The Ravens' 2020 schedule can be broken into three parts: the first seven games, the next six games, and the final three games.
While things can certainly change and arguments about strength of schedule are always fickle, the Ravens have three distinct tiers of games on their schedule.
Here are the three areas of the Ravens’ 2020 schedule broken down with a prediction of their end of season record:
A tough start: Weeks 1-8
Vs. Cleveland, @ Houston, vs. Kansas City (MNF), @ Washington, vs. Cincinnati, @ Philadelphia, vs. Pittsburgh, BYE
The Ravens will open with a slate of games that might seem favorable on paper, at least compared to last season, but is much tougher than it might seem.
Baltimore opens its season at home vs. Cleveland on Sept. 13, one of the only two teams it lost to all of 2019. But the Browns, who went 6-10 last season, have only added more talent to each side of the ball. They’ll face a new coach in Week 1 for the second-straight season, this time in new Browns coach Kevin Stefanski. With a motivated, and still remarkably talented Browns team on deck, this won’t be an easy opener like some might expect.
The Ravens will then head to Houston to face Deshaun Watson and the Texans, before they come back to M&T Bank Stadium for perhaps the most notable game on the NFL schedule all season long.
On Sept. 28, the Ravens will host the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs on Monday Night Football. If both teams are 2-0, then the head-to-head matchup will be a big-time Week 3 matchup, especially considering the reformed playoff format this season which allows for just one bye week per conference. If one team is 1-1, or even worse, then falling behind early in the standings could be a big deal.
After the Kansas City bout, the Ravens will face the Redskins and Bengals in back-to-back weeks, the teams that had the top two picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. But both teams, specifically the Bengals, figure to be improved from last season.
While the Ravens will assuredly be favored in both games, dealing with the Bengals’ new offense and a divisional rival won't be a cakewalk.
The Ravens will end the first stretch of the season in Philadelphia and at home against the Steelers on Oct. 18 and 25 before the team’s bye week on Nov. 1. The Eagles are one of the favorites to come out of the NFC and the Steelers, who narrowly missed the playoffs last season, have their offense back healthy.
A crucial pivot in late fall: Weeks 9-14
@ Indianapolis, @ New England (SNF), vs. Tennessee, @ Pittsburgh (Thanksgiving), vs. Dallas (TNF), @ Cleveland (MNF)
This stretch can best be characterized by a stretch of four of five games where the Ravens will play on national television in primetime.
After the bye, the Ravens will face the Colts on the road — the potential AFC South champions — only to head up to face the Patriots a week later on Sunday Night Football.
They’ll come home for a week to face the Titans, the team that bounced them from the playoffs a year ago, before a short week puts them in Pittsburgh for a night game on Thanksgiving. The following two weeks won’t get much easier, as they’ll host the Cowboys on Thursday Night Football and then have a mini-bye week with 11 days between the Cowboys matchup and a date with the Browns on Monday Night Football.
Depending on how the Ravens’ first seven games go, this stretch of six games could make or break the team’s season.
Baltimore will be in the national spotlight for the entirety of this swing, which includes three primetime road games, and the final matchups against Pittsburgh and Cleveland, which could decide the AFC North.
A soft landing: Weeks 15-17
Vs. Jacksonville, vs. New York Giants, @ Cincinnati
This tier is only three games, but it’s clear that the final three games lack the punch of the first 13 games.
The Jaguars and Giants will head to Baltimore in weeks 15 and 16, both teams that had top nine picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. There isn’t expected to be a major jump from either team, so this should give the Ravens two much-needed wins at the end of the season.
The season finale in Cincinnati could present some problems, as the Bengals could be an offensive problem to deal with, but there’s no reason why the Ravens — as of now — couldn’t end the season on a three-game streak to clinch a playoff spot, the division, or even the AFC’s top seed.
The Ravens have, on paper, one of the easiest schedules in the league in 2020. As is the case most of the time, though, it’s not that simple.
The Bengals, who weighed down the Ravens’ opponents’ win percentage from a year ago due to a 2-14 record, will assuredly improve, as will a handful of other teams on their schedule like the Steelers and Colts — even if their record doesn't drastically show so.
Still, Baltimore has one of the league’s best rosters and should make the playoffs with ease. It’s how many home games it will be able to get in the playoffs, if any, that’s the question.
Record prediction: 12-4.
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