The NFL schedule has been released and Ravens fans are inevitably going through it predicting what the Ravens final record will be.
Last year, given the off-season we had and the tough schedule, nobody predicted an 11-5 regular season for the Ravens.This shows that predicting wins and loses is meaningless.
The team will take it one game at a time, but fans like to look at the entire schedule and see what match ups are “winnable” and what match ups could be “losses”.
Here is my take on the 2009 Ravens schedule:
The Ravens have three primetime games which should be three of their toughest games on the year.
In Week 10 the Ravens travel to the “Dog Pound” to take on the Browns. The way Ravens fans feel about the Colts is the exact same way Browns fans feel about the Ravens.
Despite their record the Browns always play the Ravens tough and showed that when they scored 27 points against the Ravens defense in Cleveland last year.
This Monday night game came comes right before back to games against Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, so the Ravens will have to avoid the dreaded “look ahead” against the Browns.
In Week 13 the Ravens travel to Green Bay to take on the Packers. With this game being so late in the season, the tundra will definitely be frozen in Green Bay and snow will be a probability.
The Ravens have always played the style of football that is conducive to inclement weather, but we have no idea what their offensive identity will be at this point in the season.
Aaron Rodgers is one year older and the Packers should be a much team then they were this year.
The last of the primetime games comes in Week 12 when the Steelers come to town.
This game will undoubtedly be a war, as the Ravens/Steelers rivalry has become one of the most heated in the NFL. Both teams should be battling for a division this late in the season so this game will be of the utmost importance.
The toughest part of the Ravens schedule comes in Weeks 10-13 when they are at Cleveland, home versus the Colts and Steelers and then travel to Green Bay. Three of these games are primetime games and three are against heated rivals.
How the Ravens come out of this 4 game stretch will determine if they are a playoff team or not.
Going 3-1 in those 4, preferably with loss coming to Green Bay since they are in the NFC would be a fine scenario for the Ravens.
Home games against the Chiefs (Week 1), Browns (Week 3), Bengals (Week 5), Broncos (Week 8), Lions (Week 14) and Bears (Week 15) are games that the Ravens will be favored and that they must win if they want to have any shot of making the playoffs.
The Ravens have to make two west coast road trips to San Diego (Week 2) and Oakland in the final week of the season.
It is good to get one of the west coast trips out of the way early, but the week 17 game at Oakland could be a trap game for the Ravens.
The Ravens round out their road games against non division opponents with trips to New England (Week 4) and Minnesota (Week 6).
These games come against a team that made the playoffs last season and a team that was 11-5 last season and will have the best player in football healthy this season.
Ultimately there are four keys for the Ravens to make the playoffs this season.
First they need to hold serve at home and win the games against the Chiefs, Browns, Bengals, Lions, Bears and Broncos.
Second, they need to split with Pittsburgh either winning at Heinz field or winning here in Baltimore.
Third, they must finish the Weeks 10-13 stretch at least 3-1. Two division and/or conference losses could be detrimental to any tiebreaker scenarios the Ravens may need.
Lastly, they most go 4-0 in the division against the Browns and Bengals. Both of these teams generally always play the Ravens tough, but given this schedule, the Ravens can not afford a loss to either of these teams.
Despite everyone’s prognostications as to what games the Ravens will win and lose, the games will be decided on the field and not on paper.
One thing is for sure, this Ravens teams will provide a lot of intrigue and will be fun to watch this season, regardless of their record.