The Baltimore Ravens hardly enjoyed their last trip to London, but that hasn’t stopped team president Sashi Brown from expressing excitement about a return to the city.
That’s what the Ravens will do when they arrive at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to face familiar AFC foe the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, October 15. The NFL made the announcement on Wednesday, May 10.
It means the Ravens have a chance to make amends for losing miserably to the Jacksonville Jaguars on London soil back in 2017. The Jags won 44-7 on the strength of three touchdown catches by tight end Marcedes Lewis at Wembley Stadium.
Despite an inauspicious introduction to the league’s International Series, Brown is confident the Ravens can make the most of another “incredible opportunity,” per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
There are reasons to be confident, but Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh was hardly a fan the first time, telling Hensley: “To be honest with you — and maybe I’ll get into trouble for saying this — don’t plan on going over there any time soon to play again. So, somebody else can have that job.”
Flash forward six years and Harbaugh hasn’t got his wish, and he’s likely to be wary about the 2023 Ravens adding more travel to a road schedule already loaded with air miles.
Ravens Need to Be Road Warriors in 2023
Although the full schedule for the new season won’t be announced until 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 11, the Ravens already know which teams they’ll face on the road. Facing the Titans in the English capital puts an extra burden on a team set to be among the busiest travellers even on domestic soil, according to Hensley.
Of course, lengthy journeys are the price teams pay for participating in the NFL’s highly successful international series. Broadening the global exposure and reach of the franchise can only be a good thing for the Ravens.
It’s not as if there isn’t already a strong fanbase awaiting their arrival, with the official UK Ravens Twitter account already rolling out the welcome mat.
The excitement is understandable since the Ravens will return to London a very different outfit than the one brushed aside by the Jags six years ago. While the 2017 vintage was beginning to rot on the vine amid the decline of quarterback Joe Flacco, coupled with an under-performing, ageing defense, this year’s Ravens are headlined by the star power of Lamar Jackson and Odell Beckham Jr.
Jackson is fresh off signing a five-year, $260 million contract. The franchise QB is doubly motivated by the chance to lead a more explosive offense called by new coordinator Todd Monken, while Beckham is determined to prove he’s still one of the game’s premier wide receivers after missing all of the 2022 season recovering from a torn ACL.
Add in Beckham’s fellow wideout Zay Flowers, the Ravens’ top pick in the 2023 NFL draft, and this team is far from the points-shy group the Jags exploited.
New talent is one reason to believe the Ravens can be winners in London at the second time of asking. There’s also extra motivation from a tense history with the Titans.
Ravens and Titans Can Add New Chapter to Rivalry
These two teams are no strangers and while they haven’t shared the same division since 2001, games between both rivals have remained typically physical. The tone for physicality was set by the tussles between Ravens’ Hall of Famer Ray Lewis and Titans’ four-time Pro-Bowl running back Eddie George.
Lewis and George duked it out several times between the mid-90s and early 2000s. Their rivalry was famously highlighted by Lewis and the 2000 Ravens silencing the Adelphia Coliseum in Nashville en route to winning Super Bowl XXXV.
Further postseason scraps occurred after the 2003 and ’08 seasons, but the Titans didn’t truly get revenge for 2000 until 2019. That was when head coach Mike Vrabel’s team shocked NFL MVP Jackson and the 14-2 Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Titans won 28-12 to send the Ravens packing from the postseason, but Jackson and Co. returned the favor a year later. A 20-13 victory also featured the Ravens leaving their footprints all over the Titans’ logo.
This is still the only playoff victory of Jackson’s career, but he has everything he needs to finally take the Ravens deeper into the postseason, provided he and his teammates get used to winning on the road this year.