NFL Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore Ravens: 5 Tough Games to Watch During 2013 Regular Season

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Baltimore Ravens: 5 Tough Games to Watch During 2013 Regular Season

Evan Habeeb- USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens have their work cut out for them this season as the defending Super Bowl champions enter the 2013 regular season facing the NFC North, as well as division champions in the AFC from last season.

The Green Bay Packers come into to town this season as well as the Houston Texans and the New England Patriots. Those games are more than likely going to have playoff implications. The Ravens will always have the AFC North division rivals like the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals to deal with, but even the Cleveland Browns are getting better.

Each of those teams I just named are winnable games as long as the Ravens' defense plays up to their capabilities. Entering the offseason, the Ravens have stressed about having a faster defense with a strong front-seven. They believe they have that for the time being, but if the Ravens want to sniff a shot at repeating as Super Bowl champions, the defense will have to turn back to their dominating ways.

Yes, Joe Flacco got his massive contract, and many are expecting him to perform like an elite quarterback. But just because Flacco got all of that money doesn't mean other areas of the team can't or shouldn't function the way they are expected to.

This season, especially with tight end Dennis Pitta going down with a dislocated hip, the Ravens will have to be united more than they have ever been. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are no longer on the roster to take on a good amount of the pressure for the rest of the team, but that doesn't mean the Ravens shouldn't be in the playoffs.

I expect the Ravens to be in the postseason, but before the they do that there are five weeks during the regular season where Baltimore will have to be at their best.

Wola Odeniran is a writer for Follow him on twitter at WolaOdeniran52, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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Cincinnati Bengals Week 17

Andrew Weber- USA TODAY Sports

For the third year in a row, the Ravens travel to face the Bengals in the last week of the regular season. The previous two times the Ravens went into Bengals' territory the Ravens either won the division or clinched the week before. I expect this to be a heated battle, but the Ravens will come out on top.

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New England Patriots Week 16

Greg M. Cooper- USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens - Patriots rivalry is arguably the best non-divisional rivalry in the NFL. There is always something huge on the line, and I don't expect anything different this season. This game could very well determine who has a first-round bye in the AFC.

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Pittsburgh Steelers Week 7

Charles LeClaire- USA TODAY Sports

People can talk about the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49rs having the best rivalry in the NFL, but they are nowhere close to the Ravens - Steelers rivalry. Over the last 13 years, the Ravens and the Steelers have two Super Bowls each as well as double-digit playoff wins. Expect this battle to come down to the wire as usual.

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Green Bay Packers Week 6

Benny Sieu- USA TODAY Sports

This game against the Packers will say a lot, in my opinion, on how far the Ravens can go, especially with their new-look defense. Sure, the Packers defense isn't very good, but Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL. To get a win against the Packers would make a huge statement that the Ravens are here to stay despite the offseason changes.

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Denver Broncos Week 1

Joe Nicholson- USA TODAY Sports

The most underrated aspect of this matchup is the impact of Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark being on the Ravens roster and picking apart what Peyton Manning likes to do. Clark and Stokley are Manning's former teammates, and when you combine the Ravens snatching up Elvis Dumervil from the Broncos, the Ravens clearly have the edge in terms of game-planning. But a win on the road for the Ravens would quiet a lot of critics.