Only one team, the 2007 New England Patriots, has gone 16-0 in a regular season. In the final year of the 16-game regular season format, Colin Cowherd predicts that the Baltimore Ravens will go 16-0. Cowherd maintains “they’re going to destroy people” and “in 13 of 16 games, they will bulldoze people.” Cowherd has reason to be confident in the Ravens coming off a 14-2 season with the best point differential since the aforementioned 2007 Patriots.
Baltimore followed that season with one of the best drafts in many analysts’ eyes, receiving grades of an A+ from NFL.com, an A from Bleacher Report, and a 3.67 GPA from Football Outsiders. In the off-season, Baltimore addressed the defensive line with the additions of Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe.
What are Baltimore’s chances to go undefeated in 2020?
Pure Mathematical Observation:
Assuming Baltimore has a 50 percent chance to win each game, the odds of Baltimore going undefeated would equal 50 percent raised to the 16th power. That boils down to 1-in-65,536. Mathematically speaking, the Ravens have a 0.00153 percent chance of going undefeated in 2020.
Adjusted Mathematical Observation:
The Ravens are likely to be favored in all 16 games, so using a 50 percent figure is unfair. Home field advantage (even without fans) and talent superiority will aid the Ravens. If the Ravens are given a 60 percent to win any game, Baltimore’s chances to go undefeated spike to 0.0282 percent. Even if Baltimore had an 87.5 percentage chance to win each game (matching their 2019 win percentage), they would have an 11.8 percent chance to go undefeated.
Mathematically, the odds are slim. The Ravens would need a 96 percent likelihood to win each game to be likely to go undefeated mathematically.
As mentioned above, Baltimore should be favored in each game of the season. Their toughest opponents must come to Baltimore. On a neutral field, Kansas City is likely the only team favored over Baltimore, but when Baltimore is at home, they will likely open as a slight favorite. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh could be slim favorites at home by the time the games come around, but The Lines has Baltimore as 2.5 and 3.5-point favorites, respectively. If every game went according to the odds, Baltimore would likely go 16-0.
Week 1: Home vs Cleveland
The Ravens lost at home to the Browns in 2019. In theory, the Ravens are better coached and have the benefit of playing at home, but divisional rivalries often go against the data. The Ravens should win, but the Browns have a talented roster, and they should be much better than their 6-10 record in 2019.
Week 2: At Houston
The matchup has lost some of its luster as the Texans traded away star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, but the Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson rivalry should play center stage. The Ravens clobbered the Texans at home last season, but this matchup should be much closer. The Ravens are likely to win, but counting out Watson is a bad idea.
Week 3: Home vs Kansas City
There are two camps for the Baltimore and Kansas City debate. Some believe that Kansas City is a vastly superior team that can beat Baltimore under any circumstance. Others believe that Baltimore would have won either the 2018 or 2019 contests had they been played in Baltimore. According to Vegas, these are the best two teams in the NFL. The game will be close, and it could go to overtime like the 2018 contest, but the Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes, and they will probably win.
Week 4: At Washington
The in-state rivals have split their first six meetings. Washington has won the last two, but Baltimore had the last laugh after losing to Washington in 2000 and 2012, ending both seasons with a Super Bowl. Baltimore should roll, but Washington has a bevy of pass rushers and run defenders that could make life difficult for the Ravens.
Week 5: Home vs Cincinnati
Last season, Baltimore swept the Bengals for the first time since 2011. In the first matchup, the score was misleading as Baltimore controlled most of the game, but a late Cincinnati touchdown cut the deficit to six. In the second game, Baltimore romped to a 36-point win. Baltimore is a heavy favorite to win, and they likely will, but Cincinnati will keep it close into the fourth quarter.
Week 6: At Philadelphia
Baltimore and Philadelphia have split their five meetings (including a tie in 1997). The Eagles have been killed with injuries over the off-season, losing Brandon Brooks and Andre Dillard to season-ending injuries. Offensively, they have solid pieces, but the Ravens project as better. Baltimore will likely squeak out with a win.
Week 7: Home vs Pittsburgh
The Ravens swept the Steelers in 2019, but the Steelers will be getting Ben Roethlisberger back after he missed 14 games in 2019. The rivals will likely split the games just as they did in 2016 and 2018.
Week 9: At Indianapolis
The Ravens have never won in Indianapolis (0-6). They will be the better team in 2020, but maybe Baltimore’s new team (the Ravens) are cursed by Baltimore’s old team (the Colts).
Week 10: At New England
The Patriots lead the all-time series 10-4, but Baltimore won last season. The Ravens have never won a regular-season game in Foxborough, but 2020 will be a great opportunity has the Patriots have lost key pieces on defense in free agency and COVID opt-outs. Baltimore should win.
Week 11: Home vs Tennessee
The Ravens and Titans have split their 24 matchups, but the same team has not won back-to-back games since 2005. Tennessee steamrolled Baltimore in the playoffs on the scoreboard, but Baltimore racked up 530 offensive yards. If Tennessee’s efficiency and Baltimore’s inefficiency regress to the mean, Baltimore is likely to come out on top.
Week 12: At Pittsburgh
As mentioned before, the Ravens and Steelers will likely split their season series.
Week 13: Home vs Dallas
After winning the first four games of the series, the Ravens fell to the Cowboys in 2016. Dallas is a ridiculously talented team with the potential to have as many 10 Pro Bowlers. Baltimore will have the coaching advantage, but Dallas is one of the few teams with as many stars as Baltimore has.
Week 14: At Cleveland
The Ravens are more likely to split with Cleveland than they are to sweep Cleveland.
Week 15: Home vs Jacksonville
Jacksonville leads the all-time series 12-9, but the Ravens have won 9 of the last 13. Jacksonville will be the worst team in the NFL. Baltimore will likely “bulldoze” the Jaguars (thanks, Cowherd).
Week 16: Home vs NY Giants
Baltimore leads the all-time series 3-2 including a 34-7 win in Super Bowl 35. New York has won two of the last three. The Giants project as one of the worst teams in the NFC, and Baltimore gets them at home. Assuming Baltimore is playing for a playoff spot, they should beat the Giants.
Week 17: At Cincinnati
The Ravens have lost their last five December/January games against the Bengals. Baltimore is likely to win, but if the Bengals were to split the series, it would be the game they steal.
The Ravens have a favorable schedule full of winnable games. Baltimore’s chances to go undefeated are higher than any other team in the league based on the schedule, but it is still highly unlikely to replicate dominance in all 16 games. However, Baltimore will have the added experience of playoff rustiness, so they might be more likely to play their stars late in the season even if they are locked into a playoff spot.
Winning in the NFL is inherently random. Less talented teams still win games. The 2019 Dolphins fielded one of the worst rosters of the decade, but they won five games. Baltimore could win all 16 games, but they could also lose any of the games they play.
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