By: Brett Dickinson & Barry Kamen
BD: After much anticipation and even more waiting this year, the NFL Schedule was finally released on Wednesday night. Everyone loves to look over their favorite team’s schedule and pick wins and losses in April; one of the silliest practices we have as football fans. No one, not even ‘King Goodell’, knows the results of these games before they are played. Each week there is always an upset, each year there is always a team that came out of nowhere. So Barry let’s be THOSE GUYS and tell me your initial thoughts on the Ravens Schedule.
BK: Following an 8-8 season where the team missed the playoffs for the first time in the Joe Flacco/John Harbaugh era, the Baltimore Ravens regular season schedule looks much easier on paper than in previous years. For those who missed it, here is the 2014 schedule for the Ravens:
Sunday, Sept. 7 vs. Cincinnati Bengals – 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 11 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:25 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Sept. 21 at Cleveland Browns – 1:00 p.m
Sunday, Sept. 28 vs. Carolina Panthers – 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 5 at Indianapolis Colts – 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 12 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 19 vs. Atlanta Falcons – 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 26 at Cincinnati Bengals – 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 2 at Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Nov. 9 vs. Tennessee Titans – 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 16 – BYE
Monday, Nov. 24 at New Orleans Saints – 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday, Nov. 30 vs. San Diego Chargers – 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 7 at Miami Dolphins – 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 14 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars – 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 21 at Houston Texans – 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 28 vs. Cleveland Browns – 1:00 p.m.
At first glance, many will be happy to see that the Ravens-Steelers rivalry will make its way to national television for both games this season. But look closely: the Ravens will be finished playing both the Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals by week 9, prior to the team’s bye week. In the 2013 season, the Ravens did not see the Bengals until week 10. This means that the Ravens cannot afford to stumble out of the gate. Divisional games are so important to a team’s success and playoff seeding. With a wide open AFC North race, the early season matchups between the Ravens and their rivals will play a large role down the stretch.
There are two games that I am most looking forward to this upcoming season, and they both involve NFC South teams. The week 4 matchup with the Carolina Panthers has the potential to be a fantastic game that will provide the Ravens with an early test at home. No person is more excited for this game than new Ravens WR Steve Smith Sr., but the storyline to watch is how Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense will fare against the Panthers’ vaunted defense. I am also excited for the Monday Night Football game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against the New Orleans Saints. The Ravens have had some success in that venue before, but not in these circumstances. Typically under John Harbaugh, the Ravens do very well after their bye week; the team will have quite a time trying to simulate the crowd noise and atmosphere in practice. If the Ravens were to somehow win this game, it sets them up nicely to make a run at the right time.
No trips to the West Coast. Only 1 PM and prime-time games for the purple and black. Fine by me.
Brett, on a national scale, what are some games that you are most looking forward to next season?
Well a lot of the games may not be nearly as interesting later in the season as they seem now; teams could be out of the playoff hunt after the first two months of the season. So I tend to look at story lines of games instead of the actual match ups. What teams or players are looking out for revenge? Which players will be matched up against each other in prime time?
The first one that obviously comes to mind is the Washington Redskins heading to Lincoln Financial Field to face the Philadelphia Eagles on September 21st (Week 3) at 1pm. Those Philly fans are a rowdy bunch and need little motivation to get out of hand for a game. But with DeSean Jackson returning to his former team, I’m sure they want to give him a piece of their mind and maybe even more (perhaps a piece of a battery, snowball, etc.). The match up should be exciting to watch as well, as DJax wants to prove that the Eagles made a mistake, while Chip Kelly wants the satisfaction of knowing he made the right decision by releasing the much maligned wide receiver.
On that same day, NFL fans could be privileged enough for an excellent double-header (besides watching the Ravens in Cleveland against the Browns), as there is a Super Bowl rematch set for 4:25pm. The Broncos were embarrassed at the end of the last season and could get a little redemption by taking it to the Seahawks (and the 12th man) in Seattle. It would be a battle of attrition as the Seahawks rarely lose at home, while Peyton Manning rarely loses in the regular season.
The final game I have marked on my calender for the first half of the season is the Sunday Night match up between the Green Bay Packers heading to the New Orleans to face the Saints on October 26th (8:25pm). It is a competition between the two best quarterbacks in NFC and both seem to shine on the national stage. It is tough to keep up with Drew Brees at home in prime time, but if anyone could take care of business it is Aaron Rodgers.
God this next four months are going to be brutal.