As the NFL timeline becomes more clear, we are quickly learning that the NFL Training Camp and Preseason will not be the same in 2020. With a slow integration into the NFL Training camp, there are still some questions to ask regarding protocol and expectations for the NFL Regular Season. How will COVID-19 affect the NFL season?
Nobody truly knows what to expect come Week 1 of the regular season. What we do know is that there will be limited opportunities for players, more specifically rookies, to get acclimated to their teams, new teammates, new coaches, and new schemes.
How will the NFL handle COVID-19 protocol? Will the NFL season actually happen? Will the NFL play in 2020? There is a lot of speculation, but we are hopeful. What we do know is that NFL rookies will have their hands full with limited preparation time with and against NFL veterans.
We want to continue providing you the most realistic Ravens’ news possible, so we’ve done our research on their first five opponents to try to better serve you, based on what we know. With a large variation in opponents, the Baltimore Ravens will have some challenges early on with limited preparation.
The Ravens will open up the 2020 NFL season with the Cleveland Browns and will follow with the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Football Team, and Cincinnati Bengals. Check out the Baltimore Ravens printable schedule.
To this point, we’ve covered the Ravens’ 2020 NFL Draft and the expectations of the Baltimore Ravens for the 2020 season, prior to coronavirus considerations. Here we will address expectations based on the consideration of changes to rosters and coaching staff for the Ravens and their opponents to start the season.
The Cleveland Browns have experienced a significant transition in players and coaches over the past decade, and 2020 is no exception. The Browns had a good draft and had some other changes during free agency, so how will they stack up against the reigning AFC North leaders?
Lamar Jackson having his way with the Browns right before halftime pic.twitter.com/o1fQeRVd4M
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) December 22, 2019
The first week of the 2020 Regular Season should be interesting as we anticipate some new faces challenging each other. For example, the Browns drafted offensive tackle Jedrick Wills and signed tackle Jack Conklin. We expect to see at least one of them battle against Ravens’ newcomers Calais Campbell or Derek Wolfe.
Overall, Cleveland has had a much larger roster transition than the Ravens. They have added some talented veterans on the back end in Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo. They have added another weapon on offense with Austin Hooper. Will the division rivals be prepared to take on Lamar Jackson and company come September?
Of course, this is an AFC North divisional game. It’s a challenge to ever truly predict who wins and loses these rivalries, but we anticipate that Baltimore will be able to start their season with a win against the Browns despite the Browns handing Baltimore one of two losses during the 2019 season.
What we expect: the Browns have a lot of newcomers on both sides of the ball. This is a key factor we are investigating with the coronavirus pandemic. New players and limited time to acclimate are a ticket for disaster. To further support this idea, the Browns also have a new offensive coordinator, Alex Van Pelt.
"HE'S GOT A HAT TRICK!"
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 30, 2019
The Browns were able to ride Nick Chubb to a victory against Baltimore in 2019, but with moving pieces on the offensive line, a new offensive coordinator, and a big challenge against a Baltimore team with many returning starters, we see the Ravens coming in more polished and ready to go for week 1. Ravens start 1-0.
The Houston Texans bring one of the most exciting matchups of the year. Deshaun Watson vs Lamar Jackson, sign me up. Will Bill O’Brien be able to pull things together to repay the Ravens for the 41-7 routing last November?
The Texans have another unique situation. after acquiring running back David Johnson and wide receiver Brandin Cooks in trades. Carlos Hyde and a surprising trade of DeAndre Hopkins led to the Brandin Cooks trade. The Texans also added Randall Cobb in the offseason to help Deshaun.
The loss of DeAndre Hopkins and Carlos Hyde could already be enough to count out Houston. Houston has multiple new receivers and a new running back that has disappointed the past couple of seasons, how will that chemistry fare against a front 7 in Baltimore that sacked Watson 7 times in November?
— Bobby Trosset (@BobbyWBAL) November 17, 2019
Baltimore did lose a couple of notable players from 2019, but also employed a few strong veterans that should be able to pick up enough slack to negate those changes in schemes. Houston is also handing play-calling duties over to Tim Kelly, so we may see more rust after just one or two weeks of calling there. We’re sticking with another win for Week 2. Ravens 2-0.
Kansas City Chiefs
Did I mention great matchups already? Patrick Mahomes vs Lamar Jackson, Round 3. Can Lamar Jackson and the Ravens finally outmatch Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs? In 2018, the Chiefs bested the Ravens by just 3 points. In 2019, after an exciting game, the Chiefs handed the Ravens their second loss of the season, 33-28, even without speedster Tyreek Hill.
— 𝕃𝕠𝕣𝕕ℂ𝕙𝕚𝕖𝕗 ℝ𝕠𝕔𝕜𝕒 (@JordanTribe_) September 21, 2019
Now, this is where we see a different path compared to the previous two matchups – little change. The Kansas City Chiefs have managed to hold on to the majority of their playmakers, just like the Ravens. They did lose some names like Terrell Suggs, Reggie Ragland, and other support players, but no major workhorses.
It’s hard to know what to expect from Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but we can imagine it would be an upgrade from an aging LeSean McCoy and unproven Darrell Williams, who found nice success in the 2019 battle. The Chiefs have also held onto their major coordinators which is pretty rare after a Super Bowl victory a season ago.
Truly, this game could go either way, but in support of the major contract awarded to Mahomes, we are going to side with the Super Bowl champs on this one. Kansas City hands Baltimore their first loss of the season in an exciting shootout. Few changes in personnel, plenty of chemistry, and recent history are enough for us to give KC the edge, bringing Baltimore to 2-1 on the season.
Washington Football Team
There has been a lot of change in Washington as well, but here it’s about their name and not the players. Washington will have an interesting start to the year with a split fan base and a new, no-logo?
Despite the changes to Washington’s appearance, the former Redskins are actually returning the majority of their players from 2019. However, when you return everyone from a 3-13 team, nobody is exactly fearful. We expect Dwayne Haskins to command the offense in 2020, although Alex Smith is finally recovering well.
Washington added a strong defensive presence in Chase Young. He should make an immediate impact, but we could argue that no rookie will be particularly successful tracking Lamar Jackson. Also new to the roster are Antonio Gibson (RB) and Antonio Gandy-Golden, who could emerge down the stretch.
Derrius Guice might also be healthy enough to make an impact for Washington. He and Terry McLaurin should potentially highlight the offense in DC, but we still can’t see them producing enough to outscore the Ravens. The Washington Football Team may have a bright future ahead, but we anticipate it starts after week 4, bringing Baltimore to 3-1.
The Bengals also have a promising future ahead. Rookie Joe Burrow should be an impact player for Cincy for years to come. The Bengals did lose some talent and consistency. After years of mediocrity, Andy Dalton has finally moved on. They also saw some names like Nick Vigil and Darqueze Dennard leave the defense.
A.J. Green has been a stud, but has more recently struggled to stay on the field. John Ross has been all but a bust, and Tyler Boyd needs some help. Tee Higgins should fit nicely as a number 2 or 3 receiver, but even then, Baltimore boasts one of the most vaunted trio of defensive backs league-wide.
Joe Mixon will be the key to success early on for the Bengals. With players like Matthew Judon and Earl Thomas looming, I wouldn’t anticipate Cincinnati to find any groove, even with their newest players. With a brand new quarterback taking the reigns combined with the coronavirus limitations, we can’t imagine the chemistry and timing will be good enough to be a major threat against guys like Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters.
I thought I saw this Lamar Jackson option run before!
Got a spin move in both too! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/UaLSGeKovT
— Abdul Memon (@abdulamemon) November 10, 2019
The Ravens should have another fun day in Week 5, hopefully with another highlight-reel spin by Lamar Jackson. Though the Bengals should eventually find success with Joe Burreaux, it shouldn’t be in Week 5. Ravens move on to 4-1.
The Baltimore Ravens have an interesting schedule to start the year. It’s hard to know what to truly expect in 2020 given the coronavirus regulations per the NFL Players Association. Typically we would have already seen rookies getting practice time with the veterans, learning the ropes at the professional level.
With few to no preseason games, we can expect to see some early struggles from the rookies and players that moved during free agency. Thankfully, the Ravens have maintained a majority of their roster and only added a few pieces to the puzzle.
It is interesting to note, after further analysis, that we have predicted the same outcome for the first 5 games of the regular season with or without changes to coronavirus, so does it make that big of a difference? After about 5 weeks, we think we will start to see teams get back into a groove, so check out our expectations for Baltimore during the second half of the season.