Despite facing the 30th most difficult strength of schedule in 2017, the Baltimore Ravens failed to snap their growing postseason drought. They had a golden opportunity last season, facing eight teams led by backup caliber quarterbacks. Unfortunately, the 2018 schedule appears much more daunting.
As always, the Ravens will face each of their divisional opponents both home and away. Pittsburgh shows no signs of regression and have shifted momentum in the rivalry during recent games. Cincinnati has given the Ravens plenty of trouble since 2103. And Cleveland could improve if they use their abundance of assets wisely. Splitting the six AFC North games is a reasonable expectation.
The AFC North is paired with the AFC West in 2018. The Ravens will host a below average Denver team as well as a Raiders squad that could rebound under new head coach Jon Gruden. The road trips include a journey to Arrowhead Stadium to face the postseason worthy Chiefs and a cross country trip to meet the talented Chargers. The final two AFC games on the slate will also be against playoff teams. Baltimore will see the Bills at home and travel to Tennessee.
Adding to the difficulty level is the NFC South, perhaps the best division in football. Games at Atlanta and at Carolina, two contending teams with former league MVPs at quarterback, will prove challenging. A home game against a mediocre at best Tampa Bay team is counterbalanced by a home matchup against the improving Saints. Lately, the Ravens have struggled to keep pace with high octane offense such as these.
In total, Baltimore’s 2018 schedule will feature eight games against teams that made the playoffs in 2017, including five on the road. As per usual, continuity is the central theme of the offseason thus far. If the Ravens continue to play at the level they did in 2017, they may end up with a considerably worse result in 2018.