The NFL Schedule was released on Thursday, April 18. What is there to make of the Baltimore Ravens new schedule? What are the chances they can get back to the playoffs for a chance to repeat? Here is a small breakdown of each and every week during the Ravens' season in 2013.
Week 1: @ Denver Broncos:
The Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning were defeated last season in the AFC Divisional Round after the Ravens' Joe Flacco completed the "Mile-High Miracle" play, and Justin Tucker hit a game-winning FG in 2OT. The Denver Broncos aren't friends with the Ravens, and the building rivalry will be renewed in Week 1, unfortunately for the Ravens, it will be in Denver. This is the first time in 9 seasons that the defending Super Bowl Champs will not get a chance to open the season at home.
The Denver Broncos are opening up as a pre-season favorite, and it could be interesting to see what the Ravens will be able to do against Manning with his new receiver, Wes Welker.
Week 2: vs. Cleveland Browns:
The Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens only has one good storyline. Paul Kruger, a key defensive player for the Ravens last year, left and went to Cleveland. Many sports shows are putting this game in the "Top 10 Reunion Games," with Kruger coming back to visit his former team.
Other than the Kruger topic, there is not much to discuss between the Browns and the Ravens.
Week 3: vs. Houston Texans:
The Houston Texans-Baltimore Ravens game is a highly anticipated reunion game. It will be two powerhouses in the AFC, facing off in an early season match-up. Ed Reed, the former Hall-of-Fame bound Ravens safety, will be returning to Baltimore for the first time since his departure in March. The city of Baltimore and the fans of the Ravens will make this one of the most exciting games of the 2013 season, especially since a legend will be coming back to "The Bank."
Week 4: @ Buffalo Bills:
Just like the Browns match-up, this is not a very exciting game to be played. The Ravens will travel to Buffalo to face off against the struggling Buffalo Bills. If the defending champs are still a relevant team next season, this should be an inevitable win.
Week 5: @ Miami Dolphins:
The Miami Dolphins are looking to be a much better team after signing Dannell Ellerbe and Mike Wallace. Dannell Ellerbe will be making his debut against his former team, the Baltimore Ravens. Unfortunately, this is an away game, so M&T will not be rockin' when they see a LB that helped them win the Super Bowl last season.
This match-up could be a blowout, unless the Dolphins become a decent team, like most people expect.
Week 6: vs. Green Bay Packers:
This is a game that I, personally, have been wanting to see. The Green Bay Packers are a dominant force in the NFC, while the Baltimore Ravens are a dominant force in the AFC. This one should be an exciting match-up between the Ravens' defensive line and Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers.
This game could be a toss-up, since both teams are terrific in their conference.
Week 7: @ Pittsburgh Steelers:
One of the biggest rivalries in football continues in Week 7, when the Baltimore Ravens travel to Heinz Field to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the last two seasons, the Ravens have went 3-1 against Pittsburgh, sweeping them in the 2011-12 season. This blood-shedding, tear-dropping, heart-wrenching battle will continue twice this year. Hopefully the Ravens can get the sweep again, so the Steelers organization doesn't have anything to brag about.
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: vs. Cleveland Browns:
See Week 2 breakdown.
Week 10: vs. Cincinnati Bengals:
The division rival Cincinnati Bengals come to Baltimore in Week 10, trying to show that they can actually beat the Ravens with their starters playing. In the past two seasons, the Ravens have went 3-1 against the Bengals, th only loss coming Week 17 last season, where the Ravens barely played their starters at all.
This will be a good match-up, especially since the Bengals are a possible favorite to win the AFC North.
Week 11: @ Chicago Bears:
This is one of the games on the schedule that I am worried about. The Bears are an on and off team, but their defense is usually lights out. It will be tough for the Ravens offense to get past guys like Charles Tillman. Overall, this could be one of the few games the Ravens lose next year, and it could help the Bears in a major way in the NFC North.
The Bears' offense tends to struggle, especially with Jay Cutler leading the team. The Ravens' defense could have fun with the Bears' mediocre offensive line.
Week 12: vs. New York Jets
The game between the Jets and the Ravens is one that most Ravens fans might not even watch. Considering how bad the Jets played last year, it probably wouldn't surprise anyone if the Ravens blew them out. Mark Sanchez could have a tough time running away from guys like Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, and Chris Canty.
Week 13: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Thanksgiving):
See Week 7 breakdown.
Week 14: vs. Minnesota Vikings:
The Minnesota Vikings proved last year that they can play with a passion, especially when Adrian Peterson is leading the way. The Ravens have had trouble with the run in the past, so playing a guy like Adrian Peterson could be a possible nightmare for the Baltimore Ravens. This should be one of the best games during the 2013 season for the Ravens.
Week 15: @ Detroit Lions (MNF):
The Detroit Lions weren't that great this year, but after grabbing Reggie Bush, it could help them even more since they will finally have a decent running game. Hopefully the Ravens will be able to contain Bush, and Lardarius Webb will be able to cover Calvin Johnson to the best of his ability.
This is one of the four primetime games that the Ravens have.
Week 16: vs. New England Patriots (SNF):
The growing rivalry between te Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots will resume in Week 16 of next season. The Ravens and Patriots have played fort he last two AFC Championships, and they each won one of those games. The Ravens played the Patriots in Week 3 of last season, and defeated them by a barely made field-goal by Justin Tucker. This year, the Patriots may be more upset than they were, but it is up to the Ravens to stop Tom Brady and his many weapons, so they can have a chance at winning.
Week 17: @ Cincinnati Bengals:
See Week 10 breakdown.
Overall, the Ravens play some of the hardest opponents at home (Texans, Patriots, Packers, and Vikings,) The Ravens will attempt to defend their title, and by looking at their schedule, it is very possible that they can do it. The only worry at this point is chemistry, since so many starters left the Ravens.
~ Victor Hensley (@Frezeal33)