Two weeks ago following the NFL Draft, I broke down and offered my predictions for the first half of the Baltimore Ravens 2013 schedule. Today, I offer up the second half.
To recap, the Ravens own the fifth toughest strength of schedule heading into the 2013 season. Nevertheless, the toughest part of that schedule, at least according to the wins and losses of their opponents from last season is yet to come. During the first half, Baltimore played just three teams that made the playoffs last season but did play five games on road.
This means the second half of the 2013 schedule will be played predominantly at M & T Bank Stadium, where under John Harbaugh, the Ravens have a .825 winning percentage losing just seven times in five years.
I had Baltimore opening the season with a loss to Denver before rebounding 10 days later to win three in a row, including a ruining of Ed Reed’s homecoming with a victory over the Houston Texans in Week three. Following a win at Buffalo, I foresee the Ravens traveling to Miami and showing Dannell Ellerbe what he could have been a part of had he stayed in the Charm City, with a close win in South Florida.
I then have the Ravens hitting a bit of snag. I predicted Baltimore would enter the bye week losing back-to-back games to the Packers at home and Steelers in Pittsburgh. What ails any Ravens losing streak is always a game vs. the Browns. This season will be no different, as the purple and black regroup following the bye week with a win and sixth consecutive sweep of the Cleveland Browns, to finish the first half with a 5-3 mark.
The combined record of the teams Baltimore played in the first half for last season was 67-61 (.523) and while that is nothing to shake your head at, the second half, at least on paper, poses a bit more of a challenge. During the final eight games, Baltimore’s opponents strength of schedule record for 2012 was 70-58 (.546).
The Ravens will play four games (2 vs. Cincinnati) against three playoff teams and the Bears, who won 10 games last season but did not qualify for post-season play. Some quick highlights of the second half shows that two coaches will face a Ravens team that have strong Baltimore ties. The first made his coaching name in Baltimore and the other grew up there and attended Mt. Saint Joseph High School in West Baltimore.
Former Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and the NY Jets visit on Nov 24 and although NY will not be bringing their cornerback island with them, Sexy Rexy is sure to have his troops fired up and ready to play. Baltimore will then travel to Detroit, who finished a disappointing 4-10 last season and are coached by Jim Schwartz.
Schwartz grew up In Baltimore and can still be seen rocking out to the Baltimore based 80’s hair band, KIX. However, he is likely starting the season on the hot seat after last year's 4-12 finish. Schwartz still fondly recalls his old stomping grounds of places like Hammerjacks when doing interviews and although he will admit ti liking the Tigers, his favorite baseball team is the Orioles. Schwartz even still talks with that endearing” Bawmer” accent “Hon”.
The Ravens, who faced the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year in Week 3, when JJ Watt visited with the Texans, will host the 2012 NFL MVP in early December, when “All Day” Adrian Peterson comes to play.
In addition, who could forget that M & T Bank Stadium will once again host the largest dessert night in America on the fourth Thursday in November when the Steelers come to town for some pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving night.
If that’s not enough for you, how about an AFC Championships game rematch for the second consecutive season in Baltimore, as the Patriots close out the 2013 home portion of the schedule when Tommy Boy and Co. come calling three days before Christmas.
The suspense is killing me, as to how these games will turn out, so here are my predictions for how the 5-3 Ravens finish their second half schedule: