It’s too early to know how difficult the Ravens’ 2024 schedule actually is. It’s not too early to call their opening month one of the NFL’s toughest.

Four of the Ravens’ first five games this season are against teams with some of the league’s best Super Bowl odds, according to DraftKings. After opening the season against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, the Ravens will face the rebuilding Las Vegas Raiders at home before heading west again to take on the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3. Over the next two weeks, the Ravens will take on the visiting Buffalo Bills in a “Sunday Night Football” matchup and the AFC North rival Bengals in Cincinnati.

With less than four months until the Ravens’ season opener, here’s how their schedule stacks up, with opponents ranked from least to most difficult.

17. Week 9 vs. Denver Broncos

The Broncos ate $53 million in dead money this offseason to get rid of Russell Wilson. Their reward: Bo Nix, Jarrett Stidham or Zach Wilson as their starting quarterback. There aren’t a lot of plus starters on offense to help them out, either. Star cornerback Pat Surtain II headlines a defense that finished 30th in the NFL in efficiency last season, according to FTN, and won’t have perennial Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons, who was released in March. Before he was hired last year, Denver coach Sean Payton predicted that Lamar Jackson would leave Baltimore instead of re-signing. He might wish that were the case after this one.

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16. Week 2 vs. Las Vegas Raiders

First-year coach Antonio Pierce has some big-name pieces at premium positions: wide receiver Davante Adams, defensive end Maxx Crosby and defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, plus first-round pick Brock Bowers at tight end. The Raiders’ defense was sneaky good last season, too, finishing eighth in FTN’s DVOA metric. But Las Vegas lost running back Josh Jacobs in free agency, and its quarterback options — Aidan O’Connell and Gardner Minshew — are bleak.

15. Week 15 at New York Giants

Jackson is 19-1 against the NFC as a starter; a 2022 road loss to the Giants is his one blemish. Another defeat would be just as surprising, especially with the Ravens returning from their bye week for this one. Rookie wide receiver Malik Nabers should replenish some of the offensive juice lost with running back Saquon Barkley’s departure in free agency, but quarterback Daniel Jones is coming back from a ghastly season shortened by neck and knee injuries. Defensive coordinator Shane Bowen, who took over for Don “Wink” Martindale after a mediocre 2023, inherits a talented front led by outside linebackers Brian Burns and Kayvon Thibodeaux and tackle Dexter Lawrence II.

14. Week 6 vs. Washington Commanders

The Ravens’ first game against the Commanders in the post-Daniel Synder era promises the series’ most intriguing quarterback matchup in a while. No. 2 overall draft pick Jayden Daniels has been compared to the Ravens’ Jackson, a fellow Heisman Trophy winner, and has a talented wide receiver room at his disposal. But Washington’s offensive line is shaky, and first-year coach Dan Quinn will probably need more than a month or so to turn around one of the NFL’s worst defenses.

13. Week 7 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jackson’s recent matchups with former division rival Baker Mayfield haven’t gone smoothly: four interceptions in a 2021 win over the Browns, a season-ending ankle injury two weeks later in a loss in Cleveland and just one touchdown in a 2022 win over the Carolina Panthers. He’ll need to be better for this “Monday Night Football” showdown. Even if Mayfield is due for a comedown after an impressive 2023 season in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers should contend for a fourth straight NFC South title after re-signing wide receiver Mike Evans, inside linebacker Lavonte David and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. this offseason.

12. Week 18 vs. Cleveland Browns

The Browns might have the NFL’s most talented defense, with stars at every level: defensive end Myles Garrett, inside linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, cornerback Denzel Ward. But the Ravens, coming off their Christmas Day game against the Houston Texans, should be well rested as they return from a week-and-a-half layoff. If Cleveland’s playoff hopes are dashed by the finale, the Ravens would face even less resistance.

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11. Week 10 vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The NFL can’t resist another prime-time battle between the division rivals, who’ll face off on short rest for a “Thursday Night Football” matchup. Will Jackson again shine brightest? He’s won five of his past six starts against the Bengals, and he was instrumental in the Ravens’ season sweep last season, passing for 501 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions and rushing for 108 yards. Cincinnati could’ve used a healthy Joe Burrow, who wasn’t at full strength in Week 2 and had his season ended in Week 11. Star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase finished with just 43 yards total, and Tee Higgins missed the loss in Baltimore.

A Pittsburgh Steelers fan waves his Terrible Towel during a football game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, January 6, 2024.
A Steelers fan waves his Terrible Towel during the 2023 regular-season finale at M&T Bank Stadium. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

10. Week 16 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Ravens haven’t scored more than 13 points against the Steelers in any of their past three meetings in Baltimore, but Jackson was absent for all three. Barring an injury, he probably won’t get the day off for this one, as he did in last year’s regular-season finale. Pittsburgh, despite its own quarterback problems, has won seven of the past eight meetings in the series overall.

9. Week 12 at Los Angeles Chargers

This is more than just the next HarBowl. Under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh, the Chargers have filled out their roster and coaching staff with a handful of former Ravens, from running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards to offensive coordinator Greg Roman to player personnel official Corey Krawiec. The Chargers parted ways with top wide receivers Mike Williams and Keenan Allen this offseason in a salary cap purge, but quarterback Justin Herbert should have a talented line to protect him. Former Ravens assistant Jesse Minter, now the Chargers’ defensive coordinator, has enough pieces to cobble together a respectable unit in time for this “Monday Night Football” reunion.

8. Week 8 at Cleveland Browns

The Ravens probably would’ve preferred an earlier pair of games against the Browns. Quarterback Deshaun Watson hasn’t found his fit in Cleveland’s offense, and his recovery from surgery on a broken bone in his throwing shoulder might sideline him until training camp. Running back Nick Chubb (knee) could be out even longer. But the Ravens match up well with a talented Browns offensive line and a receiving corps that added Jerry Jeudy to help out fellow wideout Amari Cooper and tight end David Njoku.

7. Week 5 at Cincinnati Bengals

If the Bengals’ top priority is keeping Burrow happy and healthy, fortifying their defense has to be a close second. The unit finished 23rd in DVOA last season and regularly gave up explosive plays. Star defensive end Trey Hendrickson said Tuesday that, despite an offseason trade request, he’s committed to playing for Cincinnati this season, but the secondary needs an upgrade, too. How much can former Ravens safety Geno Stone help?

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6. Week 11 at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Ravens have to wait until mid-November to get their first look at the Steelers’ new QB1 — Justin Fields? Russell Wilson? — and the talented, if young, offensive line protecting him. No one might be looking forward to this matchup more than former Ravens inside linebacker Patrick Queen, though. He’ll need some help in corralling Jackson and running back Derrick Henry, and should get it from outside linebacker T.J. Watt, cornerback Joey Porter Jr. and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

5. Week 4 vs. Buffalo Bills

On paper, this is a blockbuster “Sunday Night Football” matchup. On paper, this is also the worst Bills team in a few years. Buffalo traded wide receiver Stefon Diggs this offseason and must replace three longtime staples of its secondary, cornerback Tre’Davious White and safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. But Josh Allen is one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, and a second season under offensive coordinator Joe Brady should help him limit his turnovers. Inside linebacker Matt Milano anchors what should be a solid defensive front.

New York Giants' Saquon Barkley (26) dives into the end zone for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J.
Saquon Barkley of the Giants scores a touchdown against the Ravens in 2022. Barkley will visit Baltimore with the Eagles this season. (John Minchillo/Associated Press)

4. Week 13 vs. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles again have one of the NFL’s most talented rosters, brimming not just with veteran stars (wide receiver A.J. Brown, right tackle Lane Johnson, cornerback Darius Slay) but also young talent (guard Landon Dickerson, defensive lineman Jalen Carter, cornerback Quinyon Mitchell). Quarterback Jalen Hurts’ transition to life after Jason Kelce could be difficult, but the arrival of Barkley from New York should help Philadelphia restore its balance on offense. First-year defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has the pieces to oversee a much-needed turnaround after a disastrous 2023.

3. Week 3 at Dallas Cowboys

The Ravens’ first game at Jerry World since 2016 should be a treat. Quarterback Dak Prescott was an NFL Most Valuable Player front-runner last year until a late-season stumble. Star linebacker Micah Parsons is a one-man litmus test for the Ravens’ early-season pass protection. Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb might be the toughest slot weapon that Ravens safety Kyle Hamilton (or cornerback Marlon Humphrey) faces all season. And DaRon Bland and Trevon Diggs are one of the NFL’s best cornerback pairings. There are serious holes on Dallas’ roster, but a whole lot of star power, too.

2. Week 17 at Houston Texans

In the 16 months since hiring DeMeco Ryans as head coach and drafting quarterback C.J. Stroud, the Texans have gone from plucky underdogs to Super Bowl sleepers. If Diggs recaptures some of his old magic alongside wide receivers Nico Collins and Tank Dell, Houston should have one of the NFL’s most dynamic passing attacks. With better health along the offensive line and in the secondary, and another year of development from defensive end Will Anderson Jr. and cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., the Texans could challenge for AFC supremacy. Adding defensive linemen Danielle Hunter and Denico Autry in free agency can’t hurt. The Ravens won last year’s much-hyped Christmas Day battle against the San Francisco 49ers, and this test could be just as stiff.

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1. Week 1 at Kansas City Chiefs

The king stays the king. Defensive tackle Chris Jones called the Ravens the NFL’s best team, but he said that as the Chiefs celebrated a second straight Super Bowl title in February. The path to a three-peat will start against the Ravens in the NFL’s season opener. Coach Andy Reid, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce usually find a way to give the Ravens headaches, and Kansas City’s receiving corps should challenge their talented secondary, even if wideout Rashee Rice is unavailable because of a suspension. The Chiefs’ defense could take a step back with the departure of cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, but coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s schemes will test Jackson and the Ravens’ Week 1 readiness — not to mention their willingness to run the ball.

Jonas Shaffer is a Ravens beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun. Shaffer graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Silver Spring.

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