The Baltimore Ravens’ schedule was released Wednesday night and it has the Ravens opening up at M&T Bank Stadium for their first two games. The schedule marks the third time in the last four regular seasons that the Baltimore Ravens will open at M&T Bank Stadium against an AFC North rival. Defending AFC North champion Cincinnati will come to Baltimore to start the season off on Sept. 7, and then Baltimore will have a quick turnaround to play a primetime game against division rival Pittsburgh for a Thursday night matchup. The Ravens have won their last two home season opening divisional match ups, defeating the Steelers in 2011 and the Bengals in 2012. Last season the Ravens opened up their defending Super Bowl season on the road, falling to the Denver Broncos 49-27.
Baltimore will play three of their first four games at home, with the lone away matchup coming against the Cleveland Browns in week three. The opening quarter of the schedule also places the Ravens against all three divisional opponents, and an NFC playoff opponent in the Carolina Panthers. The opening schedule marks the third time in Ravens history that they will open with three AFC North battles. The last two times the Ravens started out with 2-1 marks in both 2004 and 2008.
The early season Thursday night week two matchup with the Steelers will be their first of the two team’s primetime matchups on the season. Baltimore will travel to Heinz Field for a NBC Sunday Night Football match up in early November for their week nine matchup.
Following the Ravens home stint; they will play the next four of five games on the road. The games come against three playoff teams from the 2013 season in the New Orleans Saints, Cincinnati Bengals, and Indianapolis Colts. The other two opponents, Tampa Bay and Atlanta, failed to make the postseason in 2013; however the Falcons made it to the NFC Championship game in 2012.
All and all the Ravens will play six games against 2013 playoff teams. The teams include the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, San Diego Chargers, and divisional opponent Cincinnati Bengals (twice).
A bounce back season for Baltimore can be expected. The Ravens have won 10 games or more in four of the last six seasons under Harbaugh, at a mark which ranks the Ravens second in the NFL in wins since 2008. During that time period only the New England Patriots (76 wins) ranks higher than the Ravens 71 wins (includes postseason). The Ravens are only one of four NFL teams – and one of three AFC teams – to have made the postseason in five of the past six seasons (Indianapolis, New England, and Green Bay the others), and Harbaugh is the only head coach in NFL history to win a playoff game in his first five seasons (08-12).
The Ravens finish off the season with their last four games all against AFC opponents who failed to make the postseason in 2013. Should recent history play any part in the Ravens 2014 season, a 10 win playoff season shouldn’t be too far out of the question.