If you're a Baltimore Ravens fan, you're probably itching to see the 2016 season get started after a frustrating 2015 campaign left you wanting much more.
Unfortunately, several months stand in front of us and the week one opener against the Buffalo Bills. But there isn't anything wrong with reckless predictions and rampant speculation about how the season will go, and with that in mind, I decided to see how EA's Madden NFL series thinks the Ravens will fare in the 2016 season.
Week 1: Buffalo at Baltimore
After a nice kickoff return by Keenan Reynolds (nearly forty yards) quarterback, Joe Flacco's first drive back from injury is a success. A nice dosage of Justin Forsett, as well as some long gains by Steve Smith Sr. and Maxx Williams, put the Ravens down at the three-yard line, where Flacco would run it in himself (I guess that knee is doing okay).
BAL- 7, BUF- 0
Buffalo's next drive exclusively featured handoffs to LeSean McCoy until the Bills got into Ravens territory. When they finally decided to air it out, Taylor is picked off by Jimmy Smith who would add about 9 yards on the return.
Nothing of note happened until the second quarter when Buffalo drove down near the goal line, where fullback Mike Gillislee punched it in from the 3.
BAL- 7, BUF- 7
After the next Ravens possession stalled, Buffalo would get the ball back and take it back down into the red zone, and hand it off to McCoy for a two-yard score.
BAL- 7, BUF- 14
Down by 7, the Ravens needed to answer and they sure did. On a drive assisted by a long penalty, the Ravens handed it off to Buck Allen and Justin Forsett most of the time, until a 3rd and 4 saw Flacco hit his pal Steve Smith Sr. for a 23-yard score late in the second (Welcome back).
BAL- 14, BUF- 14
After stalled drives by both teams, Buffalo would breach Ravens territory after a 15-yard penalty, setting up Tyrod Taylor to hit Leonard Hankerson for a 41-yard touchdown.
BAL- 14, BUF- 21
Following halftime, Buffalo would get the ball right back, and drive down the field once again with momentum on their side. They continue to use the ground game to their advantage, pounding the rock with McCoy and Karlos Williams, the latter of which would score on a four-yard run halfway through the third.
BAL- 14, BUF- 28
Once again, the Ravens need to answer, and once again they do just that. Kamar Aiken is a spark plug for the offense, catching two passes for 44 yards on this drive, that would eventually end with a three-yard touchdown pass to Benjamin Watson (Welcome to Baltimore).
BAL- 21, BUF- 28
Buffalo would get the ball back near the end of the third, but do nothing with it, and the Ravens would soon see themselves in the driver's seat to tie the game. Getting the ball at their own 25, they mostly hand it off to Forsett, until they see an opportunity to once again feed the beast. On a 2nd and 6 in Bills territory, Flacco throws deep to Steve Smith Sr., who hauls in his second touchdown of the game, this time from 32 yards out.
BAL- 28, BUF- 28
Both teams exchanged punts until a little bit into the fourth quarter when the Bills took advantage of a long penalty and a 21-yard completion to Marquise Goodwin to take the lead through a six-yard touchdown run from McCoy.
BAL- 28, BUF- 35
The Ravens defense is not coming through today, and if the team has any hope of winning, they'll need another drive out of the offense. Unfortunately, they don't quite get it on the next possession. After a long reception by Aiken and a nice run by Forsett, Flacco is picked off by former Raven Corey Graham at the Buffalo 41.
Now with momentum on their side, a long completion to Sammy Watkins looked like it could have been the dagger in this game, but Tyrod Taylor gift wrapped his old team an opportunity when Jimmy Smith picked him off at the Ravens 19 yard line.
With 6:18 left to go in this one, the Ravens will be happy to force overtime at this point, but to do that, they'll need to put together a drive or two. That won't happen immediately, as an offensive foul prevents them from doing anything on the drive following the interception.
Now set up on their own 30, it looked like Buffalo could potentially fork the Ravens yet again, but, yet again, they throw away their opportunity to do so (Literally). Newly converted free safety Lardarius Webb picks off Taylor, and adds twenty yards on the return, setting the Ravens up with a late opportunity to equalize from the Buffalo 17.
They waste no time doing so, as Forsett handles the ball a few times, before scoring on a nine-yard reception.
BAL- 35, BUF- 35
Buffalo's next drive quickly stalls after two incompletions to Sammy Watkins, and the Ravens would get the ball on their own 9 with a chance to win the game.
They do well to get out of their own territory, relying heavily on Forsett and Smith Sr. to get them to the other side of the field. Finally in scoring position, a sack and an offensive penalty stalls the Ravens a bit, but a short rush by Buck Allen and a long reception by Benjamin Watson sets up Justin Tucker for a 48-yard field goal, which he puts through with 1:58 left to go in the game.
BAL- 38, BUF- 35
Looking to perform some late game heroics against his former team, Tyrod Taylor could not be more perfectly set up. Down three with 1:54 left to go and three timeouts, the Bills seem ready to gash a tired Ravens defense, and that's exactly what they do at first.
Using a combination of his legs and the short passing game, Taylor gets Buffalo to the Ravens 44 yard line where he faces a 3rd and 7. Unable to find anyone, he scrambles forward for a 5 yard gain, which brings out kicker Dan Carpenter to attempt to tie the game.
His 56-yard attempt is... no good!
BAL- 38, BUF- 35
With :44 seconds left in the game, the Ravens are set up to leave week one as winners. A quick three and out on three rushing attempts kills some clock and forces Buffalo to use all of their timeouts.
The Bills get the ball back on a touchback punt, but aside from a few rushes from Taylor, they do nothing with it.
Your Baltimore Ravens are virtually 1-0!
Notable Ravens Stats:
Joe Flacco- 21 of 35 for 287 yards and 4 touchdowns and 1 interception for an 112.4 rating. He also added a rushing touchdown.
Justin Forsett- Ran the ball 31 times for 151 yards, and had a nine-yard receiving touchdown.
Steve Smith Sr.- Caught 6 passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
Kamar Aiken- Caught five passes for 91 yards.
Ben Watson- Caught four passes for 27 yards and a touchdown .
C.J. Mosley- 20 tackles (!) and a pass deflection.
Eric Weddle- nine tackles and pass breakup.
Albert McClellan- Started alongside C.J. Mosley and had 8 tackles as well as a forced fumble.
Kamalei Correa- six total tackles.
Jimmy Smith had two interceptions, and Lardarius Webb added one as well.
What did you guys think of this in depth prediction of our week one showdown with the Bills? Let us know in the comments below.