Today is Wednesday, which means we are now down to three work days remaining until we get to watch our purple and black take the field for a meaningful football game for the first time since that awful day in Pittsburgh. Day 2 of our quick Ravens season preview sees the Ravens take on the other purple team in the league, a neck-bearded QB, and Bungle bookends.
Of course, all of these predictions are based on rosters, teams, etc., as they stand today. Injuries, suspensions, and whatever else could easily drastically change my feeling about any or all of the games. This is for fun more than anything else, so don’t go calling your bookie on my recommendations.
Week 5 – vs. Cincinnati
Count me in the group that thinks Cincy will be a bit less bungle-riffic in ’09. Their defense finished up strong in 2008, Carson Palmer is back (back again), and Ocho Cinco looks like he’s ready to return to his Pro Bowl form, assuming he can stop “tweeting” long enough to catch a pass or 80. I think they’ll win 1st Place – Ohio Division this season, and give a lot of teams all they can handle. A lot of lesser teams than the Ravens, that is.
Chance of victory: 75%
Week 6 – @ Minnesota
The Ravens travel up North for the Purple Bowl in their final game before their first bye week since 2007. Lots of similarities here – both teams rely heavily on their running game, have very strong defenses, and think they finally have the quarterback they need to get them over the hump. The difference, of course, is that the Vikings are on a much shorter time table with their grizzled old gunslinger Brett Favre than the Ravens are with 24-year old Joe Flacco. Also, it takes three Ravens to do the damage in the ground game that the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson is capable of. Assuming both teams are at full strength, I really think this one is a toss-up.
Chance of victory: 50%
Week 8 – vs. Denver
The Ravens get two weeks to prepare for the Denver Broncos, who are likely to be in shambles by late-October. After one of the most tumultuous offseasons by any team, ever – one that saw them lose their head coach and franchise QB, and suspend their stud WR – most Broncos fans are about as happy with their team’s ownership as we O’s fans are with our baseball team’s. The bugaboo for the Ravens defense has been the big game QBs – Manning, Brady, Roethlisberger. Kyle Orton (with Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter to hand off to)? Not so much. This one’s in the bag.
Chance of victory: 80%
Week 9 – @ Cincinnati
It bugs me a bit when the schedule-makers in the NFL have teams completely finish with one divisional opponent before playing another. Such is the case for the Ravens this year though, getting the Bengals twice before facing Pittsburgh. Like I said, Marvin’s Bunch will be competitive, but the Ravens simply outclass them in all aspects of the game. “The Jungle” won’t provide enough of a home field advantage to make much of a difference.
Chance of victory: 65%
Tomorrow: Weeks 10-13