The Ravens won't be home for Christmas, but they'll be playing in primetime.
NFL fans will receive a marquee matchup on Christmas night when the Ravens face the 49ers in Week 16 at Levi's Stadium (ABC, 8:15 p.m.), one of four primetime games on Baltimore's schedule this year.
Excluding the team's trip to London in Week 6, the Ravens don't have a primetime game until Week 11 when they host the Cincinnati Bengals on "Thursday Night Football." Then the country will get a heavy dose of Baltimore football. In Week 12, the Ravens play on "Sunday Night Football" in Los Angeles against the Chargers. The Ravens will go to Jacksonville for "Sunday Night Football" in Week 15, followed by the Christmas game eight days later.
Meeting the 49ers on the road Christmas night will be a difficult assignment for the Ravens, who'll spend their holiday on the opposite coast, playing one of the NFC's heavyweights. However, it was anticipated that the Ravens would be an attractive target for primetime games for many reasons. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is one of the league's biggest stars and recently signed the richest contract in NFL history. Popular wide receiver Odell Beckham joined Baltimore during free agency, and the Ravens have been a playoff team four of the last five seasons.
Both Baltimore and the 49ers have championship aspirations, and the Ravens won their last Lombardi Trophy against San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII. NFL Network's Bucky Brooks views the upcoming Christmas night matchup as a potential Super Bowl preview.
"You have an opportunity to see the best defense in football in the San Francisco 49ers take on a former MVP, who now has a collection of weapons that's very impressive," Brooks said. "OBJ, Zay Flowers, Mark Andrews, you have Rashod Bateman – you have a lot of weaponry around Lamar Jackson.
"Oh by the way, Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken is putting in a different offense to elevate the game of Lamar Jackson. So yes, this is the one that I want to see. This could be a preview of what we could see in the middle of February – Niners-Ravens in the Super Bowl."
Here's a look at Baltimore's three other primetime games:
Thursday Night Football vs. Bengals
(Week 11,Nov. 16,Prime Video)
M&T Bank Stadium will be rocking for the Ravens' only "Thursday Night Football" game. After facing the Bengals in Week 2, Baltimore will enter this rematch knowing the outcome will likely have major implications in the AFC North race.
The Bengals have won two straight division championships, but quarterback Joe Burrow has lost two of his three career starts in Baltimore and has thrown an interception in all three games.
The return of Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to Baltimore will be a major storyline entering this matchup. Brown spent his first three NFL seasons (2018-20) with the Ravens before requesting a trade and won a Super Bowl with the Chiefs last season, before entering free agency and signing with the Bengals. Brown faced the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in 2021 when he was with the Chiefs, but returning as a member of a division rival will make for an interesting subplot.
Sunday Night Football at Los Angeles Chargers
(Week 12,Nov. 26,NBC)
This will be the second of three trips to the Western time zone for Baltimore in 2023, but the Ravens will have a 10-day break heading into this game following their Thursday night matchup with the Bengals.
The Chargers are led by quarterback Justin Herbert, one of the game's top passers who can get red hot at any time. Jackson and Herbert are both must-see TV, and this game could have AFC tie-breaker implications. Both teams made the playoffs in 2022.
Baltimore last faced the Chargers in 2021, winning a 34-6 decision at M&T Bank Stadium as Baltimore's defense held Herbert to 195 yards passing. The Ravens have a much-needed bye in Week 13 after this game, and winning in their first visit to SoFi Stadium would make that break even more enjoyable.
Sunday Night Football at Jacksonville Jaguars
(Week 15,Dec. 17,NBC)
The Jaguars rallied in the fourth quarter against the Ravens last season for a 28-27 victory that jump-started Jacksonville's successful second half of the year. The Jaguars won six of their last seven to make the playoffs, led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who also led a comeback victory over the Chargers in the postseason.
Jacksonville's running attack is paced by Travis Etienne, coming off a 1,000-yard season (1,125). There's a new culture in Jacksonville under second-year Head Coach Doug Pederson, who won a Super Bowl in Philadelphia and improved the Jaguars from 3-14 to 9-8 in his first season.
Lawrence's emergence as a rising franchise quarterback has elevated the Jaguars' national profile, and this is another challenging road test for the Ravens, who have lost four of their last five games in Jacksonville.