Baltimore Ravens 2012 NFL Schedule: Game-by-Game Analysis, Info and Predictions

Mike FastContributor IApril 17, 2012

Baltimore Ravens 2012 NFL Schedule: Game-by-Game Analysis, Info and Predictions

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    This image was the last John Harbaugh saw of M&T Bank Stadium. In 2011, he helped the Ravens do something never done before in franchise history—go undefeated at home and in their division.

    Last season, the Ravens went 9-0 at home (including their divisional playoff win versus the Texans) and 6-0 in the AFC North for the first time ever.

    If you're a Ravens fan, you know what happened a week later.

    A new season (schedule) is upon us, and it's time to look forward. Right off the bat, here are some interesting facts about the Ravens' 2012 regular-season schedule:

    • They will host the first Monday Night Football (ESPN) game of the season on Sept. 10, when the play the Bengals at 7 p.m. ET. The next meeting between those two teams is in Week 17 at Cincinnati.
    • The Ravens will host the Patriots (NBC, Week 3) and the Browns (NFL Network, Week 4) in back-to-back weeks. Within five days, they will host those two teams in nationally televised games.
    • Six of their 13 different opponents made the playoffs in 2011.
    • From Week 7 to Week 12, the Ravens will play just one home game (Week 10, Oakland Raiders).
    • The Ravens will play the Steelers twice in 15 days (Week 11 at Pittsburgh and Week 13 at home).
    • Baltimore's final two home games of the season will be against the Manning brothers—Week 15 vs. Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos and Week 16 vs. Eli Manning's New York Giants.

    There is so much to get to, so I won't waste any time. Here are previews, predictions and analysis for every Ravens game of the 2012 regular season.

Week 1, Week 17: Cincinnati Bengals

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    Game information:

    • Week 1, 9/10/12, Monday Night Football on ESPN, 7:00 P.M. ET
    • Week 17, 12/30/12, at Cincinnati, 1:00 P.M. ET

    All-time record against: 18-14

    Opponent's 2011 record/finish: 9-7 (2-4, 3rd in AFC North), 6th seed in AFC Playoffs

    Key match-ups: A.J. Green versus Lardarius Webb, Rey Maualuga versus Ray Rice

    Game analysis: The Ravens beat the Bengals twice last season, but by no more than eight points. Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton was impressive and refused to quit in the face of typical Baltimore defensive pursuit.

    His fellow rookie, wide receiver A.J. Green, missed the first game between the two (in Baltimore), and had just two receptions for 26 yards in their second meeting.

    Ray Rice ran for 295 yards and four touchdowns against the Bengals last season, even though their defense finished ranked seventh overall.

    Predictions:

    • Week 1: 31-21 Ravens
    • Week 17: 17-16 Ravens

Week 2: At Philadelphia Eagles

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    Game information: Week 2, 9/16/12, at Philadelphia, 1:00 P.M. ET

    All-time record against: 1-1

    Opponent's 2011 record: 8-8 (5-1, 2nd in NFC East)

    Key match-up: Michael Vick versus Ed Reed

    Game analysis: The Eagles have upgraded greatly at the quarterback, cornerback and running back positions since the last time these two teams met. They face off in Week 2, as the Ravens go on the road on a short week for the Eagles' home opener.

    The Ravens have had success defending Michael Vick in the past, holding him to 49 yards on 13 carries and 23-of-45 passing (51.1 percent) in two career games. However, he didn't have nearly the talent then as he has now.

    Philadelphia has tremendous athletes at the cornerback and defensive end positions, which should make for a ramped-up pass rush from start to finish.

    Prediction: 27-17 Eagles

Week 3: New England Patriots

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    Game information: Week 3, 9/23/12, Sunday Night Football on NBC, 8:20 P.M. ET

    All-time record against: 0-6 (1-1 in playoffs)

    Opponent's 2011 record/finish: 13-3 (5-1, AFC East Champions), first seed in AFC Playoffs

    Key match-up: Tom Brady versus Ray Lewis

    Game analysis: Lee Evans is out. Bill Cundiff may be as well.

    Joe Flacco clearly outplayed Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game on January 22 of this year. But, the Ravens lost and were left with nothing but incomprehensible shock.

    Will Week 3 be lucky number seven for Baltimore? The Ravens have never beaten the Patriots in the regular season, despite their last three regular season games being decided by an average of four points. As a matter of fact, the Patriots are the only NFL franchise the Ravens have yet to defeat in the regular season.

    BenJarvus Green-Ellis is no longer with the Patriots. He was a big factor in helping New England beat Baltimore last time around (15 carries, 68 yards, one touchdown).

    Considering how potent the Ravens are at home in the Harbaugh era, I can't see this one going to Brady and Belichick.

    Prediction: 24-21 Ravens

Week 4, Week 9: Cleveland Browns

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    Game information:

    • Week 4, 9/27/12, Thursday Night Football on NFL Network, 8:20 P.M. ET
    • Week 9, 11/4/12, at Cleveland, 1:00 P.M. ET

    All-time record against: 19-7

    Opponent's 2011 record: 4-12 (0-6, 4th in AFC North)

    Key Match-ups: Joe Haden versus Torrey Smith, Joe Thomas versus Terrell Suggs

    Game analysis: Cleveland has a few nice pieces on their team. They have a stand-out left tackle, middle linebacker and cornerback. However, they don't have a quarterback or running back that make defenses blink. That's a big problem to have.

    Sure, that could change in a week. But even if Cleveland drafted Trent Richardson and a top wide receiver, if Baltimore and Cleveland play their best games, Baltimore will win handily.

    Predictions:

    • Week 4: 30-10 Ravens
    • Week 9: 27-14 Ravens

Week 5: At Kansas City Chiefs

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    Game information: Week 5, 10/7/12, at Kansas City, 1:00 P.M. ET

    All-time record against: 2-3 (1-0 in playoffs)

    Opponent's 2011 record: 7-9 (3-3, 4th in AFC West)

    Key match-up: Eric Berry versus Joe Flacco

    Game analysis: When healthy, Kansas City is a dangerous team. By early October, they should be healthy.

    The Chiefs have young, stud athletes at every position (except quarterback, but Matt Cassel is good enough). The Ravens could win, but going into Arrowhead Stadium isn't an easy task. Not only that, but the last time the Ravens went to Kansas City, they embarrassed the Chiefs in the 2010 playoffs, 30-7.

    Now with a new head coach (Romeo Crennel) and a fresh mindset, the Chiefs will look for payback in a big way.

    Prediction: 23-20 Chiefs

Week 6: Dallas Cowboys

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    Game information: Week 6, 10/14/12, 1:00 P.M. ET

    All-time record against: 3-0

    Opponent's 2011 record: 8-8 (2-4, 3rd in NFC East)

    Key match-up: DeMarcus Ware versus Bryant McKinnie

    Game analysis: The Cowboys are one of two teams (Texans) that have yet to beat the Ravens in a regular season match-up.

    If Dez Bryant and Tony Romo are on the same page, the Cowboys are almost unbeatable. However, I think Bryant's and Romo's first trip to M&T Bank will cause more than a few miscommunications.

    Dallas' pass defense finished last season ranked 23rd in the NFL. Expect Joe Flacco and company to take full advantage of that.

    Prediction: 31-23 Ravens

Week 7: At Houston Texans

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    Game information: Week 7, 10/21/12, at Houston, 1:00 P.M. ET

    All-time record against: 5-0 (1-0 in playoffs)

    Opponent's 2011 record/finish: 10-6 (4-2, AFC South Champions), third seed in AFC Playoffs

    Key match-up: Arian Foster versus Jameel McClain

    Game analysis: Whenever these two teams meet, it's a physical battle for 60 minutes.

    In the last three years, these teams have played three times. On two of those occasions, the Texans only lost by six (2010) and seven (2011, playoffs) points respectively. The 2010 loss was in overtime, and the 2011 playoff loss went down to the last play of the game.

    Moreover, in those two losses, Arian Foster ran for 100-plus yards, keeping the game close.

    If you stop Foster, you stop the Texans.

    Prediction: 30-28 Ravens

    *Week 8: Bye

Week 10: Oakland Raiders

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    Game information: Week 10, 11/11/12, 1:00 P.M. ET

    All-time record against: 5-1 (1-0 in playoffs)

    Opponent's 2011 record: 8-8 (3-3, 3rd in AFC West)

    Key match-up: Richard Seymour versus Marshal Yanda

    Game analysis: In the two meetings between these two teams since John Harbaugh has been the head coach, the Ravens have beaten the Raiders twice by a combined score of 50-23.

    The rushing totals in those games:

    • Baltimore: 492 yards and five touchdowns
    • Oakland: 98 yards and no touchdowns

    Prediction: 27-26 Ravens

Week 11, Week 13: Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Game information:

    • Week 11, 11/18/12, at Pittsburgh, Sunday Night Football on NBC, 8:20 P.M. ET
    • Week 13, 12/2/12, 4:15 P.M. ET

    All-time record against: 14-18 (0-3 in playoffs)

    Opponent's 2011 record/finish: 12-4 (4-2, 2nd in AFC North), fifth seed in AFC Playoffs

    Key match-ups: Ben Roethlisberger versus Terrell Suggs, Maurkice Pouncey versus Haloti Ngata

    Game analysis: Here we go. The main event!

    Two times in 15 days? Thank you, Roger Goodell.

    As always, the winner of this game could very well represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on February 3, 2013.

    Predictions

    • Week 11: 20-16 Ravens
    • Week 13: 28-20 Ravens

Week 12: At San Diego Chargers

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    Game information: Week 12, 11/25/12, at San Diego, 4:05 P.M. ET

    All-time record against: 4-4

    Opponent's 2011 record: 8-8 (3-3, 2nd in AFC West)

    Key match-up: Antonio Gates versus Bernard Pollard

    Game analysis: If you watched the match-up between the Ravens and the Chargers last season and you're a Ravens fan, it wasn't pretty.

    No longer do the Chargers have Vincent Jackson (signed with Tampa Bay). San Diego did, however, acquire two former Ravens (fullback Le'Ron McClain and linebacker Jarret Johnson) in the offseason.

    In addition to other former Ravens Antwan Barnes and Jared Gaither, McClain and Johnson should make this meeting very interesting.

    Where was Cam Cameron an offensive coordinator before he was an offensive coordinator in Baltimore? San Diego.

    Want another intriguing similarity? The all-time score between these two teams: Baltimore 153, San Diego, 153.

    Prediction: 23-21 Ravens

Week 14: At Washington Redskins

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    Game information: Week 14, 12/9/12, at Washington, 1:00 P.M. ET

    All-time record against: 3-1

    Opponent's 2011 record: 5-11 (2-4, 4th in NFC East)

    Key match-up: Brian Orakpo versus Michael Oher 

    Game analysis: Although they struggled last season, the Redskins did put a lot of pressure on the opposing quarterback (tied for 10th in NFL with 41 team sacks). They also swept the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants by a combined score of 51-24.

    Still, they finished 5-11. Even though the prospect of them drafting Robert Griffin III is exciting and promising, I don't see it paying dividends against Baltimore in Week 14.

    From Weeks 11-13, Washington plays each of their divisional teams in a row (Philadelphia, at Dallas on Thanksgiving, New York on Monday Night Football). That's a lot of physical football in an abnormal schedule.

    Perhaps it will be too much for the Redskins to handle.

    Prediction: 23-14 Ravens

Week 15: Denver Broncos

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    Game information: Week 15, 12/16/12, 1:00 P.M. ET

    All-time record against: 5-3 (1-0 in playoffs)

    Opponent's 2011 record/finish: 8-8 (3-3, AFC West Champions), fourth seed in AFC Playoffs

    Key match-up: Peyton Manning versus Ray Lewis

    Game analysis: What was going to be a visit from Tim Tebow resulted in what will be Peyton Manning's seventh start in Baltimore (4-2 as a member of the Colts, playoffs included).

    You'd think by Week 15, the Broncos will have meshed to the point where their offense is at full-go.

    The same goes for Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, Ray Lewis and the rest of the Ravens defense.

    I see this one being close for most of the game, with the Ravens scoring a touchdown late. If the Broncos will need to come from behind in Baltimore with playoff seeding on the line, that doesn't bode well for their chances.

    Prediction: 20-10 Ravens

Week 16: New York Giants

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    Game information: Week 16, 12/23/12, 1:00 P.M. ET

    All-time record against: 2-1 (1-0 in playoffs)

    Opponent's 2011 record/finish: 9-7 (3-3, NFC East Champions), sixth seed in NFC Playoffs, Super Bowl XLVI Champions

    Key match-up: Victor Cruz versus Cary Williams 

    Game analysis: This will be a very, very interesting game. It will be the regular season home finale for the Ravens, as they welcome the defending Super Bowl Champions to Baltimore.

    Besides their first-ever meeting in 1997, the team that won in this series did so by 20 points or more. The last time the Ravens met the Giants was a bit of an enigma. The Giants out-rushed the Ravens 207-121.

    What's more surprising (and comical) is in that 2008 meeting, Joe Flacco rushed for more yards (57) than Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain rushed for combined (47).

    Although a lot has changed, and although it's so hard to defend a Super Bowl title a year later, the Giants have terrific pass rushers and terrific wide receivers (something the Ravens have been known to struggle against).

    Baltimore could win. But right now, I'm picking the Giants.

    Prediction: 22-20 Giants

Recap

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    As Bart Scott would say, I "CAN'T WAIT" for the 2012 season to begin.

    Here's a summary of my first-impression predictions for the Ravens 2012 regular season schedule (compared to how they fared last year):

    • Overall record: 13-3 (12-4)
    • AFC North record: 6-0 (6-0)
    • Home: 7-1 (8-0)
    • Road: 6-2 (4-4)
    • AFC: 11-1 (9-3)
    • NFC: 2-2 (3-1)
    • Points for: 388 (378)
    • Points against: 312 (266)
    • Net points: 76 (112)

    Ravens fans, it's almost game time!