For the third time in the last four regular seasons, the Baltimore Ravens will open at M&T Bank Stadium against an AFC North rival. Defending division champion Cincinnati will come to Baltimore Sept. 7 to start the 2014 campaign. Four days later, Sept. 11, the Ravens will stay at home and host Pittsburgh in a Thursday night special. This is the first game of the new CBS-TV/Thursday night package with the NFL.
(The Ravens opened the 2011 season at M&T Bank Stadium with a 35-7 victory over the Steelers and followed that with a 44-13 decision over the visiting Bengals in the 2012 debut. Last season, the Ravens, as the defending Super Bowl champions, were stopped, 49-27, at Denver in the first game.)
Baltimore has opened the season with consecutive home games only twice in its history: 1997 and 2008. The Ravens own a combined 3-1 record in those contests.
The Ravens will stay in the AFC North for the season’s third game when they travel to Cleveland for a Sept. 21 matchup. This is the third time in Ravens history that they have opened with three AFC North battles. (Started 2-1 in both 2004 and 2008.)
Including the game at Cleveland, the Ravens play three of four and five of the next seven games on the road. After a Nov. 9 game in Baltimore against the Titans, the Ravens will have their bye weekend.
The Ravens will also play two nationally-televised games on the road: at Pittsburgh on Nov. 2 in a Sunday night spectacular (NBC-TV) and Nov. 24 at New Orleans in front of the ESPN Monday night audience.
It’s possible that the Ravens will play three games under the roof for the first time. Baltimore is at Indianapolis (Oct. 5), at the Saints and at Houston (Dec. 21). The Colts and Texans have options to close their roofs depending on weather.
The Ravens will end the regular season on Dec. 28 against division rival Cleveland. It will be the first time in four years that Baltimore has finished a campaign at home. The team concluded the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons at Cincinnati. Last December’s finale loss to the Bengals kept the Ravens from earning the playoffs a sixth-consecutive season.
Ravens Team Notes
· Baltimore is one of four NFL teams (Indianapolis, New England and Green Bay) to make the playoffs in five of the past six seasons, with the Ravens making six postseason appearances in the past eight years.
· The Ravens will play six games against 2013 playoff teams: Carolina, Cincinnati (twice), Indianapolis, New Orleans and San Diego.
· In 2013, Baltimore played an NFL-high nine games decided by 3 points or less, finishing 5-4 overall in those contests.
· Under head coach John Harbaugh, Baltimore has registered at least 10 wins in four of six regular seasons, with the Ravens ranking second (New England – 76) in the NFL in total victories (71, including playoffs) since his 2008 Baltimore arrival.
· Coach Harbaugh is the only head coach in NFL history to win a playoff game in each of his first four and five seasons. (The Ravens made the playoffs from 2008-12).
· Since 2008, the Ravens’ 47-25 conference (AFC) record is tied for the second-best mark (New England, 54-18). Baltimore has also compiled a 24-12 divisional record (AFC North) under coach Harbaugh, which ties for fifth best in the NFL.
Note: For the first time, flexible scheduling may be applied in Weeks 5-10. During that period, flexible scheduling can be used in no more than two weeks by shifting a Sunday afternoon game into primetime and moving the Sunday night game to an afternoon start time.
Also, for the first time, a select number of games are being “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences.
“Flexible scheduling” will be used in Weeks 11-17 as it has been in recent years. In Weeks 11-16, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights. A flexible scheduling move would be announced at least 12 days before the game. For Week 17, the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to December 28. The schedule does not list a Sunday night game in Week 17, but an afternoon game with playoff implications will be moved to that time slot. Flexible scheduling ensures quality matchups in all Sunday time slots in those weeks and gives “surprise” teams a chance to play their way into primetime.