Baltimore Ravens 2013 Schedule: Win-Loss Predictions for Every Game
The Baltimore Ravens are still the defending Super Bowl champions, but when the 2013 season starts in Denver, it will be a very different team that puts on those Ravens helmets.
General manager Ozzie Newsome refused to mortgage the future in the hopes of keeping the championship squad together. The result was a roster shakeup unlike anything that any Super Bowl champion had ever attempted.
The Ravens lost eight players who were on the field for an average of 89 percent of the team’s snaps. Consequently, there are a lot of new pieces that have to get acclimated to the system and a lot of team chemistry that needs to be rebuilt.
The roster turnover, loss of leadership and a potential Super Bowl hangover have many experts predicting that Baltimore won't even make the playoffs this season. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that the Baltimore Ravens love being the underdogs.
Here is the Ravens' regular-season schedule for 2013:
|1||at Denver Broncos (Thursday Night Football)|
|2||vs. Cleveland Browns|
|3||vs. Houston Texans|
|4||at Buffalo Bills|
|5||at Miami Dolphins|
|6||vs. Green Bay Packers|
|7||at Pittsburgh Steelers|
|9||at Cleveland Browns|
|10||vs. Cincinnati Bengals|
|11||at Chicago Bears|
|12||vs. New York Jets|
|13||vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Thanksgiving Night Football)|
|14||vs. Minnesota Vikings|
|15||at Detroit Lions (Monday Night Football)|
|16||vs. New England Patriots (Sunday Night Football)|
|17||at Cincinnati Bengals|
What follows is a preview, prediction and an X-factor for every game on the Ravens’ calendar.
Week 1 at Denver Broncos
The Baltimore Ravens return to the Mile High City for a rematch of the AFC Divisional Round game that was voted the top game of the 2012 season.
The Baltimore Ravens' defense has a ton of new parts, and they get to start the year with what should be their toughest test of the season.
X-FACTOR: Von Miller
Perhaps the biggest storyline of the season opener might be the possible absence of Von Miller. If Miller is suspended, that will definitely be an advantage for the Ravens, as the Broncos will be operating without their two best pass-rushers from last season (and one of them, Dumervil, will be suiting up for the Ravens).
PREDICTION: Denver Broncos 33, Baltimore Ravens 24 (0-1)
With an offense that is learning to play without Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta, the extreme turnover on defense and Peyton Manning and Co. out for revenge, the Baltimore Ravens will lose the opener.
Week 2 vs. Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns focused on upgrading their defense over the offseason. They took Paul Kruger from the Ravens, signed Desmond Bryant and drafted Barkevious Mingo with the sixth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
They didn't do too much to improve their passing game (which will be without the suspended Josh Gordon for this game), which means that the offense will once again revolve around Trent Richardson, a fact that Norv Turner isn't shy to point out.
New general manager Michael Lombardi has made it known that he isn't sold on Brandon Weeden, calling the draft pick a "panicked decision" according to CBSSports.com. The alternatives aren't too exciting, but Weeden's starting job may be in jeopardy.
X-FACTOR: Baltimore Ravens offensive line
The Cleveland Browns have an underrated front seven that can stuff the run and get after the quarterback.
The Ravens O-line will need to hold its own in this matchup, or it might get too close for comfort.
PREDICTION: Baltimore Ravens 34, Cleveland Browns 15 (1-1)
The Browns may have improved their defense, but their offense is still very weak. The Browns won’t get into the end zone, and this should be an easy home victory for the Ravens and an appropriate "Welcome Home" game for the defending champs.
Week 3 vs. Houston Texans
Hopkins should become an outside threat to pair with Andre Johnson, something the Texans have long desired.
This marks the third consecutive game in which a big-name player faces off with his previous team (Elvis Dumervil, Paul Kruger and Ed Reed). Reed is still recovering from offseason hip surgery, however, and it is unclear when he will be able to suit up for his new team.
In last season's meeting, the Houston Texans demolished the Ravens to the tune of a franchise-record 43 points. The Texans defense bullied the Ravens, forcing Joe Flacco to throw two interceptions, complete less than 50 percent of his passes and finish the game with a passer rating of 45.4.
X-FACTORS: Matt Schaub and Ravens safeties
Matt Schaub was a much less effective passer on the road last season (79.5 passer rating vs. 101.7 at home). Arian Foster will have an impact on the game, but the Ravens must focus on preventing Schaub from making his mark.
Related to Schaub’s success will be the discipline of the Ravens safeties (especially the rookie, Matt Elam) not to bite on the play-action fakes that the Texans are so excellent at employing.
PREDICTION: Baltimore Ravens 27, Houston Texans 20 (2-1)
At M&T Bank Stadium, the result should be different than last year’s blowout. The Baltimore Ravens will play well at home and get a crucial victory against an AFC heavyweight.
Week 4 at Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills' biggest splash of the offseason was drafting EJ Manuel in the first round of the NFL draft. Buffalo hopes to have found its quarterback of the future, but the operative word there is future.
Manuel has incredible upside and all the physical tools to eventually become a franchise quarterback, but he is very raw and should experience some serious growing pains in his rookie season.
The offense revolves around C.J. Spiller, who averaged a ridiculous six yards per carry last year. It is unlikely that he'll be able to maintain that gaudy average, but he is a home-run threat on every play.
X-FACTOR: EJ Manuel
If Manuel maintains the poise that he has shown so far, he could be a dynamic dual-threat quarterback who has the chance to pose some problems for the Ravens defense. The combination of Spiller and a not-so-raw Manuel could be dangerous.
PREDICTION: Baltimore Ravens 35, Buffalo Bills 16 (3-1)
The Baltimore Ravens should be able to take care of business quite easily in this contest.
Week 5 at Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins were the most aggressive team of the offseason. Just 40 minutes into free agency, the Dolphins had signed Mike Wallace to a $60 million contract. They proceeded to sign Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler to big contracts and also re-sign safety Chris Clemons. That was just the first day of free agency.
General manager Jeff Ireland brought in more targets for Ryan Tannehill, signing Brandon Gibson and Dustin Keller (who is out for the year). This offense is significantly better, and Tannehill has the weapons to put up some big numbers.
The Dolphins' aggressiveness continued into the draft, as they traded up nine spots to select Dion Jordan. Jordan is a freakish athlete and a gifted pass-rusher capable of dropping back into coverage as well.
New players are all over the depth chart, but there is a lot of talent on this Miami team.
X-FACTOR: Jonathan Martin
Jake Long’s departure to St. Louis opened the door for Martin to take over as starting left tackle. ProFootballFocus ranked Martin as the second-worst tackle (minimum 60 percent of team snaps, membership required) in the NFL, but perhaps he will perform better when returning to his collegiate position on the blind side.
One of the reasons Martin’s play is so important is because Ryan Tannehill struggled against standard pressure (four or fewer rushers) last year. If Martin is solid, teams will have to send more pass-rushers, which Tannehill was good at reading. If Martin is as bad as last year, defenses can sit back and Tannehill will likely struggle again.
PREDICTION: Miami Dolphins 23, Baltimore Ravens 16 (3-2)
The trend with Joe Flacco so far has been a much better performance at home as opposed to on the road. Coming off what should be an easy victory at Buffalo, this is a classic trap game for the Ravens. The Miami Dolphins will come away with an upset victory.
Week 6 vs. Green Bay Packers
The Packers turned to the draft to add a dimension the offense has been lacking for a while—a reliable running back. They drafted not one, but two running backs (Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin) who should be able to contribute.
For either of them to be successful, the Packers will need to get more out of their offensive line than they got last year when Aaron Rodgers was sacked a league-high 51 times.
Unfortunately, starting left tackle Bryan Bulaga is out for the year with a torn ACL. The O-line is once again the weakness of the team, as the defense is good at all positions except Charles Woodson’s vacated safety spot.
X-FACTORS: Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and Haloti Ngata
The deficiencies of the Green Bay offensive line have already been discussed. As a result, getting pressure on Aaron Rodgers will be imperative for the Ravens to win this football game.
Suggs and Dumervil will both have good opportunities matched up against the Green Bay tackles, and Ngata needs to dominate the middle of the trenches. Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL, and making him uncomfortable is essential for the Ravens’ chances.
PREDICTION: Baltimore Ravens 27, Green Bay Packers 24 (4-2)
Returning home after a disappointing loss, the Ravens will be focused. The Baltimore front seven should dominate the Packers’ O-line, preventing the Green Bay running game from getting established and disrupting Rodgers all game long.
Week 7 at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t had a losing season since Ben Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004. They came dangerously close last season, finishing 8-8, which was a tremendous disappointment for the organization.
They lost Mike Wallace, but many people don’t think he was worth the money Miami paid him, and he has some flaws as a primary receiver. It will be important for Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and rookie Markus Wheaton to fill the void, especially with the uncertain health status of Heath Miller.
Roethlisberger can lead this team to the postseason, but the more important question will be whether he can remain healthy for the entire season. The offensive line has some weaknesses and very little depth.
For all the fuss that has been made about an “aging Pittsburgh defense,” they were still the No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL last year, and they’re looking like an exceptional unit again this season—if everyone can stay healthy.
X-FACTOR: Heath Miller’s health
Miller tore his ACL and injured his MCL and PCL in Week 16 of the 2012 season. Miller was Roethlisberger’s go-to weapon last season, leading the Steelers in receptions, touchdowns and receiving first downs.
His recovery from knee surgery is going well so far, and the expectation is that he’ll be removed from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list before the season starts, according to The Pittsburgh Post Gazette. If he remains on the PUP list, this Week 7 game would be the first game he could play.
PREDICTION: Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Baltimore Ravens 23 (4-3)
These games are always too close to call. If Roethlisberger has his favorite target back, the Steelers should have the edge at home.
Week 9 at Cleveland Browns
With John Harbaugh as head coach, the Baltimore Ravens have never lost a game after their bye week. This record will be put to the test, since all of those wins were at home.
The Cleveland Browns will be coming off a three-game stretch against the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs, all of whom will provide tough competition. This game against the Ravens marks the start of a three-game stretch in which they play the other AFC North teams.
This could be right in the middle of a six-game losing streak for Cleveland, and the Ravens will definitely get the Browns’ best shot at FirstEnergy Stadium.
X-FACTOR: Joe Flacco
This game is not going to be easy as it looks. The Browns defense is underrated, and Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce will have a rough game if Joe Flacco can’t establish himself on the road.
Road games have been Flacco’s weakness in the past, and with so many tough games on the schedule, he needs to be locked in so the Ravens can win every game they’re supposed to.
PREDICTION: Baltimore Ravens 20, Cleveland Browns 16 (5-3)
John Harbaugh’s winning streak with extended preparation time continues.
Week 10 vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals have been the trendy pick to win the AFC North this season. If you think the Ravens don’t know that, think again.
Sarah Ellison of BaltimoreRavens.com reports that John Harbaugh has already shown the team some expert predictions picking the Bengals to win the AFC North.
There are some good reasons for the hype surrounding the Bengals. Firstly, their defensive line is as strong as any other, led by Geno Atkins.
Atkins is the best defensive tackle in the NFL, accumulating 12.5 sacks last year while being a dominant force against the run. ProFootballFocus gave him an overall grade of 80.0 last year (membership required). The next highest DT scored a 31.7.
The focus of the Bengals’ 2013 draft was to provide Andy Dalton with more weapons, and they acquired two intriguing pieces (Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard) that could give the Bengals an explosive offense.
The combination of A.J. Green, Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert, Bernard and Mohamed Sanu gives the Bengals offense the playmakers it hasn’t had for a while.
X-FACTOR: Andy Dalton
This is the year in which Andy Dalton has no excuses. The weapons are there and the O-line is strong. He will need to prove that he is the man to lead the Cincinnati Bengals through the playoffs, or the front office will have no hesitation in moving on.
PREDICTION: Baltimore Ravens 27, Cincinnati Bengals 23 (6-3)
The Ravens opened last season with a dominating home victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. This game won’t be so lopsided, but the outcome will remain the same.
Week 11 at Chicago Bears
The Baltimore Ravens weren’t the only team to lose a Hall of Fame middle linebacker this summer. Brian Urlacher called it quits and left a huge void in the Chicago Bears' linebacking corps.
Other than linebacker, the Bears defense looks like a solid group whose success revolves around the pass-rushing prowess of Julius Peppers and the turnover-forcing cornerback duo of Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings.
The Bears led the NFL in takeaways last year with a whopping 44 combined interceptions and fumbles recovered and scored a league-best nine defensive touchdowns.
The most important question for Chicago is how much it improved its offensive line this offseason. The Bears drafted right guard Kyle Long in the first round and signed Jermon Bushrod to play left tackle.
Jay Cutler has been a punching bag for opposing defenses since he arrived in Chicago, and the line needs to give him enough time in the pocket if the offense is going to progress.
X-FACTOR: Chicago Bears offensive line
If they can protect Jay Cutler, they have a good chance of winning the game. If they continue their woeful 2012 form, the Ravens defense will have a field day and Cutler will spend most of the day on his backside.
PREDICTION: Chicago Bears 20, Baltimore Ravens 16 (6-4)
The Bears defense will contain Joe Flacco and make enough big plays to pull out the win.
Week 12 vs. New York Jets
The circus is coming to Baltimore! Oh wait, it’s just the New York Jets.
Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley are the team’s top three receivers if healthy, and that isn’t an awe-inspiring bunch. Sanchez’s security blanket from last year, Dustin Keller, is no longer in New York, and the Jets did nothing in the draft or free agency to acquire more offensive weapons.
The offensive line is still a strength, and if Chris Ivory can stay healthy, he might be able to put up some good numbers on the ground. Regardless, this offense is going to struggle, and the Jets will need to rely on their defense to win games.
X-FACTOR: Baltimore Ravens defensive line
The Jets offensive line is a strength that can allow them to run over defenses. The Ravens D-line has undergone massive upgrades this offseason, but they’ll need to be on their game to prevent the Jets from establishing their running game.
PREDICTION: Baltimore Ravens 31, New York Jets 10 (7-4)
This should be an easy home game for the Ravens. The inability of the Jets offense to move the football should be a problem for them all season long.
Week 13 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
What a game to be thankful for! One of the NFL’s best rivalries takes center stage on Thanksgiving night, and it should be another epic tussle.
The Ravens will have their minds set on avenging a home loss to the Charlie Batch-led Steelers in Week 13 last season. More importantly, division games are critical in what should be a competitive battle for AFC North supremacy this year.
If the Steelers win in Week 7, this will be a must-win game for the Ravens.
X-FACTOR: Ravens’ short and intermediate receivers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the best teams in the NFL at defending the deep ball. They forced the lowest average yards per passing attempt last year, and allowed the fewest number of passing plays longer than 20 and 40 yards.
Flacco was 4-of-18 on passes more than 15 yards downfield (including 0-of-7 to Torrey Smith) against the Steelers in 2012. Without Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta, it will be crucial for some other receivers to be effective in the short-passing game for the Ravens.
PREDICTION: Baltimore Ravens 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 21 (8-4)
In the history of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, 40.5 percent of the games have been decided by three points or fewer. The trend continues this season, as both teams are evenly matched.
Week 14 vs. Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson almost broke the single-season rushing record with teams stacking the box against him. What could he do if defenses were forced to pay any attention to the passing game?
That’s what the Minnesota Vikings were hoping to find out this offseason after signing Greg Jennings and drafting Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round.
The shortcomings of the passing game eventually fall on the shoulders of Christian Ponder, who was inconsistent last year. Without a threatening quarterback, teams are still going to put eight men in the box and force Minnesota to beat them with the pass.
X-FACTOR: Ravens linebackers
If the Ravens contain Adrian Peterson, they’ll like their chances of winning this game. That’s easier said than done, however, and the brunt of the task will fall on the linebackers. Courtney Upshaw and Terrell Suggs will need to be consistent in setting the edge, and the inside 'backers have to tackle well.
PREDICTION: Baltimore Ravens 24, Minnesota Vikings 14 (9-4)
The Ravens will be much better against the run this year. They'll do their best to contain Peterson, and Ponder won't be able to carry the Vikings to a win.
Week 15 at Detroit Lions
The Lions lost their last eight games, and they lost five games by four points or less. They were winless in their division (granted, it’s a tough division) and posted the NFC’s worst home record at 2-6.
Luck may have played a role in their frustrating year. Lions receivers were tackled inside the opposition 5-yard line a league-high 23 times. Additionally, Calvin Johnson was brought down at the 1-yard line five times!
After a year in which Matthew Stafford set the record for most pass attempts in a season, we know that the Lions will continue to throw at every possible opportunity in 2013.
They signed Reggie Bush, who can be an effective runner but is a devastating receiving threat out of the backfield (especially considering that Stafford targeted running backs 129 times last year).
X-FACTOR: Ravens secondary
The Lions are going to throw the ball a lot. One cornerback is going to draw the short straw and the get the assignment of matching up with Calvin Johnson. Regardless of who it is, the 6’5” Johnson will have a big size advantage, and safety help over the top will be necessary.
PREDICTION: Baltimore Ravens 34, Detroit Lions 24 (10-4)
There should be a lot of big plays in this game, and it will be a relatively high-scoring affair.
Week 16 vs. New England Patriots
It will be strange for Tom Brady to take the field against the Ravens and not have to worry about Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. Nevertheless, it should still make for an exciting game.
Fortunately for them, Stevan Ridley had an excellent season last year and the Pats have a running game they can lean on if necessary.
Considering that No. 12 is their quarterback, they probably won’t have to rely too heavily on running the ball.
X-FACTOR: Patriots receivers
The two best receivers on the roster (Gronkowski and Danny Amendola) are both injury-prone, so some other receivers will need to establish good chemistry with Brady. There are four rookies (Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld) who have all impressed so far in training camp.
At least a couple of them will need to carry that momentum into the regular season.
PREDICTION: New England Patriots 31, Baltimore Ravens 27 (10-5)
Contrary to popular belief, the Patriots offense is going to be fine this year and they should once again be one of the AFC’s best teams. New England pulls out the close win on the road.
Week 17 at Cincinnati Bengals
Like last year, the Ravens end the season on the road in Cincinnati. The Ravens rested their starters for that game, but they likely won’t have the luxury of doing that this year.
X-FACTOR: Playoff implications
It is highly likely that this game will have an impact on the playoff standings. Divisional games are always important, and Cincinnati could need to win this game for tiebreaker purposes.
Alternatively, the Bengals might have clinched the AFC North already, so they may be the team resting their starters in this game. The standings will affect how this game is played and could drastically change the outcome.
PREDICTION: Cincinnati Bengals 20, Baltimore Ravens 17 (10-6)
If both teams are playing at full strength, the Bengals should take it at home.