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Ravens News 5/14: Most Improved

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By: Vasilis Lericos

Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

2024 NFL Schedule release: Kansas City Chiefs to host Baltimore Ravens in Kickoff Game

Kevin Patra, NFL.com

The NFL announced Monday morning that the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs will open the season at Arrowhead Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, Sept. 5, at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC.

Pitting the perennial AFC powers always made the most sense as K.C. kicks off a campaign in search of a third consecutive Super Bowl title and its fourth Lombardi in six seasons. Lamar Jackson and a bulldozing Derrick Henry squares off against a Steve Spagnuolo defense that pestered the former MVP quarterback in the title game. A revamped Ravens defense faces Patrick Mahomes and a Chiefs offense that got a booster charge of speed at the receiver position this offseason.

The matchup offers pizzazz, explosiveness and big-name stardom worthy of a season opener.

The NFL will unveil the entire 2024 schedule at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday on NFL Network.

5 Reasons to Love Ravens-Chiefs Season Opener

Ryan Mink, BaltimoreRavens.com

It’s an early chance at redemption.

“Revenge” will be the word tossed around before this showdown, but there’s no avenging a championship game loss in Week 1. Still, the Ravens have a chance to at least eliminate the bad taste they’ve been carrying since last season ended.

A rematch with the champs is powerful motivation during the “dog days” of training camp and will surely be something team leaders tap into over the next several months.

The Ravens felt like they were the better team going into last year’s AFC Championship. Now, after numerous losses in free agency, the coaching staff, and front office, Baltimore will undoubtedly be the underdog heading to Kansas City. That’s how the Ravens like it.

The Ravens have been very good in Week 1 under John Harbaugh.

Training camp is no picnic under Head Coach John Harbaugh, and that hard work in August has paid off with strong results in September.

The Ravens have a 12-4 record in Week 1 during Harbaugh’s tenure. They have won seven of their last eight season openers, with the only loss coming in 2021 in overtime in Las Vegas.

Only one team, the Philadelphia Eagles (13-3), has a better Week 1 record since 2008. Harbaugh knows how to get his team ready, and the proof is in the pudding.

Week 1 games also give the coaching staff more time to prepare and game plan, so the Ravens will have plenty of time to focus on their rivals. The Chiefs will not have seen what tweaks new Defensive Coordinator Zach Orr will make, or what changes Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken has in store.

The Chiefs have also started hot under Head Coach Andy Reid. Since he took over in 2013, they’ve gone 9-2 in Week 1. They lost last season, however, falling to the Detroit Lions, 21-20, also at home in the Thursday night season opener.

Reacting to Ravens-Chiefs in Week 1, notes on a thinner Lamar Jackson and more

Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic

The team’s significant coaching staff turnover was on full display at the recent rookie minicamp. The departures of defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, assistant head coach/defensive line coach Anthony Weaver, defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson, assistant offensive line coach Mike Devlin and assistant wide receivers coach Keith Williams were well documented. But the Ravens also didn’t bring back assistant quarterbacks coach Kerry Dixon, special teams coach T.J. Weist, senior football analysts James Urban and Craig Ver Steeg, and director of football research Scott Cohen. That’s 10 members of last year’s coaching staff who didn’t return.

Several other coaches also got title alterations. Pass game coordinator Chris Hewitt added assistant head coach to his title. Offensive quality control coach Danny Breyer is now an offensive assistant. Randy Brown is now an assistant special teams coach while Sam Koch, a consultant last year, is also an assistant special teams coach. Ex-outside linebackers coach Chuck Smith is now the pass rush coach. A quality control coach last year, Matt Robinson is now the assistant defensive line/outside linebackers coach. Daniel Stern, a defensive quality control coach last season, is currently the director of football strategy/assistant quarterbacks coach. Travis Switzer has gone from quality control to run game coordinator. Brendan Clark and Adam Schrack, a coaching fellow and analyst, respectively, are now quality control coaches.

Most underrated player on all 32 NFL teams: Paulson Adebo, Trey Smith and more

Zoltan Buday, PFF

BALTIMORE RAVENS: CB BRANDON STEPHENS

Stephens, who mostly played safety during his rookie season in 2021, has transitioned into a perimeter cornerback. After playing situationally in his first two seasons, he was thrust into action due to injuries in 2023 and ended up playing more snaps than any other Baltimore defender last season. His 67.4 PFF grade in 2023 was the highest among all Ravens outside cornerbacks.

NFL Power Rankings 2024: What’s most improved on every team?

Jamison Hensley, ESPN

3. Baltimore Ravens

Post-FA ranking: 4

Most improved: Cornerback

Baltimore drafted Nate Wiggins, one of its top 20 prospects, with the No. 30 pick and selected T.J. Tampa, arguably a second-round talent, in the fourth round. They will team with returning starters Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Stephens this season, but they could eventually become first-team corners. “They’re both long and rangy,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Wiggins and Tampa. “They both use their hands really well in press. They both can move really well. I think it’s going to factor into how we build our defense.”

Originally posted on Baltimore Beatdown – All Posts