Baltimore Ravens: Predicting the Outcome of Every Game in 2012
I used my imagination within reason to determine the score, threw in some bold predictions and titled each slide with lame puns and came up with my best guess on how the 2012 season will shake out.
Week 1: Monday Night Smack Down
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The Cincinnati Bengals have struggled to put together two consecutive winning seasons in the past, and while that could all change with Andy Dalton at the helm, let's remember that they're still the Bengals.
Joe Flacco shows up big in prime time. He throws two long bombs to Torrey Smith, one for a touchdown after burning Dre Kirkpatrick, and the other setting up a Ray Rice score.
Aside from that touchdown, Rice is relatively ineffective as he's out of shape after skipping training camp and being too concerned about his contract.
Bernard Pierce gets a few carries and rips off a solid 24-yard gain while subbing in.
Pernell McPhee tallies two big sacks, and Jimmy Smith picks off his first pass of the year while covering rookie Mohamed Sanu.
Flacco throws for 300 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-20 win.
The Ravens start 1-0.
Week 2: Cheesesteak'ed in Philly
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Michael Vick eludes young pass rushers Courtney Upshaw and Paul Kruger with ease, rushing for 73 yards and a touchdown.
LeSean McCoy also gets in the end zone, zig zagging Ray Lewis and Arthur Jones as he breaks into the secondary and burns Ed Reed in a race to the sideline.
Flacco throws two picks, and Ray Rice is ineffective once again.
The Ravens lose 31-13 and fall back to .500 on the year.
Week 3: The Brady Bums
The Ravens are more fired up than ever coming off a pitiful road loss and seek revenge on the New England Patriots for robbing them of their Super Bowl dreams last season.
The all-black uniforms are out for Sunday Night Football, and a young defense comes alive.
Courtney Upshaw plays like a madman, sacking Tom Brady twice and forcing a fumble that's picked up by Haloti Ngata and run back for a touchdown.
McPhee gets to Brady as well, and Ray Lewis, Lardarius Webb and Ed Reed all get interceptions. Webb runs his back for a touchdown.
New England's mediocre ground game only manages 32 yards.
Joe outplays Brady again, but this time the Ravens are victorious, routing the Patriots 38-24.
Billy Cundiff misses a field goal, but the Ravens improve to 2-1 nonetheless.
Week 4: Rookie Reality Check
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Trent Richardson has been a nightmare for defenses so far in 2012, but that ends when he gets introduced to the Ravens defense.
Richardson manages 64 yards, but it's on 24 carries and he's held scoreless.
Brandon Weeden has been playing well but shows his rookie colors when he's picked off twice by Webb, once by Cary Williams and another time by Ed Reed.
Ray Rice starts to get things going with his first 100-yard game as the Ravens win with ease 26-6; they're now 3-1 on the year.
Week 5: Better Luck Next Time, Chief
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The Ravens handle the Chiefs with ease at home.
Flacco goes off yet again, throwing for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Two of them are deep balls.
Jacoby Jones scores his first touchdown as a Raven, going for 68 yards and burning Javier Arenas.
Haloti Ngata sacks Cassell and forces a fumble, setting up an easy Ray Rice score.
The Ravens improve to 4-1 after a 38-17 victory.
Week 6: Orton Seeing Stars
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The Cowboys should be better in 2012 with an improved secondary, but at home they'll be no match for the Ravens in Baltimore.
Kyle Orton gets his first start of the season for a banged up Tony Romo. He throws two picks early, one of which Jimmy Smith takes back for a touchdown.
Courtney Upshaw and Paul Kruger both record sacks, but DeMarco Murray manages two scores and 112 yards on the ground, keeping the Cowboys in the game.
Flacco is picked off by rookie Morris Claiborne after he's pressured by DeMarcus Ware and tries to force the ball to Anquan Boldin near the sideline.
Dez Bryant burns Jimmy Smith for a deep score, but it's too little too late.
Bernard Pierce out-rushes Ray Rice on the day and sees considerable playing time.
The Ravens win 24-20 and sit atop the AFC North at 5-1.
Week 7: Playoff Redemption
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The Ravens beat the Texans twice last season in Houston, including in the team's first-ever playoff game.
With a healthy squad and no Terrell Suggs, however, it'll be difficult to do it again.
This one's a smash mouth matchup against two of the the league's top defenses.
Matt Schaub is held in check, but Arian Foster goes off, rushing for 184 yards and three touchdowns.
Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce aren't nearly as effective, but Flacco plays well enough to keep Baltimore in it and doesn't throw an interception.
Courtney Upshaw and Paul Kruger are no match for Foster in run defense and don't play well.
The Texans don't turn the ball over, but the Ravens do twice, which ends up being the difference in the game.
The Texans roll 27-13 as the Ravens fall to 5-2 and head into the bye week.
Week 9: Browns Get Left Black and Blue
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Brandon Weeden has been playing solid throughout the season, but with no viable receiving options, he has been more of a game manager. Trent Richardson has been going off, on the other hand, and nothing changes when Baltimore comes to town.
The Ravens are fresh off the bye week, but Richardson still manages 100 yards on the ground. He gets into the end zone twice, but the Browns can only manage a field goal otherwise.
Paul Kruger and Pernell McPhee each get to Brandon Weeden, and Cary Williams and Ray Lewis both get interceptions.
Ray Rice goes for 76 yards on the ground and tallies 53 receiving yards, scoring twice.
Anquan Boldin accounts for Flacco's other touchdown pass on the day.
The Ravens win this one 24-17 and stay tied with Pittsburgh at 6-2 in the division.
Week 10: Palmer Gets Raided
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Carson Palmer couldn't get it going last season, and he won't be able to when he visits Baltimore next season either.
Courtney Upshaw knocks Palmer out of the game on a blind-side sack early; he fumbles on the play and Jameel McClain scoops it up for an easy score.
Matt Leinart enters the game cold and ineffective. He's picked off by the Ravens four times, two of them by second-year corner Jimmy Smith.
Upshaw gets to Leinart once, and Haloti Ngata and Bernard Pollard record sacks as well.
The Ravens are now 7-2.
Week 11: Attempting to Steel the Division
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The Ravens and Steelers both head into this game at 7-2, and both squads are relatively healthy.
The Steelers rely heavily on the passing game as the ground game is held in check.
Pittsburgh gets on the board first, as Antonio Brown scores deep on blown coverage.
They add a field goal before the Ravens can answer on an Ed Dickson touchdown inside the 10.
It's all defense the rest of the way out, as both offenses find it hard to find the end zone.
The Ravens pull ahead 17-13 late in the fourth quarter as Jacoby Jones burns Walter McFadden deep for a 42-yard score.
Big Ben gets the ball with 2:36 to go and puts together a solid drive. Jerricho Cotchery gets free in the end zone in a mismatch and scores with only seconds left.
The Ravens fall to 7-3 and lose the division lead.
Week 12: Shocked in San Diego
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The Ravens are in the middle of a tough three-game stretch, two of which are on the road.
They struggle offensively after traveling across country and are hard-pressed to move the ball.
The defense plays well but can't force many turnovers as Philip Rivers continues to move the ball down the field into scoring range.
The Chargers kick four fields goals in addition to Rivers' two touchdown passes, and the Ravens simply can't match it.
Ray Rice scores, but the offense can't manage much else as they are out of rhythm.
The Ravens end up losing 26-13 and fall to 7-4 as division title hopes begin to fade.
Week 13: Division Title Deja Vu
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The 7-4 Ravens return home and face the 8-3 Steelers for the second time in three weeks in a must-win game.
Both squads are struggling with injuries after facing each other so recently.
Ben Roethlisberger is questionable but of course starts anyway and plays like nothing is even phasing him.
The Ravens score on the opening drive as Kelechi Osemele man-handles rookie nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu, creating a huge hole for Ray Rice to break into the secondary where he stiff arms Ryan Clark. He picks up a block from Anquan Boldin on Troy Polamalu and leaves everyone else in the dust.
The Ravens lead 7-0.
The two teams trade off on ineffective drives until Ben Roethlisberger finds Emmanuel Sanders deep to tie the game at seven.
The Steelers are down 27-23 with under two minutes to go and are in the middle of what appears to be another Ben Roethlisberger comeback victory.
He connects with Heath Miller with about a minute left to get the Steelers just inside the 20.
On the next play Roethlisberger is forced out of the pocket after Courtney Upshaw, blows by rookie left tackle Mike Adams and manages to pick up a block from Isaac Redman as he dances around, trying to make a play.
He locks into Heath Miller again, who has gotten free near the sideline, but Upshaw breaks free from another block and drills him from behind mid-throw. The ball pops up in the air, and Arthur Jones dives forward to catch it before it hits the ground.
The booth reviews the play and ultimately rules it an interception as the Ravens hold on for the win.
They're now tied with Pittsburgh at 8-4 as the division race gets a bit more interesting.
Week 14: "Battle" of the Beltway
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The Washington Redskins have managed a few wins with Robert Griffin at the helm, but he's out for the season with an injury by the time the Ravens get to town.
Rex Grossman instead gets the start in this one.
On the opening drive, Grossman is pressured by Pernell McPhee and tries to force the ball through the middle. The pass is tipped by Ray Lewis, and rookie Courtney Upshaw gets his first career interception. He returns the ball all the way to the six-yard line, and Ray Rice scores two plays later.
Grossman throws two more interceptions before being replaced by rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins, who throws two picks of his own.
Cousins is sacked four times on the day, and the Redskins only manage a field goal during the entire game.
Flacco picks apart the Redskins secondary as the Ravens win with ease 35-3 and improve to 9-4 on the year.
Week 15: Same Horse, Different Color
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The Ravens can never seem to get the best of Peyton Manning, but heading into Week 15 still tied with Pittsburgh for the division lead, they know that will have to change.
Manning has played well in 2012, and the Broncos sit on top of the AFC West at 9-4.
Early in the game Manning looks like he's got it in the bag, scoring on his first two drives with touchdown passes to Jacob Tamme and Eric Decker.
Joe Flacco keeps the Ravens in it though and puts together a long drive before halftime, ending in rookie Tommy Streeter's first career touchdown as he catches a jump ball in the back of the end zone.
The rest of the game rests on Manning's shoulders as the Ravens completely shut down Willis McGahee and the Broncos' run game.
Lardarius Webb gets the momentum back for Baltimore after Manning tries to beat him on a comeback to Andre Caldwell. Webb makes the read with ease and takes it to the end zone for six, tying the game at 24 late in the fourth quarter.
Danny Gorrer gets to Manning on a corner blitz early on the next drive, and the Broncos are forced to punt after failing to convert on third and long.
Flacco takes the game on his shoulders as he drives the Ravens all the way down to the 28-yard line, setting up a Billy Cundiff field goal to win the game.
The Ravens improve to 10-4 on the year, but unfortunately so does Pittsburgh.
Week 16: Giant Loss at Home
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The opposition isn't getting any easier at the tail end of the season as the Ravens struggle to keep stride with Pittsburgh in the race for the division title.
The defending Super Bowl champs are fighting for a wild card spot again and need a victory in Baltimore to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Rookie receiver Rueben Randle is playing with a chip on his shoulder after being passed up in the 2012 draft twice by the Ravens, and he scores early on a jump ball in the corner of the end zone.
Victor Cruz gets past Cary Williams a few drives later, and Baltimore starts to fall behind.
Joe Flacco is pressured by a strong defensive front and struggles to find open receivers all day.
They can't catch up and lose 24-16 at home, their first home loss since the 2010 season.
Luckily the Steelers lose in Cincinnati as well, and the division title is still up for grabs as both squads are 10-5 heading into the final game of the season.
Week 17: Welcome to the Jungle
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The Ravens have been neck and neck with the Steelers atop the division throughout the entire season, but the Bengals haven't been far behind.
Coming off a huge win against Pittsburgh, Cincinnati is 8-7 on the year and could obtain a wild card spot with a win.
The Ravens get the lead early on a deep touchdown pass to Torrey Smith, but Andy Dalton answers right back connecting with A.J. Green for a score.
After struggling to get the ground game going, the Bengals keep trying to move the ball through the air, and the Ravens take advantage.
Christian Thompson picks off off a pass intended for Jermaine Gresham in the middle of the field. The rookie free safety was filling in for Ed Reed and was in the right place at the right time to snag his first career interception.
Ray Rice gets a score a few plays later, and the Bengals play catch up for the rest of the game.
Courtney Upshaw tallies another sack and boosts his stock for rookie of the year contention. So far on the year he has nine sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception.
A.J. Green gets in the end zone again, but it's too little too late and Baltimore wins this one 20-14.
The Ravens end up 11-5 on the year and win the division even though Pittsburgh is 11-5 as well. Baltimore's 5-1 division record is the tie breaker; the Steelers are 4-2 in the division on the year.
The record is good enough for the second seed in the AFC and a first round bye in the playoffs.
Terrell Suggs is set to make his return against the winner of the Chargers/Broncos game or Texans/Steelers game in Baltimore for the Divisional Playoffs.