The Baltimore Ravens enter the 2020 season with sky-high expectations. Head coach John Harbaugh‘s team is coming off it’s best regular-season finish in franchise history and will be looking to make a deep run in the postseason after coming up short in 2019. General manager Eric DeCosta has added a number of key pieces via the draft and free agency that look to have officially fortified the Ravens as perhaps the strongest roster in the entire NFL.
The additions of Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe, and rookie Justin Madubuike have given new life to a Ravens interior d-line that has had problems putting pressure on the quarterback as well as draftees Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison at linebacker, now make a front-seven that could be one of the most improved units in the NFL from a year ago. Baltimore has also retained almost their entire arsenal of weapons on an offense that finished first in yardage and second in yardage last season behind league MVP Lamar Jackson. Adding Devin Duvernay, J.K. Dobbins, and potentially James Proche to an already explosive offense gives the Ravens a potentially more diverse unit as well.
The Ravens have the easiest strength of schedule (.438) in 2020. Though that is a metric based on the way teams finished the previous season, it still holds some water. Baltimore matches up with debatably the two weakest divisions in football in the AFC South and NFC East and looks to have a significantly more favorable route to the playoffs than the team that went 14-2 just a season ago.
Baltimore Ravens Easiest Games of 2020
9. Week 2: at Houston Texans
The Texans were one of the teams caught in the middle of the Ravens’ biggest rampage of 2019 last season and saw themselves on the wrong end of a 41-7 beatdown. After a scoreless first quarter, Baltimore hung 34 straight points on Bill O’Brien‘s 6-4 Texans, handing them their most lopsided loss of the season. The only player that made an impact for Houston in last year’s game against the Ravens, Deandre Hopkins, is now an Arizona Cardinal. His highly questionable no-pass interference call against Marlon Humphrey was Houston’s only shot at life in the matchup. Deshaun Watson is one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL but the Texans roster has been trending down since their playoff collapse against the Kansas City Cheifs. If last year’s Ravens were too much for the Texans, this year’s Ravens could be an even bigger challenge.
10. Week 12: vs Dallas Cowboys
Dallas presents an interesting challenge for Baltimore. On one hand, they have one of the few receiving corps in the NFL that can hang with the Ravens elite secondary. On the other, they are lacking talent in a number of key areas. The Cowboys lost each their best corner and leading sacker over the off-season have done little to replace them. They finished top-12 in each passing, rushing, and scoring defense but are an unpredictable team year in and year out. Dallas also faces the challenge of having to go outside of AT&T Stadium after posting a 2-5 record in outdoor games last season. The Ravens are 6-1 in Thursday Night games since 2012 and are coming fresh off of a 3-0 sweep of primetime games last season — outscoring their opponents by 17+ points in each contest. The Cowboys and their new head coach Mike McCarthy will have their hands full going into M&T Bank in front of the national audience.
11. Week 8: at Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have one of the most talented rosters in the entire NFL going into 2020. They boast maybe the best offensive line in the league, a promising young receiving corps, and a number of stars on defense. However, the quarterback position is questionable entering next year. The Colts added veteran Philip Rivers to guide their offense coming off one of the least impressive seasons of his career. Rivers ended 2019 with a 23:20 touchdown-to-interception ratio and recorded his second-worst passer rating since 2008. He had above-average receiving weapons last year with the Los Angeles Chargers and learning a new offense could propose even more roadblocks. Head coach Frank Reich could get a lot out of Rivers but transitioning to a new offense is challenging for almost every quarterback. The Ravens defense will be a tough task for Rivers.
12. Week 7: vs Pittsburgh Steelers
The Ravens-Steelers rivalry is always one of the toughest in the NFL but 2020 could be a rare year in which the tables are turned a little too much in one team’s favor. Baltimore swept the Steelers a year ago and look to have improved even further entering next year. The Steelers for years have been known for their stout units in the trenches but their offensive line is aging and their defensive line lost one of the best defensive tackles in football in Javon Hargrave. Ben Roethlisberger is coming off of an elbow injury at 38 years old and how he bounces back is also a big unknown. While the Steelers quarterback play was poor outside of Roethlisberger last year, there’s no guarantee Big Ben is ever going to be the same after coming off such a serious injury late in his career. The Ravens look to hold the quarterback advantage for the first time maybe ever and have the more impressive roster, top-to-bottom. Rivalry games aren’t easy but this could be maybe the most heavily in the Ravens favor in a while.
13. Week 5: vs Cincinnati Bengals
For the first time in what feels like forever, the Ravens actually took both games from the Bengals in 2020. They weren’t particularly close either. Baltimore took their first meeting 23-17, outgaining Cincinnati 497 to 250, and took their second meeting easily 49-13 against a rookie – Ryan Finley -making his first NFL start. In 2020, the Ravens once again get a rookie a quarterback. Joe Burrow will get his first taste of the Ravens in Week 5 but Harbaugh and the Ravens have always been one of the toughest on first-year passers. Since Harbaugh took over the Ravens head coaching job, Baltimore is 18-6 against rookie quarterbacks. The Bengals are a much-improved team from a year ago, but Burrow is going to have his hands full with Campbell and Matt Judon in his face, and Humphrey and Marcus Peters patrolling the secondary as well.
14. Week 14: vs Jacksonville Jaguars
It’s hard to think about how the last time the Ravens and Jaguars met in 2017, Jacksonville pounded Baltimore in London 44-7, and now, their next matchup should be heavily in the loser’s favor. The Ravens and Jags are on two different sides of the spectrum in 2020 — with one looking to be entering a retooling phase and the other looking to compete for a Super Bowl. Since the beginning of the 2019 season, it could be argued the Jags have lost their three best defenders in Telvin Smith, Yannick Ngakoue, and Jalen Ramsey. Now, they are relying on a stripped-down secondary, young pass rush, and a second-year Gardner Minshew to give them stability in 2020. Where the Jaguars have strength is with their receivers but those will be in a very tough matchup vs. the Ravens stout secondary. Baltimore is just too complete a team for an inexperienced Jacksonville team to hang with.
15. Week 15: vs New York Giants
The Giants are fully entrenched in Daniel Jones as their quarterback of the future. And while they added a really good left tackle prospect in Andrew Thomas via the draft, they are far from a competitive team in 2020 behind Jones. The young quarterback posted a 3-12 record in 2019 with a touchdown-interception ratio of 24:12, 61.9 completion percentage and he also led the league in fumbles with 18 (losing 11). The Ravens added a lot of talent on the defensive line this off-season and this will cause Jones problems all game if he can’t fix his turnover issues. The Giants only hope of winning this game would be if Saquon Barkley can find a way to slash through the refreshed Ravens front seven. Baltimore had the fifth-best run defense in the NFL last season. New York is an improving team but has not improved enough to keep up with the NFL’s elite yet.
16. Week 4: at Washington Redskins
While the Redskins did not get worse over the off-season, they are still clearly a team that is not ready to contend in the NFC East, let alone for Super Bowl title. Adding Chase Young should give Washington one of the best young pass rush duos between him and Montez Sweat but the rest of their roster is still lacking in a number of areas. The Ravens corners far outmatch the receivers in Washington while a Trent Williams-less offensive line should make the Ravens’ worst position group, the pass rush, look better than usual. Add in that a number of Ravens fans will likely be making the trip down to D.C. and this could potentially feel like a road game for Ron Rivera‘s new team. This is about as easy a road game as the Ravens could hope for early in the season.