Baltimore enters 2013 as the defending Superbowl Champions. Unfortunately for the Ravens, winning the title came at a price as they lost several key players in the off-season, through free agency, trade and retirement. The Ravens have a tough slate ahead of them and their ability to overcome key personnel losses on both sides of the ball will be key in determining their fate in 2013, but with quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Ray Rice and head coach John Harbaugh all back for another go-round, things should at least stay interesting Baltimore this season.
The AFC North drew the NFC North and the AFC East in the schedule rotation for 2013, giving the Ravens one of the toughest schedules any team will face in the NFL. Here's a month by month look at the regular season:
9/5 @ Denver
9/29 @ Buffalo
The schedule makers did Baltimore no favors with their opener, as they will travel to Denver to face Peyton Manning and the Broncos. A tough road game any time of year, but as the season opening game, the Broncos fans will be tough to overcome. Two weeks later the Ravens play host to Houston, another difficult match up with a playoff team from last season, I don;t see the ravens winning either of those contests, but with Cleveland and Buffalo in various stages of rebuilding, Baltimore should be able to split September's slate at 2-2.
10/6 @ Miami
10/13 Green Bay
10/20 @ Pittsburgh
October is a short month for the Ravens (welcome news to football fans that hate seeing their team in pink), and after winning against Miami to go up to 3-2 the Ravens could tumble into their bye week with back to back losses to the Packers and Steelers. Halloween comes at a good time for the team as they will have the opportunity to regroup for a November push.
11/3 @ Cleveland
11/17 @ Chicago
11/24 New York Jets
As light a slate as October is for Baltimore, November makes up for it, featuring three games in 11 days to end the month. The ravens will come out of the bye week strong and easily handle Cleveland, but the Bengals will prove to be the class of the AFC North this season (I have them at 5-1 within their division) and a road trip to Chicago against a revitalized Bears offense will give the Ravens their second set of back to back losses on the year. Flacco and company will rebound against a Jets team that is in complete disarray, before ultimately falling to Pittsburgh in Thanksgiving night, leaving them at 5-7 entering December.
12/16 @ Detroit
12/22 New England
12/29 @ Cincinnati
The Ravens will need a strong finish to make the postseason, and Minnesota fails to stand in Baltimore's way, but a brutal stretch of at Detroit, home for New England and then closing the season in Cincinnati will prove to be too much for the defending champs, as they lose all three down the stretch to finish at 6-10.