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Ravens Insider: Ravens 2024 schedule: Ranking all 17 games from easiest (Broncos) to hardest (Chiefs)

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Last season, the Ravens finished with the NFL’s best regular-season record (13-4) and reached the AFC championship game. Getting back there, however, will be a burdensome task.

In addition to several coaching changes — most notably the departure of defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald to become the coach of the Seattle Seahawks — and the loss of several players in free agency, Baltimore will play a first-place schedule for the first time since 2020.

The Ravens’ 2024 slate features eight teams that made the playoffs last season. That includes a rematch of the conference championship game against the Chiefs, this time at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, to open the season Sept. 5.

Things don’t get much easier from there, either.

Baltimore will play five prime-time games, three of which will be on the road, including a Week 12 Monday night tilt against the Chargers and Jim Harbaugh in Inglewood, California, that will be followed by a home game against the Philadelphia Eagles six days later.

In all, the Ravens will play nine games away from M&T Bank Stadium, including on Christmas for the second straight year just four days after a home game against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. That’s just one of several challenges the Ravens will face in what is one of the league’s most difficult and quirkiest schedules.

Here’s a look at how their full schedule measures up, with opponents ranked from least to most difficult.

Week 9 vs. Denver Broncos

Baltimore has won three straight against Denver, including a 10-9 squeaker at M&T Bank Stadium in 2022 when backup quarterback Tyler Huntley came off the bench for an injured Lamar Jackson in the first quarter and guided Baltimore on a 16-play, 91-yard game-winning drive that he capped off with a 2-yard touchdown run with 28 seconds remaining.

It won’t be nearly as close this time.

Denver, which has missed the playoffs each of the past eight seasons and last finished above .500 in 2016, is in rebuild mode after jettisoning veteran quarterback Russell Wilson and his $85 million dead cap hit. In addition to Wilson, they traded 25-year-old wide receiver and 2020 first-round draft pick Jerry Jeudy to the Cleveland Browns and released veteran and two-time Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons. They still have wide receiver Courtland Sutton, who led the team in catches (90), receiving yards (772) and touchdown receptions (10) last season, but he could also be trade bait if the Broncos aren’t willing to give him the contract extension he’s seeking.

With Wilson gone, Bo Nix, whom Denver selected with the 12th overall pick in April, is expected to be the starter, and the Ravens have typically feasted on rookie quarterbacks.

Week 2 vs. Las Vegas Raiders

After traveling to play Kansas City to open the season, the Ravens have nine days to prepare for a Raiders team that went 8-9 last season and is in the midst of a rebuild.

Still, Las Vegas won’t be a pushover. Coach Antonio Pierce took over midway through last season and helped guide the Raiders to a 5-4 record over their final nine games, including a stunning upset of the Chiefs on Christmas. Las Vegas should once again feature one of the league’s better defenses, especially along the front, where they added tackle Christian Wilkins in free agency to pair with star edge rusher Maxx Crosby and 2023 first-round pick Tyree Wilson. On offense, however, there are question marks, including who will be the starting quarterback between Aidan O’Connell and veteran Gardner Minshew. Wide receiver Davante Adams is the biggest threat, though rookie tight end Brock Bowers should help immediately.

But whether the Ravens win or lose against the Chiefs in their season opener, nine days should be more than enough time for Ravens coach John Harbaugh, first-year defensive coordinator Zach Orr and second-year offensive coordinator Todd Monken to make life miserable for the Raiders, a tough and physical team but one that is outmanned.

Week 15 at New York Giants

Gone from the Giants is perhaps the NFL’s best running back, Saquon Barkley, who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency, as well as 24-year-old ascending safety Xavier McKinney, now with the Green Bay Packers. But what New York lacks in offense — even with the addition of rookie wide receiver Malik Nabers as quarterback Daniel Jones’ best target — it makes up for in its defensive front.

The Giants added outside linebacker and two-time Pro Bowl selection Brian Burns to pair with a line that includes rising young stars Kayvon Thibodeaux and Dexter Lawrence II. Shane Bowen is the new defensive coordinator after a messy split with former Ravens assistant Don “Wink” Martindale, who’s now at Michigan.

New York also strengthened its offensive line with the additions of Jon Runyan Jr. at guard and former Raven Jermaine Eluemunor at tackle. Coach Brian Daboll had one one of the worst offenses in football last season, but Jones also missed half the year because of an ACL injury.

The Giants are the only NFC team to have beaten Jackson since he took over as the full-time starter, but the extra time off after the bye week should pay dividends for the Ravens.

Week 6 vs. Washington Commanders

Quarterback Jayden Daniels, whom the Commanders drafted No. 2 overall in April, said the player he’s most looking forward to facing is the player he’s most often been compared with: Jackson.

Whether the former LSU star feels the same way about Baltimore’s defense remains to be seen. Only a handful of rookie quarterbacks have beaten the Ravens under Harbaugh, and even fewer have done so at M&T Bank Stadium. Still, the Commanders come into this game under new leadership with veteran coach Dan Quinn and with new pieces on both sides of the ball, including running back Austin Ekeler, tight end Zack Ertz, defensive ends Clelin Ferrell, Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler Jr. and inside linebacker Frankie Luvu.

Washington also ended the Ravens’ record 24-game preseason winning streak last year and have won three of seven meetings in the regular season. But this isn’t the preseason and Baltimore hasn’t forgotten about that loss last year.

Baltimore Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely catches a touchdown pass as Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards (32) defends during the second half of an NFL football game Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/AP
Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely catches a touchdown pass as Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards defends on Oct. 27, 2022, in Tampa, Florida. (Chris O’Meara/AP)

Week 7 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Like the Commanders, the Buccaneers have played the Ravens sparingly over the years. When they have, the results have largely been one-sided, with Baltimore having won five straight meetings, including a 27-22 victory in Tampa, Florida, in 2022.

But this is a different and spirited Buccaneers team led by rejuvenated quarterback Baker Mayfield, who spurred them to a divisional round win over the Eagles in last year’s playoffs.

Mayfield is back, as is star wide receiver Mike Evans. Tampa Bay’s defense, meanwhile, includes perhaps the best safety duo in the league in Antoine Winfield Jr. and Jordan Whitehead, who is back after a brief stint with the New York Jets.

Watching Jackson and new backfield mate Derrick Henry against the Buccaneers’ run defense will be intriguing, as will Mayfield against the Ravens’ pass rush and secondary.

Week 16 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

This is probably too low to rank a division rival that has given the Ravens fits of late. Incredibly, the Steelers have won seven of the past eight meetings, though many of those wins came when Jackson was not on the field, including last season’s rainy Week 18 game at M&T Bank Stadium when Baltimore rested many of its starters with its playoff seeding secured.

Weirdly, Jackson has started just one game at home against the Steelers during his career because of injury, illness or rest. That was a 28-24 loss in 2020 in which he threw two touchdowns but was also intercepted twice.

But for all their success against the Ravens, the Steelers have a lot of questions, most notably who will start at quarterback between Russell Wilson and Justin Fields, as well as in the secondary, which gave up the fourth-most completions (63) of 20-plus yards last season.

But you can throw stats out the window when these teams play. Expect a tough, physical game that’s won up front, and in that regard Pittsburgh should have one of the league’s best offensive lines.

Week 18 vs. Cleveland Browns

Given its spot on the calendar as the regular-season finale, this game could mean everything or nothing for the Ravens.

It will also be Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson’s first time back at the stadium where his 2023 season ended. In a gritty Week 10 win over the Ravens last season, Watson suffered a broken bone in his throwing shoulder, gutted it out and rallied Cleveland from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to a stunning 33-31 victory. Three days later, he underwent season-ending surgery.

Week 8 at Cleveland Browns

The Browns are just 14-36 all-time against Baltimore, but that includes two wins in the Ravens’ past three trips to Cleveland.

Last season, the Ravens blew out the host Browns, who were without Watson and top running back Nick Chubb. Baltimore gashed Cleveland’s defense for 131 rushing yards, with Jackson running for two scores and throwing for two more while the defense harassed rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson in his first NFL start.

Expect a closer contest this time, especially if the Browns are healthy.

Week 10 vs. Cincinnati Bengals

For the second straight year, the Bengals travel to Baltimore for a “Thursday Night Football” showdown with their division rival.

In last year’s game at M&T Bank Stadium, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow suffered a season-ending wrist injury, while Ravens tight end Mark Andrews was lost for the rest of the regular season after a now-banned hip-drop tackle that resulted in a serious ankle injury.

While this has been a mostly balanced series in recent years, Baltimore has enjoyed much more success at home, winning five of the past six meetings in Baltimore, including last November when they pulled away for a 34-20 victory. Cincinnati’s lone win in that stretch came in 2021, when Burrow lit up the Ravens for 426 passing yards and three touchdowns in a 41-17 rout.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) keeps the ball, eluding Ravens Marlon Humphrey (44) and Odafe Oweh (99) in the 2nd half of the Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium. The Bills won 23-20.
Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun
Bills quarterback Josh Allen keeps the ball, eluding Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey and outside linebacker Odafe Oweh on Oct. 2, 2022. (Jerry Jackson/Staff)

Week 4 vs. Buffalo Bills

This is the second of two prime-time games in a four-week stretch to open the season and one of two night games at M&T Bank Stadium. The Bills have beaten the Ravens in two straight meetings, including a 2021 divisional round playoff game in Buffalo in which Baltimore’s offense fell flat in a 17-3 loss.

In their most recent showdown, on a rainy day in Baltimore in 2022, quarterback Josh Allen rallied the Bills from a 17-point second-quarter deficit to a 23-20 victory capped by a 21-yard field goal from Tyler Bass as time expired.

The biggest challenge for Buffalo this time will be figuring out how to make up for the loss of All-Pro wide receiver Stefon Diggs and fellow wideout Gabe Davis. Rookie Keon Coleman will help. The defense also has question marks with safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer and cornerback Tre’Davious White all gone. But as long as the Bills have Allen, they have a chance.

Week 12 at Los Angeles Chargers

John Harbaugh owns a 2-0 record against his younger brother Jim, with the Ravens beating the San Francisco 49ers on Thanksgiving in 2011 and doing so again in Super Bowl 47 in February 2013.

Since then, the younger Harbaugh returned to the college ranks, won a national championship at his alma mater, Michigan, and took the helm of an NFL team he used to play for. Throw in the fact the Chargers plucked several former Ravens, including running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, general manager Joe Hortiz and offensive coordinator Greg Roman, and there’s a lot of familiarity.

With the matchup of star quarterbacks Jackson and Justin Herbert to top it off, it’s no surprise this one gets the prime-time treatment on “Monday Night Football.”

Week 11 at Pittsburgh Steelers

This game would probably rank lower just looking at the rosters, but neither coach would say as much given the intensity of the rivalry — one that will will likely get even more heated with the Steelers’ addition of former Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen. His signing with the fan base’s most hated foe is akin to Luke Skywalker joining the dark side of the force in “Star Wars.”

As if that wasn’t enough drama, the play on the field should be just as suspenseful. Last year’s game in Pittsburgh featured the Ravens turning the ball over three times while also allowing a blocked punt and a late fourth-quarter touchdown pass that propelled the Steelers to a 17-10 win.

Expect more fireworks this time around.

Week 3 at Dallas Cowboys

A trip to Arlington, Texas, comes at a difficult time for the Ravens with games against the Chiefs, Bills and Bengals sandwiched around it in a brutal start to the season.

It also marks the first time Jackson and three-time Pro Bowl quarterback and 2023 passing touchdowns leader Dak Prescott will face off. The last time these teams played — a 34-17 Ravens victory in 2020 — Prescott missed the game because of a season-ending ankle injury.

Last year, Dallas went 12-5 and was the No. 2 seed in the NFC. But the Cowboys, who had one of the top offenses and defenses in the league, laid an egg in the postseason, falling behind by 32 points and losing at home to the No. 7 seed Green Bay Packers, 48-32, in a wild-card game.

The Cowboys have been much maligned for their lack of moves in free agency this offseason, but they’re still potent enough to stress the Ravens on both sides of the ball.

Week 5 at Cincinnati Bengals

Before last season, the Bengals had won three in a row at home against the Ravens.

Even with Burrow coming off a calf injury, the Ravens had to hold on for a 27-24 victory at Payor Stadium, as safety Geno Stone intercepted the star quarterback on the Bengals’ first drive of the second half and Jackson completed a 52-yard bomb to Zay Flowers that helped set up a touchdown.

Now Stone, like Queen, is a member of a division rival, signing with the Bengals as a free agent after leading the AFC with seven interceptions last season.

Last year’s game in Cincinnati could also provide some insight into how this year’s will go. Baltimore was without left tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Tyler Linderbaum; now they’re without three of their five starters up front as the offensive line undergoes an overhaul.

.Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson gestures after completing a pass against the Texans in the fourth quarter. Ravens defeated the Texans 34-10 in Divisional Round of the 2024 NFL Playoffs at M&T Bank Stadium. (Kenneth K. Lam/Staff photo)
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson gestures after completing a pass against the Texans in an AFC divisional round playoff game Jan. 20. (Kenneth K. Lam/Staff)

Week 17 at Houston Texans

For the second year in a row, the Ravens will play on Christmas.

Last year, they traveled to California to face the San Francisco 49ers in a Monday night blockbuster they won handily to seal Jackson’s second career NFL MVP Award. This time, they get the Texans on the road in a rematch of last season’s divisional round playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium that was tied at 10 at the half before Baltimore pulled away for a 34-10 victory. The Ravens also won their Week 1 matchup against the Texans, 25-9.

Expect a much closer result this time.

For one, Houston gave Baltimore fits for the first 30 minutes of its playoff game. For another, the Texans are one of the league’s rising teams under coach DeMeco Ryans and 2023 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year quarterback C.J. Stroud. They also added the aforementioned Diggs as well as veteran running back Joe Mixon. On defense, they signed veteran pass rushers Danielle Hunter and Denico Autry, who combined for 28 sacks last season.

Week 13 vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Jackson vs. two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Jalen Hurts. Ravens running back Derrick Henry vs. Eagles running back Saquon Barkley. Ravens coach John Harbaugh vs. the organization where he launched his NFL career as a special teams coordinator.

Though the Ravens have won three of their past four against their I-95 neighbors, each of those wins have been by two points or fewer. Baltimore won the most recent encounter, 30-28 in 2020 at M&T Bank Stadium, after the Eagles staged a furious rally with 22 fourth-quarter points but came up short on quarterback Carson Wentz’s 2-point conversion try with 1:55 remaining.

This one figures to be just as close with the Eagles expected to bounce back from a season in which they started 10-1 only to lose five of their next six games before getting bounced from the playoffs by the Buccaneers in the wild-card round. Baltimore will also be coming off a short week after what will be a much-hyped Monday night game against the Chargers.

Week 1 at Kansas City Chiefs

In a rematch of last season’s AFC championship game, the Ravens will travel to Arrowhead Stadium, where they haven’t won since 2012. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes owns a 4-1 career record against Jackson, which includes last year’s 17-10 conference championship game victory at M&T Bank Stadium that propelled Kansas City to its second straight Super Bowl title.

This one has no shortage of storylines, either: Last season’s NFL MVP in Jackson vs. two-time Super Bowl and 2018 and 2022 league MVP in Mahomes; Henry’s Ravens debut after eight seasons with the Titans; a difficult test for new Baltimore defensive coordinator Zach Orr; and Harbaugh vs. his onetime boss and mentor with the Eagles, Andy Reid.

It’s also been over a decade since the Ravens’ only other appearance in the league’s annual kickoff game. That was in 2013, when they were the defending Super Bowl champions but couldn’t host the Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium because of a schedule conflict with the Orioles and went on to get blown out in Denver, 49-27. The Chiefs, meanwhile, are accustomed to being in this spot, playing in the Thursday night opener for the third time in five years.

Baltimore’s lone win in its past six against Kansas City came in 2021, when they rallied for a 36-35 victory at home after scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter. Jackson rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns and threw for another score, and he’ll likely need another spectacular performance for the Ravens to win this one.

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