Sunday is finally here, with a full slate of NFL action to get us primed for the Ravens’ Monday night clash with the Jets. Day 4 of our quick Ravens season preview sends the Ravens to another Monday Night road game, brings the Super Bowl Champs to Charm City, and closes up the season with games against the AFC North orange teams.
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 14 – @ Texans
Prognosticators are calling for big things from Houston this year – but what else is new? It seems like every year is supposed to be the year the Texans finally get into the postseason, but every year they are sitting at home watching the playoffs just like we fans are. This is a tough matchup for the Ravens. Like most teams, they don’t have anyone who can cover Andre Johnson 1-on-1, and running back Arian Foster looks primed for a big year. In 2008, the Ravens went into Houston and smacked the Texans around 41-13, but Sage “Helicopter” Rosenfels was at QB for the Texans that day, and their defense made big strides in going from 22nd overall in 2008 to 13th in 2009. This could be a key late-season matchup for both teams, who hope to be jockeying for Playoff position.
Chance of Victory – 50%
Week 15 – vs. Saints
The Ravens play the Saints for the first time since spaking them 35-22 in the Superdome in 2006. Obviously, both teams have gone through huge changes since then, but the most significant is the Lombardi Trophy that now lives in the Big Easy. If you watched the Saints play the Vikings the other night, you saw how much they like to spread out opposing defenses, and we have to hope the Ravens’ secondary is at near-full strength going into this game, or it could be a very long night. The weather could be an ally for the Ravens in this game as well, a la the 2007 Patriots game here in B’More. Mother nature could ground the Saints’ air attack more effectively than any opposing defense, should she choose to cooperate. Like Ray said, the Saints are the Champs until proven otherwise.
Chance of Victory – 40%
Week 16 – @ Browns
The Ravens had a tough time in Cleveland last year, grinding out a 16-0 victory that was far from pretty. The Browns beat Pittsburgh at home last year, in a game where the weather was again the great equalizer. Cleveland will likely again be in spoiler mode at this point, happy to be a bump in the road for the hated Ravens as they try to secure their postseason status. Late season road games are never a gimme (see Oakland 2009 Week 17), and Ravens players and fans alike would be wise to not look past Cleveland here.
Chance of Victory – 70%
Week 17 – vs. Bengals
The NFL scheduled this game with the hope that it will be a huge division-deciding type game in the AFC North. For that to materialize though, both these teams will have to live up to their lofty preseason expectations, something neither of them has been able to do with much regularity in recent memory. Lots of things have to go right for Cincy and the Ravens over the next four months for this game to live up to the billing. Let’s pretend for now that they do, though, and that this does end up being the game to crown the 2010 AFC North champs. The Ravens will have to avoid the type of late-game collapse that resulted in a Bengals win at M&T Bank Stadium in 2009, and do so in a playoff-type atmosphere. The hope here, though, is that everything goes right for the purple and black in 2010, and wrong for Cincy (and the Squealers and Brownstains), and the Ravens are resting their starters by Week 17.
Chance of victory – 70%