With the preseason in the books, the Baltimore Ravens are now just days away from the start of the 2017 season. Sunday represents the start of a big year in the John Harbaugh/Joe Flacco era after missing the playoffs the last two years. Baltimore has already seen numerous injuries to the team over the last couple of months, garnering more questions to a team full of them, especially on offense.
Still, high expectations are in place for the Ravens, and ESPN's NFL Nation reporters predict the team to go 10-6, and to return to the playoffs. ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley believes the team will finish 9-7. The NFL Nation reporters believe the 2017 season will start with a loss against the Cincinnati Bengals Week 1. Other losses will come Weeks 5, 7, 9, and 11 on the road against the Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans, and Green Bay Packers. The teams last loss they predict will come once again at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Week 14.
As far as the teams wins, they predict Baltimore will split with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh at M&T Bank Stadium and a sweep of the Cleveland Browns. Other predicted wins by ESPN include home matchups against the Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, and Houston Texans. They also have the Ravens traveling to London and defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars.
For this Ravens team, this is a fair assessment of what they might end up being for the 2017 year. A possible playoff caliber team, that still doesn't have enough pieces to go to a Super Bowl. Hensley's 9-7 prediction is not far off the mark either, along with yet another 8-8 campaign. Thing is, it will be tough to win home games against the likes of the Dolphins, Texans, and Lions. Those teams are well efficient and playoff caliber, as they carry good offenses and defenses on the road in a tough environment. It might not be wise for the Ravens to finish 2-6 on the road, which is why Baltimore might have to go 2-2 in their four road matchups in Oakland, Green Bay, Tennessee, and Minnesota to have a true legit shot at the postseason.
Overall, the Ravens are a tricky team to predict for the 2017 season. They can either go 9-7 or 10-6, but they also can easily go 7-9, 8-8, or 6-10. A big year awaits for numerous members of the organization starting Sunday in Cincinnati.