Now all we have to do is go out and win. After complaining to the league that we didn't want to have to open the season at Pittsburgh on prime time, the league granted us our wish and put us on national TV hosting the Steelers instead (Nov. 29).
The defending Super Bowl Champs are given the honor of opening the season at home on prime time and the Ravens were worried that the NFL would match them up since their three games last year were all classic battles and would make a great opening act on the Thursday night before the rest of the league played for real. Instead, they tabbed the Tennessee Titans to travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in what should be a pretty good matchup on September 10th (Go Titans!).
The Ravens get to open the season at home vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, with their new head coach and his QB from New England, Matt Cassel. The Chiefs are no pushover and have actually never lost to the Ravens in Baltimore. However, this is a much better option for the first game in the season and there is absolutely no reason why the Ravens shouldn't put a pretty decent beatdown on a team coming off the third worst record in the NFL in 2008.
The Ravens and Steelers don't meet until week 12, at the end of November for that prime time matchup at M&T Bank Stadium, but then play twice in five weeks, seeing them again in Pittsburgh on December 27th, for what might be the game to decide the fate of the AFC North. Something tells me that game's 1pm scheduled start might just be "flexed" to a 4pm start to satisfy the powers-that-be based on what should be riding on this game.
In between, the Ravens play eleven of their 16 games at 1pm, with only their visits to the west coast at San Diego (week 2) and Oakland (week 17) starting at 4pm. In their three prime time games, they play at Cleveland on Monday Night Football (week 10), which will a great opportunity to put another beatdown on the Browns in front of their own fans. The NFL has some sort of a weird love affair with the Browns, as they are opening the season at home for an NFL record 11th straight season. A week after hosting the Steelers on Sunday Night Football, the Ravens play on Monday night again in Green Bay (December 7th). Ironically, this is the first time in history that the Packers have hosted a home game at night in December on the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field (yes, I had to say it!). Gee, I wonder why they never play at night in December in Green Bay? Oh yeah, it'll probably be something like minus 40 degrees at 9pm on December 7th! Won't matter as this is classic old-school football, although I doubt Joe Flacco has not felt cold like that in his short playing career, but will just deal with it as he has seemed to have done with any other obstacle he's faced so far.
Other than that, the games that are highlighted on my schedule are the trips to San Diego (week 2), New England (week 4), and the Ravens first-ever visit to Minnesota (week 6), as well as hosting Indy (week 11) and Chicago (week 15). Having our Bye week at week seven will be a breath of fresh air after having to play 18 straight weeks (including playoffs) last season due to the Bye week change as a result of Hurrican Ike's destruction in Houston at week 2.
All in all, the Ravens schedule is considered one of the easiest in the league, but as I've repeatedly said, there is no such thing as an easy game in the NFL. Just ask Ray Lewis, who says they're all hard fought battles every week. Now that we seem to have the schedule that suits us, the pressure is on the team to go out there and prove that the 2008 season was not a fluke and this team is primed for another Super Bowl run in 2009.