With the release of the 2020 NFL schedule a little over a month ago, teams and fans now know specific times and dates for match-ups. Assuming nothing is delayed due to COVID-19, we have a pretty good idea of which teams will have tougher schedules, and which teams will breeze through painless ones.
The Ravens definitely have one of the easier schedules in the league considering how talented their roster is, but also due to the teams they play and the order in which they play them. Here is a too early prediction for the Ravens 2020 campaign.
Week 1- Sun, 9/13: vs. Browns 1:00 ET
I see the Ravens coming into this game with a chip on their shoulder. They lost their first playoff game for the second straight year in 2019 and will look to start strong at 1-0. While Week 1 openers are often unpredictable, the edge has to go to the Ravens in this game. Not only has their roster improved tremendously with big signings such as Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe, but their young stars, Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, and Marquise Brown, will only improve.
The Ravens match-up against the Browns fairly well. Despite Cleveland’s efforts to improve their offensive line, the Ravens pass rush still has a huge opportunity to disrupt Baker Mayfield with Judon, Campbell, Williams, and Wolfe. However, the Ravens know very well the way to beat the Browns is to stop Nick Chubb who lit their defense up last year racking up 210 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns in two games. The Ravens have definitely acquired the talent to stop machines like Chubb, but until we see it, the effectiveness of the rush defense is still up in the air. The Ravens should out-talent the Browns in Week 1 to pick up their first win of the 2020 season.
Week 2- Sun, 9/20: @ Texans 4:25 ET
With their away opener, the Ravens will travel to Houston to battle the Hopkins-less Texans. Week 1 may be a good indicator as to what type of team the Ravens are, but not so much for the Texans who went up against the reigning Super Bowl Champs. So, even with a loss to the Chiefs, the Texans may show some unseen grit in Week 2.
Just looking at roster strength and coaching, it is hard to see the Ravens losing this game. The Texans 20th ranked offensive line does not bode well for them going up against the Ravens. Their rushing attack could be great, or terrible, with an inconsistent David Johnson, and the defense is one of the worst in the league following the NFL Draft. While the Texans will put points on the board, I expect John Harbaugh and Greg Roman to use their dynamic offense to the fullest in order to severely out-score the Texans.
Week 3- Mon, 9/28: vs. Chiefs 8:15 ET
Monday Night Football in Week 3 might hold one of the best match-ups the 2020 NFL season has to offer. The two most talented teams in the AFC will be going at it head-to-head in primetime. Who will come out on top? Is Patrick Mahomes’ offense and Mathieu’s defense really enough to overpower reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and a top 5 ranked defense? We will see, but I predict the Chiefs will come out of this game victorious.
Despite serious improvements the Ravens made to their roster, and young players only getting better, the Chiefs are proven winners. Even when down big last year against the Texans and 49ers in the playoffs, the Chiefs came back to win. The Ravens, being one of the most talented teams in the league, still have not proven this even with a 14-2 2019 season. In the past, when the Ravens go down early, they stay down, which was the case against the Browns and Titans last year. This could be the game where the Ravens are losing and comeback to victory to show they can win under any circumstances, but I can’t really see it this early in the season against a team as good as the Chiefs.
Week 4- Sun, 10/4: @ Redskins 1:00 ET
After going up against one of the best teams in the NFL, the Ravens will now play one of the worst. Nobody will be holding their breath when playing the Redskins this year notably due to a weak offense. The QB position is still up in the air for Washington and a talented Ron Riveira will likely not be able to turn this team around quickly. While the Redskins do have some key players in Terry McLaurin, Chase Young, and Ryan Kerrigan, I expect the Ravens to blowout the Skins especially with the short ride to FedEx Field. Expect to see Lamar have a record setting day.
Week 5- Sun, 10/11: vs. Bengals 1:00 ET
After three weeks of play outside of the AFC North, the Ravens return home to face-off against the newly hyped Bengals. While some fans and analysts praise Joe Burrow endlessly, and some don’t buy him at all, I don’t think his play will be a deciding factor in this game. Even with Geno Atkins and D.J. Reader, the Bengals still have a top 10 worst defense in the league and I expect the Ravens to be pass-heavy in this one with some great runs by Jackson.
The Ravens shutdown secondary consisting of Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Earl Thomas, and Jimmy Smith will be enough to slow down returning star WR A.J. Green. Not to mention the Bengals offensive line is pretty poor which gives Burrow a “Hit Me” sign on his back. While I do think the Bengals will be much more competitive this year, especially on offense, I still think the Ravens offense will overpower the Bengals defense to come up with a closer-than-expected victory.
Week 6- Sun, 10/18: @ Eagles 1:00 ET
The Philadelphia Eagles will certainly be a team most fans and analysts will overlook due to the Ravens’ star power. However, Philly is still a solid, gritty team capable of beating the Ravens. That being said, I still feel the Ravens will overcome the Eagles.
While I think Carson Wentz is a top 10 QB, losing Brandon Brooks to injury hurts the offensive line badly and will lead to the Ravens defense locking down receivers and sacking Wentz much easier. Even though the Eagles boast newly acquired CB Darius Slay, I believe the Ravens will still be able to put up good points with Jackson to Andrews connections, and a solid running game.
Week 7- Sun, 10/25: vs. Steelers 1:00 ET
Perhaps one of the most questionable teams going into the 2020 season is the Pittsburgh Steelers. With arguably the best defense in the league, the Steelers success will depend on Ben Roethlisberger and the offense. If Big Ben really is back, then the Ravens will have some serious competition in Week 7.
This game will feature great match-ups on both sides of the ball with Juju and Claypool lining up against Humphrey and Peters. Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram against T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward just shouts intensity. Blood will be boiling and tensions will be high between these teams which has been missing for years. Playing at top speed, either team could come away the victor, but I support the unpopular opinion the Steelers will win. This game will inevitably come down to the wire with one big play in which the Steelers will prove they are back to win. While the Ravens may have a better overall team, I say the Steelers claim the first of two.
Week 8- Bye
Check back next week to see my predictions for the second half of the Ravens 2020 season.