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This year, the Ravens will finish...

It's that time of the year when sports journalists put down the coffee or energy drink and don a forecaster's cap and make predictions for the 2017 football season.

I feel like because I've played as many football games this preseason as Joe Flacco, I have a right to cast my picks on how the Ravens will fare this fall. A lot of their fans are anxious to see how the new season will go. And I've done a little of the leg work for you.


The one disclaimer is injury, of course, and there's no telling who goes down or when it may happen. And if you're a Ravens fan, you're pretty well-versed on injuries so far this year. But have no fear (or have a lot, it's up to you).

Follow along as we determine what the final record will be when Week 16 comes to a close on New Year's Eve.


Today, at Cincinnati

I don't care how elite he is, Flacco is going to need a little time to get back into his football flow. Luckily for him, he has Steve Smith Sr. to lean on as his steady wide receiver. Wait, what? Steve Smith is gone? Retired? Funny, I thought I saw someone who looked just like him at a Taco Bell drive-thru window a few days ago. Well, the Ravens' defense has been stout all preseason long. They'll show up today in the Queen City. Ravens 17, Bengals 13

Sept. 17, vs. Cleveland

Nothing like playing the Browns in a home opener to keep spirits up. Looks like the Ravens are going to miss Cleveland rookie Myles Garrett too. I'd rather see them have to face Leif Garrett. Or maybe Pat Garrett. Bonus points if anyone emails me and knows who either of those guys are. Ravens 20, Browns 6

Sept. 24, vs. Jacksonville (in London)

Jolly good, but if you have to watch football at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday can you really get stoked about it? I'm usually still getting the sleep out of my eyes at that time of the morning on a weekend. The Ravens will be too. Jaguars 24, Ravens 14

Oct. 1, vs. Pittsburgh

It's always fun when the Steelers come to town. People in purple make fun of other people wearing something that looks like what John Belushi wore in that "SNL" bumblebee sketch from the 1970s. I think Pittsburgh only wears those "throwbacks" at home though. Speaking of throwbacks, wouldn't the Ravens' version be an old Browns uniform? Anyway, Marlon Humphrey's pick-six seals it. Ravens 17, Steelers 16


Oct. 8, at Oakland

Pretty soon this will be a road trip to Las Vegas, but for now it's into the Black Hole for Ravens Nation. Last year they let one slip away at home against the Raiders. Nothing will be slipping away this time around — it's just a resounding loss. Raiders 28, Ravens 13

Oct. 15, vs. Chicago

I've had this one circled on my calendar for a while. Maybe, just this once, I'll attend a Bears game and see them win. I'm 0-for-5 so far in my life. Is it took much to ask to witness a Chicago win in person? Apparently. Terrell Suggs welcomes Mitch Trubisky to Baltimore with three sacks. Ravens 30, Bears 14

Oct. 22, at Minnesota

Who's playing quarterback for the Vikings these days? Sam Bradford? Joe Kapp? Brett Favre? Hah, good one. But I can't keep it straight. It might not matter if the Ravens can't stop rookie RB Dalvin Cook. Vikings 24, Ravens 19


Oct. 26, vs. Miami

A Thursday night game means the NFL's "Color Rush" jerseys are in play. So is Jay Cutler, music to Dean Pees' ears. But the Dolphins' Jay Ajayi gets the final word here. Dolphins 17, Ravens 14

Nov. 5, at Tennessee

The game before the bye week, and the Ravens will be at a crossroad with their 4-4 record. DeMarco Murray & Co. won't be warm hosts, but Justin Tucker is the difference in a close one. Ravens 24, Titans 23

Nov. 19, at Green Bay

Boy, do I hate the Packers. If I owned any Ravens apparel, I'd seriously consider wearing it as a gesture to will them to a big road victory. That, and snap one of Aaron Rodgers' ankles. Alas… Packers 31, Ravens 16


Nov. 27, vs. Houston

Jon Gruden will be in town for a "Monday Night Football" game. Which begs the question — who will get drooled on more, Flacco or Texans stud J.J. Watt? I think we know the answer. Ravens 27, Texans 20

Dec. 3, vs. Detroit

It's starting to get cold, which means running games become important. And unless Barry Sanders is back for a reunion tour, I don't see the Lions going outside for a road win here. Ravens 20, Lions 17

Dec. 10, at Pittsburgh

If we're all still here, I should be watching this one from a bar on Bourbon Street as I complete an entire NFL Sunday in New Orleans. Pray for me now. Steelers 36, Ravens 16


Dec. 17, at Cleveland

Playoff hopes will still be intact for Baltimore. Top draft pick status will definitely be in play for Cleveland. Again. Ravens 25, Browns 16

Dec. 23, vs. Indianapolis

Fans from these parts will lustily boo anything with "Colts" on it, so don't expect many holiday greetings when Indy pays a visit. Santa, wear your ear plugs. Ravens 28, Colts 13

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Dec. 31, vs. Cincinnati

It's a winning season, but is it a playoff season? AJ Green loves playing the Ravens, and he'll help ring in the new year with a few TD grabs. Bengals 24, Ravens 17


So that's 9-7 for the Ravens, one game better than they finished a year ago. Whether they're playoff bound will depend on some other AFC foes.

Hey, you can't expect me to know everything, can you?