The 2014 NFL regular season schedule was unveiled last night. As per usual, fans will start planning road trips and prognosticating if a return to the playoffs is in the cards for the purple and black. With that in mind here are a few things that stood out after glancing through next season’s opponents.
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- Yes, the Ravens will open this season at HOME against the Bengals on September 7th. This will be the third time in four seasons barring last year’s scheduling snafu. Baltimore has opened the season with consecutive home games only twice in its history: 1997 and 2008. In fact Baltimore will play at the big Crabcake in three of its first four games. Considering how well the team has played at home over the past decade this should help them to get off to a quick start. Also any questions about where they stand in the division should be answered by the Quarter pole as well as they play all three divisional foes in the first three consecutive weeks. In week four the Ravens will host Carolina (a.k.a. Steve Smith’s revenge game) which also should provide a possible interesting storyline.
- The team will play in three Prime-Time games. Two against the hated Steelers (Sept. 11th -Thursday Night and Nov. 2nd -Sunday Night) with the final game a Monday Night match-up in New Orleans. (Nov. 24th) This is seems to be a fair number for a team that missed the post-season even though some will surely protest but let’s not forget that flex scheduling will be expanded this year as early as Week Five. A strong start could net Baltimore a few more games in front of a national audience down the road.
- The toughest part of the schedule begins in October where they play on the road four times in five weeks. They will travel to Indy for their toughest match-up of the first half of the year, then Tampa, then back home to play the Falcons and finally Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. They won’t get a rest until Week 11 when their BYE is scheduled.
- The home stretch does look much more inviting though. The Ravens finish up home against Jacksonville, at Houston and home against Cleveland. Those three teams combined to go 10-38 (.208) last season. It also marks the first time in four years that Baltimore has finished a campaign at home.
- So how does this schedule compare to those from the past? It has it’s rough stretches but on paper it seems a bit easier. The Ravens will play six games against 2013 playoff teams: Carolina, Cincinnati (twice), Indianapolis, New Orleans and San Diego. The Pittsburgh games are always a battle as well so they’ll still have a lot to prove. My way too early projection for 2014 : 10-6 (Wild Card Berth).