Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is looking forward to playing in front of friends on Sunday when they take on the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.
Enough talk, it’s time to play some football.
Well, maybe there is time for a little more talk. I’ve done my research in preparation for the 2019 season. It’s going to be a successful one, no doubt about it.
I don’t want to brag, but in terms of the Ravens’ 10-6 record last year and their trip to the playoffs, like those who think they know all there is to know about sports like to say, I believe I had that one. So I’m feeling confident once again as we kick off the new season.
Let’s go through the Ravens’ schedule, game by game, and figure out how things will shake out.
Sept. 8 at Miami: The Dolphins have a new coach, and they have Ryan Fitzpatrick starting at quarterback. Baltimore’s defense is primed for a fish fry down near South Beach. Ravens 24, Dolphins 10 (1-0)
Sept . 15 vs. Arizona. Another new coach this week, and a rookie QB in Kyler Murray. It’s a matchup of Heisman Trophy winners. Kliff Kingsbury was a strange hire for the Cards, who gave their last coach one year before giving him the heave-ho. Expect the Ravens to do the same. Ravens 28, Cardinals 12 (2-0)
Sept. 22 at Kansas City. A rematch of last year’s classic that the Chiefs pulled out in the final seconds. Patrick Mahomes clipped Lamar Jackson in a pretty good matchup. There will be another one this time, but KC has what it takes to win again. Chiefs 27, Ravens 24 (2-1)
Sept. 29 vs. Cleveland. Two close games against the Browns last year seemed like a blip, because, you know, the Browns. Not anymore — Cleveland has AFC North championship aspirations, and can’t be ignored for the first time in what feels like forever. Mark Ingram finds a way to make his first Ravens statement. Ravens 19, Browns 13 (3-1)
Oct. 6 at Pittsburgh. Finally, no prime-time showdowns to worry about against the Steelers (at least not yet). I don’t think Antonio Brown will be anywhere near Heinz Field, which is a good thing for Baltimore. No Le’Veon Bell, either. Ben Roethlisberger should be there, though. And that’s usually a bad thing for Baltimore. Steelers 23, Ravens 18 (3-2)
Oct. 13 vs. Cincinnati. Boy, the Bengals are bad. Ravens 40, Bengals 13 (4-2)
Oct. 20 at Seattle. A cross-country trip in October should be easier than one in December. And it’s a 4:25 EST kickoff, which might help the Ravens adjust. Earl Thomas gets revenge on his former team. No middle fingers this time, either. Ravens 26, Seahawks 23 (5-2)
Nov. 3 vs. New England. Boy, the Patriots are good. And with new receiver Antonio Brown in midseason form for the reigning Super Bowl champs, the Ravens’ defense gets a a real test. And a home loss. Patriots 31, Ravens 21 (5-3)
Nov. 10 at Cincinnati. Still bad. Ravens 18, Bengals 6 (6-3)
Nov. 17 vs. Houston. Another juicy QB matchup between Jackson and DeShaun Watson of the Texans. Jackson might win the running edge here, but Watson has a better arm — Marlon Humphrey catches two of his passes. Ravens 26, Texans 20 (7-3)
Nov. 25 at Los Angeles. Prime time against the reigning NFC champs, and another trip to the West Coast. That’s a challenge. Maybe the Rams will honor the World Series champion Dodgers at halftime. It’s the Eric Weddle Game. Rams 27, Ravens 20 (7-4)
Dec. 1. vs. San Francisco. John Harbaugh welcomes his brother to M&T Bank Stadium for another family feud, and Colin Kaepernick gets a chance to avenge the 49ers’ Super Bowl 47 loss. Wait, is that right? I might be off there. Ravens 25, 49ers 16 (8-4)
Dec. 8 at Buffalo. A cold kickoff in upstate New York. At least the chicken wings are hot. Ravens fans, be wary of Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Bills 21, Ravens 17 (8-5)
Dec. 12 vs. New York. J-E-T-S, Jets Jets Jets! I just like the way that looks. Le’Veon Bell does make a trip to Baltimore, but other than his solid game New York can’t keep up. Ravens 26, Jets 16 (9-5)
Dec. 22 at Cleveland. Baker Mayfield fell short in the second meeting between these teams in 2018, but at home this time he won’t falter. A late touchdown pass seals Baltimore’s fate, setting up a crucial Week 17 showdown. Browns 20, Ravens 14 (9-6)
Dec. 29 vs. Pittsburgh. Flexed in as the “Sunday Night Football” game, winner take all for a playoff berth. This rivalry usually doesn’t need any extra juice, but there’s nothing better than this. The Steelers knocked the Ravens out in the 2016 finale. Ingram puts a stamp on this one, too, with two fourth-quarter TDs. Ravens 27, Steelers 21 (10-6)
So I’m going with 10 wins once more this year, but Jackson comes into his own with each passing week. And yes, I said “passing.”