Fact: The Ravens' first five 2016 opponents have a combined 1-9 record through two weeks. The Oakland Raiders are the only ones with a victory. The Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Washington Redskins are all winless.
Opinion:This doesn't mean the Ravens will have an easy time jumping out to a 5-0 start. Far from it. I expect a tough, toss-up game in Jacksonville Sunday; the Jaguars are hungry and talented, and winning on the road is never easy. The Raiders are explosive. The Redskins won a division title a year ago. Still, there's no doubt things could be tougher, as they were for the Ravens a year ago. This year, the Schedule Gods have presented them with a real shot at a great start.
Fact:The Ravens' final four 2016 opponents are a combined 8-1 so far this season. The Cincinnati Bengals are the only ones with a defeat. The Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are all unbeaten.
Opinion:It's early, but all of those teams could easily make the playoffs. Having a schedule that backloaded with contenders makes it all the more important that the Ravens pile up as many early-season wins as possible.
Fact:The Ravens are already one-third of the way to equaling their 2015 season interception total (six) after grabbing two in Cleveland last Sunday.
Opinion:Given that freakishly low 2015 total and the emphasis placed during the offseason on upping the total (new safeties, new secondary coach, new practice drills, etc.), it was a good bet the Ravens would have more picks in 2016. But what really helped last week was Cleveland quarterback Josh McCown getting pressured and battered all day. Nothing produces interceptions more faithfully than an active pass rush.
Fact:The Ravens are ranked No. 13 in the league in rushing attempts with an average of 27 per game, but they're No. 29 in the league in yards per rush with a 3.0 average.
Opinion:Those stats make it clear that they aren't ignoring the run, as some believe; they just need to do a better job. But those numbers don't tell the whole story. Almost 43 percent of the Ravens' rushing attempts (23 of 54) have occurred in the fourth quarter. Falling behind early in Cleveland had a hand in that, no doubt, but if they're going to get the ground game going, they need to start committing to it earlier.
Fact:Eleven of the 22 offensive and defensive starters for the Ravens in their last game against Jacksonville 10 month ago will NOT start for the Ravens in Sunday's rematch. Seven of the 11 are no longer on the team (Eugene Monroe, Kelechi Osemele, Chris Givens, Will Hill III, Daryl Smith, Chris Canty, Courtney Upshaw); three are now backups (Crockett Gilmore, Maxx Williams, Kendrick Lewis) and one is suspended (Nick Boyle).
Opinion:Yes, the scenario is somewhat skewed by the fact that the Ravens started with a three-tight-end package against the Jags last November. Regardless, I'm surprised the change from last year is so significant. Fifty percent? It shows how much injuries impacted the Ravens last year, and also, how serious they were about putting 2015 in the rear view mirror.
Fact:Thirty-two of the Ravens' 47 pass receptions in their first two games were made by players who are at least 30 years old.
Opinion:Dennis Pitta, Steve Smith Sr., Mike Wallace and Justin Forsett – the thirtysomethings with those 32 receptions – have ranged from solid to terrific, and the Ravens certainly want and need more from them. But they also need to start developing new playmakers. Big picture, for the health of the franchise, it's vital that younger players such as Breshad Perriman, Gillmore and Williams also become productive.
Fact:Asked earlier this week about Kenneth Dixon, the injured rookie running back who looked so good in the preseason, Head Coach John Harbaugh offered an update and said, "I'm looking forward to getting him back."
Opinion:I bet he is. Although Forsett and Terrance West have combined for 197 rushing and receiving yards on 55 touches in the first two games, neither has broken a big play. Although it appears the coaches are going with a by-committee approach, I think a starting job and/or heavier load is available if someone steps up and grabs it. The Ravens are certainly interested to see if Dixon can do that when he returns.