John Eisenberg: The Good And Bad Of Ravens Schedule


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Well, he can stash those hats and shirts away for another wager. He was right. The Ravens open the 2012 season with a Monday night home game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

For those keeping track of such things, they will break a Monday night home drought of 1,743 days when they face the Bengals on Sept. 10. Their most recent one before this was on Dec. 3, 2007, against New England.

Despite those crazy numbers, let's not go down the Paranoia Path, still so easily summoned in Ravenstown. No, the league doesn't have it in for the Ravens. Baltimore's team is on Sunday night football twice, Monday night football once and Thursday night football once in 2012. That's plenty of prime-time exposure. The NFL does not hate the Ravens. To the contrary, it loves the Ravens.

If there is such a thing as a well-positioned bye, the Ravens have one – in Week 8, almost exactly halfway through the season and right in the middle of their tough midseason stretch of five out of seven games on the road. Just guessing, the break will be welcomed.

Two games in three weeks against the Steelers? Sorry, not my favorite. Why not just go all in and do the games on back to back Sundays? Hey, how about a doubleheader?

Looking quickly, there are a couple of especially tough turnarounds on this schedule.

The Ravens get their AFC title-game rematch with the New England Patriots on a Sunday night in September – sure to be a big night – but then they have to play again just four days later, on a Thursday night against Cleveland. The only thing that makes it acceptable is both games are at M&T Bank Stadium.

Later in the season, they face the Steelers in Pittsburgh on a Sunday night and the Chargers in San Diego the following week. That means a middle-of-the-night return from Pittsburgh and four days of practice followed by a cross-country trip and a game against a team that blasted them a year ago. Then another game against Pittsburgh the next week. There's nothing unfair in there; it's just tough sledding, especially considering the caliber of the opposition.

When the 2011 schedule was unveiled a year ago (in the middle of the lockout, by the way, ugh, remember that?), people in Baltimore circled the December home game against the Colts as a big one – another grudge game. But things had changed, to say the least, by the time the game rolled around. The Colts were winless.

That's the disclaimer to all of this. However things appear now, they're going to look different in September, even more different in October and probably radically different by December as various teams rise and fall.

But regardless, the Ravens almost surely will have a tough schedule in 2012. That's simply the price you pay for success in the NFL.

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