Coming off a league best 14-2 regular season and already tabbed as a Super Bowl contender, the Ravens will have the NFL's "easiest" strength of schedule in 2020.
Strength of schedule is determined by their opponents' 2019 record, which may or may not mean a whole lot in a league where change happens fast. No schedule or opponent is ever "easy" in the NFL.
Still, on the surface it's counterintuitive considering the NFL schedule-makers design for parity – to make it harder on teams who did well the previous season. That's why each division winner faces their conference's other division winners every year.
In 2019, the Ravens faced teams with a combined 2018 record of 110-97-1 (.529 winning percentage), which included six teams that made the playoffs.
In 2020, Baltimore is slated to face a schedule of opponents with a combined 2019 record of 96-112 (.438 winning percentage), with five that made the playoffs.
The AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers have the second-easiest schedule, the Cleveland Browns have the fourth easiest and Cincinnati Bengals have the sixth easiest.
The reason the Ravens have the NFL's easiest schedule is, for the most part, because they don't have to play themselves. That's why they have an easier schedule than the Bengals, for example. The Bengals have to face the 14-2 Ravens while the Ravens face the 2-14 Bengals.
It's also because in 2020, the AFC North will take on the NFC East, which struggled last year with the Philadelphia Eagles winning the division at 9-7 and the Washington Redskins having the second-worst record in the league.
On paper, the schedule gets easier, but there's plenty of reason to believe it won't end up that way. For example, the 2018 San Francisco 49ers were 4-12, but went 13-3 last season and nearly won the Super Bowl. A lot can change in a year.
The AFC North should be improved with the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger returning from elbow surgery, the Bengals getting top-overall pick Joe Burrow at quarterback, and the Browns adding some strong foundational pieces to an already star-studded offense. The NFC East certainly has the talent and three new head coaches in Mike McCarthy (Dallas), Ron Rivera (Washington) and Joe Judge (Giants) to rebound.
The Ravens still have marquee AFC matchups against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas Chiefs, the team that knocked them out of last year's playoffs in the Tennessee Titans, the AFC South champion Houston Texans and New England Patriots, who will likely still be a formidable challenge even without Tom Brady.