The Baltimore Ravens own the second-toughest schedule heading into the 2021 season, sitting behind only division rival Pittsburgh. Ravens' opponents won 152 games in 2020.
The uber-difficult part of Baltimore's schedule comes at the end, when seven of its final nine opponents are coming off playoff appearances. It's the most challenging final nine-game stretch of any schedule, with a .635 opponent winning percentage.
The post-Thanksgiving stretch marks the start of the toughest span, with three straight games against AFC North foes.
Week 12: vs. Cleveland Browns
Week 13: at Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 14: at Cleveland Browns
Week 15: vs. Green Bay Packers
Week 16: at Cincinnati Bengals
Week 17: vs. Los Angeles Rams
Week 18: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Ravens defensive lineman Calais Campbell looks forward to the back-loaded schedule, knowing it can prepare Baltimore for the postseason. The Browns-Steelers-Browns run in Weeks 12-14 is particularly notable.
"That's heavyweight battle time. That's the championship round right there," Campbell told the team's official website. "We're going to find out what we're made of real quick.
"I feel like that's going to be a grind toward the end. But that's what we're built for. We have to earn the right, find a way to get to the playoffs."
Strength of schedule is a faulty method of predicting future outcomes, as it's predicated on the previous season's results without taking into account offseason changes and numerous other factors. Still, it's an easy starting point to discuss the upcoming schedule.
The Ravens' back-loaded schedule includes five of their six division games. In the AFC North, that means plenty of cold, fierce battles in December.
The key for Baltimore will be taking advantage of its softer early-season schedule. Getting off to a fast start on the season will be even more vital in 2021.
"Get off to a fast start, handle your business, go into the bye feeling good," Campbell said. "Catch your breath, and then go into the second half, which [is] going to be a lot of division games and must-win games."
The Ravens' schedule sets up for a bevy of massive games down the stretch that will either steel Baltimore for a playoff run or push it out of the postseason altogether.