The Baltimore Ravens schedule was released late last week, and on the surface the team looks to have an easier road to a playoff berth. The strength of their schedule places in the middle of the pack, although SOS is based on the 2015 records of their opponents, a somewhat flawed method. There are other factors to evaluate too, and that is the purpose of this article.
Are opponents coming off a bye? Do the Ravens, or an opponent have a short week before they face off? Are there back to back long West Coast road trips? These are all of these factors will be taken into account when evaluating the schedule deeper.
Last year's schedule was rife with difficulties, like long road trips close together, and a lineup of tough road games to start the season. The season before that featured 3 consecutive division games to open the season, including a Thursday night game against Pittsburgh in the middle.
So what is in store for the Ravens this year?
1) Bye weeks
A bye is an advantage for a team if one team is coming off extra rest and the other is not. On this years schedule, the only team the Ravens face coming off a bye week is the Steelers in week 9, and the Ravens will also be coming off their own bye week. So the Ravens are not at a disadvantage from bye weeks.
2) Coming off Short Weeks
The Ravens have their short week before the yearly Thursday night showdown with the Cleveland Browns. The game before will be the Steelers game coming off the bye, but the Ravens have the advantage of being at at home for this game and only 1 week removed from their bye, as opposed to the Browns who will be on the road on a short week, with their bye a few weeks later. The Ravens only other short week is a 1:00 PM home game in week 15 against the Philadelphia Eagles following a Monday night road game against New England.
Among Ravens opponents, there are a few teams who will be coming off short weeks before facing the Ravens. The New York Jets in week 7 will be coming off a tough Monday night road game against the Arizona Cardinals. The Steelers in week 16 will be coming off a tough Sunday Night road game against the division rival Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens also get the New York Giants coming off a Sunday Night road game against an NFC stalwart, the Green Bay Packers. All these are advantages for the Ravens, albeit small ones.
3) Trap Games
As a team who finished in the bottom 6, teams (outside of the division) may be inclined to (subconsciously) overlook the Ravens on their schedule. If they have a big showdown following their Ravens game, it could influence their performance. For example, Buffalo has a Thursday night showdown with division rival New York following their week 1 matchup with the Ravens, although it is doubtful they will overlook their first real action of the season. The Ravens also face Jacksonville the Sunday before they travel to London for a showdown with their division rival, the Colts; the Giants before their London game against the LA Rams; the Dallas Cowboys the Sunday before a Thursday night matchup against division rival Washington; and the Eagles the Sunday before a Thursday night matchup against those same Giants.
4) Long road trips & difficult schedule stretches
The Ravens get a young Oakland Raiders team at home, on their third long road trip in four weeks: Week 1 at New Orleans, week 3 at Tennessee, and week 4 at Baltimore. The Ravens get the Jets as their lone home game in a five week stretch from weeks 5 to 9 (and 2 home games in 8 weeks) which includes trips to Arizona and Miami. The Ravens get the Jaguars following a 4:25 game in San Diego, and they get the Eagles at home in a late season stretch where they are sandwiched between home games against all 3 of the Eagles division rivals.The Dolphins will have to travel to Baltimore just 2 weeks after back to back road trips to San Diego and Los Angeles. And the Giants will play the Ravens as their lone home game in a four game sequence which is brutal: Week 4 Monday night at Minnesota, Week 5 Sunday night at Green Bay, Week 6 home vs. Baltimore, Week 7 vs the LA Rams in London. All these may only be small advantages, but better to have the advantage to be at the (slight) disadvantage, like the Ravens found themselves last year.
In Schedule form:
|1||Sun, Sep 11||vs Buffalo||1:00 PM CBS||Matchup followed by a Thurs night division game @NYJ|
|2||Sun, Sep 18||@ Cleveland||1:00 PM CBS|
|3||Sun, Sep 25||@ Jacksonville||1:00 PM CBS||Following @ SD. Next game vs. Colts in London.|
|4||Sun, Oct 2||vs Oakland||1:00 PM CBS||Oakland coming off a tough road stretch: Wk 1 @NO, wk 3 @Ten, & wk 4 @Bal.|
|5||Sun, Oct 9||vs Washington||1:00 PM FOX|
|6||Sun, Oct 16||@ NY Giants||1:00 PM CBS||Following Wk 4 MNF @Min, Wk 5 SNF @GB; Precedes Wk 7 vs LA in London.|
|7||Sun, Oct 23||@ NY Jets||1:00 PM CBS||Following MNF @Ari, only home game in 5 game stretch|
|9||Sun, Nov 6||vs Pittsburgh||1:00 PM CBS||Both teams coming off bye weeks|
|10||Thu, Nov 10||vs Cleveland||8:25 PM NFL||Short week coming off Dallas game, bye week later.|
|11||Sun, Nov 20||@ Dallas||1:00 PM CBS||Following road trips to Cle & Pit; Next game TNF vs. Was|
|12||Sun, Nov 27||vs Cincinnati||1:00 PM CBS|
|13||Sun, Dec 4||vs Miami||1:00 PM CBS||3rd road trip in 4 weeks, and the other 2 are to LA & SD|
|14||Mon, Dec 12||@ New England||8:30 PM ESPN|
|15||Sun, Dec 18||vs Philadelphia||1:00 PM FOX||Only road game sandwhiched by 3 divisional games. Ravens coming off MNF @NE.|
|16||Sun, Dec 25||@ Pittsburgh||4:30 PM NFL||Following SNF @Cin.|
|17||Sun, Jan 1||@ Cincinnati||1:00 PM CBS||Following b2b prime time games: SNF vs. Pit, Sat NF @Hou|