xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

A fan’s guide to Ravens’ 2021 season: Everything you need to know before Monday night’s season opener vs. Raiders

Ravens football is back.

Baltimore enters its Monday night matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders seeking its sixth straight season-opening win. Over the past few weeks, the Ravens saw their three top running backs suffer season-ending injuries along with All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters. Despite those setbacks, the Ravens are expected to be a threat to reach the Super Bowl with a deep defense and star quarterback Lamar Jackson leading the way on offense.

Advertisement

The Ravens have been one of the best teams in the league with Jackson at the helm, compiling a 30-7 record in the regular season with the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player as the starter. However, that success hasn’t translated to the postseason, where the Ravens have lost in the divisional round in back-to-back years.

Here is everything you need to know for the Ravens’ 2021 season:

Advertisement
Advertisement

Ravens 2021 schedule

Sept. 13 at Las Vegas Raiders, 8:15 p.m.

Sept. 19 vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 8:20 p.m.

Sept. 26 at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.

Oct. 3 at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m.

Advertisement

Oct. 11 vs Indianapolis Colts, 8:15 p.m.

Oct. 17 vs Los Angeles Chargers, 1 p.m.

Sun. 24 vs Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.

Oct. 31 BYE WEEK

Nov. 7 vs Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m.

Nov. 11 at Miami Dolphins, 8:20 p.m.

Nov. 21 at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.

Nov. 28 vs Cleveland Browns, 8:20 p.m.

Dec. 5 at Pittsburgh Steelers, 4:25 p.m.

Dec. 12 at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m.

Dec. 19 vs Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m.

Dec. 26 at Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.

Jan. 2 vs Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m.

Jan. 9 vs Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m.

Mask requirements at M&T Bank Stadium

Fans planning to attend home games are required to wear a mask in all indoor areas at M&T Bank Stadium except when actively eating and drinking. Regardless of vaccination status, masks must be worn in the stadium’s retail stores, restrooms, club-level concourse, elevators, corridors, suites, first aid rooms, guest service locations and the press level.

Mask will not be required on suite balconies or the club-level seating bowl. Fans will not be required to wear masks while at their seats throughout the stadium. Children 2 years or younger will not be required to wear a mask.

The Ravens are welcoming full capacity at M&T Bank Stadium, which holds 71,008 fans, after attendance was limited in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID rate and Ravens’ vaccination status

More than 90% of the Ravens players are fully vaccinated, according to coach John Harbaugh. Meanwhile, the entire Ravens coaching staff is fully vaccinated. The NFL vaccination rate stands at 93%, according to the league’s website.

As of Sunday, there have been 1,150 new coronavirus cases in Maryland.

AFC North at a glance

The Ravens enter the season as +115 favorites to win the division, according to Odds Shark. The Cleveland Browns (+150) have the second-best odds followed by the Pittsburgh Steelers (+425) and the Cincinnati Bengals (+2000).

Even though the Browns lost, 33-29, to the two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday afternoon, they have all the pieces on offense and defense to be a legitimate threat in the conference. Nick Chubb is one of the league’s top running backs, while pass rushers Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney will give opponents problems. It’s just a matter of the Browns putting everything together.

The Steelers’ 23-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills showed that as long as their defense can remain strong, they will be in the playoff hunt. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 39 years old, but he is surrounded by talented playmakers like Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster and rookie running back Najee Harris.

Expectations aren’t high for the Bengals, but it will be interesting to see how quarterback Joe Burrow and rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase build off their season-opening performances in a 27-24 overtime win against the Minnesota Vikings.

Three Ravens players to watch

Quarterback Lamar Jackson

Jackson, 24, is entering a big season. With negotiations continuing on a lucrative contract extension, pressure mounts on the 2019 MVP to lead the Ravens to a deep playoff run this season. He’s coming off back-to-back seasons with more than 1,000 rushing yards and threw for 2,757 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2020.

Running back Ty’Son Williams

After J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards suffered season-ending ACL injuries, all eyes will be on Williams, who will have a bigger role on offense than initially expected. The 2020 undrafted free agent spent all of last season on the practice squad and has never had a carry in an NFL game.

Cornerback Anthony Averett

With Peters out for the year, Averett will step into the starting role in his fourth season. Averett, a fourth-round pick in 2018, said during training camp that he is confident in his ability to be a starting-caliber corner in the league. Even defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale believes Averett has “Pro Bowl talent.”

Injuries

Running back J.K. Dobbins, torn ACL

Running back Gus Edwards, torn ACL

Cornerback Marcus Peters, torn ACL

Running back Justice Hill, torn Achilles tendon

Tight end Nick Boyle, knee injury

Linebacker L.J. Fort, torn ACL

Wide receiver Rashod Bateman, groin injury

Wide receiver Miles Boykin, hamstring injury

Defensive end Derek Wolfe, back/hip injury

Cornerback Jimmy Smith, ankle sprain

Key additions

Outside linebacker Odafe Oweh

Oweh, the 31st overall pick out of Penn State, showed throughout training camp that he has the versatility and skill set to make an immediate impact in his rookie season. Oweh didn’t have a sack in his final college season, but he was a strong run defender whose stock soared at his pro day. At 6 feet 5 and 257 pounds, Oweh ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds.

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins

The Ravens signed Watkins to a one-year deal in the offseason to give Jackson more weapons on offense. Watkins, a Super Bowl champion in 2019 with the Kansas City Chiefs, has proven to be a solid receiver in the league. The question is whether he can stay healthy.

Right tackle Alejandro Villanueva

Villanueva, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, signed with the Ravens in the spring after Orlando Brown Jr. was traded to the Chiefs. Villanueva has shifted from left tackle, where he played for eight seasons with the Steelers, to right tackle.

Outside linebacker Justin Houston

The Ravens signed the four-time Pro Bowl selection to a one-year, $4 million deal around the start of training camp. Houston bolstered the Ravens’ pass rush, as he recorded a combined 18 sacks for the Indianapolis Colts in the past two seasons. Houston has played the mentor role since arriving in Baltimore. Oweh said during training camp that Houston reminded him of Yoda.

Advertisement

Running back Le’Veon Bell

Advertisement

It’s crazy to picture Bell in a Ravens uniform, but here we are. The Ravens signed the former Steelers star on Sept. 8 to add much-needed depth in the running back room. Bell, who has also played for the Jets, and the Chiefs, has a chance to play on Monday night, according to Harbaugh.

Key losses

Offensive lineman Orlando Brown Jr.

Brown was traded to the Chiefs in April for four draft picks, including the selection that became Oweh at No. 31 overall. Brown, 25, was picked by the Ravens in the third round of the 2018 draft and was named a Pro Bowl selection in two of his three seasons in Baltimore at right tackle.

Outside linebacker Matthew Judon

After back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons in Baltimore, Judon signed a four-year, $56 million deal with the New England Patriots in the offseason. The 2016 fifth-round pick recorded a combined 15 1/2 sacks in 2019 and 2020.

Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue

After being acquired from the Minnesota Vikings last season and playing nine games with Baltimore, Ngakoue signed a two-year deal with the Raiders in March to help revitalize Vegas’ dormant pass rush. Ngakoue recorded 11 tackles and three sacks with the Ravens, playing only 33% of the defensive snaps.

What to read

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement