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2020 NFL schedule release: Breaking down the Ravens’ upcoming season

2020 NFL schedule release: Breaking down the Ravens’ upcoming season

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. 

Season prediction

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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'Playoff play!' Michael Vick on what Lamar Jackson needs to improve this season

'Playoff play!' Michael Vick on what Lamar Jackson needs to improve this season

Entering into his third season in the NFL, Ravens QB Lamar Jackson has drawn an abundance of comparisons to NFL legend Michael Vick. 

The speed, accuracy and big-play ability are just a few of the similar traits between the two transcendent players.

Recently, Vick joined the Last Stand Podcast with Brian Custer, where he discussed the highs and lows of his NFL career but also gave his insight on the future of the league: Lamar Jackson.

"What's one thing the league MVP needs to improve on this season?" Custer asked.

"Playoff play!" Vick said. "Last year was a bit disappointing in the playoffs because I knew the Baltimore Ravens would be in the AFC Championship game and that game just didn’t look good."

"Lamar is very accurate, his mental retention is through the roof," Vick said. "He’s a guy you can win with."

RELATED: LAMAR JACKSON PREFERS SUPER BOWL APPEARANCE OVER MVP CEREMONY

In the AFC Divisional playoffs, Jackson went 31 of 59 for 365 yards, had 20 carries for 143 yards, and he added a 15-yard TD pass to Hayden Hurst. But obviously the Ravens lost.

Jackson joined Peter King on a recent episode of The Peter King Podcast in which he talked about getting the Ravens over the playoff hump.

"I just want win Super Bowls," Jackson said. "...Playoffs is different from the regular season ... because it’s win or go home. And I’m tired of going home."

"I just can’t wait to get back in that same spot and perform at a whole ‘nother level," Jackson said.

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Mark Ingram sees COVID-19 issues in MLB, preaches 'positive midset' for Ravens locker room

Mark Ingram sees COVID-19 issues in MLB, preaches 'positive midset' for Ravens locker room

Like most of us, Mark Ingram has taken notice of Major League Baseball's coronavirus problem. And much like the rest of his NFL peers, has to face the reality that the NFL's return-to-play plan is eerily similar to MLB's. 

So how can the NFL avoid outbreaks that may threaten the 2020 season? If you ask Ingram, it starts with positivity and simply following team protocols. 

"Yeah you see the [MLB] stuff, there’s cases, you try to stay positive," Ingram said. You try to stay with the protocols our team has set for us, and when you leave the facility, be safe as possible. Stay at home and take precautions that you’re not exposing yourself unnecessarily."

The Miami Marlins had 20 reported cases in their locker room following their first series of the 2020 season in Philadelphia. They're scheduled to play their first game on Tuesday against the Orioles, nine days after their last contest. In response, Commissioner Rob Manfred warned to shut down the season if teams didn't manage the coronavirus better moving forward. 

RELATED: INGRAM AND DOBBINS PREPARE FOR BACKFIELD COMPETITION

The NFL has an advantage in that games are only played once a week, but the challenges of preventing an outbreak will seemingly be greater given the nature of the game and its player-to-player physicality as well as the roster size for each team.

"You just try to have a positive mindset, and honestly we're aware of [MLB], we're cautious of it," Ingram said. "We're trying to do the best we can with the circumstances and stay hopeful."

NFL teams are already dealing with positive cases one week after the start of training camp. The Bills had to send their rookies home Thursday after five positive tests, while Eagles coach Doug Pederson tested positive Sunday. 

Based on what we've learned with MLB, players following health and safety protocols off the field will be critical for the NFL to successfully execute their 2020 campaign. They aren't in a bubble like the NBA and NHL, so the margin for error is smaller. Hopefully more players share Ingram's mindset on the situation. 

Stay connected to the Ravens and Orioles with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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