Baltimore Ravens 2010 Schedule: Playoffs or Bust?

Bailey BrautiganFeatured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2010

Baltimore Ravens 2010 Schedule: Playoffs or Bust?

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    The Baltimore Ravens' 2010 schedule starts tonight as they take on the New York Jets at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Monday Night Football.

    The Ravens are considered serious playoff contenders for this NFL season, and this game will be their stage on which to demonstrate their talents on both ends of the ball.

    Starting with the Jets, let's take a look at the entire Ravens schedule and go through their chances of winning and keys to the games, and then we'll predict a final score.

    Can the Ravens make a run for the playoffs? Or will they run into too many roadblocks throughout their schedule?

Week 1: At The New York Jets

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    The Ravens will take on the New York Jets at 7:00 p.m. ET tonight.

    Why They'll Win: Joe Flacco is a better quarterback than Mark Sanchez. Period. Since this game will be mostly a defensive battle, it will come down to quarterback consistency, and Flacco has Sanchez beat in this department.

    Why They Could Lose: The Ravens should look to put the ball in the air over relying on their running backs during this game. While this will become apparent early on, if the Ravens are too conservative on their offense, they could find themselves falling behind the Jets.

    Key to the Game: There is a big question mark regarding Darrelle Revis and the Jets' secondary before this game. The Ravens will soon find out if Revis has any rust on him after missing the preseason, and Revis' performance could be the main factor in this football game.

    Predicted Score: Ravens 27, Jets 14

Week 2: At The Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Ravens will play the Cincinnati Bengals at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 19th.

    Why They'll Win: Week 1 showed us that the Bengals might not be all they're hyped up to be. Cincinnati was crushed by the Patriots, and the Ravens will have plenty to work with when deciding how to pick apart the Bengals' offense.

    Why They Could Lose: The Ravens have an excellent rush defense, but Cincinnati is more of a passing team. If Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens have a good game, the Ravens will have a hard time keeping up—especially with the absence of Ed Reed.

    Key to the Game: The Ravens must protect against the pass when playing the Cincinnati Bengals. Take some cues from New England, and shut down "Batman and Robin" early on.

    Predicted Final Score: Ravens 35, Bengals 24

Week 3: Vs. The Cleveland Browns

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    The Ravens will play their first home game against the Browns at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 26th.

    Why They'll Win: Other than the fact that this is the Cleveland Browns? The Browns have looked good on defense so far this season.  This could be because they played Tampa Bay, but they are yet again at the bottom of the AFC North.

    Why They Could Lose: If the entire Ravens offense gets food poisoning.

    Key to the Game: If the Ravens score early on, and they will, the Browns will have no shot at catching up against Baltimore's defense.

    Predicted Final Score: Browns 10, Ravens 38

Week 4: At The Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The Ravens will travel to Pittsburgh on Sunday, October 3rd at 1:00 p.m. ET.

    Why They'll Win: With Ben Roethlisberger out for this game, the Steelers will have to rely on Dennis Dixon yet again. Expect Pittsburgh to play conservative on offense, which will be bad news for the Steelers against the Ravens' rush defense.

    Why They Could Lose: The Ravens' secondary takes a hit with Ed Reed out for at least the first five weeks, and the Steelers could put up some points when targeting Hines Ward and Mike Wallace.

    Key to the Game: The Ravens will have a more consistent quarterback in Joe Flacco, and he will need to keep the ball in the air, while avoiding Troy Polamalu, instead of trying to penetrate the Steelers defensive line.

    Predicted Final Score: Ravens 28, Steelers 21

Week 5: Vs. The Denver Broncos

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    The Ravens will host the Denver Broncos at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 10th.

    Why They'll Win: The Broncos had trouble defending against Jacksonville's explosive offense this Sunday, and I expect the Ravens to be no different. Flacco will be able to rely on his receiving corps and new acquisitions Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

    Why They Could Lose: After Week 1, Denver's passing offense is ranked 5th in the league, and the Ravens secondary could have some trouble defending the pass.

    Key to the Game: Ray Lewis will have to do what he does best: Shut down the quarterback. If the Ravens can shut down the pass and force Denver to run the ball, they will have this game in the bag.

    Predicted Final Score: Broncos 27, Ravens 38

Week 6: At The New England Patriots

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    The Ravens will take on the New England Patriots on Sunday, October 17th at 1:00 p.m. ET.

    Why They'll Win: Even though the Patriots' off-field troubles didn't seem to have much of an impact on their game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the drama continues in New England. Randy Moss is still expressing disappointment with the absence of his contract extension, and now Logan Mankins is joining the party. The Ravens could take advantage of a weakened New England offensive line and force the Patriots to lose some serious yardage.

    Why They Could Lose: New England looked great against the Cincinnati Bengals, and regardless of everything going on outside of their football games, the Patriots don't seem any worse for the wear.

    Key to the Game: Again. Get to the quarterback! Stop the pass, and force Brady to keep the ball on the ground.

    Predicted Final Score: Ravens 24, New England 38

Week 7: Vs The Buffalo Bills

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    The Ravens will host the Buffalo Bills at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 24th.

    Why They'll Win: The Ravens will tear apart the Bills' offensive line and keep quarterback, Trent Edwards scrambling to avoid sacks.

    Why They Could Lose: Just like in every other game, the Ravens should not make the mistake of underestimating their opponent. The Bills have a fine, young running back in C.J. Spiller, and the Bills might give him a chance to shine during this game.

    Key to the Game: The Ravens' defensive line will be the main factor in their victory over the Bills. Get through the O-line, and make Trent Edwards too scared to even touch the football.

    Predicted Final Score: Bills 7, Ravens 35

Week 9: Vs The Miami Dolphins

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    The Ravens will come of their bye week to host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, November 7th at 1:00 p.m. ET.

    Why They'll Win: The Dolphins find themselves in the middle of the pack when comparing total offense, but it takes a team in the top 5 to penetrate the Ravens' defensive line.

    Why They Could Lose: The Dolphins have stepped it up on defense, and they could put some pressure on Joe Flacco. Even though the Dolphins' first regular season game was against arguably one of the worst teams in the league, the Buffalo Bills, the Ravens must not underestimate Miami's defense.

    Key to the Game: This will be the best game for the Ravens' running backs. Miami is better at defending against the pass, so expect Ray Rice to pad his stats during this game.

    Predicted Final Score: Dolphins 17, Ravens 24

Week 10: At The Atlanta Falcons

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    The Ravens will visit the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, November 11th at 8:20 p.m. ET.

    Why They'll Win: If the wounded Steelers can do it, the Ravens can certainly pull off a win against the Falcons. The Falcons will have trouble both running and passing the ball—especially with Ed Reed projected to be back.

    Why They Could Lose: Atlanta's short game is their best weapon against this Baltimore defense. The Ravens will need to interrupt Matt Ryan's short passes to keep the Falcons from picking up first downs.

    Key to the Game: The Ravens will need to show that they can score both offensively and defensively in order to win this game. If Baltimore can capitalize on turnovers, the Falcons don't stand a chance.

    Predicted Final Score: Ravens 28, Falcons 17

Week 11: At The Carolina Panthers

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    The Ravens will take on the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, November 21st at 1:00 p.m. ET.

    Why They'll Win: The Panthers were unable to defend against the New York Giants' passing game this past Sunday, and Joe Flacco can again make use of his stacked receiving corps during this game.

    Why They Could Lose: The Panthers were able to get an early lead when they played the Giants, but they were unable to put up more points after the first half. If Carolina can score early and often, the Ravens might have trouble catching up.

    Key to the Game: Matt Moore threw three interceptions while playing the Giants, and the Ravens will need to put pressure on this quarterback to force sloppy plays.

    Predicted Final Score: Ravens 38,  Panthers 27

Week 12: Vs The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The Ravens will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, November 28th at 1:00 p.m. ET.

    Why They'll Win: The Buccaneers defense had a tough time getting started during Sunday's game against the Browns, and the Ravens should be able to rack up some early points and maintain their lead throughout the game.

    Why They Could Lose: Tampa Bay quarterback, Josh Freeman, has one heck of an arm, so we can expect the Bucs to send the ball through the air for some big plays.

    Key to the Game: Baltimore's secondary needs to make sure Freeman never hits his targets. Expect the Ravens to earn multiple interceptions during this game.

    Predicted Final Score: Buccaneers 7, Ravens 28

Week 13: Vs. The Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The Ravens will host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, December 5th at 8:20 p.m ET.

    Why They'll Win: As always when the Ravens play the Steelers, this will be a defensive battle. The Ravens should look to penetrate a less-than-stellar Pittsburgh offensive line and put pressure on Ben Roethlisberger.

    Why They Could Lose: Ben Roethlisberger will be back from his suspension, and the Steelers will want revenge for their early season loss to the Ravens. Even though Joe Flacco will have found his rhythm as a near-elite quarterback, the Steelers win in the QB department.

    Key to the Game: Ray Lewis will need to get to Big Ben early and often to prevent the quarterback from making the big plays. Even though the Ravens may want to play conservative on offense against an outstanding Steelers secondary, Pittsburgh is great at defending on the ground as well.

    Predicted Final Score: Steelers 24,  Ravens 17

Week 14: At The Houston Texans

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    The Ravens will take on the Houston Texans on Monday, December 13th at 8:00 p.m. ET.

    Why They'll Win: The Ravens will rely on defense for a shot at the Houston Texans. Even though Houston has a great ground game, the Baltimore defensive line should hold strong.

    Why They Could Lose: The Texans have more than one offensive trick up their sleeves. Not only is Matt Schaub an extremely accurate quarterback, but he also has the option of letting Arian Foster pick up some serious yardage on the ground.

    Key to the Game: This is a game that the Ravens' defense cannot win on its own. Baltimore will have to keep up offensively with the Texans.

    Predicted Final Score: Ravens 28, Texans 35

Week 15: Vs. The New Orleans Saints

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    The Ravens will host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, December 19th at 1:00 p.m. ET.

    Why They'll Win: The Saints are much better offensively than they are defensively, so the Ravens will look to Flacco to put up some points. Even with their victory over the Minnesota Vikings, the Saints have demonstrated that their offense is not unstoppable.

    Why They Could Lose: The Saints are the reining Super Bowl champs, and the Ravens could be their biggest competition this season. Look for the Saints to put up points early, and look for the Ravens to play catch-up.

    Key to the Game: Shutting down the Saints means shutting down Drew Brees. Baltimore will need to penetrate the New Orleans offensive line and force Brees to the ground.

    Predicted Final Score: Saints 28, Ravens 24

Week 16: At The Cleveland Browns

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    The Ravens will take on the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, December 26th at 1:00 p.m. ET.

    Why They'll Win: By the end of the season, expect the Browns to be beat up pretty bad, and expect the Ravens to show them no mercy. The Browns will have trouble on both ends of the ball.

    Why They Could Lose: Last season, the Browns ended their season with a string of victories. Even though the Browns probably won't make the playoffs, they could give the Ravens a late season struggle.

    Key to the Game: Beat up on the Browns offensively.

    Predicted Final Score: Ravens 35, Browns 17

Week 17: Vs. The Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Ravens will host the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, January 2nd at 1:00 p.m. ET.

    Why They'll Win: The Bengals could be the Ravens' main competition for the AFC North, but we will probably see a repeat of Week 2. Expect Baltimore to limit Carson Palmer's options by over-covering receivers and forcing the game to the ground.

    Why They Could Lose: This is a big "if," but if the Bengals refuse to run the ball as much as the Ravens would like and challenge the Ravens' secondary, Cincinnati could pull off some long plays against Baltimore.

    Key to the Game: Make Carson Palmer sweat on every snap. The Ravens' defensive line needs to put enough pressure on Palmer to force turnovers.

    Predicted Final Score: Bengals 24, Ravens 31