A dynasty like the NFL has never seen before will be taking the field on Monday night. When the Baltimore Ravens go up against the Washington Commanders, they will be looking to add to a record that will likely never be topped — mostly because no team will ever make the effort.
The Ravens are going for their 24th consecutive preseason victory. They broke the record in 2019 that was held by Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers. A record that holds more value at trivia night than it does for an NFL team.
John Harbaugh is well aware of the Ravens’ preseason winning ways, and is a bit superstitious in how he approaches this portion of the NFL schedule. Prior to the games he does not speak about the streak.
“It’s like a no-hitter. It’s like a hitting streak,” Harbaugh said after practice on Aug.4.” “It’s unspoken till maybe after the game.”
Preseason results can in no way improve a team’s playoff odds. However, the Ravens not losing a preseason game for nearly 10 years shows that they consistently put a good football team on the field, whether the date is Aug. 21 or Jan. 20.
During this undefeated preseason streak, the Ravens have posted two regular-season records below .500, and one of those was an 8-9 finish in 2021. They have been regarded as one of the more steady franchises in the NFL since the turn of the century, winning the fifth most regular-season games in the league over that span.
For a team to be that consistent it requires depth. The Ravens have needed a lot of it the previous two seasons with their roster being ravaged by injury on both sides of the ball. Since second- and third-string players — along with players who don’t make the final roster — take most of the preseason snaps, the Ravens’ preseason performance shows that they are great at team building.
Going 24-0 does not mean that the Ravens’ front office is outperforming the rest of the NFL. The main purpose of the preseason is to extract money out of fans for a product that is not half as good as what they will see come September. For the coaching staff, the games are a tool to evaluate players on the roster bubble. More tape on a player is always helpful in evaluation, because with only 53 spots available, there is a good chance that, at some point, everyone on the roster will have to take the field in a game with real consequences.
The Ravens are clearly maximizing this player evaluation resource, and it is paying off in the regular season. Players who win the games that don’t matter are making positive contributions in the games that do when their number is called.
Yes, the longest preseason winning streak in NFL history will result in more reward for a bar patron who remembers that fact than for Harbaugh who actually coached the games. However, the games are still useful. The Ravens are clearly getting the most they can out of the preseason to give them the best opportunity to compete in the postseason.