Fan of every NFL team can finally plan their vacations and book their reservations now that the full 2023 schedule has been released for all 32 teams after days of leaks. The Baltimore Ravens will open the season at home for the first time since 2020 but will be on the road for five of their next sevens game.
Their Week 1 opponent will be the Houston Texans and they will be looking to give the second and third overall picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, quarterback CJ Stroud and edge defender Will Anderson, their ‘Welcome to the NFL’ moments in a game where the home team will be heavily favored.
The Ravens will play all three of their AFC North foes in the first five weeks of the season starting with the two-time defending division champion Cincinnati Bengals on the road in Week 2 followed and back-to-back road trips in Week 4 and 5 against the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.
As of right now, they are slated to play in at least four primetime games with the first not coming until Week 11 when they play the Bengals for the second time on Thursday Night Football. Their second matchup with the Steelers in the final week of the season is currently listed as ‘To Be Determined’ because the league could flex it into a primetime slot depending on playoff implications.
The team could also always get flexed into a primetime game earlier in the season. However, it is still a little surprising that they won’t be under a national spotlight until after half the season has gone by given all the new notable offensive talent they have added offseason and the fact that Lamar Jackson will be under center in more modern offense.
They also have a pretty late break in action with their bye not coming until Week 13 wedged between back-to-back games against the two Los Angeles teams.
Here’s a full breakdown of their entire 2023 schedule that includes their easiest and toughest stretch of games based on strength of schedule per their opponent’s 2022 win total and predictions for their final overall record and playoff seed.
The softest slate of games that the Ravens will have comes in their first eight games where they play just one team that made the postseason last year. However, of those first eight opponents, two narrowly missed the postseason with the Steelers and Detroit Lions in Week 7, and the Browns are expected to be much improved this season since it will be Deshaun Watson’s second year with the team.
Half 0f their first eight foes could potentially be starting either rookie or second-year quarterbacks. Stroud will most likely be the Texans starter in Week 1, the Indianapolis Colts could trot out fourth-overall pick Anthony Richardson when they come to town in Week 3, and the Steelers have 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett entrenched as the starter.
There’s no telling if 2023 second-rounder Will Levis or 2022 third-rounder Malik Willis will have supplanted veteran Ryan Tannehill as the Tennessee Titans starter when the two teams make the trek across the pond to play in London in Week 6.
The most arduous slate of games that the Ravens will face come between Week 9 and Week 17. Six of their eight opponents will be teams that made the postseason starting with a 1 p.m. home game against the Seattle Seahawks and ending with a 1 p.m. home game against the Miami Dolphins.
The easiest game they have during that gauntlet will be a Week 14 nonconference matchup with the Los Angeles Rams coming out of their bye week. Their roughest consecutive game stretch will be from Week 15 to 17 when they play the Jacksonville Jaguars, San Fransico 49ers, and Dolphins three weeks in a row.
Ending the season with a home divisional matchup with the scrappy Steelers that had quite the impressive offseason and a young ascending quarterback won’t be a walk in the park either. Pickett came into Baltimore as a rookie last season in Week 17 and led his team to a come-from-behind victory in a 16-13 low-scoring affair where he showed a lot of grit and moxy with a clutch late-game-winning drive.
Final Record and Playoff Seeding Predictions
The Ravens will need to get off to a strong start to the season in order to buy themselves some wiggle room down the stretch. It helps to have a perceived softer schedule in the first half of the year so that they can work out some of what might be some early season kinks in the offense since they’re going to be running an almost entirely new system after replacing Greg Roman at offensive coordinator with Todd Monken this offseason.
By the time the Ravens reach the roughest part of their schedule, they will likely be rounding into form on both sides of the ball and hitting their stride as a team. With a revamped wide receiver core that added three first-round picks and is returning another to go along with a lethal trio of tight ends, not only could Jackson be poised to win another league MVP but the Ravens could emerge as dangerous title contenders by the end of the year.
I project that they’ll finally be able to shake the injury bug and reclaim their rightful place at the top of the AFC North by winning their first division title since 2019 and finishing as the second seed in the AFC playoff standings behind the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Ravens will finish 4-2 in the division after sweeping the Browns and splitting with the Bengals and Steelers for a second year in a row. As far as their overall record projection, I forsee them finishing 13-4 with their other two losses coming on the road against the 49ers in Week 16 and Los Angeles Chargers in Week 12 heading into their long-awaited bye.
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