The Ravens had an extremely rocky 2020 campaign after their storybook 2019 regular season, which ended with a 14-2 record and Lamar Jackson winning the NFL MVP. Baltimore lost three games in a row in Weeks 10-12, which coincided with one of the biggest COVID-19 outbreaks across all professional sports. The losing stretch dropped them to 6-5 overall and it cost them a chance at another AFC North title. Baltimore then ripped off a five-game winning streak to end the season to grab the AFC’s top Wild Card spot (-900 to make playoffs) with an 11-5 record (10-6 ATS). The Ravens opened the playoffs with a road victory over the Titans before being ousted by the Bills in the Divisional Round.
The Ravens allowed the second-fewest points per game (18.9) last season while scoring the seventh-most points per game (29.3). Those top finishes helped them to finish with the league’s best point differential (+165) despite six teams ending the year with better records — they finished 9-7 toward unders. Baltimore had some tough luck with a 1-4 mark in one-score games, but they finished a perfect 6-0 in games decided by three scores or more.
Baltimore’s 2021 win total (11) stayed the same from last season even with an additional game added to this year’s schedule. The Ravens managed to push their 2020 win total by ending the season on a five-game winning streak. Entering this season, I have the Ravens power rated as the fourth-best team in the NFL (+1400 to win Super Bowl LVI), as the third-best team in the AFC (+650 to win the conference), and as the best team in the AFC North (+125).
Spreads are first-look lines from the SuperBook, which were released in early June.
|1||@Las Vegas Raiders||-3.5||8:15 (Mon)|
|2||Kansas City Chiefs||PK||8:20|
|5||Indianapolis Colts||-4||8:15 (Mon)|
|6||Los Angeles Chargers||-5.5||1|
|10||@Miami Dolphins||-3||8:20 (Thurs)|
|15||Green Bay Packers||-5.5||1|
|17||Los Angeles Rams||-3||4:25|
The Ravens have a mostly beatable first month of the season with matchups against the Raiders, Lions, and Broncos sandwiched around a Week 2 home game against the Super Bowl favorite Chiefs, who have given the Ravens fits the last three seasons. Baltimore has the longest stretch of home games in the league this season with four contests in Baltimore in Weeks 5-9 — they also have a bye in that stretch. The Ravens have a back-loaded schedule with all four of their matchups with the Browns and Steelers in the final seven weeks.
The Ravens will face the 10th-toughest schedule this season based on 2021 win totals (per Sharp Football), which includes a pivotal stretch in Weeks 12-15 against the Browns (x2), Steelers and Packers. The Ravens are one of 10 teams with two or more contests against teams coming off their bye week as they’ll take on the rested Bears in Week 11 and the rested Browns in Week 14. The NFL also scheduled the Ravens for five primetime games, which created a short-week road game against the Dolphins in Week 10.
Key Off-season Moves
|Sammy Watkins (WR)||Rashod Bateman (WR)||Orlando Brown (OT, KC)|
|Ali Villanueva (OT)||Odafe Oweh (DE)||Matt Judon (LB, NE)|
|Josh Oliver (TE)||Ben Cleveland (OG)||Yannick Ngakoue (DE, LV)|
|Kevin Zeitler (OG)||Brandon Stephens (CB)||Robert Griffin (QB)|
|Ja’Wuan James (OT)||Tylan Wallace (WR)||Mark Ingram (RB, Hou)|
|Shaun Wade (CB)||Willie Snead (LV)|
|Matt Skura (C, Mia)|
|D.J. Fluker (OG, Mia)|
|Jihad Ward (DE, Jax)|
2021 Season Odds
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
|Season Win Total (O/U)||10.5 (-154/+125)|
Season Prop Movement
Win Total: 11 (-125) in late March to 10.5 (-154)
Super Bowl: +1200 in early February to +1400
Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total
John Harbaugh is building a Hall-of-Fame resume with the Ravens and fading his teams entering the season is always a risky proposition. The Ravens had one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks across professional sports, which decimated their roster for about a month, and the Ravens still finished just half a game under their season win total last season. They snapped a three-year streak of going over their win total, and Harbaugh is still 8-4-1 toward the over on Baltimore’s win totals in his 13 years with the franchise. The Ravens lost some key players this off-season but they reloaded in free agency and the draft, and they have plenty of continuity with their coaching staff with Greg Roman and Wink Martindale back to lead the offense and defense, respectively.
The Ravens are looking to expand their passing game this season to keep up with the Chiefs at the top of the AFC. They drafted Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace to go along with free-agent signee Sammy Watkins to give Lamar Jackson some legit weapons in addition to Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown. Lamar became the first quarterback to run for 1000+ yards in a season twice in his career, and he now has a receiving corps to take this passing offense to another level.
The Ravens addressed their weakness at wide receiver this off-season, and they’ll once again have one of the best and most complete rosters in the league. It’s also one of the deepest rosters after they used eight picks in the top-184 picks in the draft to restock the cupboard. Two of those picks were spent on DBs Brandon Stephens and Shaun Wade, which adds even more depth to arguably the league’s best secondary after they allowed the second-fewest YPA (5.9) last season.
Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total
Baltimore has flamed out of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons because of its limited passing attack. The Ravens spent this off-season trying to keep pace with the Chiefs and Bills by adding receiving talent, but a shift to a more pass-heavy philosophy isn’t guaranteed to work and their elite rushing attack could suffer a bit from the change in attack. They’ve been a dominant regular season team since Lamar took over because of their ground game, but Roman’s expansion of the passing attack could add in more inconsistent results, which is worrisome when betting an over for a team lined at double-digit victories.
The Ravens need to finish off opposing passers a little better than they did a year ago when they finished in the middle of the pack with 39 sacks. They did finish fourth in pressure rate (26.8%) thanks to their league-high blitz rate (44.1%), but they did lose pass rushers Matthew Judon (Patriots) and Yannick Ngakoue (Raiders) this off-season. The Ravens drafted DE Edafe Oweh in the first round, but he could take some time to develop after registering just seven sacks in 20 games at Penn State. The Ravens will have to use a group effort to get after the quarterback once again this season.
The AFC North has the looks of being competitive at the top once again with the Browns nipping at Baltimore’s heels. Pittsburgh also can’t be counted out after winning the AFC North a year ago and the Bengals are slowly turning the corner since they finished with the league’s worst record in 2019. The NFL also did the Ravens no favors by scheduling them for two primetime games right out of the gates, including a SNF showdown with the Chiefs in Week 2 after playing in Las Vegas on MNF to open the season.
Notable Player Props
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Lamar Jackson: passing yards (3200.5), MVP (+1600), OPOY (+2000), most passing yards (+2200), most rushing yards (+7000)
Fantasy Points Projection: passing yards (3375), rushing yards (915)
Best-Case Scenario: Baltimore’s emphasis on adding receivers this off-season pays off in Lamar’s most complete season in his fourth year as he shows improvement throwing to all areas of the field.
Worst-Case-Scenario: Baltimore’s added weaponry fails to help Jackson make a leap this season, and his career remains stagnant after peaking as a passer during his MVP season in 2018.
J.K. Dobbins: most rushing yards (+3100), OPOY (+3300)
Fantasy Points Projection: rushing yards (1180)
- Best-Case Scenario: Dobbins leads this backfield and his career takes off in Year Two with their three-man backfield narrowed down to just a two-man rotation with Gus Edwards working behind him.
- Worst-Case-Scenario: Dobbins’ efficiency significantly dips in his second season with a bigger workload and with the Ravens focused on establishing a more dynamic passing attack.
Lamar Jackson over 3055.5 passing yards (-110, FOXBet). Risk one unit to win .91 units — Lamar needs to average just 180 passing yards per game to top this total, and he’s averaged more than that total in both 2020 (183.8) and in 2019 (208.5). The Ravens have placed an emphasis on improving Jackson’s receiving corps this off-season by signing Sammy Watkins and by drafting Rashod Bateman in the first round. Baltimore has actually drafted a receiver in the first round in three of its last four drafts — they previously drafted Hayden Hurst in 2018 and Marquise Brown in 2019 — so it’s clear the organization wants to throw the rock better than it has in recent seasons. Jackson should at least show some incremental improvement as a passer this season so this total is well within reach even if he would miss a couple of games.
Baltimore Ravens over 10.5 wins (-149, BetMGM) — I’m never in a rush to bet against John Harbaugh’s teams during the season, and certainly not before the season with his 8-4-1 record toward the over on his season win totals. The Ravens’ defense could have some issues getting to the quarterback this season, but they have one of the league’s best secondaries to cover up their pass rush and the front office was willing to trade for Yannick Ngakoue in-season in 2020 so they could always add a pass rusher in season. I’m interested to see if Baltimore’s passing attack can take a major step forward this season after they added Rashod Bateman and Sammy Watkins this off-season, which would unlock a ceiling for this team after flaming out in the playoffs the last three seasons.