Baltimore must gain steam in November.
Before heading down the back stretch, the Ravens have a chance to rattle off some wins and get some rest. Baltimore has three games in November against the Saints, Panthers and Jaguars – three teams that, combined, lost twice as many games as they won (17-34) last season – with a bye (actually, kind of two) sandwiched in between.
No game can be taken for granted, but the starting quarterbacks (as of now) for that group is Jameis Winston, Sam Darnold and Trevor Lawrence. Baltimore’s stacked secondary should have a good time. By the way, under John Harbaugh, the Ravens have a 36-21 record against NFC teams.
Don’t like facing Brady on a short week for Thursday Night Football. That’s always a chess match and Baltimore will be coming off an always physical game against the Browns. … Also not ideal to get two teams’ home opener, as the Week 3 game in New England will open the Patriots’ Gillette Stadium slate.
Baltimore gets an extended mini bye (a medium bye?) between Weeks 8 and 9 since they have Monday Night Football after Thursday Night Football. … The odd tradition of finishing the year against the Bengals is back. Since 2010, the Ravens have been scheduled to end the season in Cincinnati seven of 13 years and play the Bengals in the finale nine times.
Baltimore Ravens 2022 schedule: Championship mettle tested in October - Jamison Hensley
Actually, it’s revenge games. Circle Weeks 9 and 18. The Ravens know the road to the AFC North title goes through Cincinnati, and they have the tire burns from last year to prove it. The Bengals became the first team to produce multiple 40-point games in a season against the Ravens, and Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow became the first player in NFL history with multiple 400-yard passing games in a season against the same team. This probably explains why Baltimore significantly upgraded its secondary this offseason. The Ravens’ biggest free-agent splash was safety Marcus Williams, and their first pick in the NFL draft was safety Kyle Hamilton. The Ravens received prime opportunities to show how much they’ve improved against the Bengals. Baltimore has a nationally televised Sunday night home game against Cincinnati (Oct. 9) and then plays at the Bengals in the regular-season finale (Jan. 7 or 8), which could decide the AFC North title.
The Ravens win the AFC North to become the NFL’s latest team to go from last place to first. This has happened in 17 of the last 19 seasons, and the Ravens are in a great position to continue this trend. Baltimore gets back six starters who suffered season-ending injuries last year, along with a healthy and motivated Jackson, who is entering his fifth-year option. That’s a major boost to a Ravens team that lost five games by three points or fewer last season, including a one-point defeat to the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams.
Game that has gotten tougher: vs. Broncos, Week 13
Finishing fourth in the AFC North ultimately allowed the Ravens to avoid a matchup with Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers in favor of a game against the Broncos. That seemed to be a positive and it still might be, but Denver’s offseason acquisition of quarterback Russell Wilson makes the Broncos a far more daunting opponent. Wilson is surrounded by a nice cast of talented skill position players and the Broncos have gotten better on both the offensive and defensive fronts. It’s a shame Vic Fangio and John Harbaugh won’t be able to renew acquaintances, but there will be plenty of other storylines in this one.
One game the Ravens can’t afford to lose: at Giants, Week 6
The four-game stretch ahead of their matchup with the Giants features contests against the Dolphins, Patriots, Bills and Bengals, all viewed as AFC playoff contenders. The three-game stretch after the trip to MetLife Stadium includes a matchup with the Browns and prime-time road games against the Buccaneers and Saints. If the Ravens don’t take care of business against the Giants, they could head into their Week 10 bye in a deep hole. The Giants won’t be a pushover and you know that Don “Wink” Martindale, a longtime Ravens assistant, will have his defense ready to face his former team.
Predicted record: 10-7
Secondary education: The Ravens are excited to have All-Pro cornerbacks returning from injuries (Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters), a free-agent acquisition at one safety spot (Marcus Williams) and a first-round pick at the other (Kyle Hamilton). They’ll be tested early in October with back-to-back games against the Bills and Bengals. Buffalo’s Josh Allen will be a trendy MVP favorite, while Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow torched the depleted Ravens defense twice in 2021.
New rivalries on the horizon: Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has had one main rival in the AFC over the past three years — Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Now Jackson will have two in his own division, with Deshaun Watson joining the Browns and Burrow already taking the Bengals to a Super Bowl. These four games should be electric.
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It’s unfair to Williams that he’s forever attached to the Minneapolis Miracle as the player in the wrong place, at the wrong time and doing the wrong thing while Stefon Diggs trotted into the end zone to steal a win, and it probably taints his league-wide perception. Overall, Williams has been a phenomenally consistent player in the NFL, earning an overall PFF grade of at least 74.0 in each season of his career. Three of his five years of play have seen him earn an 84.3-plus coverage grade, and now he goes to a defense in Baltimore with the potential to maximize his coverage skills and overall impact.