The Baltimore Ravens had their 2021 schedule rollout last week and current record projections have them looking to put together another successful season. General manager Eric DeCosta has spent the off-season reimagining the offense around Lamar Jackson and may be in for the quarterback’s best season yet. Going into 2021, the Ravens face one of the most intriguing schedules in the NFL but the elongated schedule should be a chance to let DeCosta’s new off-season additions shine in Baltimore.
Projecting where an NFL team will finish their season is tough and projecting where the Ravens will finish 2021 is about a similarly tough task. After finishing with a 14-2 record in 2019, Baltimore took a slight step back in 2020. After starting the season with an 11.5 over/under win total in 2020, the Ravens went a predictable 11-5 prior to winning Jackson his first playoff game. Now after a slight down-year, the 2019 MVP quarterback likely has his sights back on the biggest prize this coming season.
The Ravens look be to contending for a Super Bowl in 2021 but that starts with a successful regular season. Baltimore has been debatably the most dominant regular-season team since Jackson made his first start at quarterback and will be looking to get even better in 2021. With the 2021 NFL schedule formally laid out, this is a projection of the Baltimore Ravens ceiling/floor projections for next season.
Baltimore Ravens 2021 Ceiling/Floor Record Projections
Significant matchups: vs Kansas City Chiefs, vs/@ Cleveland Browns, vs/@ Pittsburgh Steelers, vs Green Bay Packers
The Ravens are a very good team and have the capacity to beat any opponent on their 2021 schedule. They possess one of the best and deepest rosters in the NFL and have now made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons.
However, they are playing in maybe the best division in football as well. Like the Ravens, the Browns and Steelers both won 11 or more games a season ago and will both be stingy teams to beat again in 2021. Since its formation, the AFC North has had five teams sweep the division. The Steelers have done it three times: in 2002, ’07, and ’17 , while the Bengals under Marvin Lewis completed the feat in 2009.
Baltimore’s only division sweep came in 2011 on route to their second AFC Championship appearance in four years. While sweeping the division in 2021 is a possibility, it is impossible to project that at this point. The Ravens swept the Browns and Bengals in 2020 but were swept by the Steelers. However, head coach John Harbaugh has never gone worse than 3-3 since becoming the Ravens head coach in 2008. If the Ravens went 5-1 in the AFC North, it would be an incredible achievement in itself. They did it most recently in 2019.
Baltimore’s two biggest games, outside of the division, come Week 2 against the Chiefs and Week 15 against the Packers. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are the only team to beat the Ravens three times since Jackson took over at quarterback. The Packers have the reigning NFL MVP in Aaron Rodgers and are coming off of back-to-back NFC Championship game appearances.
Significant matchups: vs Indianapolis Colts, vs Los Angeles Chargers, vs/@ Cincinnati Bengals, @ Miami Dolphins, vs/@ Cleveland Browns, vs/@ Pittsburgh Steelers, vs Los Angeles Rams
The Ravens have not won fewer than 10 games since 2017. Harbaugh’s worst record with the club came in 2015 when an injury-riddled Ravens roster had 23 players finish the year on the injured reserve. In each of the 13 other seasons he has coached in, Baltimore has finished with eight or more wins.
While the Ravens don’t look like a team that should miss the playoffs on paper, the AFC is incredibly competitive. Eight AFC teams finished with a record of 10-6 or better while the NFC had just five. Baltimore will play seven of those 12 total teams (not including themselves) in 2021. Of those seven games, five will be against AFC opponents and two will be against NFC opponents. They also face an incredibly grueling series to end the season. In the final nine weeks of the season, the Ravens will play seven teams that finished 2020 with 10 or more wins as well as five divisional games. If Baltimore earns a 5-4 record over this stretch, it would be considered a success.
There is also an injury factor that plays into every season. Entering 2020, Baltimore began the season as favorites in each of their 16 games. They then sustained a number of crucial injuries in the middle months of the season and their 5-1 start quickly became a 6-5 record. Their Week 12 game against the Steelers was also muddled in a different way by the Ravens losing another five starters, including Lamar Jackson, due to COVID protocol. No one can predict injuries but they happen to every team in the NFL.
If Baltimore were to finish the year as a nine-win team and out of the playoffs, it would likely be due to their tough schedule and a lack of healthy bodies.
Probable Baltimore Ravens Record Projections: 12-5/11-6
Per BET365, Baltimore’s over/under for 2021 currently stands at 11.5 wins. They are an incredibly strong team but play the schedule with the second-highest winning percentage (.563) from 2020. No team on the Ravens schedule outside of Kansas City has a better winning percentage in the NFL since 2018 and only the Chiefs and Packers have more playoff wins than the Ravens over that time span.
Jackson and the Ravens will see the Chiefs Week 2 but do not have a losing record against any of the teams on their schedule since Jackson’s first start. He holds a .500 record against the Steelers (1-1), and against the Chargers (1-1). These three teams account for a total of four of the Ravens 17 games next season. Jackson has a winning record against six teams on his schedule in 2021: the Las Vegas Raiders (1-0), Colts (1-0), Bengals (5-0), Dolphins (1-0), Browns (4-1), and Rams (1-0). The only team of those five that has beaten Jackson before are the Browns. The Baltimore quarterback will then play six different teams for his first time next season.
The most concerning stat going into next season will be that Jackson has not fared well in his second appearance against a team. Of the eight teams Jackson has played more than once, he holds a 1-7 record against opposing teams when facing them for the second time. The only team he beat in their first rematch were the Bengals whom he owns a 5-0 record against. He will face four teams (the Raiders, Colts, Dolphins, and Rams) for the second time in 2021. The Ravens offense averaged 40.5 points in the first meetings against these teams.
Despite that, Jackson and the Ravens should purely overpower a number of teams as well as match up well against a number of teams Jackson has historically dominated. 11 to 12 wins seems like a fair number for one of the deepest teams in the NFL when relatively healthy.
The Ravens Must Keep Improving
While every year the Ravens have played with Jackson at quarterback has felt like a ‘prove it’ year, 2021 could be the most important. Jackson has reached a new milestone in each of his first three years as an NFL starter and is now fully entrenched in the elite quarterback discussion. The Ravens made the playoffs for the first time in four years in Jackson’s rookie year, then owned the NFL’s best record the following season, and won their first playoff game since 2014 last year in 2020. Now the onus is on getting further in the playoffs next season.
The Ravens have the roster to compete for a Super Bowl in 2021 but need to become the best sum of their parts. The extended season will give the new-look Ravens offense even more time to mature and hopefully lead to a deep run during the new year. Baltimore will have a tough schedule next season but they also have the tools and pedigree to take another step forward in 2021. Only time will tell if the Baltimore Ravens hit the ceiling or floor of their record projections.
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