The Ravens’ schedule is tough, but fair, and it won’t be easy to finish higher than 8-8. The Giants cutting Brandon Marshall doesn’t mean they’ll sign Dez Bryant. Thumbs down on pursuing Marshall or any other veteran receivers? Last chance to sign Willie Snead. USA Today polls NFL agents and Ozzie Newsome ranks as THE most respected GM.
Will Ravens Return to Playoffs? Schedule Pros and Cons
Want to know what analysts are saying about the Ravens’ 2018 schedule?
Here’s the summary: It’s fair, but tough – tougher than 2017.
It’s a bigger test than last year, in part, because the Ravens play the NFC South (three playoff teams last year) instead of the NFC North (one playoff team) and have brutal road matchups. The assumption is they’ll also face more starting quarterbacks after so many went down with injuries last year.
“This is a difficult schedule,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec. “There’s nothing about it that is unfair. The Ravens will have an uphill road to get back to the postseason.”
“Man, that road slate looks rough, with away games against the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, L.A. Chargers and Tennessee Titans on top of the usual divisional fare,” added The Sun’s Childs Walker. “If we had to set the odds today, would the Ravens be favored in any of those games?”
Baltimore can’t afford to start slow or sustain a lot of injuries in training camp like last year because the schedule is front-loaded with travel, important divisional matchups and playoff opponents.
If you ask the folks at The Sun, the Ravens will struggle to finish above 8-8.
“The prediction here is that the Ravens will go 5-3 at home [vs. seven non-playoff teams], but 1-7 on the road [five playoff teams] for an overall record of 6-10 and miss the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year,” wrote Edward Lee.
“I don’t believe in projecting a team’s record now, when there’s still so much we don’t know,” Walker added. “But at first glance, it seems the Ravens might have to fight to stay above .500 again.”
– Nicely timed bye in the middle of the season in Week 10
– Finishing against the Cleveland Browns instead of the tired tradition of a Cincinnati Bengals finale (seven of the last eight seasons)
– All home games in November
– Get the Thursday night game out of the way in Week 2
– Front-loaded with road games (five of the first eight)
– Six of first nine games are against 2017 playoff teams, including a four-week stretch starting in Week 6 at Tennessee, vs. New Orleans, at Carolina and vs. Pittsburgh
– No primetime games at M&T Bank Stadium, only two overall and no Monday Night Football
– For the eighth time in 11 years, the Baltimore-Pittsburgh primetime game takes place at Heinz Field
ESPN Game-by-Game Predictions
If you don’t like projecting wins and losses in April, that’s understandable. Feel free to move onto the next section.
For those of you that like to have a little fun trying to size up the Ravens’ win-loss chances, ESPN has published its predictions.
The website believes Baltimore will finish with a 9-7 record. That’s exactly how the Ravens finished last year, which wasn’t enough for a playoff berth. It was, however, for two other 9-7 teams (Bills, Titans), who advanced off tiebreakers. Would it be enough for the Ravens this time?
Here are ESPN’s predictions with my one-line summary of the website’s reasons for each:
Week 1: vs. Buffalo Bills – Ravens usually start strong, WIN
Week 2: at Cincinnati Bengals – Joe Flacco struggles in Cincy, LOSS
Week 3: vs. Denver Broncos – Broncos have been a poor road team, WIN
Week 4: at Pittsburgh Steelers – Ravens haven’t always finished off Big Ben, LOSS
Week 5: at Cleveland Browns – Flacco is the winningest QB vs. Cleveland since 2008, WIN
Week 6: at Tennessee Titans – Titans are tough to beat at home, LOSS
Week 7: vs. New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees breaks his losing streak vs Ravens, LOSS
Week 8: at Carolina Panthers – Cam…