When the schedule is revealed, it’s always exciting, but some years have more “wow” than others. “Wow” refers to games or aspects of the calendar that make you say “wow” out loud as soon as you see them. This year’s schedule has a lot of “wow” in it for me.
Primetime games versus the Chiefs at home before a season-opening game in Las Vegas? Wow. The Browns and Steelers don’t play again until after Thanksgiving? Wow. To play the Browns, Steelers, Browns, and Packers back-to-back? Wow. There are four games on the home floor? Wow.
Do the Steelers come to town for the final game of the season? Wow. Some years are more predictable than others, but 2017 certainly isn’t one of those.
Although the AFC North could be decided by the Ravens’ home-and-away series with the Browns and Steelers, none of those games will take place until late November, which is the biggest “wow.”
It’s an odd situation. Essentially, the Ravens will keep tabs on their division rivals from afar for months before a sudden burst of games in the latter stages of the season will bring everything ahead. An away game against the Bengals in late December rounds up the Ravens’ final seven games versus AFC North opponents.
In contrast to 2020, when the Ravens finished their divisional home schedule by Week 8, this year’s team will play their final eight games on the road. In a tough division, it’s better to do it this way since it will lead to more late-season drama.
(Bonus thought: The only primetime game of the four is against the Browns, which is sure evidence of the division’s changing times.) Is that unexpected, given the pandemonium that happened during the Ravens’ Monday Night Football matchup with the Cleveland Browns?
When the season begins, the Ravens must be ready to go. While they haven’t won a game since 2016, the Raiders still had a chance to make the playoffs last year and will be fired up to play their first game in front of fans in their spectacular new stadium on Monday Night Football to kick off the new season.
Six days after their first appearance on the big stage, the Ravens play the Chiefs at M&T Bank Stadium in an important litmus-test matchup against a team they’ve never beaten before. This is a difficult start, but the Ravens will face less difficult opponents moving forward since seven of their first nine opponents in 2020 were not playoff qualifiers. With a bye week coming up in late October, the Ravens have a legitimate chance to be 6-1 heading into that time off.
The downside of an early-season schedule that is somewhat forgiving is that things get much tougher late in the season. Eight games remain in this regular season, with seven of those games taking place against teams that advanced to the postseason in 2019.
NFC opponents face three of the games while NFC opponents face the other four (Browns and Steelers). From Nov. 28 to Dec. 19, the Ravens face the Browns, Steelers, Browns, and Packers in that sequence. There are no slacks there. A year ago, it was the exact reverse. In early December, the Ravens had a 6-5 record and faced a difficult path to the playoffs.
Ravens won their final four games against teams that weren’t in the playoff hunt, and it helped propel them into the postseason. Having as many victories as possible early in the season is a solid strategy for 2021 when they face a far more difficult late-season schedule.
For the second year in a row, the Baltimore Ravens will host a Monday Night Football game at the Ravens’ Ravens Stadium. For the first time, they’ll be playing two home games on Sunday Night Football.
Since the entire country is eager to witness Lamar Jackson’s incredible feats of athleticism, Baltimore will host five primetime games this season. That the Ravens have played six consecutive and nine of their first ten against teams from outside the division is bizarre, to say the least.
The Ravens not only play five games during primetime, but they also play three games in the late afternoon slot on Sunday. Only nine of their 17 games go off on Sunday at 1 p.m. … The Ravens will play their final game of the season on Jan. 9 thanks to the fact that the season now has 17 games.
During their first Super Bowl run in 2000, the team had already won two playoff games… It is more typical in baseball than in football for a team to have a long homestand, but the Ravens have one this year. They won’t leave town for six weeks after their Oct. 3 game against the Broncos in Denver.
They’ll play four straight home games before taking on the Dolphins in Miami on Nov. 11th, wedged between their bye week.