Baltimore Ravens

Looking closer at the Ravens' 2012 schedule

By now, everybody has gotten a good look at the Ravens' schedule, but below, Ill try to break it down a little further.

Prime-time players: Remember the complaints that the NFL tries to stick it to the Ravens by forcing them to go on the road for nationally-televised games? Perhaps, those have been put to rest for a while. The Ravens have four games over the first 18 days of the season and three of them are at home in prime time. That includes the season opener on Sept. 10 against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens' first Monday Night Football home game since December 2007. That game was against the New England Patriots, who then visit M&T Bank Stadium for a Sunday night game on Sept 23. The Ravens will then host a Thursday night game against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 27.


Quickest turnaround: The bad news about that early schedule is the Ravens won't even get three full practices in to prepare for that Thursday night Browns' game. The Patriots' game won't end until just before midnight on Sept. 23. By Sept. 26, the Ravens will be wrapping up preparations for Cleveland. Good thing there is plenty of familiarity with them.

Strangest call: Not only do the Ravens not face their archrival Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time until Week 11, the two teams then play each other twice in three weeks. The physical nature of this matchup makes the timing of these games especially head scratching.


Frequent Fliers: After playing three of their first four games in the friendly confines of M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens have only two home games (Oct. 14 against Dallas and Nov.11 against Pittsburgh) in all of October and November.  

Toughest back-to-back:  There are a couple of candidates. A road game at Philadelphia followed by a home game against New England is no picnic. The games against the two Texas teams – the Cowboys (Oct.14) and Texans (Oct.21) – won't be an easy two-game stretch either. But the vote here goes to the back-to-back road games against the Steelers (Nov.18) and San Diego Chargers (Nov.25). Those are two tough matchups to begin with but when you take into account that the Ravens will get back to Baltimore from Pittsburgh very early Monday morning and then have to make the West Coast trip out to California early for a Sunday afternoon game, it gets even more challenging.

Circle it: A good case could be made that the Ravens' biggest game of the season is always against Pittsburgh, but my guess this year is that the most-anticipated game of the regular season will take place Week 3 against the Patriots. After having months to stew over that heart-breaking loss at Gillette Stadium in an AFC championship game where they felt like they were the better team, the Ravens have an early opportunity to get a little revenge. And I'd have to imagine Tom Brady and Company will be entering a pretty raucous environment in Baltimore.  

More redemption time: The Ravens' defense is a prideful and veteran group and they were embarrassed last year in San Diego when they were beaten 34-14 by the Chargers, who accumulated 415 yards of total offense. They'll get another chance at Philip Rivers and the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on Nov.25.

Good break: You never know when you are going to most need or want the bye week but on paper, the Ravens' Oct. 28 off week sets up perfectly. It's nearly at the midpoint of the season and it comes on the heels of what figures to be a physical contest against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium.

Oh brother: In a two-week span just before Christmas, the Ravens and their fans are going to be mighty sick of hearing about Archie and Olivia Manning's youngest two sons. That's because the Ravens will play host to Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos on Dec. 16, and welcome Eli Manning's New York Giants llok at the current constrcutionto Baltimore a week later. Peyton, by the way, is 8-1 in his career against the Ravens. Eli is 1-1.

Look out below: A lot of stuff happens through the course of an NFL season, especially to quarterbacks. But if you look at the Ravens' 13 opponents, only two of them (Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins) don't figure to start a quarterback who has made at least one Pro Bowl team. And of course, the Redskins are expected to go with Robert Griffin III who will be a handful to deal with as well. Everybody knows that the NFL has become a passing league and the Ravens' secondary will be tested on a weekly basis.