As another season of the NFL heads into the playoffs, it’s time for fans around the country to take inventory of their franchise. Even Ravens fans, whose team advanced to the playoffs with a wild card berth and lost to the Bengals, are looking back and taking note of the 2022-23 season.
Despite a strong preseason start that set NFL records, it’s been another so-so season for the Baltimore squad. While they improved on last year’s 8-9 record, the franchise hasn’t risen to the level that fans had hoped—especially considering the team’s solid roster. This is especially true with respect to Lamar Jackson.
With sports betting culture growing across the country, the Ravens were eyed by analysts and fans alike to become one of the league’s most promising underdogs. With free bets from DraftKings and other sportsbooks on the table, it’s one of the most exciting times to forecast a dark horse, and with the Ravens in the playoffs, they could be that dark horse for bettors to back.
Unless, of course, the Ravens are actually cursed. Rumors have been swirling since 2015 about the team’s extensive injuries. Seven years later, it might be time to investigate whether the rumor holds weight.
Whispers of a Curse Begin in 2015
The Ravens’ unusual and noteworthy string of injuries began with the 2015 season. From 2015 through 2017, the team’s roster saw 48 players camp out on the injured reserve. Given the NFL is one of the most contact-happy sports in the world, its players are prone to injury. Seeing dozens of players sit out for health reasons is the nature of the league.
But the Ravens haven’t seen a normal series of injuries. Instead, the team has weathered season-ending mishaps—even career-ending injuries, like Dennis Pitta from 2017, who suffered a hip injury during a mini-camp.
More specifically, the Ravens have seen injuries to their star quarterbacks. What began with Joe Flacco has since turned into a Lamar Jackson problem, leaving the franchise particularly hamstrung without a reliable QB to put on the field.
Drake Re-Ups the Curse in 2020
One of the worst Ravens’ seasons in memory was the 2019-2020 season. The Ravens finished 14-2 and were eliminated from the playoffs despite being seeded No. 1. Jackson fumbled, literally, in a game that saw the Tennessee Titans advance.
This time, the Ravens’ curse couldn’t be tied to season-ending injuries for its top players. Instead, it all trailed back to musician Drake, also known as Champagne Papi. Shortly before the disastrous playoff loss, Drake wished Jackson a happy birthday on Instagram.
It seems the rapper has a penchant for cursing pro sports teams and players. The more publicly he’s tied to a team, the worse they perform. While it might sound like superstition, the evidence is damning. Drake has been tied to disastrous seasons after appearing in photos with stars like Conor McGregor (shortly after being submitted by Khabib Nurmagomedov) and the Toronto Raptors (who have yet to appear in the finals since).
And 2021 Gets Even Worse
Jackson didn’t leave the 2019-2020 season with a serious injury. Things were looking up despite the team’s early exit from the playoffs. That is, until the 2021-22 preseason rolled around. First, Marcus Peters was added to the injured reserve after tearing his ACL during practice… and then Gus Edwards joined him on the very next play with the very same injury.
If curses follow patterns, then Peters and Edwards were two of Baltimore’s latest victims. But they weren’t the last. Linebacker LJ Fort suffered an ACL tear. Then came Rashod Bateman’s groin issue, which was followed by Miles Boykin’s trip to the injured reserve.
Before the 2021 season began, the side was already clipped. However, even though the Ravens didn’t advance to the playoffs last year, they’ve since turned the odds around this season—even with Jackson on the injured reserve. Whether due to the attention of Drake or some other unknown happening in 2015, the curse may be real—but it may also be lifting its grip on Baltimore’s NFL team.