Every NFL game has it's storyline. Whether it is a player going against his former team as was the case with Steve Smith last season, or a rivalry that comes with jawing between plays and massive hits from all sides. This season is no different in that, just some of the specifics get changed.
Ravens face former players
As seems to be the case every year, the Ravens had some players leave them via free agency. Whether guys just wanted to play with coaches that left or they wanted more money than what the Ravens could offer, this offseason saw Torrey Smith and Owen Daniels as well as former offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.
As we detailed earlier, the Ravens will go against Kubiak and Daniels in week 1 at Denver. While neither Daniels or Kubiak stayed in Baltimore long, both were immediate impacts on this team in 2014. Gary Kubiak led quarterback Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense as a whole to new highs as their offensive coordinator, earning himself a head coaching job. Owen Daniels had to make a bigger impact than any Ravens player or fan wanted when Dennis Pitta went down with his second consecutive hip injury.
The biggest loss this offseason will be Torrey Smith, who the Ravens will see in week 6 at San Francisco. While Smith never was able to hit his stride in Baltimore like many would have wanted, he was vital to the Ravens over his career in Baltimore and still counts Maryland as his home. Sadly, the Ravens couldn't get a hometown discount from Smith to stick around as he took a bigger contract to play for a San Francisco team that seems on the downward trend as of late.
Both present opportunities for those players to prove the Ravens wrong or for the Ravens to prove themselves right. Only time will tell.
FIVE primetime games!
We love the Ravens, but it is nice to see the NFL show the love too. We went into more detail on these games here, but suffice to say that the Ravens have arrived on the big stage and can really make an impression on a national audience if they play like a Raven. Great play on these games might even see Baltimore emerge as a contender to get some of the games abroad over the next few years.
Brutal beginning and ending
The Ravens start the season on the road twice in a row before facing the entire AFC North in a row. The first half of the schedule is very rough indeed with the team traveling all over the place (5 road games in the first 7 weeks and 4 of the 5 are across the country).
While the middle of the schedule gets a little softer, it gets hard again at the end as the Ravens see the Seahawks, Chiefs, Steelers and Bengals in the final 4 weeks of the season. If the Ravens can manage to win 5 out of the first 7, they give themselves a little wiggle room to rest up during the middle of the season only to get ramped back up at the end for the playoffs. This could either go really right or really wrong.
Steelers rivalry gets turnt up a notch
Speaking of primetime games; the Ravens get to see the Steelers twice before a national audience. Weeks 4 and 16 are the games that Ravens fans already have marked on their calendars and the training staff has already been told that they can't take any time off around those weeks because they'll all be busy. The Ravens and Steelers have one of the more intense rivalries in the NFL with hard hitting football and plenty of swagger to go around. Put these teams under the lights and there will be more than enough to have every player and fan there as amped as possible.... Like anyone needed any more reason.
To add to it all, Le'Veon Bell will be reinstated from his suspension just in time for the first matchup. Hopefully both teams get to test each other at their peak with no one missing.
The experienced and the green
The Ravens face some of the better quarterback this season in Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Phillip Rivers, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Andy Dalton. Between then is an amazing 4 Championships won and a lot of Championship games played in.
Then on the other hand, the Ravens will face off against some of the less experienced quarterbacks the league has to offer. Derek Carr, Johnny Manziel (or whoever the Browns put in at QB each week), Blake Bortles, and Ryan Tannehill. Not a ton of starts between that group and even though each has their own unique promise for their franchise, the Ravens pass rush could turn them into mince meat quickly.
It should be an interesting season for the Ravens. No one knows how far they will go, but on a week to week basis, it sure sounds like we'll have plenty to talk about.