Stoetzer: Trust me, the 2018 Ravens will finish ...

Call me crazy, but there’s a very good chance the Ravens will surprise some folks this season.

When we last left the dudes in purple, they were giving up a fourth-down pass play to Andy Dalton and the Bengals that wound up costing them a chance to make the playoffs. As the Ravens have shown in years past, anything can happen once you’re in the playoffs.


Getting there, lately, has been something of a chore.

Which brings me to this season. Come 1 p.m on Sunday, the season that left a bad taste in many mouths around the area can officially become a thing of the past.


But how do you know what lies ahead?

Look no further. It’s time for my trusty guide through each game of the 2018 season.

For the Ravens, the first game of the 2018 season has been a long time coming in more ways than one.

Of course I don’t condone placing any wagers on said predictions, but let’s just say I have a very good feeling about the next several paragraphs.

Sept. 9, vs. Buffalo: Nathan Peterman. That’s really all you need to know here. Baltimore’s defense stays steady in what should be an ugly afternoon, weather wise, while the Bills begin their slide back to mediocrity (or below). Ravens 20, Bills 6 (1-0)

Sept. 13, at Cincinnati: Nice to get a revenge game early in the season, and the Ravens have one. Two games in five days is a tough task, however, and the Bengals slip by Thursday night. Bengals 21, Ravens 20 (1-1)

Sept 23, vs. Denver: I never like the cross-country trips for the team that makes the long haul. That’s the Broncos in this case, and not even the great Case Keenum can save them from Terrell Suggs & Co. Ravens 28, Broncos 18 (2-1)

Sept. 30, at Pittsburgh: Can’t remember a time when the Steelers had more off-the-field shenanigans going on than the rest of the AFC North. But here we are. Heinz Field is always tough for opponents, unless that opponent is Jacksonville. Or Baltimore, in this case. Ravens 24, Steelers 17 (3-1)

Oct. 7, at Cleveland: Yes, the Browns should be vastly improved from their 2017 season. Of course, that means one win equals vast improvement. Jokes aside, which is tough when talking about the Browns, Joe Flacco holds a 17-2 record in hie career against Cleveland. Ravens 27, Browns 10 (4-1)

Oct. 14, at Tennessee: This marks the third game against a 2017 playoff team. And on the flipside, Flacco is 1-3 all-time against these Titans. Tennessee seems to always be poised to have a breakout season, but doesn’t fully break out. The home team will look like a breakout team here. Titans 26, Ravens 23 (4-2)

Oct. 21, vs. New Orleans: The Saints come marching into Charm City, and this one has the making of an offensive showdown. Drew Brees, a future Hall of Famer, against Flacco and his new crop of receivers. You know former Saint Willie Snead will have a big day, but it won’t be enough. Saints 31, Ravens 26 (4-3)

These are unsettled times for the NFL as the Ravens prepare to host the Buffalo Bills in their season opener. The climate around the league is politically charged, with fans from the right and the left saying they're no longer comfortable loving professional football.

Oct. 28, at Carolina: In need of a big road win, Marlon Humphrey comes up huge in the defensive backfield. Jimmy Smith will be back by now, and the weeks off give him a little extra time to heal. Ravens 23, Panthers 18 (5-3)

Nov. 4, vs. Pittsburgh: It’s quite possible the Ravens will face the Steelers twice without Le’Veon Bell this season, and neither time will have been because of injury. James Conner shows he’s quite the replacement, however, and frustrates the Ravens on this day. Steelers 27, Ravens 17 (5-4)


Nov. 18, vs. Cincinnati: OK, so this one’s the real revenge game. Flacco finds John Brown with time running out to secure a thrilling win — and perhaps his starting job, with Lamar Jackson itching for his job. Ravens 16, Bengals 13 (6-4)

Nov. 25, vs. Oakland: The Raiders traded away their best defensive player just before the season started. Jon Gruden needs a little more time to get things going on Oaktown, while the Ravens use this one to cement their second-half push. Ravens 31, Raiders 17 (7-4)

Dec. 2, at Atlanta: The Falcons are great until they get into the red zone, or go for it on fourth down. But that won’t matter on this day — have fun trying to keep Julio Jones out of the end zone. The Ravens’ defense is very good, but Jones is elite. Falcons 23, Ravens 14 (7-5)

Dec. 9, at Kansas City: It’s nice and cold by now, and that means feeding running back Alex Collins as much as possible. Andy Reid will mismanage the clock at some point, as coaches do, to deal the Chiefs a blow. Ravens 19, Chiefs 16 (8-5)

Dec. 16, vs. Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers start the season in a quarterback controversy, and they’ll still be in one. Jameis Winston fails to find his grip of the offense after serving his suspension. Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t much better. Ravens 28, Bucs 12 (9-5)

Dec. 22/23, at L.A. Chargers: I think I’ve got it down this year in not calling them the San Diego Chargers anymore. It’s still Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, though. And those bolts. Anyway, remember what I said about teams making those long trips across the country? Chargers 27, Ravens 20 (9-6)

Dec. 30, vs. Cleveland: Last season, this week was a pivotal one for the Ravens. They needed the win to make postseason plans. It won’t be as tenous in 2018, and Michael Crabtree gives the hometown fans a three-TD performance to stamp Baltimore’s playoff ticket. Ravens 35, Browns 24 (10-6)

One game better than 2017, but it makes all the difference. Of course, we’re not factoring in injuries and such, but who does that this point?

And it’s very possible I have no idea what I’m talking about. Guess you’ll have to stay tuned to find out.

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