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What Does This Season Hold in Store for the Ravens?

Now that the dress rehearsals are over and the team is cut down, it’s time for me to gaze into my magic eight ball and see what the season holds for my hometown team.

There are certainly a few variables that I can’t really use until they actually occur. The first being injuries. It seems that many Baltimore fans are torn this year either siding with the idea that the team will be better because it will be healthier or that last year’s record was really more a sign of things to come and a true picture of how much change this club needs.

A second is what I would call the “X” factor. That certain, I don’t know what, that allows players to emerge and teams to catch fire and allows them to surprise the pundits on the way to playoff glory. For an example I give you our Northern rivals, the Browns. Did anyone forget that they got ripped Week one of 2007 and it looked like Romeo Crennel was on his way to unemployment line. We all know that turned out.

So, I’m putting myself out there out in cyberspace and we can all click on it in January and see how I did. Will I prove to more of a pigskin Nostradamus or Carnac?

Week 1- 9/7/08 vs. Cincinnati Bengals: I’ve got a great feeling about this game for several reasons. They look even more nicked up than we do, the former Chad Johnson has officially fallen off the deep end, and their defense can’t stop a runny nose. Marvin Lewis, the former defensive darling of Baltimore will be looking for employment by week nine. WIN

Week 2- 9/14/08 @ Houston Texas: This isn’t your older brothers Texan squad. Their pass game is tough with Andre Johnson leading the way. It will be huge to get pressure on Schaub early. Their run game doesn’t scare me but the Ravens record on the road last season was less than stellar. I’d say it’s a toss-up. LOSS

Week 3- 9/21/08 vs. Cleveland Browns:
I’m still trying to shake the memories of the overtime field goal game and the fact that Derek Anderson has transformed himself into a very good pro quarterback. Didn’t we have a guy named Anderson? I feel like they really made an effort to upgrade themselves and they have a lot of weapons. LOSS

Week 4 – 9/29/08 @ Pittsburgh Steelers:
Hmm. A Monday night game against the Steelers. Last season it was the only game that I actually turned off and didn’t watch all the way through. I would have only missed Terry Bradshaw throwing a TD strike Lynn Swann and more of the comedy stylings of Mel Blount. I’ve got a bad feeling about this. LOSS

Week 5 – 10/5/08 vs. Tennessee Titans:
The Titans can run but stopping run is the one thing that the Ravens defense has always done well. This will force poster boy, Vince Young to win the game with his arm. As long as they don’t let him escape the pocket I really like our chances. WIN

Week 6 – 10/12/08 @ Indianapolis Colts:
This game is still a sore spot for the old timers. Many still haven’t recovered from the home playoff loss two years ago and the secondary still hasn’t recovered from the beatdown handed out in 07’. They have loads of speed. The only hope here is to control the clock and line. LOSS

Week 7 – 10/19/08 @ Miami Dolphins:
This should be a win, oh wait, I didn’t say that. But I see raggedy arm, Chad Pennington and the midnight toker, Ricky Williams on the offensive side of the ball. Jason Taylor danced over the Snyder’s gang and Zach Thomas is a Cowboy. I feel better now. WIN

Week 8 – 10/26/08 vs. Oakland Raiders: The silver and black have slowly and very quietly improved. Will McFadden be the wild game breaker that Peterson was last year? Their pass defense is tough but they can he had up front on runs and we may need to call on some special teams magic for this one. WIN

Week 9- 11/2/08 @ Cleveland Browns:
It was this game last year in week three that these teams pulled the craziest swap since Freaky Friday. The Ravens were headed to the basement and the Browns were knocking on playoffs door. I don’t expect much different here. LOSS

Week 10 – 11/9/08 – BYE –
I have them at 4-6 heading into a much needed bye week. Not too bad all things considered but did you get a load of the back end of this schedule. I guess they really did get rid of that giving you a schedule based on past records ‘cause it’s tough.

Week 11 – 11/16/08 @ New York Giants: They had a great run to the title and they were the only New York team I openly cheered for, well ever to defeat Belicheck’s crew. The post championship exodus began. They are solid all the way around but not superior in any one area. But, again this is a road game and that isn’t favorable. LOSS

Week 12 – 11/23/08 vs. Philadelphia Eagles:
If this team remains healthy they could be tops in the NFC East. They have a game changer in Westbrook and they blitz-blitz and blitz again. Harbaugh should hope for mercy from his old employer. LOSS

Week 13 – 11/30/08 @ Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis should be fired, Chris Henry should be arrested, (Again) and this looks like a winnable road game. I think this appears tailor made to stop their losing streak. WIN

Week 14 – 12/7/08 vs. Washington Redskins:
This is another rivalry game, at least in the minds of Baltimore fans. They seem to be following the Giants blueprint and while they will have trouble in their division (arguably the toughest in the NFL) they should give the Ravens fits on both ends. LOSS

Week 15 – 12/14/08 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers:
One of the few bright spots for me last year was watching a home dismantling of our division rival and watching those yellow hankies disappear and they headed for the exits. No such luck here. LOSS

Week 16 – 12/20/08 @ Dallas Cowboys:
Mission: defeat America’s Team on the last game ever to played in Texas Stadium. And while they are at it the team will solve the gas crisis, strengthen the dollar, and end the Iraq war too. Where’s Tom Cruise for another sequel? LOSS

Week 17 – 12/28/08 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars:
Jack Del Rio leads a well-rounded squad that tries to break into the first tier this season. They only hope her is that some starters are getting rest for the playoffs. LOSS

Let’s check the scorecards. I have this campaign at 5-11. They have a very difficult schedule playing the ultra-competitive NFC East (who should field three playoff squads), and the AFC South (who almost could do the same) and of course the division schedule. That’s tough sledding to be sure.

Baltimore appears to be built the same as in past years, great run defense, excellent special teams and the offense will still need to actually score. Many other subplots should develop over this season, will Joe Flacco continue to be thrust into the starting role, will the defense regain it’s luster, and how will everyone respond to a new coach on the sidelines. It’s always fun predicting the future but let’s see how it plays out.

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