Slow Start Coming For Ravens?

The Baltimore Ravens face a brutal gauntlet to start the season.
Jan 28, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) is sacked by Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Mike Danna (51) in the AFC Championship football game at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 28, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) is sacked by Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Mike Danna (51) in the AFC Championship football game at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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The Baltimore Ravens would love to match their league-best 13-4 record from last season, but doing so will prove extremely difficult.

Not only have the Ravens lost some key pieces from last year's squad, but they didn't exactly get a favorable draw to start the season. As if starting the season on the road against the back-to-back champion Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC Championship Game rematch wasn't enough, Baltimore faces three other playoff contenders in the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals all in the first five weeks.

With such a brutal gauntlet to start out, it wouldn't be surprising to see Baltimore begin the season slower than usual. In fact, Vic Tafur of The Athletic took this a step further by not only projecting the Ravens to have a losing record after Week 5, but finish under their projected win total of 11.5.

"We’ve covered how the Ravens will have a little more bounce to their step thanks to the schedule-makers. But they will need it, as they have more work to do, replacing most of their offensive line, linebackers and entire secondary," Tafur writes. "Plus they open at the Chiefs, vs. the Raiders, at the Cowboys, vs. the Bills and at the Bengals, so it’s hard to see all the new pieces coming together and starting with a 3-2 record. Last season was the first time in four years that the Ravens went over their season total number (9.5), and we think expectations are a little too high again this year."

Considering that Baltimore typically gets off to hot starts, a colder one could raise some alarms in the fanbase. For instance, the Ravens started 7-3 last season, 6-3 in both 2020 and 2021 and didn't even lose three regula season games in 2019.

Furthermore, the Ravens have only started 2-3 or worse twice in 16 seasons under John Harbaugh. The first time was his first season in 2008, so growing pains were understandable. The second time came in 2015, when Baltimore limped to a 5-11 finish after several major injuries.

If the Ravens do start 2-3 though, it wouldn't be time to panic just yet. While the schedule is still tough the rest of the way, Baltimore does play in football's toughest division, it's not quite as much of a murderer's row as it is to start out. All it takes is one hot streak, which the Ravens have shown they're more than capable of going on, to get the season back on track.

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Jon Alfano

JON ALFANO