Ravens 2022 schedule: 17 games ranked from hardest (Pirates) to easiest (Panthers)

The Ravens pride themselves on their winning culture and on-field success, but sometimes losing has its upsides.

After going 8-9 in the playoffs, the Ravens entered last month’s NFL draft with the 14th overall pick. (Hello, Kyle Hamilton.) The Ravens are last in the AFC North for the first time under head coach John Harbaugh and have a relatively manageable schedule on Thursday, with just five opponents making the playoffs last season Game, five last. (Hello, Jacksonville Jaguars.)

However, there are still hurdles to clear inside and outside the division, including a handful of Super Bowl contenders. The Ravens’ season opener is four months away, and here’s how their schedule measures, with opponents ranked from hardest to hardest.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Week 8

Remember when quarterback Tom Brady retired and Bruce Arians was still the head coach? Every opponent on the Buccaneers’ schedule will prefer the 2022 schedule. Despite a string of injuries last season, Tampa Bay lost just one game at home and entered the playoffs with the NFL’s best record. Tight end Rob Gronkowski’s future in football remains uncertain, but the immortal Brady led the league in passing yards last season and will return with seven Pro Bowl teammates. It’s an ideal setup for defensive coordinator-turned-coach Todd Powers, and the Ravens have a short week to prepare for their “Thursday Night Football” road trip.

2. Week 18 Cincinnati Bengals

It couldn’t be worse than the last time the team went to Paul Brown Stadium, right? With the Ravens lineup ravaged by injuries and the coronavirus — especially at quarterbacks with Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley unavailable — in a 41-21 loss to the Bengals the day after Christmas Tiger, the team won 575-334. After two blowout losses last year, the Ravens’ rebuilt middle school has considerable room for improvement, with quarterback Joe Burrow setting the NFL record for most passing yards against a team in a single season (941). ). With the game coming to a close in the final week of the regular season, the stakes in this game could be big — maybe a playoff spot? Given the early expectations for both teams, that could mean something.

3. Week 4 vs. Buffalo Bills

The Bills may be the most talented team in the NFL. They’re third here only because the Ravens took them to Baltimore for the first time since 2018. Buffalo’s offense allowed Nathan Peterman to beat Josh Allen at quarterback and lean on Zay Jones at wide receiver. The team has Allen, wide receivers Stephen Diggs and Gabriel Davis and rookie running back James Cook after an intense playoff run. The Bills are spoiled by offensive talent, and their defense could still be the better unit. Buffalo had the NFL’s top pass defense last season, and now it could pair star Tre’Davious White with cornerback first-round pick Kaiir Elam, according to Football Outsiders.

4. Week 5 vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The Ravens face the Bengals in Baltimore this season, and the offline game could be decisive. Cincinnati left M&T Bank Stadium last October with a decisive 41-17 victory and a clear victory in the trenches. The Bengals running back rushed for 111 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and two touchdowns to dominate the late game, while Burrow was fired just once. Meanwhile, the Ravens’ running back had only 29 yards combined on 11 possessions, and Jackson was fired five times. Both teams have upgraded their offensive lines this season, but who will win on the field?

5. Week 13 vs. Denver Broncos

Last season in Denver, the Ravens went 23-7 and combined the passing yards of Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater to 148. After the Broncos traded quarterback Russell Wilson in the offseason, it’s hard to imagine Baltimore’s defensive constraints again. Denver is a potential Super Bowl contender with the ability to return Wilson to the NFL MVP race, with five talented receivers (wide receivers Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, Jerry Zhu Dee and KJ Hamler along with tight end Albert Ockwig Burnham) and elite running back duo (Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon III). If new coach Nathaniel Hackett can help turn the defense around, the Broncos won’t continue to be a pusher in the AFC West.

6. Week 3 for the New England Patriots

The Ravens travel to Gillette Stadium for the second time in three years, and it will be their first game against homegrown outside linebacker Matthew Juden and Pro Bowl quarterback Mike Jones. Since the 2020 rainy season victory over the Ravens, the Patriots have bolstered their technical positional talent, adding tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonu Smith and wide receivers Kendrick Burn and Dewant Parker. But their usual defense will be without top cornerbacks JC Jackson and Stephon Gilmore. Coach Bill Belichick has been 7-4 against John Harbaugh as New England coach.

7. Cleveland Browns Week 15

It won’t be the Ravens’ first game against the Browns this season, but given the relative likelihood that it’s in Cleveland, and the relative likelihood of quarterback Deshaun Watson playing, it’s expected to be a tougher game. The Browns’ defense should be enough to keep them in good shape for the game, with defensive end Miles Garrett chasing quarterback, weak linebacker Jeremy Ousu-Kolamoah chasing the ball handler, cornerback Dan Zellward goes after top catchers. But if Watson’s legal status — he still faces 22 lawsuits alleging sexual assault and harassment — keeps him off the court, Cleveland’s offense will be one-dimensional.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers Week 14

The Ravens won’t face the Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers until December, when Pittsburgh may have figured out the quarterback situation. Will coach Mike Tomlin go with Mitchell Trubisky? Mitchell Trubisky was the top No. 2 overall pick who threw just eight passes for the Bills last season? Or first-round pick Kenny Pickett from Pittsburgh? Or even Mason Rudolph, who started 10 games in four seasons in Pittsburgh? Whoever the Ravens face, they need more of Jackson. During his career, he went 2-3 against the Steelers with a passing rating of 67.4 and only 4.6 yards per possession.

9. New Orleans Saints Week 9

The way the Saints won had dramatic consequences: traded draft picks, salary cap nightmares, millions spent on quarterback Tyson Hill. The New Orleans loss was the Ravens’ takeaway this offseason, when they signed safety Marcus Williams to a five-year, $70 million deal. On Monday Night Football, he will face former teammate Jaymes Winston, who was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL last season but suffered a knee injury on Halloween. The Saints should once again have one of the tougher defenses in the NFL, but how much is left of wide receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara?

10. Week 2 vs. Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins crushed Jackson and the Ravens in last season’s Week 10 upset, and even Tua Tagovailoa, who came off the bench in emergency quarterback duty, won by double digits. The Ravens face a more talented Miami team in September, bolstered by the additions of All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill, Pro Bowl offensive tackle Terron Armstead and terrific defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. New coach Mike McDaniel’s creativity should spark the offense, but Tagovailoa’s range as a passer can’t be the same as Roethlisberger’s.

11. Week 7 vs. Cleveland Browns

Yahoo Sports reported in March that some NFL teams believe Watson could face a six-game suspension under the league’s personal conduct policy. If so, he may not be able to find a less popular setting for his Browns debut. The last time the opponents met, Ravens fans saw Jackson leave the court with an ankle injury in Cleveland. If the Ravens lose to the Bengals in Week 5, they can’t afford to lose another home game in the AFC North.

12. Week 17 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers’ unlikely playoff run last year helped mask some real shortcomings on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Pittsburgh has impressive young talent at running back (Najee Harris, wide receivers (Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and George Pickens) and tight end (Pat Freiermuth), but the team’s offensive line is One of the worst teams in the NFL. Defensive end Cameron Hayward, outside linebacker TJ Watt and safety Minka Fitzpatrick can’t expect to fix every hole in an inconsistent defense. This season-ending matchup once again proved the crux of the playoffs.

13. New York Jets Week 1

As Jets general manager, former Ravens scout Joe Douglas has built a young core of talent, especially on offense. The most recent first- and second-round picks are expected to be from wide receivers (Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson), running backs (Breece Hall), offensive tackles (Mekhi Becton), guards (Aljah Vera-Tucker), defensive tackles (Quinnen Williams) and cornerback (Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner). But the Jets wouldn’t upgrade if last year’s No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson didn’t develop into an average quarterback. He went 3-10 as a starter last season, and a breakout in the season opener seems unlikely.

14. New York Giants Week 6

It’s never a good sign when a team with little playoff hope has to release a more talented player (cornerback James Bradbury) in May because of salary cap constraints. Or when the same team puts a first-round pick (wide receiver Cadari Ustoni) in the trade block after just a year in town. New coach Brian Dabore still has a lot of tough work to do. Perhaps most importantly: Find out if quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley have a future on the team. Former Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale has great talent in the frontcourt, but not the overall depth he’s used to.

15. Week 16 vs. Atlanta Falcons

According to Football Outsiders, the Falcons finished last season with the NFL’s fifth-worst offense and third-worst defense. Somehow, that was enough for seven wins. With Matt Ryan being shipped to Indianapolis this offseason, and the youth movement underway, Atlanta and new coach Arthur Smith need a can’t-miss rookie quarterback more than another season’s tread water. A promising draft brings more talented players to the team’s base (wide receiver Drake London and outside linebacker Arnold Ebiquite), but Marcus Mariota is still QB1.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars Week 12

Even if quarterback Trevor Lawrence makes the Peyton Manning-esque second-year leap the Jaguars need, there are still plenty of holes here. Wide receiver Christian Kirk is nice, but not $18 million a year. Defensive lineman Travin Walker is talented, but talented enough to win a championship? New coach Doug Pederson will need at least a year to clear the stench of the Urban Meyer era. He may need at least two people to get the team out of the AFC basement.

17. Week 11 vs. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers have playmakers at every level of the defense (defensive end Brian Burns, weak linebacker Shaq Thompson and safety Jeremy Chin); a true No. 1 wide receiver (DJ Moore); and, when When healthy, perhaps the best running back in the NFL (Christian McCaffrey). They also have one of the worst starting quarterbacks and offensive lines in the NFL. Sam Darnold was 29th in the QBR league last year, and No. 1 overall pick Ikem Ekwonu can only provide so much coverage in the frontcourt.

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