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NFL Schedule Guru Second Guesses Decision on Ravens' Christmas Game

ILB Roquan Smith
ILB Roquan Smith

The Ravens will be the first team in NFL history to play a Christmas game on the road in back-to-back seasons.

In an unusual schedule featuring six non-Sunday games (two more than the Ravens have ever had), another Christmas away from home, this time in Houston after going to San Francisco last year, stood out.

NFL Vice President of Broadcast Planning Mike North joined "The Season with Peter Schrager" podcast and expressed some regret.

"In retrospect, maybe asking the Ravens to play on the road on Christmas two years in a row maybe wasn't …" North said before Schrager interjected.

Schrager was curious about whether the league considered putting the Ravens on both Christmas and Thanksgiving, especially given the Harbaugh brothers matchup. The Ravens and Chargers will instead play three days before Thanksgiving on "Monday Night Football" in Los Angeles.

North said there is no hard and fast rule against giving a team two holiday games in the same year.

"I'm not sure that's the right thing to do to the players and their families," North added. "Maybe having both of those games at home wouldn't be the right thing to do to the fans – asking them to show up on both holidays."

When it comes to back-to-back Christmas road games, however, ...

"Look, if we're going to be playing on Christmas now, and you know we're playing on Thanksgiving, and we're playing on Black Friday, and we'll play on New Year's, and we'll play on just about any holiday they'll give us, it's going to land on the teams that are good," North said.

"We put our biggest games in our biggest windows. Those holiday tentpoles become such good storylines for us and such good results for our broadcast partners. You're going to find the good teams, the teams you think are going to be playoff relevant, in those bigger windows over and over and over again. We probably shouldn't put the Ravens on the road on Christmas again next year, but excited to see what they do on Christmas this year – definitely."

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Clifton Brown Staff Writer

North shared a little insight on how the schedule is made. He and his team give a computer parameters and it spits out a version of the schedule. They then made tweaks and feed it back into the system. That goes back and forth until NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell essentially tells them to put their pencils down.

The league spoke loud and clear that the Ravens, led by two-time MVP Lamar Jackson, are a big-time draw, which is a compliment. The Ravens' five primetime night games are tied for the most in franchise history. When factoring in the Christmas game and Saturday Week 16 game against the Steelers, the Ravens have seven nationally-televised games.

Head Coach John Harbaugh joined "The Lounge" podcast Friday for an episode that will drop next week and shared some of his feelings about the Ravens' 2024 schedule.

"It's crazy for Christmas. It's crazy for the families," Harbaugh said. "But you know, it's like Godfather II. 'This is the [business] we have chosen.' It's an honor to play on Christmas Day. It's an honor to play on Netflix in front of the whole world. It's going to be a huge, massive game.

"We've got to go on the road. I'd love for those guys or somebody else to be coming here on Christmas Day. I'd love it for our fans, too."

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