The Ravens' 2022 schedule is out. Before we dive in, here's the full list:
With backloaded AFC North schedule, Ravens must avoid last year's fade.
Baltimore ended last season with a six-game losing skid. Of course, a big reason was Lamar Jackson's injury, the final straw in a season full of ailments. Still, the brutal finish to the schedule played a part in dashing the Ravens' playoff hopes. This year, the Ravens will once again finish the season with a tough stretch thanks to a backloaded AFC North schedule.
The Broncos are a Super Bowl contender now with Russell Wilson, the Steelers are always tough, and there's two road games against talent-rich divisional foes Cleveland and Cincinnati. It wouldn't be surprising if the AFC North title came down to the finale in "The Jungle." The AFC North is loaded and four of the six divisional games are in the final five weeks.
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.
There's a funky start to the schedule.
It seems every year has its oddity. This season, it's that the Ravens start by playing all four teams in the AFC East. Baltimore opens the season with a road trip for the second straight season. Last year it was Vegas, this year New York (technically New Jersey) vs. the Jets. Then it's a rematch with the Dolphins, who blitzed past Baltimore last season in Miami, followed by a Tom Brady-less matchup with the Patriots and a heavyweight clash with the Bills.
Considering three teams from the AFC East (Bills, Patriots, Dolphins) were either in the playoffs or in contention last season, this is a time for the Ravens to get a leg up in the conference race. It's also kind of strange that there are three straight games against NFC South teams from Weeks 8-11.
Expect more than just three primetime games when all is said and done.
As of now, Baltimore has just three primetime games. The Ravens had that many through the first five weeks of last season (and five total). Even though the Ravens still have arguably the game's most exciting player in Jackson, it seems the networks are sleeping on their appeal after a last-place finish last season in the AFC North.
For the second straight year, Ravens-Steelers isn't on primetime, but when is the last time they've had two 1 p.m. kickoffs? Three of Baltimore's biggest games on paper, versus the Bills, Patriots and Broncos, are all 1 p.m. starts while two non-conference games (against the Bucs and Saints) are under the lights. Judging by the TBDs at the end of the Ravens' schedule, and with a strong finish to the year, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see Baltimore flexed to a national stage late in the season.
Ravens face two elite QBs, but potential for a lot of young guns.
Matchups against Brady (in primetime) and Wilson are certainly highlights. But the Ravens' loaded secondary will go against a lot of young quarterbacks and possibly several rookies this season. At the start of the year, it's three straight games against young first-round quarterbacks looking to blossom in Year 2/3 in the Jets' Zach Wilson, Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa and Patriots' Mac Jones. Baltimore's retooled defense has an opportunity to start strong.
There's also a distinct possibility that the Ravens get some rookie QBs down the stretch as Carolina and Atlanta could switch to their third-round picks (Matt Corral and Desmond Ridder) by Weeks 11 and 16, respectively, and it would be surprising if the Steelers don't have first-round pick Kenny Pickett under center at least by Week 14 (if not the start of the season). The late-season matchups with Pittsburgh do give Pickett more time to learn and adjust to the NFL.
The Ravens ranked No. 23 on strength of schedule for 2022, but you'd be wise not to put too much stock into it. There are young, talented teams such as the Jets, Dolphins and Jaguars who could be better than people think. They're all trying to be this year's Bengals, who didn't look so tough when last year's schedule came out. ... 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. ... We already knew the Ravens weren't going to log many airline miles this season, but a trip to Arizona is the furthest the Ravens have ever traveled for a preseason game (and the first preseason matchup against the Cardinals). It's three weeks before the regular season, so plenty of time to rest up. ... It's good that Baltimore doesn't get Miami in Week 1. The Ravens will have at least one game of tape on new Head Coach Mike McDaniel's offense. ... 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.