Baltimore Sun reporters, columnists and editors react to the Ravens' 2014 schedule, that was released by the NFL on Wednesday evening.
Jeff Zrebiec, reporter: Obviously, the thing that immediately jumps out is the three AFC North games to start the season, all in a 15-day span. I view that as a positive for the Ravens who could send a message early that regardless of what happened last year, they are still the team to beat in the AFC North. Beyond that, Ravens' officials also have to like fact that unlike last season, they have a soft finish to their schedule. Their final four opponents (Miami, Jacksonville, Houston and Cleveland) went a combined 18-46 last season. All-in all, there's not a whole lot on this schedule that should be of great concern. Playing Indianapolis and the Saints on the road won't be fun, but the Ravens will have 14 days to prepare for New Orleans, thanks to a late bye.
Aaron Wilson, reporter: As the Ravens try to bounce back from an 8-8 season last year where they failed to make the playoffs for the first time in the John Harbaugh era, their 2014 schedule features a well-placed bye (Nov. 16) and competing against opponents with a combined record of only 117-139 last season. And the Ravens will quickly find out where they stand in the AFC North with five of their six division games played by Nov. 2, when they travel to play the Pittsburgh Steelers for a nationally televised Sunday night game.
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Mike Preston, columnist: I used to put stock in looking at the schedule and being able to make predictions, but not any longer. Because of the parity, teams that looked strong early might be weak later in the season with just a few small injuries. It is not like the 1960s or 70s when games against the Cowboys or Steelers were guaranteed losses. The only glaring thing about the Ravens' schedule is that five-game stretch which starts in October, where four games are on the road.
Peter Schmuck, columnist: Apparently, the NFL wants to get the AFC North decided in a hurry. The Ravens will have a real opportunity to ambush the rest of the division with games against every rival during the first three weeks, but the thing that stands out to me is the seemingly low-stress final quarter of their schedule.
Ron Fritz, sports editor: It’s a very odd schedule for the Ravens, having to play their division foes the first three weeks. They also play the Steelers twice in prime time. The schedule after the late bye week looks very favorable. If the Ravens were looking for a schedule ensuring a rebound from their 8-8 season, this is it. It looks like an 11-5 schedule to me.
Monique Jones, Ravens editor: The Ravens won't have much room for error, starting the season with three consecutive AFC North games for the first time since 2008. After back-to-back seasons with a bye week at the halfway point of the season, the Ravens will have to wait until Week 11 for a break, but it will come at the right time as the team will be preparing for the New Orleans Saints.
Jon Meoli, reporter: This is a schedule that will allow the Ravens to peak at the right time. After a Week 13 trip to Miami, the Ravens' final three games are against teams who pick among the top four in next month's NFL draft. It's unlikely any of those teams will be more competitive this year, so the Ravens will be in a good position to get their offense firing before a potential playoff run.