The Ravens' 2014 schedule was released Wednesday evening, and there are a few interesting notes.
First, here's the schedule:
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7 – vs. Bengals, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Thursday, Sept. 11 – vs. Steelers, 8:25 (CBS)
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21 – at Browns, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 28 – vs. Panthers, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 5 – at Colts, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12 – at Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19 – vs. Falcons, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26 – at Bengals, 1 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2 – at Steelers, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 9 – vs. Titans, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16 – BYE
Week 12: Monday, Nov. 24 – at Saints, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 30 – vs. Chargers, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7 – at Dolphins, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14 – vs. Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21 – at Texans, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28 – vs. Browns, 1 p.m.
The Ravens have three primetime games, including both meetings with the arch rival Pittsburgh Steelers. That shows just how much the league resects their matchups as one of the league's best.
The three primetimes games are a dip from four scheduled nationally-broadcasted games last season, when Baltimore was the defending Super Bowl champion. The Ravens will not play on Thanksgiving, as they did last year.
The Ravens could get more primetime games via flex scheduling, which can begin in Week 5 this year. Previously, flex scheduling didn't begin until Week 11. There are different rules about which games can be flexed between Weeks 5-10, however.
Baltimore will open at M&T Bank Stadium this season, as opposed to last year when a scheduling conflict with the Orioles prevented the defending champs from kicking off the NFL season at home according to tradition.
The Ravens will begin the year against all three AFC North division foes, starting with the defending division champion Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals ended the Ravens' season in Week 17 last year, so it's a chance for early retribution.
Baltimore will only have three days of rest before another physical installment of one of football's best rivalries with the Steelers. It's at home, which saves the Ravens from a day cut short by traveling, so Pittsburgh will have even less rest.
In Week 4, the Carolina Panthers come to town and there will be "blood and guts" everywhere, according to wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr. Smith will face his former team for the first time after playing with them for over the past 13 years.
The Ravens' road mettle will be tested in the middle of the season. Four of their five games between Weeks 5 and 9, including back-to-back games in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, will be away. Baltimore struggled on the road last year with a 2-6 record.
Baltimore gets a friendly late bye in Week 11, which should allow weary bodies to rest after the challenging road stretch. The Ravens haven't had their bye that late since 2001, when it was in Week 13.
The Ravens come out of the bye with a marquee Monday Night Football game in New Orleans, the site of Super Bowl XLVII victory. It will be their second trip back to the Superdome since they play there in the preseason, but will still come with some emotions.
The Ravens' final stretch is a bit gentler, judging by teams' records from last season, and could help with a late playoff push. The Jaguars, Texans and Browns finished with a combined record of 10-38.
That run will include a return to Houston for Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak and tight end Owen Daniels. The Ravens will finish at home for the first time in three years against the Browns.
The Ravens will be looking to bounce back and get in the playoffs after missing for the first time last year during Head Coach John Harbaugh's six-year tenure. Harbaugh has averaged just more than 10 wins per season with a career regular-season record of 62-34.
A rebound from last year's 8-8 record could be in store. The Ravens have the NFL's fifth-easiest schedule, according to last year's records. Their opponents were a combined 117-139 last season.
Baltimore's preseason schedule dates and times were also finalized:
Thursday, Aug. 7 – vs. 49ers, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 16 – at Cowboys, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 23 – vs. Redskins, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 28 – at New Orleans, 8 p.m.
The Ravens' full slate of 16 games has finally been set. Now, here's what to watch for with each.