Sure, it’s only week one, but the Ravens saw some ups and downs insofar as opponents they need to be watching out for.
As the Ravens have found out in most of the playoffs they have been a part of, it isn’t fun to always play on the road. The teams that get the home games traditionally get far easier roads to heading to the Super Bowl than those that don’t. Though in fairness, the last three years have been somewhat of an anomaly with The Green Bay Packers (2011), New York Giants (2012), and the Ravens (2013) all winning the Super Bowl after playing significant portions of the playoffs on the road.
Opponent Track, which I will feature at times during the season, will keep track of five teams the Ravens will typically want to see lose games to give them an easier shot to the playoffs. The bracket is divided up into primary playoff determinants: won-loss-tie record, head-to-head, and AFC record. At this point, it is too early to get into common opponents record or points scored. Don’t be surprised if other teams (Chiefs) enter the discussion as well, but for now, these are the five which should most be watched by the Ravens.
For Divisional opponents only, I also list the AFC North divisional record
1-0 overall, 0-0 head-to-head w/Ravens, 1-0 AFC.
The long-time Ravens nemesis Patriots have not yet played Baltimore, but won an excruciating game (for Ravens fans) against the Bills in a game that looked like a loss about to happen. Tom Brady’s crew is now 1-0 in WL, 1-0 in the AFC. Ravens faithful would have wanted that to be a cheap, unexpected division loss for a regular playoff participant, but it didn’t happen. The good news? The Ravens have a home game head-to-head against the Pats. Statistically Tom Brady plays worse against the Ravens than any other team.
Overall: Pats +1 on Ravens (AFC win)
1-0, 1-0, 1-0
What more can be said? The Ravens team and coaches took the game off in the second half, were humiliated, and ultimately it was a loss that will probably really come back to haunt them. The Ravens were really hoping it was the Bears who would be chosen as a game one opponent, where at worst a road loss wouldn’t hurt them in the playoffs or AFC very much. Didn’t happen. Ravens lose big ground because of the head-to-head. The NFL couldn’t get the Ravens a home game after the issues with MLB, and the Ravens got screwed having to play a fired-up opponent that probably wanted the Ravens more than any other opponent, and Baltimore took the game off.
Overall: Broncos +1.5 on Ravens (head-to-head AFC win)
1-0, 0-0, 1-0
The San Diego Chargers looked like they were going to win and really help a Ravens team looking to see the Texans get a quick early-season loss. The Texans, minus Ed Reed, came back with a huge 4th quarter rally buoyed by a Pick-6 from Phillip Rivers to Brian Cushing. With 5 seconds left, the Texans kicked a game-winning field goal. The Ravens do however have a home game coming up very soon against the Texans, a team that has never beaten the Ravens in Baltimore and until last year had never beaten them at all.
Overall: Texans +1 on Ravens (AFC win)
0-1, 0-0, 0-0, 0-0
The Bengals looked decent against the Bears, until they didn’t. Ultimately they lost and that was good news for the Ravens who, despite the performance against the Broncos, remain tied for first in the AFC North because everyone else lost.
Overall: Bengals +0.5 on Ravens (Ravens lost AFC game)
0-1, 0-0, 0-1, 0-0
The Steelers played a rough game at home against the Titans and paid for it by also losing starting center Maurkice Pouncey. Not good. The Steelers look like a team in rebuilding mode: old, slow, and without many options for their 2x Super Bowl-winning QB Ben Roethlisberger. The Ravens can only hope this trend continues and the Steelers become an afterthought early on.
Overall: Neutral (both teams lose AFC games)
The Chiefs are in a horribly tough division with four games against the Chargers and Broncos. Expect multiple losses (at least three) just from the division, despite a great first game so they are not listed yet, especially coming off an awful 2012 season. The Titans were better last year, but they also have further to go before making the list. The Browns are a divisional team, but until they start winning more often, won’t be listed here. The Jets and Dolphins, as long as they have to play each other and the aforementioned Patriots, barring some great new results, won’t be listed here.