2015 schedule features five prime-time games for Ravens

April 21, 2015 | Luke Jones

Despite being featured in five prime-time games, the Ravens will face the daunting task of playing five of their first seven contests on the road to begin the 2015 regular season.

Baltimore will open a season with two road games for the first time since 2010 as long trips to Denver and Oakland await. The Ravens are playing five of the first seven on the road for the first time since 2000, a season that culminated with the franchise’s first Super Bowl title.

After beginning the season with two straight home games last year, the Ravens start the regular season in Denver for the second time in three years. Of course, the season-opening game against the Broncos will bring back the bad feelings of not beginning the season at home as the defending Super Bowl champions two years ago and subsequently being blown out as Peyton Manning threw seven touchdown passes in a nationally-televised Thursday night game.

The Ravens open their home schedule in Week 3 by welcoming the Cincinnati Bengals to town.

For the second straight year, both Baltimore-Pittsburgh games will be played in prime time as the Ravens travel to Heinz Field for a Thursday night game on Oct. 1 and Pittsburgh comes to M&T Bank Stadium for a Sunday night game on Dec. 27. The Steelers played a Thursday night game in Baltimore last season, but the Ravens will host a Sunday night game against their biggest rival for the first time since 2010.

These AFC North rivals will now have played at least one game in prime time in nine consecutive years.

The schedule features three other prime-time games as the Ravens play Monday night games at Arizona on Oct. 26 and in Cleveland on Nov. 30. Nine of Baltimore’s last 10 Monday night games have been scheduled on the road.

Baltimore will host another Sunday night game against the defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks in Week 14.

For the fourth time in the last five seasons, the Ravens will conclude the regular season in Cincinnati. The Bengals have been Baltimore’s opponent in the regular-season finale five times in the last six years.

While many will focus on having to play five road games in the first seven weeks, the most brutal aspect of the Ravens’ schedule is two different occurrences of back-to-back road games involving a great deal of travel as Baltimore plays San Francisco and Arizona in Weeks 5 and 6 after their first two games at Denver and Oakland. However, the organization had asked the league to schedule their road games in San Francisco and Oakland in consecutive weeks with the thought of staying on the West Coast, so you wonder if the Ravens will get creative with their travel plans for either of those stretches.

The five prime-time games are the Ravens’ highest total since the 2011 season.

The Ravens will play seven games against playoff teams from last season: Pittsburgh (twice), Cincinnati (twice), Denver, Seattle, and Arizona. Baltimore has five games against opponents who finished below .500 in 2014: Cleveland (twice), Jacksonville, Oakland, and St. Louis.

2015 SCHEDULE

Sunday, Sept. 13 at Denver Broncos – 4:25 p.m.
Skinny: The Ravens will recognize the familiar faces of Gary Kubiak and Owen Daniels, but how much will Peyton Manning have left at age 39?

Sunday, Sept. 20 at Oakland Raiders – 4:05 p.m.
Skinny: They’re still the Raiders, but the presence of young quarterback Derek Carr gives new head coach Jack Del Rio some hope that his predecessors never enjoyed.

Sunday, Sept. 27 vs. Cincinnati Bengals – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: Four straight trips to the playoffs is a nice feat, but Andy Dalton no longer inspires confidence that he’ll lead this franchise to its first playoff win since Jan. 6, 1991.

Thursday, Oct. 1 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:25 p.m. (CBS/NFL Network)
Skinny: Troy Polamalu and Haloti Ngata are the latest great players to depart this rivalry, but the Ravens earning their first playoff win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh last January brings new energy.

Sunday, Oct. 11 vs. Cleveland Browns – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: Until they find a quarterback, it’s difficult envisioning the Browns earning their first win in Baltimore since Mike Pettine was a member of Brian Billick’s staff.

Sunday, Oct. 18 at San Francisco 49ers – 4:25 p.m.
Skinny: Torrey Smith will be out to prove to the Ravens that they made a mistake letting him walk, but the shine is gone from this once-budding rivalry with Jim Harbaugh now in Ann Arbor.

Monday, Oct. 26 at Arizona Cardinals – 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Skinny: Making their first trip to Arizona since 2003, the Ravens will face a team that would have been interesting to watch last January if something called a Ryan Lindley hadn’t been playing quarterback.

Sunday, Nov. 1 vs. San Diego Chargers – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The Chargers handed Baltimore a stunning loss at M&T Bank Stadium last year, but will Philip Rivers still be their quarterback this time around?

Sunday, Nov. 8 — BYE

Sunday, Nov. 15 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The Jaguars hung tough against the Ravens last year and added Pro Bowl tight end Julius Thomas, but they haven’t won in Baltimore since Mark Brunell was their quarterback.

Sunday, Nov. 22 vs. St. Louis Rams — 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: It generally doesn’t bode well for your franchise when people are focusing more on your future home than your prospects for the 2015 season.

Monday, Nov. 30 at Cleveland Browns – 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Skinny: The Browns really aren’t playing in those god-awful new uniforms this year, right?

Sunday, Dec. 6 at Miami Dolphins – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: Counting the postseason, the Ravens have won four straight games in Miami and should consider having their mail delivered to Sun Life Stadium with the number of Baltimore fans who have traveled their for the last couple contests.

Sunday, Dec. 13 vs. Seattle Seahawks – 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Skinny: A meeting between two of the last three Super Bowl champions is a marquee game on the 2015 NFL calendar as Seattle comes to Baltimore for the first time since 2003.

Sunday, Dec. 20 vs. Kansas City – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The Ravens haven’t lost to Kansas City in over a decade, but facing former mentor Andy Reid always means a little extra for John Harbaugh.

Sunday, Dec. 27 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Skinny: NBC can’t get enough of Baltimore-Pittsburgh as the network will broadcast one of these rivalry games for the sixth consecutive season.

Sunday, Jan. 3 at Cincinnati Bengals – 1:00 p.m.
Skinny: The Ravens haven’t won a game at Paul Brown Stadium since 2011, which sets this one up to be another crucial encounter with playoff implications.

Notes: In a move that was initiated last season, flexible scheduling can be applied in Weeks 5 through 10. During that period, flexible scheduling can be used in no more than two weeks by moving a Sunday afternoon game into prime time and moving the Sunday night game to the afternoon.

Another recently-implemented wrinkle will be a select number of games being “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring some games to wider audiences.

Flexible scheduling will still be used in Weeks 11 through 17 as it has been in past years. In Weeks 11-16, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time.

Flexible scheduling cannot be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday, or Monday nights.

A scheduling change would be announced at least 12 days before the game. For Week 17, the Sunday night game is announced no later than six days prior to Jan. 3.