August 9th is right around the corner, which is the first preseason game for the Ravens in Atlanta. August 17th, the Raven Nation will be coming down to see the Purple & Black battle Detroit in their first of two home preseason games. And before you know it, the Purple Patio at Mother’s will be popping off on Monday, September 10th, as the Ravens host the Cincinnati Bengals at 7PM.
I am going to go through all of the Baltimore Ravens regular season games and provide a prediction and summary of how we feel the game will play out. Injuries are sure to occur throughout the season, so I tried to take some trends into consideration when making these predictions. For example, It is a pretty safe bet based on his career that Matt Schaub is not likely to play a full 16 game schedule, based on his history.
Anyway, here we go…
Week One: vs Bengals Mon, Sep 10th 7PM
2012 is a new season. The team needs to move on from the heartbreak of 2011 just like Kris Humphries needs to move on from Kim Kardashian and stop bashing her to TMZ. Ray Lewis is still the heart and soul of this team and he will make sure that they set the tone for the year starting in Week One. Cincinnati is an organization that is finally making the right decisions to rid personalities that are detrimental to their cohesiveness, but the will not be ready for the veteran Ravens who will have a chip on their shoulder.
Baltimore 34 Cincinnati 10
Week Two: Ravens (1-0) at Eagles Sun, Sep 16th 1PM
Baltimore will suffer their first loss of the season to the Eagles up in Philadelphia. Why? Because this is what the Ravens do. They can look so great one week, then whether it’s being overconfident or simply being outmatched at certain positions, they break down and fail to win. Look at Weeks One & Two last year. They dominated Pittsburgh defending AFC Champion Pittsburgh 35-7 only to lay an egg the following week in Tennessee 13-26. The same will occur in 2012.
The offseason acquisitions for Philadelphia are going to wreak havoc on Baltimore in this game. They spent their first two rounds in the draft on Defensive Lineman: Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox in the first and DE Vinny Curry from Marshall in the second. Pairing them with outside threats Jason Babin and Trent Cole, along with Cullen Jenkins up the middle, this Eagles pass rush sure is vicious. Ray Rice will be stuffed and Joe Flacco will be under duress all afternoon. Not to that it will only be Week Two, and Michael Vick should still be healthy. In addition, Vick will not have to worry about Terrell Suggs coming after him, which will allow the elusive Vick along with LeSean McCoy to set up the pass with the run onto victory.
Philadelphia 23, Baltimore 13
Week Three: Ravens (1-1) vs Patriots Sun, Sep 23 8:20PM
If you thought the Ravens had a chip on their shoulder coming into Week One of 2012, Week Three will begin a new meaning to this cliché. This is the team that the Ravens beat in last year’s AFC Championship, just not on the scoreboard. Damn, Billy Cundiff & Lee Evans. Combine that with the home field advantage that will be present at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday Night, along with the sting of last week’s loss, the Ravens will be ready for this game. The Patriots will no doubt make this is a competitive fight just like they have in this classic battle, but Joe Flacco will make sure he throws to the reliable Anquan Boldin this time on his game winning drive to win it for Baltimore.
Baltimore 27 New England 24
Week Four: Ravens (2-1) vs Browns Thu, Sep 27th 8:20PM
Like it or not, Thursday Night Football is going to be a weekly occurrence from here on out. The Ravens will be on short rest from Sunday Night, but at least get to stay in the 410 when Cleveland comes into town.
I interviewed Brandon Weeden back in the spring and I fully believe this guy is mature enough and has the NFL talent to be successful at the next level, even at 28 years old. However, he never saw a defense like the Ravens in the Big 12. And that’s just assuming he is the starter for this game. If Colt McCoy starts, he probably won’t be able to shake the hit Arthur Jones laid on him last year to knock him out of the game in Week 16.
Baltimore 20 Cleveland 9
Week Five: Baltimore (3-1) at Kansas City Sun, Oct 7th 1PM
Courtney Upshaw is going to start getting accustomed to life in the NFL by Week 5. Add his emergence to Haloti Ngata and Ray Lewis’ ability to not only stuff the run but pressure the quarterback, and that equals a long day for Matt Cassell. Offensively for Baltimore, Ray Rice should be able to have a breakout game against the Kansas City defense. Dontari Poe is a rookie at the DT spot, and it remains to be seen if Kansas City reached too high for the DT out of Memphis. Regardless, he will clog the middle and Cam Cameron will scheme a way for Ray Rice to run and catch the ball outside the tackles to have his biggest game of the season thus far.
Baltimore 28 Kansas City 13
Week Six: Baltimore (4-1) vs Dallas Sun, Oct 14th 1PM
Baltimore Ravens fans are going to have this week circled, just because it is against the Dallas Cowboys. I cannot stress this enough to the Raven players, go about your business as usual. The Dallas Cowboys are not a good football team. Their QB is a 32 year old choke artist who has the same amount of playoff wins as Tim Tebow. They cut their shutdown CB Terrence Newman who would have certainly helped in the development of 1st round pick Morris Claiborne. WR Laurent Robinson, who had 11 TDs last season, signed with Jacksonville. Keith Brooking is 36 and will never be on the level Ray Lewis is. Finally, Dallas was never able to create a Hernandez/Gronkowski type scenario down in Texas with Martellus Bennett and Jason Witten. Bennett did not work out and signed with NY in the offseason. Ravens will take care of a below average Dallas team easily and keep it rolling in 2012.
Baltimore 31 Dallas 17
Week Seven: Baltimore (5-1) at Houston Sun, Oct 21st 1PM
Now, this game really determines whether or not Matt Schaub is on the field or on crutches. If it is the latter, the Baltimore Ravens do like they did in last year’s playoffs and move on to 6-1. If Matt Schaub does play, however, that is a different ball game.
I mention that the Ravens will dearly miss Terrell Suggs Week Two vs. Philadelphia. The Texans will make sure they keep Matt Schaub protected and do what they have to do to keep Courtney Upshaw from hitting him on his blindside. That means Matt Schaub is going to have plenty of time to find Andre Johnson (pending he can stay healthy until Week Seven) and Arian Foster in the flats. As far as Houston’s defense, the unit has only gotten better under Wade Phillips. Despite starting 2012 without Demeco Ryans and Mario Williams, Phillips will develop blitzing schemes with guys like Bradie James and Brian Cushing in the 3-4 to cause Flacco to have a less than stellar performance going into the bye week.
Houston 24 Baltimore 20
Week Eight: Bye Week
Week Nine: Baltimore (5-2) at Cleveland Sun, Nov 4th 1PM
Since John Harbaugh has taken over the reign as the Head Coach of the Baltimore Ravens, they are 4-0 after the bye week. That will not change in 2012, despite the loss to Houston two weeks prior. By Week 9, Trent Richardson will have the rookie campaign everyone anticipated, and should be able to find some holes throughout the afternoon. However, Brandon Weeden’s lack of options to throw the ball will ultimately hurt this team’s chances in keeping it competitive.
Baltimore 27 Cleveland 14
Week Ten: Baltimore (6-2) vs Oakland Sun, Nov 11th 1PM
Pending no season ending injuries or mental breakdowns that result in another retirement, Carson Palmer will be underway in his first full season as Oakland’s starting QB. History suggests that he will find success against the Ravens, as he is 9-4 in his career against Baltimore with 15 TD passes.
However, Carson Palmer has not been the same since that knee injury from the dive to the knee by Kimo von Oelhoffen back in the 2006 playoffs. He no longer steps up and delivers tight, confident throws. And when Ray Lewis smells blood, the rest of the defense does too. The Ravens Defense will pressure Palmer all afternoon and LaDarius Webb and Jimmy Smith will make him pay for the rushed throws.
Baltimore 35 Oakland 10
Week Eleven: Baltimore (7-2) at Pittsburgh Sun, Nov 18th 8:20PM
This game is indicated as a Flex Game, and to be honest I am not really sure what they mean by that. All I know is this game needs to be kept as a Sunday Night Game. Who can forget the Ravens OT thriller in 2009 when they triumphed 23-20 against a Dennis Dixon led Steelers team? Or in 2010 on Sunday Night, when it was near twenty degrees and Pittsburgh triumphed 13-10. This game will have the same feel. Pittsburgh is always a strong contender to win the AFC North and 2012 will be no different. In a slugfest, Ben Roethlisberger will just slightly outduel Joe Flacco and will have the last drive to set up a FG, giving Pittsburgh their first win against Baltimore since January 2011.
Pittsburgh 16 Baltimore 14
Week Twelve: Baltimore (7-3) at San Diego Sun, Nov 25th 4:05 PM
Really? Again? The Baltimore Ravens, less than a year later, travel back out to San Diego to face the Chargers. If you remember last year, you will know it was not pretty. Philip Rivers and Vincent Jackson were the backbone behind a 34-14 thumping of the Ravens, engineered by Norv Turner’s ability to understand and expose the Ravens Defense.
This year, there is no Vincent Jackson, but by Week Twelve, we probably will not be seeing reigning AFC Defensive MVP Terrell Suggs back as well. Norv Turner will once again find a way to find holes in the Ravens Defense, this time utilizing more Philip Rivers to Ryan Matthews in the flats. Baltimore will certainly keep this game competitive until the last drive, but will not leave sunny San Diego victorious.
San Diego 27 Baltimore 24
Week Thirteen: Baltimore (7-4) vs Steelers Sun, Dec 2nd 4:25PM
The official listing is 4:25 start time, but this game once again is a flex option, and I fully anticipate the NFL putting this game on Sunday Night Prime Time. And by Week 13, as is the case every season, Ben Roethlisberger’s body will start breaking down again. He will still play, but not as effectively as he did just two weeks ago. Not only that, but Ray Rice makes a statement against Baltimore’s biggest rivals in Week 13. Just like Ben, the aging Polamalu and Ryan Clark in Pittsburgh secondary will be nursing injuries as well and will not be able to take down the compact Rice once he breaks free. Baltimore gets their season back on track at home and moves to 8-4.
Baltimore 20 Pittsburgh 13
Week Fourteen: Baltimore (8-4) at Washington Sun, Dec 9th 1 PM
The Battle of the Beltway in baseball between the Orioles and Nationals has become quite the hot commodity. Each game at Camden Yards was a sellout during their interleague series this year. Both teams are improving and when they face each other from here on out, it should continue to be competitive.
The same cannot be said about the Ravens and Redskins. Baltimore is the far superior team. And by Week Fourteen, I fully expect RG3 to be shut down for the season. He will have sustained an injury because he is too small and his body will have not fully developed where it needs to be in the NFL. That means Rex Grossman is at the helm, and by Week Fourteen, Jimmy Smith will be mentioned as a Pro Bowler in his 2nd season. The rush will force Rex Grossman to turn the ball over numerous times and Jimmy Smith will take a pick to the house, as the Ravens shut out Washington.
Baltimore 24 Washington 0
Week Fifteen: Baltimore (9-4) vs Broncos Sun, Dec 16th 1PM
Peyton Manning was not kind to the Baltimore Ravens during his 14 year career in Indianapolis. Peyton went 7-2, with 2443 yards and 17 touchdowns. That was then, and this is now. The future Hall of Famer is now without the plethora of options in Indianapolis that include Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison and Dallas Clark. Sure, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker have been solid in their brief careers, but they will not have had the experience to fully grasp Peyton’s complex offensive schemes in the first year.
Dean Pees will be in his 14th game as Baltimore’s Defensive Coordinator, and he is also no stranger to Peyton Manning, as he was defensive coordinator the New England Patriots from 2006-2009 during the riveting Pats-Colts rivalry in its heyday. Pees is also very familiar with Willis McGahee, while McGahee was a member of the Baltimore Ravens. The defense will be ready to contain the pass and stop the run, and there will be no Tebow magic in Baltimore Week 15.
Baltimore 17 Denver 14
Week Sixteen: Baltimore (10-4) vs Giants Sun, Dec 23rd 1PM
It seems like every year, the New York Giants play just above mediocre football all year and somehow find a way to limp into the playoffs. It is doubtful the Giants will have clinched the playoffs by Week 16, and they will have to wait until Week 17 if they want to have the same magic as 2011.
The key matchup in this game that I see being the difference is the Giants Offensive Line trying to stop the rush of Haloti Ngata in the middle. Giants veteran David Diehl was ranked the worst pass blocking tackle and guard in 2011 by ProFootballFocus. The team also let 33 year old tackle Kareem McKenzie walk. This leads the Giants with question marks on who will fill this void, whether it will be free agent signing Sean Locklear or 4th round pick Brandon Mosley. Terrell Suggs could be back for this game as well. Whether Suggs is back at 90%, or it’s Courtney Upshaw still in his spot, the combo along with Ray and the rest of the defense will have Eli flustered all afternoon.
Baltimore 20 NY Giants 17
Week Seventeen: Baltimore (11-4) at Cincinnati Sun, Dec 31PM
The Ravens are coming off a huge win against the defending champions. By this point, they will have already secured a playoff spot, and this game will help determine the AFC North. Judging on the past in Baltimore, this sounds like a letdown, right?
The Ravens know how important playing at home field is for their chance at another run to the Super Bowl. They were 9-0 at M&T Bank Stadium last year, including the playoffs. You better believe Ray Lewis will have his defense ready to go and finish off the regular season the way they started it: with a victory.
Baltimore 23 Cincinnati 19
So there you have it. The Baltimore Ravens will go 12-4 and make the 2012 playoffs. What do you think?