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Late for Work: Ravens Have Largest Net Rest Edge In 30 Years, Possibly NFL History

QB Lamar Jackson
QB Lamar Jackson

Ravens Have Largest Net Rest Edge In 30 Years, Possibly NFL History

The Ravens face one of the toughest schedules this season in terms of who they play. But when they play may help them.

According to Sharp Football Analysis’ Warren Sharp, the Ravens net rest edge, calculating when teams come into games with more, less or the same amount of rest of their opponent, has the Ravens with the best rest advantage of any team this season.

"The Ravens are at +16 days of net rest edge. That is the #1 largest net rest edge in my database's history, which dates back 35 years to 1990," Sharp wrote. "The Ravens' net rest edge is the largest in modern NFL history, and I'd venture to guess full NFL history as well."

The Ravens have five games in which they'll have a positive rest advantage and only two games this season with a negative rest edge. That gave them a +18 days rest advantage. According to Sharp, this is historic.

"Prior to 2024, no team in database history (since 1990) had a total positive rest edge of more than +17 days," Sharp wrote. "The 2024 schedule set a record with the Ravens getting +18 days of total positive rest edge."

Even a challenging December stretch when they play three games in 10 days does not put Baltimore at a rest disadvantage. The Ravens come off their Week 14 bye to face the New York Giants, who aren't coming off a bye week. Then they play the Steelers in Week 16 on even rest before facing the Texans on the Wednesday Christmas game. The Ravens and Texans both play the Saturday before Christmas and will compete on even rest.

"The good news for me is that the teams we're playing have the exact same issues. So nobody has an advantage. That's the main thing," Head Coach John Harbaugh said on “The Lounge” podcast last week. "Kudos to the league for doing that."

According to Sharp, having multiple games with a rest advantage, albeit a small sample, is an edge. At least it was for the Dallas Cowboys in 2022.

"In 2022, only one team played five games with more rest than their opponent," Sharp wrote. "It was the Cowboys, who used those rest benefits to deliver a surprisingly solid season and easily exceed their 10-win projected total by winning 12 games."

However, Sharp didn't include Baltimore in his top five teams helped most by the schedule makers in 2024.

"While the Ravens did rank top four in both Opponent Days to Prepare as well as Games With More Rest Than Opponent, they do have the #2 most short week road games, are tied for #1 most games off road Sunday or Monday Night, and they play the dreaded 'Three games in 10 days' scenario," Sharp wrote.

Nate Wiggins Named in Biggest Rookie Matchups of 2024

There's no shortage of storylines for the NFL Kickoff game between the Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 5. One more exciting wrinkle is the potential rookie battle between cornerback Nate Wiggins and Chiefs wide receiver Xavier Worthy.

"The speedy Worthy and the fluid Wiggins should find themselves aligned opposite from each other early and often under the bright lights in Kansas City," Bleacher Report’s Ryan Fowler wrote.

Both posted electrifying speeds during the Combine. Worthy broke the record for fasted 40-yard dash with a 4.21-second time. Wiggins clocked in with a 4.28-second 40, the fastest time of any cornerback this year. They similarly held impressive 10-yard splits, with Worthy (1.59 seconds) edging out Wiggins by a tenth of a second.

Worthy, paired with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, will be dangerous. But Wiggins has the rare traits to go stride for stride in coverage.

"Worthy's acceleration and top-end burst will force Baltimore to play him deep, but his ability to quickly separate in the shallow areas could help him carve out a significant target share early in 2024," Fowler wrote. "… While [Wiggins'] 173-pound frame raises questions about his play strength at the top of routes and ability to tackle in isolated opportunities, he has the hips and foot speed to flat-out run and should have no issue making plays at a variety of depths."

Ravens Headline Two of the NFL's Biggest Revenge Games

The sweet taste of revenge is on the 2024 schedule, with a single serving for the Ravens and another against them.

CBS Sports’ Will Brinson went through and listed the biggest revenge games in 2024 and twice the Ravens were named. Unsurprisingly, the first being their Week 1 matchup against the Chiefs.

Ravens at Chiefs

"The NFL typically doesn't drop a revenge bomb on us out of the gate, but we're getting one in 2024, with the Ravens going on the road for a rematch of the AFC Championship game," Brinson wrote. "Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes is a beauty anytime it happens, but the Ravens will want to extract revenge against the Kansas City defense for slowing them down and preventing a trip to the Super Bowl. There's the added bonus of John Harbaugh serving as a protege to Andy Reid, and the back-and-forth that goes with that is still very much existent."

While the rematch against the Chiefs has been circled in since January 28, Brinson's second inclusion of the Ravens has been a long-time wait. For Brinson, revenge comes in the form of Los Angeles Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh coming back to the NFl and going toe-to-toe against his older brother and Ravens Head Coach, John Harbaugh.

Ravens vs. Chargers/Harbowl

"The third-ever matchup between Jim Harbaugh and John Harbaugh will take place in 2024, thanks to Jim's return to the NFL as coach of the Chargers and the fortuitous matchup that ensues. If you want to argue this isn't 'revenge' because Jim and John are brothers and ultimately love each other, that's fine," Brinson wrote. "But Jim has never beaten his brother and despite winning a college football championship at his alma mater Michigan this past year, he doesn't have the Super Bowl ring that John owns. Worse news for Jim: John won his Super Bowl against his brother in Super Bowl XLVII (The Blackout Bowl in New Orleans) in a WILD battle. If you follow the Harbaugh Brothers at all, you know their dad Jack used to tell them to go outside and fight it out as kids. If you think this doesn't mean the world to both guys, especially in a crowded AFC, someone else has it better than you."

One Good and Bad Thing from Ravens' 2024 Schedule

There's a lot to like and dislike about the Ravens' 2024 schedule. They have a respectable amount of primetime games and the aforementioned rest edge. However, there are some mighty challenges for the Ravens, too. In analyzing the Ravens' schedule, CBS Sports’ John Breech gave one positive and negative.

"One good thing for the Ravens: The Ravens get a Week 14 bye, which is tied for the latest bye that any team was given this year," Breech wrote. "If the Ravens are in playoff contention, a late bye should be good news, since it will give them time to heal up for the stretch run."

While a Week 14 bye is late and could be better enjoyed earlier if the Ravens get banged up, there's significant value in the Ravens getting their bye right before their final push for the postseason.

"One bad thing for the Ravens: The NFL didn't do the Ravens any favors to start the season," Breech wrote. "Four of Baltimore's first five games are against the Chiefs, Cowboys, Bills and Bengals, which means if the Ravens come out flat to start the season, they might dig themselves a hole they won't be able to get out of."

As noted in Friday’s LFW, some pundits could see the Ravens in last place following Week 5 with their schedule starting at Kansas City, vs. Las Vegas, at Dallas, vs. Buffalo, at Cincinnati. If the team has early-season growing pains, the Week 14 bye may come a bit late to gain a rest and reset week.

However, getting the the toughest part of the schedule at its could pose a benefit. The Ravens tend to start fast. In each of the past five seasons, the Ravens began the season 4-1 twice and 3-2 the remaining three times. If they can do the same with their 2024 schedule, they'll come away with big wins that mean just as much down the stretch when tiebreakers come into play.

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