NFL may be trying to protect its players, but having the Ravens and Steelers do battle twice in three weeks isn’t exactly good for the healing process on the body. The NFL released the 2012 schedule tonight, and the Ravens are very much a huge part of this seasons big games.
The defending AFC North Champs will open up at home for the second consecutive season vs. a division rival. Baltimore will host the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Sept 10 @ M&T Bank Stadium at 7:00 pm on ESPN.
In fact, Baltimore opens the season by playing four of their first six games at home with the first three home games appearing on national TV (ESPN, NBC, and NFL Network). Including the Sept 10 tilt, the Ravens will play four nationally televised games.
Following their home opener, Baltimore will travel to the city of Brotherly love to take on Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles. The AFC North will play the NFC East this season, and as a result, the Ravens will host the Cowboys (Oct-14) and defending Super Bowl champion Giants (Dec-23). However, Baltimore will make the short 33 mile trip down I-95 to play the Redskins in a battle of the beltway match-up on Dec, 9.
Baltimore is 9-3-1 all-time vs. the NFC East. The tie occurred on Nov 16, 1997 at Memorial Stadium, when the Vinny Testaverde led Ravens battled the Eagles to a 10-10 draw.
The Ravens second nationally televised game this up-coming season will come two weeks after the opener, and will be a rematch of the AFC Championship game. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots travel to the Charm City for a showdown on NBC.
Baltimore will play their third national game the following week as part of the NFL Networks new Thursday coverage this season. The Cleveland Browns visit M&T on Thursday Sept 27 at 8:20.
During his “State of the League” address at Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis in February, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the number of Thursday Night NFL telecasts on the NFL Network will expand from eight to thirteen games beginning this fall.
Thursday Night Football will air running from week 2 through week 15. As part of the announcement, Goodell pledged that all 32 NFL clubs would make an appearance in prime time this season.
The Ravens conclude their national TV schedule on Nov 18 against none other than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Like last year’s NBC game, this one will also be played in the Steel City. However, if you are not happy with the outcome, or cannot wait for the Ravens to beat them again following this game, you will not have to wait long for the rematch.
Two weeks later in Baltimore, the two teams will bash each other’s heads in once again. It is likely given the brutal nature of this rivalry that both teams are unlikely to be fully recovered from the first contest.
The Ravens will play eight games vs. six playoff teams from last season. However, aside from traveling to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, the Ravens will host the rest of the 2011 post-season teams, only traveling to play the Texans in Houston. Baltimore will host both Manning brothers in back-to-back weeks. Peyton and the Broncos come to town on Dec 16 with Eli and his two SB rings the following week.
NFL schedule makers, who are usually hard on the Ravens, went easy this season in terms of travel. The Ravens have back-to-back road games just once this season, but stay home for consecutive weeks on two occasions.
The toughest stretch of the schedule, as it appears now is likely to be the period starting with the away game in Pittsburgh. The Ravens will play three of four games following that one away from home. Following the visit to Heinz Field, the Ravens will travel to San Diego where the Chargers destroyed them late last season 34-14 during a Sunday night game. Baltimore will then host Pittsburgh and travel to play the Redskins. This is followed with visits from Denver and the Giants.
The Ravens and Bengals bookend the 2012 season as Baltimore travels to the Queen City for a Dec 30 contest.
The bad news is, the Ravens schedule is not easy. The good news is that they are playing a first place schedule and it could have been tougher with a more demanding travel schedule when you consider that the Ravens also play every team in the AFC West this season.
According to ESPN’s John Clayton, the Ravens’ 2012 schedule is tied for the fourth-toughest in the league as the opponents boasted a .523 winning percentage in 2011 compared to the .477 percentage their 2011 opponents had compiled in 2010.
No worries though, how many thought the Ravens would have to contend with Cincinnati last year and face a two loss 49ers team on Thanksgiving? That is the point what looks obvious to start, isn’t, and the Ravens will be just fine next season.
Baltimore will play two more playoff teams in the preseason. A nationally televised game against the Detroit Lions at M&T Bank Stadium highlights the Baltimore Ravens’ 2012 preseason schedule. In the preseason home opener, the Ravens will host the Lions on Friday, Aug. 17, at 8 p.m. in a game broadcast by FOX-TV. This marks the third preseason meeting between the teams, with Baltimore owning a 2-0 series advantage.
The Ravens will also play the Atlanta Falcons for the ninth time during the preseason in team history. The Ravens open preseason play at Atlanta on Thursday, Aug. 9. Baltimore holds a 5-3 preseason series edge over the Falcons, including last year’s 21-7 victory at the Georgia Dome. The Ravens have played six of the eight-preseason contests in Atlanta.
Rounding out the preseason will be a home game vs. Jacksonville on Thursday, Aug. 23, in their first-ever preseason matchup against the Jaguars. Baltimore closes out its preseason schedule at St. Louis on Thursday, Aug. 30. This will mark the Ravens’ third all-time preseason game against the Rams – all of which have been scheduled in St. Louis.
THREE KEY MATCH-UPS ACCOPRDING TO NFL.COM
Week 2 at Eagles
If we see Michael Vick have his way with Baltimore’s defense, it’ll show other offensive coordinators how to succeed in space against this unit. Baltimore has found a way to put the clamps on every elite QB at some point in the past 10 years.
Week 3 vs. Patriots
Baltimore has to get over the mental hurdle of last season’s AFC title game near-miss. For confidence, it doesn’t get any bigger than this one. A true measuring stick game for two Super Bowl contenders.
At home vs. the Patriots in 2007, the Ravens almost ended their perfect season before they self destructed. That was a very bad Ravens team. This one isn’t.
Week 16 vs. Giants
Forget about it being the Super Bowl XXXV rematch. A Baltimore victory tells everyone this is the same Ravens team you’ve been afraid of. A Giants win, especially with a big day from Eli? Suddenly the Ravens aren’t so great after all. Man, Baltimore has a tough schedule. (Whatever)
Monday, September 10 (8:20pm) – Cincinnati Bengals (ESPN)
Sunday, September 16 (1pm) – @Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, September 23 (8:20pm) – New England Patriots (NBC)
Thursday, September 27 (8:20pm) – Cleveland Browns (NFL Network)
Sunday, October 7 (1pm) – @ Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, October 14 (1pm) – Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, October 21 (1pm) – @ Houston Texans
Sunday, October 28 – BYE WEEK
Sunday, November 4 (1pm) – @ Cleveland Browns
Sunday, November 11 (1pm) – Oakland Raiders
Sunday, November 18 (8:20pm) – @ Pittsburgh Steelers (NBC)
Sunday, November 25 (4:05pm) – @ San Diego Chargers
Sunday, December 2 (4:15pm) – Pittsburgh Steelers (home)
Sunday, December 9 (1pm) – @ Washington Redskins (away)
Sunday, December 16 (1pm) – Denver Broncos (home)
Sunday, December 23 (1pm) – New York Giants (home)
Sunday, December 30 (1pm) – @ Cincinnati Bengals (away)
(Check out NFL.com for the entire NFL schedule of all the teams in the league)