The Baltimore Ravens annually end up with one of the easier schedules in the NFL, usually based on the fact they play the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals twice each year. In addition, the Ravens have been playing a second place schedule as they watched the Pittsburgh Steelers own the AFC North for most of the past decade. Things have already changed and are about to change even more in 2012.
The Ravens are division champs for the first time since 2006, which means they play a first-place schedule for the first time since the disastrous 2007 season. The Bengals proved they are a much improved team in 2011 and figure to only get better in the future. The Browns,...well, never mind.
Winning the AFC North is an honor, but with it comes the right to play the other first-place teams in the AFC, meaning while Baltimore plays the AFC South champ Houston Texans and AFC East champ New England Patriots, the Steelers play the AFC South runner-up Tennessee Titans and AFC East runner-up New York Jets. The Bengals get those two division's 3rd place teams, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills.
We already know who and where the Ravens are playing in the 2012 regular season, and will know when later this evening when the full schedule is released. Lest anyone forget what happened to the Ravens when they last played a first-place schedule in 2007 (5-11 record), this season will give the team and its fans to see how good we are as we will be facing some of the best teams in the NFL, including seven games against last season's playoff teams (Steelers x 2, Bengals, Patriots, Texans, Broncos, Giants).