The NFL 2021 schedule is set to be officially released tonight at 8 p.m. eastern standard time. We already know every opponent that the Baltimore Ravens will be facing this fall and that they’ll be starting with a cross country road-trip to close out Week 1 in a primetime matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football.
Here are some predictions based on what we know, what we might see and what we can expect when the rest of the schedule comes out:
Expect 3-4 more primetime games
With Lamar Jackson under center, the Ravens have been more electric and explosive on offense than any other time in franchise history. He has made them must-see TV and attracted a younger fan base to the team and the sport of football as a whole with his dynamic dual-threat playmaking ability.
After became just the second-ever unanimous league MVP in 2019, the Ravens got the maximum amount of primetime games that a team can be allotted in 2020 including two on Monday night football. Even if they don’t get the max again this year, they will at least have three more nationally televised contests in addition to the season opener on MNF.
Some likely candidates for those games are the Pittsburgh Steelers because they seemingly always play at least one of their two matchups in primetime, the Green Bay Packers at home, and of course the home matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs which is pretty much a lock. If they do get the max allotment, one of their two matchups with the Cleveland Browns could be the fourth since the two teams duked out in the ‘Game of the Year’ in Week 14 last year.
Ravens v Chiefs will be played later in the year
Kansas City is the two-time defending AFC champions and has been the one hurdle that the Ravens have yet to clear since Jackson became the full-time starter. They are 0-3 against the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes but two out of those three games went down to the wire and the Ravens just came up short.
Last year’s matchup between the two title contenders was played on MNF in Week 3 and resulted in a lopsided 34-20 loss for the Ravens at home. This kind of face-off should be played later in the season when both teams are beginning to peak and playoff implications are at their highest. This game should be played no earlier than mid-to-late November and would be perfectly suited for a December showdown.
Ravens have the best chance to lead the AFC North after Week 1
While the Ravens don’t have the weakest strength of schedule for the entire year in the AFC North, I think they have the best odds to start 1-0 and take an early lead in the division. The Steelers have to travel to Buffalo to face the AFC runner-up Bills, the Bengals host the Vikings and the Browns have the daunting task of being the first team that the will Chiefs face since getting dominated in the Superbowl back in February.
The Bengals’ game might be a toss-up at this point but even if both they win their season opener and the Ravens win theirs, Baltimore will take the early lead because they’re going against a conference opponent in the Raiders.