AFC North

Ravens 2021 Season Predictions Part 1

Baltimore Ravens' Stadium. Photo by Mathieu Plourde. (CC By 2.0)

With the release of the 2021 NFL schedule back in May, fans can now get an idea of their team’s schedule strength and what type of season to expect. The same goes for the Baltimore Ravens. After 5 months of offseason speculation, let’s look into the crystal ball and see what predictions I have for the Ravens this upcoming season.

Week 1- Mon 9/13: @ Las Vegas 8:15 ET

To start off their 2021 campaign, the Ravens will be visiting the so-called “Death Star” at Allegiant Stadium—home of the Las Vegas Raiders. This grand stadium will host the first Monday night football game of the season and sets a national stage for the Ravens to prove they are true contenders. Will Lamar Jackson and his new wide receiver core be able to take down the Raiders led by Derek Carr and ex-Raven Yannick Ngakoue? Yes.

While the Raiders boast a solid offense and defense with a bunch of newcomers including Casey Hayward Jr., John Brown, Willie Snead, Kenyan Drake, and Ngakoue, the Raiders’ inconsistencies as a team in recent seasons leave me less than confident in their ability to beat a team as strong as the Ravens. Even though the Raiders are at home, I can’t count on their success because of some good free agent pick-ups.

Even though the Raiders will be a competitive match-up for the Ravens, I’ll side with the more dynamic and proven team in the Ravens to win this opener. While the Raiders have star players in Jacobs, Waller, and Carr on offense, the Ravens should be able to show-off their new passing game against a young Raiders secondary who got lit up towards the end of last season. The Raiders have a lot going for them this season, but I have more faith in the Ravens to win this game.

Record: 1-0

Week 2- Sun 9/19: vs. Kansas City 8:20 ET

Just like in Week 3 of last season, the Ravens have a huge match-up at home in primetime against the AFC-favorite Kansas City Chiefs. The Jackson vs. Mahomes rematch will be a nationwide spectacle that will hopefully be more competitive than last year. With the exception of Bashaud Breeland and part of the offensive line, the Chiefs return with all their key weapons to continue their domination of the AFC. Do the Ravens have a chance to upset the 2019 and 2020 AFC Champions? Will the defense finally be able to stop Mahomes? Yes and no.

While the Ravens definitely have the roster strength, particularly on offense, to defeat the Chiefs, I don’t think they will be able to stop Mahomes. If the Ravens want to win this game they need to score and take time to do it. Shootouts almost always result in a Mahomes victory, so the offense needs to have success running the ball primarily to waste clock, but it needs to score in the redzone. In this match-up last year, the Ravens could not score when given the opportunity to, so wasting clock and also consistently scoring needs to be the primary focus if the Ravens want any chance of winning.

With that being said, I don’t see the Ravens fulfilling this plan successfully. Maybe it’s just because of the inability to beat great teams like the Chiefs last season still clouding my mind, but the Chiefs will score in this game and the Ravens will not likely score enough to win. Mahomes will remain king in the Ravens vs. Chiefs match-ups.

Record: 1-1

Week 3- Sun 9/26: @ Detroit 1:00 ET

Following a rough week against the Chiefs, the Ravens will go into Detroit looking to obliterate their opponent. Detroit is projected to be one of the lesser teams in the NFL this season and Lamar Jackson and the Ravens will make this evident in Week 3.

While the Lions have some solid players in D’Andre Swift, T.J. Hockenson, Trey Flowers, and Michael Brockers, the Ravens will have an offensive and defensive showcase where they will score a ton and give up very little. I expect the Ravens passing game to fire on all cylinders and leave this unproven Lions secondary in the dust. Marquise Brown, Rashod Bateman, Sammy Watkins, and Lamar Jackson will torch the speed limits in Motor City. Ravens win easily.

Record: 2-1

Week 4- Sun 10/3: @ Denver 4:25 ET

As one of the most up-in-the-air teams in the 2021 season, it is hard what to expect from the Denver Broncos particularly on offense. Will Drew Lock get another chance to lead the Broncos, or will Teddy Bridgewater takeover to form some kind of consistency in the passing game. Both options are possible, but a competitive game is in store nevertheless. Assuming there are no injuries, the Broncos and Ravens defenses will be dominating this one as the offenses will likely take a back seat. The Broncos boast an unstoppable secondary with Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby, Pat Surtain II, and Justin Simmons. In addition to this, Von Miller is set to return along with Bradley Chubb.

However, the Ravens secondary and run defense is also top notch so I expect a low scoring affair. When it comes to competitive match-ups like this one and the game against the Raiders, I look at proven team play. The Raiders have not proven they can consistently win big games against consistently good teams like the Ravens. The same is true for the Broncos. While the Broncos have players on offense and defense that standout as potentially big threats, they have not proven in recent seasons they can use all these players to their fullest to beat teams like the Ravens.

The Ravens should be able to win this game as long as they stick to the tried and true running game which is a weak spot for an otherwise strong Denver defense. I can’t see the Broncos doing much on offense with Lock or Bridgewater at the helm.

Record: 3-1

Week 5- Mon 10/11: vs. Indianapolis 8:15 ET

In the Ravens 3rd primetime and 2nd Monday night game of the season, they take on Carson Wentz and the Colts. With many projecting the Colts to either win the AFC South or at least obtain a wild card spot, I see the Colts as a big threat this season. If they are able to get at least average QB play out of Wentz, they will be even more dangerous than they were last season with Philip Rivers.

This is a very even matchup with both the Ravens and Colts having exceptional running games, all around great defenses, and outstanding offensive lines. This is the type of game that comes down to the quarterbacks and coaches leading the teams. Personally, I like Jackson and Harbaugh more than Wentz and Reich. While both duos are bound to be top notch this season, it is still unknown how Wentz will perform with his new team especially early in the season. Wentz was regarded as one of the worst starting quarterbacks last year despite being a part of the dumpster fire that was the Eagles last year. Will he go back to the 2017 MVP-caliber Wentz, or will the 2020 Wentz return for a 2nd season? It is hard to tell until we see Wentz play in a game, but I believe we will see his play fall somewhere between the two extremes.

With that being said, I’ll put my money on the Ravens winning this game. An improved Ravens passing game and offensive line will bring out Lamar Jackson’s true dynamic potential and I have confidence in the Ravens’ secondary to limit Wentz and the Colts’ passing attack. However, this game could go either way and will no doubt be a spectacle.

Record: 4-1

Week 6- Sun 10/17: vs. Los Angles Chargers 1:00 ET

After a hard-fought victory against the Colts, the Ravens will stay home to play the Chargers. Will Justin Herbert continue his phenomenal play from his rookie season and will the Chargers defense be back for blood? Yes on both accounts. Justin Herbert will be back and will play at least as good as last season. On the Chargers’ defense, Derwin James, Chris Harris, and Joey Bosa will return to wreak havoc. So, who will win? Will Justin Herbert have the same effect on the Ravens as Patrick Mahomes, or will the Ravens’ proven talent win out again in another tough one.

In this case, the Ravens’ luck will run out and Herbert and the Chargers’ offense will dominate. The offenses will be on display as both have the ability to wipe out the other. While the Ravens are proven winners, and the Chargers are not, I see the Chargers coming out strong to upset the Ravens and putting themselves down as playoff contenders. The Chargers’ explosiveness on offense will wear down the Ravens.

Record: 4-2

Week 7- Sun 10/24: vs. Cincinnati 1:00 ET

After a tough matchup with the Chargers, the Ravens will bounce back in a big way against the Bengals. While the Ravens are undoubtedly a better team than the Bengals, they should not take Cincy lightly. The Bengals have beefed up their defense with names such as Vonn Bell, Chidobe Awuzie, Eli Apple, and Mike Hilton. While the Bengals offensive line is still an eye sore and will be absolutely dominated by the Ravens, the addition of Ja’Marr Chase and a returning Joe Burrow will be a semi-decent threat to the Ravens.

However, the Ravens are all around much better than the Bengals on all fronts and will destroy Cincy’s lack luster offensive line with ease.

Record: 5-2

Week 8- Bye

Week 9- Sun 11/7: vs. Minnesota 1:00 ET

Similarly to the Raiders, Broncos, and Chargers, the Vikings are another team with great potential, but are still questionable as to how they will perform. The Vikings offense will be very dangerous once again with Cousins, Cook, Thielen, and Jefferson. The defense should return in full force with Danielle Hunter, Sheldon Richardson, Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr, Harrison Smith, and newly acquired Patrick Peterson. The Vikings have all the talent in the world to win but will that be enough to stop the Ravens? Maybe?

It is hard to say how the Vikings will play after seeing them fall apart last year. On paper, they have the ability to be one of the better teams in the NFC, but can they be consistent?

I like how the Ravens matchup against the Vikings. The Ravens can stop the running game while also keeping receivers in check. The fact that the Vikings no longer have a true #1 tight end also poses problems for their passing attack. Lamar Jackson’s running ability is another factor the Vikings defense will have to deal with especially considering they do not play the Ravens very often.

Could this game go either way? Absolutely. Assuming the Vikings have no injuries and receive average to good play from Kirk Cousins, I believe they will beat the Ravens. The Vikings defense just has too many stars coming back from injury this season for them not to be taken seriously. The Ravens have every chance to win, but I don’t think the passing game will be good enough to evade the Vikings’ defense. Ravens lose.

Record: 5-3

Second-half season predictions will be coming soon. Stay tuned!

Link to second-half predictions: https://skullkingsports.com/blog/2021/07/13/ravens-2021-season-predictions-part-2/

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