The 2016 season is upon us and with that comes a new hope and new challenges. The Ravens have always had competitive, nail-bitingly close games against their AFC North rivals. While the AFC North division games will always be the biggest matchups, especially against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens have other great games lined up for them heading into the upcoming season, too. Some even feature some old familiar faces. Lets take a look at a few of these upcoming games and see what you the fans are most eager to see.
Week 1: vs. the Buffalo Bills.
Yes, this is opening day where the Ravens will kick off the 2016 season at M&T Bank Stadium, but this game represents much more. The Ravens will welcome back not one, not two, but three former Ravens back to Baltimore that will be on the Bills sideline. The first, of course, is head coach Rex Ryan. After a disappointing 2015 season, Rex is already on the hot seat as he enters his 2nd year with the team. This game might be extra personal for Rex, because not only could this be his last season as a head coach, but he has never beaten John Harbaugh, the man who was chosen to be the head coach of the Ravens instead of him back in 2008. Harbaugh is 3-0 against Rex and if there's one thing Rex is good at, its getting his players up for a game. There is no doubt the Bills players will play extra hard for Rex to get him his first victory over his former team. The next former Raven is the Bills starting quarterback, Tyrod Taylor. Tyrod showed a lot of good things in his first year as a starting quarterback, but the Bills seemed inclined to wait on Taylor before giving him a contract extension. Look for Taylor to try to prove himself on opening day against his former team and the man who started ahead of him in Baltimore, Joe Flacco. The last, but certainly not the least, is Ed Reed. Reed will return as the Bills assistant defensive backs coach. Reed will provide as much knowledge as he can to help lead his new team to a 1-0 start to the season.
Week 5: vs. the Washington Redskins.
Like the election, Ravens and Redskins fans only get this every four years as the Battle of the Beltway continues in week 5 at M&T Bank Stadium. Add in that that the Redskins are coming off a 2015 season that saw them win the NFC East division title, while the Ravens season was flat out miserable. You can also be sure to see a lot of extra burgundy and gold in Baltimore for this game, not to mention a sense of urgency for Redskins fans to retake this rivalry and football in the beltway after witnessing the Ravens success over the last 15 years. Hopefully, the Ravens can use this as motivation of their own to get a win over the Redskins so all of Baltimore and Ravens Nation can celebrate. Then again, the Redskins did beat the Ravens in 2000 and 2012. Who won the Super Bowl in those years again?
Week 11: @ the Dallas Cowboys
This matchup should be interesting as it is placed in a good spot on the schedule. In late November, the season and the push for the playoffs is truly kicking into high gear, so it figures that both teams will be fighting for playoff spots in each of their respective conferences. The Dallas Cowboys have never beaten the Ravens and you know that has to be a thorn in Cowboys owner Jerry Jones's stomach. Add to the fact that this is the Ravens first ever regular season trip to AT&T Stadium, also known as "Jerry World." Lets flashback to 2008 and the final game at old Texas Stadium. Jerry Jones handpicked the Ravens for the last home game. Let me say that again, this dude handpicked the Ravens as the final home opponent against the Cowboys. He was so sure it would be an easy win, but running backs Le'Ron McClain and Willis McGahee had a few things to say about that. The Ravens won the game and became the last team to ever win at Texas Stadium before they shut it down for good. Yes, a lot has changed in 8 years. Not many players from both sides are still around, but be sure that Jerry Jones will preach to his team and to the Cowboys fans for revenge on John Harbaugh's squad.
Week 14: @ the New England Patriots
You probably saw this one coming. Since 2007, the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots have not just been involved in memorable games, but flat out wars. Two different teams, with different personalities going at it, many times on the biggest stage too. The Patriots have become the Ravens second biggest rival next to the Steelers and I think the Ravens have become the Patriots biggest rival, whether the Patriots want to admit it or not. When it comes to Ravens vs. Steelers, there's hatred sure, but there is respect. With Ravens vs. Patriots, respect is thrown out the window. This game comes at a great time. Its going to be a cold December Monday night in Foxborough as these two teams continue their rivalry. The Patriots would've probably wrapped up the AFC East and try to get the #1 or #2 seed by then, while the Ravens may be fighting for the final wild card spot. If those scenarios play out, this game would mean a lot to the Patriots and to Patriot fans if they can put a giant hole in the Ravens playoff dreams with a victory. The Ravens have won in Foxborough before and they are not intimidated by the Patriots, but this game could very well be a defining moment in the Ravens 2016 season.
What non AFC North game are you guys most looking forward to on the 2016 schedule? Did I miss any, comment below and sound off.