionable for Sunday’s game.BALTIMOREOUT: TE Ed Dickson (knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle)DOUBTFUL: CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen)QUESTIONABLE: CB Asa Jackson (shoulder), CB Chris Johnson (thigh), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps)PROBABLE: CB Chykie Brown (ankle), LB Josh Bynes (thigh), S James Ihedigbo (calf), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), S Bernard Pollard (chest), S Ed Reed (shoulder)WASHINGTONQUESTIONABLE: LB London Fletcher (ankle), CB DeAngelo Hall (ankle/knee), T Trent Williams (thigh)PROBABLE: WR Pierre Garcon (foot), P Sav Rocca (right knee), CB Josh Wilson (shoulder)last_img read more

Chen to make long-awaited return on Wednesday

first_img(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)BALTIMORE — After nearly a two-month absence, left-handed pitcher Wei-Yin Chen is scheduled to make his much-awaited return to the Orioles on Wednesday.Prior to the start of this week’s four-game series with the Texas Rangers, manager Buck Showalter confirmed that the Taiwanese southpaw will make his first start since May 12 after a pair of minor-league rehab starts with Double-A Bowie. Chen threw seven shutout innings against Harrisburgh on July 4, meaning he could have returned on normal rest for Tuesday’s game.Instead, Showalter has elected to give lefty Zach Britton the start on Tuesday, essentially meaning the Orioles will use a six-man rotation until the All-Star break.“Trying to give everybody a little extra rest,” Showalter said. “We can make some adjustments depending on what we do with our bullpen. We don’t want guys to get too far away but not get the benefit. Because of the four days, it allows us to do whatever we want to do post-break. Everybody will have had enough rest to put them in the mix.”The Orioles could elect to option Britton to Triple-A Norfolk following his Tuesday start to make room for Chen on the 25-man roster. Such a move would allow Britton to stay on regular rest over the All-Star break as the Orioles did with Chris Tillman last season. However, last week’s trade for Scott Feldman and Chen’s return likely mean Britton will be the odd man out when it comes to the current rotation.Rookie right-hander Kevin Gausman may be another candidate for such a minor-league stint over the break as he’s currently pitching out of the bullpen. The 2012 first-round pick has essentially taken over the spot previously occupied by Pedro Strop, but you have to wonder whether the 22-year-old pitching infrequently in long relief is the best way to develop his skills.For now, Showalter is taking advantage of the opportunity to give his starters an extra day of rest with the second half and the dog days of summer looming.“That’s not going to be there shortly,” Showalter said. “Obviously, we’re not going to be able to carry six starters in the second half — if that’s what we’re calling the post-All-Star break. We can talk about for an hour the different factors that figured into it, but when it was all said and done, we thought it was pretty clear-cut.”In other pitching-related news, the Orioles received a favorable report on Steve Johnson on Monday. The right-hander threw 35 pitches from a mound in Sarasota and appears to be inching closer to a rehab assignment.Johnson would become another option for the bullpen when he’s able to return after the All-Star break.Top infield prospect Jonathan Schoop is scheduled to begin his minor-league rehab assignment with short-season Single-A Aberdeen on Thursday. The 21-year-old hasn’t played since May 12 while recovering from a stress fracture in his lower back.With the highlight of third baseman Manny Machado’s latest defensive gem on Sunday making the rounds via social media, Showalter was asked to recall his favorite defensive play of the many the 21-year-old has provided in less than a full season in the big leagues.Showalter did describe one play that Machado made in spring training two years ago when he was still at shortstop but provided the ultimate quote that will excite Orioles fans while also tipping his cap to Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson and his superb defensive work in the 1970 World Series.“I hope it’s yet to come,” said Showalter of Machado’s finest fielding moment. “I hope it’s that one where he catches the last out in the World Series. That’s the one I’m looking for. Kind of like another third baseman that was real good over there.”last_img read more

Ravens-Browns: Five predictions for Sunday

first_imgSunday’s scenario for the Ravens appeared highly unlikely eight weeks ago.A three-game losing streak and a hip injury to Joe Flacco made 4-5 Baltimore look like a team going nowhere fast, but a revamped run-heavy offense led by rookie Lamar Jackson and the top-ranked defense in the NFL have sparked the Ravens to five wins in their last six games. That surge and Pittsburgh’s late-season slide have put John Harbaugh’s team in position to win its first AFC North championship since 2012 with a victory over Cleveland on Sunday.However, the Browns have also been resurrected by the strong play of their first-year quarterback. The Ravens got a glimpse of what Baker Mayfield could do in Cleveland’s 12-9 overtime win in Week 5, but the top overall pick from Oklahoma has only gotten better since Hue Jackson’s dismissal, throwing 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions with a 115.2 passer rating over the last six games — five of them wins for the Browns.It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens and Browns meet for the 40th time in the regular season with Baltimore holding a colossal 29-10 advantage and an 18-3 mark in the John Harbaugh era. Cleveland is seeking its first season sweep since 2007, which was also the last time the Browns finished a campaign with a winning record.Below are five predictions for Sunday:1. Terrell Suggs will record his 20th career sack against Cleveland. Most attention has been on Flacco’s expected departure and Harbaugh’s uncertain future, but Sunday could be Suggs’ final regular-season game with the Ravens, especially if Eric DeCosta chooses to make more drastic roster changes that wouldn’t include re-signing the 36-year-old. No team has surrendered more sacks to the seven-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker in his career, and left tackle Greg Robinson has the lowest Pro Football Focus grade along a Browns offensive line that’s surrendered only three sacks over the last six games. 2. Breshad Perriman will catch a touchdown pass against his former team. No, I’m not forecasting the doomsday scenario of a last-second Mayfield-to-Perriman touchdown to knock the Ravens out of the playoffs — I’m not that rotten — but the former first-round bust has found a place as a solid contributor in Cleveland, catching 13 passes for 295 yards and a touchdown in 199 snaps. Injuries and poor hands predictably made him an unpopular figure in Baltimore, but it had become apparent after his lost 2017 season that Perriman needed a fresh start if he was going to get his career on track. 3. The rookie quarterbacks will combine for four turnovers in their first meeting. This game’s short-term consequences overshadow the big-picture possibility of this being the first of many meetings between two former Heisman Trophy winners playing in the same division, which is fun to ponder as a football fan. That said, the Browns defense ranks second in the NFL in takeaways while the Ravens have forced five turnovers over the last three weeks after lacking in that department all year. Mayfield and Jackson will both make impressive plays, but each will show their inexperience as well. 4. Gus Edwards will rush for 100 yards and a touchdown to protect a second-half lead. At first glance, Cleveland ranking 24th in rush defense bodes well for the Ravens, but the Browns have held their last three opponents — who all rank in the top 12 in yards per carry — to a combined 3.3 yards per attempt. Kansas City and the Los Angeles Chargers quietly contained the Baltimore rushing attack in the second half, but I expect Browns coach and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to sell out to contain the edges against the speedy Jackson, which will open more inside running lanes for Edwards. 5. The defense will lead the Ravens back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014 in a 23-16 win. Since Week 11, Baltimore ranks second in the NFL in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric while the Browns are fourth, which speaks to how formidable both teams have become down the stretch. In a game I expect to be close throughout, I’ll take the team that has the best overall unit on either side of the ball, and that’s the Ravens defense. Wink Martindale has this defense playing at an elite level even when the Baltimore offense has bogged down as it did in the second half of the Chargers game. The Ravens need to be ready to play against an improving team with a quarterback already moving toward folk-hero status in Cleveland. The Browns would love nothing more than to knock the original Browns out of the playoffs for the fourth straight year, but the Ravens’ narrative change that began last week against the Chargers will continue in Week 17, leading to a happy New Year in Baltimore after a few nervous moments.last_img read more