This gives the Ravens the second-most difficult schedule of any NFL team, trailing only the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers.
It doesn’t help that the Ravens play in the AFC North, one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL — if not the most competitive, outright.
The North sent three of its four teams to the postseason in 2021. Even the lone holdout, the Cincinnati Bengals, may become competitive next season if they surround Joe Burrow with enough talent.
Not every game on the Ravens’ schedule is quite so daunting. Then again, that’s what we said about the New England Patriots matchup last season, and look how that turned out.
Let’s take a look at the three easiest games the Ravens have on their 2021 schedule.
3. Week 1: Baltimore Ravens @ Las Vegas Raiders
Nothing like a Week 1 cupcake to give a team a false sense of security.
The Ravens open the 2021 season by taking their first-ever trip to Allegiant Stadium, which will (hopefully) be filled to capacity for the first time in its existence.
Waiting for them on Monday Night Football will be a team that has missed the playoffs in each of the last four seasons and has made little progress under head coach Jon Gruden.
On one hand, the Raiders robbed the Ravens by landing defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in free agency. In all other regards, Las Vegas seemed to actually regress somewhat during the offseason, especially on the offensive line.
Most bafflingly of all, they traded Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson to the Arizona Cardinals for peanuts and actually lost cap money in the deal.
Why ESPN chose to spotlight this matchup on the opening week of Monday Night Football, I have no idea.