The NFL released the schedule for the 2013 season and the Ravens open up on the road at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 5 against the Denver Broncos.
Here are a few thoughts from the staff at The Baltimore Sun on the challenges facing the Ravens.
Matt Vensel, blogger/reporter
I don't fully grasp the fascination with the release of the NFL schedule as we have known for months whom the Ravens would play. But tonight, we found out when they will play, so I guess that means I can start making bye week vacation plans. The highlight is obviously the delicious Thanksgiving night showdown with the Steelers. But I am also looking forward to the season opener in Denver, Ed Reed's return to Baltimore in Week 3, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers visiting in Week 6, and the now-annual game against the New England Patriots in Week 16. Getting back to the Super Bowl is never easy, but at least there will be interesting storylines along the way."
Ron Fritz, Head of Sports
Despite the challenging prime-time games, the Ravens will make the playoffs for a sixth straight year. The rest of the AFC North has difficult schedules, too. Plus, the Ravens still have the draft to add players.
Mike Preston, columnist
I've never been one to be concerned about the schedule unless there is something ridiculous like playing three games in 17 days or traveling to the West Coast three times in a season. Because of parity in the NFL, a team that was a contender last season could look bad this season and a team that starts off strong might play poorly down the stretch because of injuries. Looking over the Ravens schedule, I don't see much that stands out, nothing that causes me to have concern. With the additions the Ravens have already made on defense and the nucleus they have returning on offense, they still should be top contenders again in the AFC.
Aaron Wilson, Ravens reporter
Although the Ravens have a demanding season opener at the Denver Broncos in a high-profile playoff rematch and didn't get the traditional home opener awarded to a Super Bowl champion due to the scheduling conflict with the Orioles, Baltimore doesn't have its home opener against the Cleveland Browns until 10 days later. They have a favorably-timed bye Oct. 27 after the first of two slugfests with the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road the previous week. It's a tough schedule, again. Based on last season's combined record, their opponents were 137-119 for a .535 winning percentage, giving the defending Super Bowl champions the league's fifth toughest schedules. The Ravens face seven playoff teams from last season, closing out the season with three of four games against teams that reached the postseason.
Kevin Cowherd, columnist
It's a bummer the Ravens won't open at home in 2013, no question about it. Ravens fans are still smarting from that scheduling screw-up -- as well they should be. But the season debut in Denver will be a huge game nevertheless and give fans an immediate sense of how good this team will be. And with four prime-time games altogether, including the Thanksgiving alley fight with the arch-rival Pittsburgh Steelers, the NFL showed the Ravens plenty of love.