The 2021 NFL Schedule has been revealed, and although the league did a fantastic job in ensuring that every single game went ahead in 2020 during a global pandemic, it’s good to be able to break down the schedule release without wondering how much will change due to Covid-19. There are also some standout road games for any UK fans looking to attend a game outside of Baltimore this season, starting in Week 1.
Week 1: at Raiders. Tue, Sep 14, 01:15am
Ravens fans planning a stag-do in the next six months, your prayers are answered! Our season begins under the lights against the newly relocated Las Vegas Raiders in their inaugural competitive game at the $1.9bn Allegiant Stadium. While not an ideal kick-off time for UK fans, we have become more accustomed to prime-time action in the last few years thanks to the star power of Lamar Jackson, and it’s great to see. Additionally, if you’re a millionaire and can survive a whole week in Vegas with the funds and stamina remaining for a second game, you could do worse than…
Week 2: vs Chiefs. Mon, Sep 20, 01:20am
It’s back-to-back prime time games to start the season. Another late night in the UK, but they don’t come much bigger than Sunday Night Football clash against the Kansas City Chiefs. Lamar Jackson’s “Kryptonite”, the Ravens have failed to defeat Patrick Mahomes in his stellar young career and will look to lay down an early marker. If our team is going to take the next step, the Chiefs must be beaten. The atmosphere will be electric inside the Bank, and if you need to pick and choose the games you stay up for, then this should be top of the list.
Week 3: at Lions. Sun, Sep 26, 6:00pm
Finally, we can put away the triple espressos and enjoy a Sunday evening in front of the TV. The Ravens are on the road against a new-look Lions squad with Jared Goff at quarterback. There isn’t much to say about the Lions at the moment; clearly in rebuild mode, this looks fairly routine on paper, and Ravens fans will be expecting a dominant performance. And an early night, if needed, which is always nice.
Week 4: at Broncos. Sun, Oct 3, 9:25pm
On to Week 4 and a fixture which always brings a smile to my face. Thank you, Jacoby Jones! It’s difficult to comprehend that the Mile High Miracle was almost a decade ago, mainly because I still have a sore throat. An late-window game should allow UK Ravens to get to bed at a semi-reasonable hour for the second week in a row. Questions around Denver’s starting quarterback should be answered by this point, and whether it is Teddy Bridgewater or Drew Lock this is a fixture the Ravens will be expected to win. Let’s just hope the Aaron Rodgers trade rumours are all smoke and no fire.
Week 5: vs Colts. Tue, Oct 12, 01:15am
You can safely attend Jets @ Falcons in Tottenham on October 10th without missing a second of Lamar and the boys. Week 5 is our second Monday Night fixture, hosting the Indianapolis Colts, and for the third week in a row we could face a new starting QB. With Philip Rivers retired, Carson Wentz is under center in Indy thanks to an off-season trade with the Eagles. The Colts have been consistent recently, and lead the series between the teams 8-5, so this one is a potential banana skin. However, the Ravens won comfortably last year, and it’s unclear if the Colts will go forwards or backwards with the change at QB.
Week 6: vs Chargers. Sun, Oct 17, 6:00pm
* Clashes with Dolphins at Jaguars in London (2:30pm ko)
Two exciting young QBs go head-to-head as Justin Herbert’s LA Chargers visit Baltimore. We haven’t faced the Chargers since 2019’s disappointing AFC Wild Card game and the Ravens will have this circled as a revenge game. This is the start of a three-week early game stretch, with a bye in the middle, so UK fans should be well rested heading into the business end of the season. If you’re lucky enough to be a London game attendee, be aware that you’re unlikely to make it home for kick-off unless you live in the shadow of Tottenham’s London Stadium.
Week 7: vs Bengals. Sun, Oct 24, 6:00pm
Our last game before the bye, hosting a Cincinnati Bengals team we defeated twice last season at a combined score of 65-6. The Bengals offense should have a healthy Joe Mixon back, and drafted rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, so holding them to such a low score may prove difficult. However, the Ravens will be confident, having proved last season that they have the Bengals’ number on defense.
Week 8: Bye Week
Nicely placed, close to halfway through the season.
Week 9: vs Vikings. Sun, Nov 7, 6:00pm
The previous week’s early games kick off at 5pm, but the clocks go back for in the US before this week, making this a 6pm start. That’s great for those of us who bundle our small children upstairs with a Sunday night movie for uninterrupted football. The rested Ravens should be ready for the running threat of Dalvin Cook and second-year sensation Justin Jefferson through the air. This will be just the 7th meeting between the NFL’s two most purple teams, with the series tied 3-3, so any form guide can be thrown out. If you’re looking to travel to a game this year, you could attend this one and then take a trip down to Florida for a bit of Disneyland with the family and squeeze in…
Week 10: at Dolphins. Fri, Nov 12, 1:20am
Another late night for UK fans (although at least it’s not a Monday) as we visit Miami for Thursday Night Football. This could be a sneaky good game, as the Dolphins have added a lot of talent over the past couple of seasons. A repeat of 2019’s incredible 59-10 win should not be expected, even though the Dolphins have only beaten the Ravens once since 2008. Get your Friday booked off work and enjoy a long weekend, you deserve it!
Week 11: at Bears. Sun, Nov 21 @ 6:00pm
An intriguing visit to Chicago and a meeting between two of the league’s most dominant defences. The X-Factor is Chicago’s quarterback situation, and you’d think Justin Fields would have taken over starting duties from Andy Dalton by this point. Ravens defenses can give rookie quarterbacks nightmares, so it will be interesting to see how Fields fares against Wink Martindale’s aggressive play-calling. Interestingly, the last two meetings ended in overtime victories (unfortunately, both for Chicago), so another nail-biter could be on the cards.
Week 12: vs Browns. Mon, Nov 29, 1:20am
Great news – this is (probably) your last late night until the post-season, and it’s only Week 12! Despite the Browns’ recent upturn, we still have a dominant record, winning all but two of the last 11 (one of those being a dreary 12-9 OT loss in 2018 which I had erased from my memory until researching this article). Recent games have tended to be high-scoring, and with five division games in our final seven, it will be important to get off to a good start here.
Week 13: at Steelers. Sun, Dec 5, 9:25pm
A visit to our biggest rivals, the terrible towel wielding Steelers. The 9:25pm slot is perfect, as my aforementioned small children will be fast asleep, so I won’t have to watch my language. The Steelers swept us last season, and this must be avoided this time. Despite the Steelers’ strong recent record, winning six of the previous nine, Ben Roethlisberger’s play towards the end of last season should give Ravens fans hope that by this point the Steelers will be in complete disarray. And that would just be terrible, wouldn’t it?
Week 14: at Browns. Sun, Dec 12, 6:00pm
Our third straight divisional game gives us our second go at the Browns in three weeks, and a nice early kickoff. Incredibly, the Browns have not beaten us in December since 2002, when Tim Couch threw a touchdown to Mark Campbell with 29 seconds remaining to take a 14-13 lead. Or at least, that’s what Google tells me – 2002 was before my time in purple and black.
Week 15: vs Packers. Sun, Dec 19, 6:00pm
‘Twas the weekend before Christmas… I had a great line about the freezing tundra of Lambeau Field, Aaron Rodgers and the ghost of Christmas past but this is a home game. Anyway, our penultimate fixture sees us welcome the Packers to for the first time since 2013, where we suffered a narrow 19-17 loss. Aaron Rodgers threw for 315 yards on only 17 completions that day, but the biggest question heading into the season for is will he ever throw a pass for Green Bay again? The answer will have a huge bearing on the outcome.
Week 16: at Bengals. Sun, Dec 26, 6:00pm
The scheduling gods have been kind to UK Ravens over the second half of the season, and particularly the festive period, which is great news personally, as I still haven’t fully come to terms with our late night loss in Pittsburgh on Christmas Day 2016. There will almost certainly be playoff implications here, and I wouldn’t rule out the Bengals being in contention for a wild card slot due to the ultra-competitive nature of the AFC North.
Week 17: vs Rams. Sun, Jan 2, 9:25pm
Potentially the toughest assignment in the second half of the season sees Sean McVay’s Rams visit Baltimore. Matthew Stafford should unlock the Rams’ offensive skill players in a way that Jared Goff never could, so the Ravens defense will need to play well for the whole 60 minutes. Both teams have dominant defences, explosive offenses and will almost certainly be in playoff contention. Our recent record against the Rams is exemplary, having won all four meetings in the last 15 years (including one of my favourite ever Ravens performances on the road, a 45-6 demolition in November 2019) and this could be another classic.
Week 18: vs Steelers. Sun, Jan 9, 6:00pm
In an ideal world, by Week 18 (how strange does that sound?) we would have clinched a playoff spot but with only one team winning a bye week thanks to the extra game on the schedule, there will still be lots to play for either way. But a final day of the season grudge match against our most bitter rivals? You can’t really ask for more than that. Onwards to the post-season!