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 Most Difficult Games in 2020
1. Week 3: vs Kansas City Cheifs
Perhaps the biggest game in the NFL up to this point in the season, the Ravens Week 3 matchup against the Chiefs is a potential AFC Championship preview on Monday Night Football. Kansas City is coming off of their first Super Bowl title since 1969 and once again look to boast one of the NFL’s most potent offenses. Led by Super Bowl LIV MVP Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs are perhaps the biggest threat to the Ravens in retaining their AFC crown. Kansas City is the only team in the NFL to best the Jackson-led Ravens twice since the quarterback made his first regular-season start but both losses have come on the road in one-possession games. Mahomes will now try to win his first game in one of the best primetime atmospheres in M&T Bank Stadium. This year’s Ravens-Chiefs installment should be another close game in the brewing of a potential powerhouse rivalry.
2. Week 6: at Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are unfamiliar territory for the Ravens. Since the Ravens established themselves in Baltimore, the two teams have only faced five times — splitting the series 2-2-1. Philly has a lot of questions for themselves entering next season, but with a healthy Carson Wentz, they can easily be one of the better teams in football. Lincoln Financial Field isn’t an easy place to play either. Howie Roseman has a team that possesses one of the fastest receiver groups in the NFL, a great offensive line, and a front-four that can cause trouble in the run game any day. With how creative Doug Pederson is, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Eagles roll out Jalen Hurts in a number of interesting and unfamiliar ways. Sean Peyton and the New Orleans Saints made a similar choice two years ago in their win over the Ravens. This should be one of the grittier games on Baltimore schedule.
3. Week 13: at Cleveland Browns
This may seem odd to some but the Browns seem like the greatest threat to the Ravens in the AFC North race in 2020. Over the off-season, the Browns and new general manager Andrew Berry upgraded their offensive line in a big way and have a number of quality pieces that may be beginning to gel. New head coach Kevin Stefanski did a great job getting the best out of Kirk Cousins in 2019 and could do the same with Baker Mayfield in 2020. There’s no denying the Browns were a mess last season but getting a coach that people “want to work hard for” could be just the motivator the Browns and their talented roster need to get to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Baltimore has dropped at least one game to the Browns each of the last two seasons. Cleveland might not be a superpower but they should be a tough football team to beat this coming season.
4. Week 16: at Cincinnati Bengals
The Ravens swept the Bengals in 2019 for the first time in seven years. Over that time frame, their record at Paul Brown Stadium is just 3-6. The Jungle has always been a tough environment for the Ravens to play in and it should only get tougher with the improvements Mark Brown made this off-season. Getting a young quarterback with the first overall pick in Joe Burrow helps but the Bengals have made a lot of improvements to the team that finished last in the NFL a year ago. Getting a (hopefully) healthy Jonah Williams to start at left tackle, as well as A.J. Green and rookie Tee Higgins in the passing game should at least give the Bengals the spark they missed when they finished 26th in total offense last year. While the Ravens have a ton of historical success against rookie quarterbacks, this will be the second time Burrow sees coach Harbaugh’s squad. Road games against the Bengals are always tough for the Ravens.
5. Week 11: at Pittsburgh Steelers
It seems like just yesterday that Mike Tomlin had trotted onto the field during one of Jacoby Jones‘ signature long returns to prevent a touchdown during the Thanksgiving nightcap of 2013. The Ravens ended up winning the game 22-20 but that moment continues to live in infamy as one of the weirdest in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry. This year, the Ravens travel to Pittsburgh on a short week to take on their rivals in front of the national audience. Baltimore swept Pittsburgh for only the third time in team history in 2019 and though they look to have a big advantage from a roster perspective in 2020, they should not anticipate repeating that feat in again. Ravens-Steelers games are some of the fiercest in all of the NFL and Week 11 could be a prime playoff-push territory. Ben Roethlisberger knows the Ravens the best of perhaps any quarterback in the history of the NFL.
6. Week 9: at New England Patriots
Despite the fact that the Ravens dismantled the Patriots last year during their Sunday Night Football clash and Bill Belichick‘s squad seemingly taking a big hit from a personal perspective, they are still the Patriots. However, if Jarrett Stidham is truly for the answer for the Pats at quarterback, the Ravens have an incredible success rate against young quarterbacks. Stidham might not be a rookie by definition, but he’s played just 15 snaps of NFL action at this point in his career. During the 2010s, the Ravens went 4-5 against the Patriots. Now in 2020, for the first time maybe ever, they hold a big advantage at the quarterback position. Gillette is still an incredibly tough place to play and Jackson will look to show no nerves after beating the Patriots at M&T Bank a year ago.
7. Week 10: vs Tennessee Titans
If there was a revenge game on the Ravens schedule to be circled, it’s Week 10 against the Titans. The Titans upset the Ravens in last year’s AFC-Divisional matchup and will be looking to hang a lot more than the 12 points they scored last time. Baltimore played a decent game the last time these teams faced off but had a glaring problem when it came to finishing their drives. Tennessee then rode their opportunistic offense and defense to a fairly painless win. Going into their 2020 matchup, the Ravens have not only gotten bigger and better upfront on defense to stop Derrick Henry but have added even more weapons to score with on offense. If Baltimore’s offense puts up 500+ yards again this year, this game is theirs to lose. Harbaugh, Jackson, and company will enter this game angry and could have one of their best games of the year.
8. Week 1: vs Cleveland Browns
Though they improved during the off-season, unfortunately for the Browns, they open their season against a team that has been one of the best at opening their season over the past four years. Since 2017, the Baltimore Ravens are 4-0 in season-openers and have outscored their opponents by a crazy 139-20 margin in that time span. Last year’s Miami Dolphins were the only team over that time frame to even record double-digit points (10). The Browns got stomped in perhaps their most anticipated season opener in 20 years last season 43-13 by the Titans and have once again, undergone a lot of change since the end of last season. Cleveland will be a better team than last year but the Ravens have history and one of the strongest rosters in the NFL on their side. It is important to note that the Ravens only home loss of the season last year came against the Browns.