2017 Baltimore Ravens game-by-game predictions

The Baltimore Ravens and coach John Harbaugh are facing one of their most critical seasons. The Ravens are coming off an 8-8 season in which they faded down the stretch, and they're looking to avoid missing the playoffs in three consecutive seasons for the first time since 1997-99. The Ravens had one of their most active free-agency periods this offseason, when they re-signed nose tackle Brandon Williams and added safety Tony Jefferson, running back Danny Woodhead and cornerback Brandon Carr. What remains to be seen is whether the Ravens can change their fortune on the road. The Ravens have lost 13 of their last 17 games away from Baltimore.

Here are game-by-game predictions for the 2017 season:

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10, at Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m. ET

This is a reversal for the Ravens, who historically finish in Cincinnati. Nonetheless, it's difficult to predict the Ravens will win at Paul Brown Stadium until it happens again. Baltimore has lost more games in Cincinnati than anywhere else in the nine-year John Harbaugh era. In Baltimore's past five trips there -- all losses -- the Ravens averaged 16.8 points and threw 10 interceptions. Record: 0-1.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17, vs. Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. ET

The Ravens have defeated the Browns in eight of the last nine meetings at M&T Bank Stadium. That dominance has meant beating six different Cleveland quarterbacks: Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn, Seneca Wallace (twice), Brandon Weeden (twice), Connor Shaw and Cody Kessler. Who's next? Record: 1-1.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24, vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (in London), 9:30 a.m. ET

For the first international game in franchise history, the Ravens get to play one of America's worst professional sports teams. The Jaguars have won 22 of 96 games over the last six seasons, which is the most futile mark in the NFL during that span. That's even worse than the Browns. Record: 2-1.

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1, vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m. ET

While jet lag could be a factor here, the Ravens have won four straight games against their biggest rival at home. The last time Baltimore lost to Ben Roethlisberger in Baltimore was 2010. Roethlisberger's leading receiver that game was none other than Mike Wallace. Record: 3-1.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8, at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m. ET

The Ravens have lost to the Raiders in each of the past two seasons by a total of five points. The key for Baltimore is figuring out Derek Carr. He has thrown seven touchdowns and one interception in the last two meetings, and the Ravens will lose for the final time in the Black Hole because of their inability to stop him late in games. Record: 3-2.

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15, vs. Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. ET

The Bears put their struggling franchise in the hands of Mike Glennon, a 27-year-old quarterback who has appeared in two games since 2014. They also failed to keep No. 1 receiver Alshon Jeffery. It's going to be a struggle for Chicago to score points against an improved Ravens defense. Record: 4-2.

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 22, at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m. ET

It all depends on whether quarterback Sam Bradford can stay healthy, and that's been a challenge for much of his career. If he plays, the Ravens will have problems because Bradford threw 11 touchdowns and two interceptions in the inaugural season at U.S. Bank Stadium. If Bradford is sidelined, Baltimore gets a much easier game against Case Keenum. For now, let's assume Bradford suits up. Record: 4-3.

Week 8: Thursday, Oct. 26, vs. Miami Dolphins, 8:25 p.m. ET

Joe Flacco has owned the Dolphins, winning all six meetings with Miami (including the playoffs). He has thrown nine touchdowns and three interceptions for a 109.5 passer rating, his highest against any team he's played more than two times. The last time the Dolphins won in Baltimore was 1997, when Jimmy Johnson was their coach. Record: 5-3.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 5, at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m. ET

Much like the Raiders last season, the Titans are looking like the AFC team that will take that next step to being a playoff team. The reason: Marcus Mariota is proving to be a franchise quarterback and the Titans are building a strong line to protect him. This spells trouble for a Baltimore team that has had success in Nashville. Record: 5-4.

Week 10: Bye

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19, at Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m. ET

The Ravens have lost on all three of their trips to legendary Lambeau Field. Want worse news? Aaron Rodgers has the NFL's best home passer rating over the last four seasons (111.7), throwing 72 touchdowns and eight interceptions. On a positive note, the Ravens historically fare well after byes. Record: 5-5.

Week 12: Monday, Nov. 27, vs. Houston Texans, 8:30 p.m. ET

It will be a special night in Baltimore, where the Ravens play host to their first home Monday Night Football game in five years. This has traditionally not been a prime-time matchup at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens are 4-0 against the Texans in Baltimore, winning by an average margin of 11 points. Unless Houston can upgrade from Tom Savage at quarterback, it looks like the Ravens will remain perfect against the Texans. Record: 6-5.

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3, vs. Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. ET

Matthew Stafford is tied with Philip Rivers for the most road losses (25) by a quarterback over the last five seasons. His passer rating of 84.8 during that span ranks 29th in the NFL. In other words, Stafford is a different quarterback away from the comfy confines of Ford Field. Record: 7-5.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10, at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:30 p.m. ET

The Ravens lost at Heinz Field on Christmas Day last year because they couldn't stop Roethlisberger when it mattered. That has been a troublesome trend for the Ravens, who are 3-10 (including playoffs) against Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh. Record: 7-6.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 17, at Browns, 1 p.m. ET

Like many teams, the Ravens have made themselves at home in Cleveland. Half of the Ravens' four road wins the last two seasons have come at FirstEnergy Stadium. Baltimore even spotted Cleveland 20 points in the first quarter last year and still won, 25-20. Record: 8-6.

Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 23, vs. Indianapolis Colts, 4:30 p.m. ET

Quarterbacks who ranked in the top 10 in passer rating went 4-0 against the Ravens last season. Andrew Luck quietly put together a bounce-back year after an injury-riddled 2015 campaign, finishing with the ninth-best rating. Even though Baltimore upgraded its secondary, this will be the one surprising home loss of the season. Record: 8-7.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31, vs. Bengals, 1 p.m. ET

The Ravens have picked off Andy Dalton more than any quarterback in the league over the last five seasons (10 in nine games). That number should increase without tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Kevin Zeitler there to protect him. Baltimore is also 10-0 in regular-season finales played at home. Record: 9-7.