The Baltimore Ravens return to Charm City for Week 2 with a sour taste in their mouths after losing to the Las Vegas Raiders in a overtime thriller. Up next is a familiar foe in the Kansas City Chiefs, who have handed them three consecutive losses thanks in large part to their star signal-caller Patrick Mahomes.
The Ravens were still favored to beat the Raiders last week, despite all the injuries to several starters and key contributors. Now, they’re currently considered overwhelming underdogs heading into their home opener against the Chiefs.
This will mark the second straight year that the two teams will play each other in the first month of the season. Also in primetime, as the game will be broadcasted on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Last year’s 34-20 defeat was in Week 3 on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.
Many fans of the team are already preparing to pack it in and the majority of pundits have penciled in a loss for the Ravens. Some are even ready to stick a fork in the Ravens’ championship hopes for if they fall to 0-2.
However, the Ravens shouldn’t be counted out in any game this season — as they have former league MVP Lamar Jackson healthy at the helm of the offense. His game-breaking playmaking ability will give them chance to turn the tide and ultimately prevail on any given Sunday, Monday, or Thursday.
There is also fact that John Harbaugh-coached teams are tough to beat, no matter how many injuries they already have mounted or how many points the other team is favored by. The 2015 season is the only year the team finished with a losing record under Harbaugh (5-11). That team was even more injury-ravaged than this year’s yet 14 of their 16 games were decided by eight points or less. Veterans Matt Schaub, Jimmy Clausen, and Ryan Mallett were playing quarterback and made two starts apiece.
In addition to being tough outs every week, the Ravens under Harbaugh tend to finish the regular season stronger than how they started it. They are often the team in the AFC that no team wants to see in the playoffs because of how dangerous and fearless they can be.
They become more callused and battled-tested after being forged in the fiery crucible of whatever adversity presents itself. Whether it’s injuries or a COVID outbreak, the mission always remains the same within the organization year in and year out. They put it in the work to ensure that they are capable of weathering just about any storm.
Thankfully, the bulk of the Ravens division games are in the back half of their schedule — including both matchups with the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers. The only division opponent they play before their bye week is the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7. That means by the time they get the offensive line figured out and the kinks worked out in the pass defense, the AFC North crown will still be well within reach.
It’s far too early in the year to pack it in and already be looking forward to 2022 and beyond. The Ravens certainly don’t believe they’re out of either that division or championship race after just one loss. Even if they do fall to 0-2 with a close or lopsided loss to the reigning Superbowl runner-ups, that too won’t deter this organization from giving it their all in 2021.
That being said, a triumph over the Chiefs on Sunday would be quite the statement win for the franchise and Jackson in particular. It would send shockwaves throughout the rest of the conference and entire league and shout a loud message that the reports of their demise were both greatly and prematurely exaggerated.