The Ravens know they're not going to have many – if any – friends at Qualcomm Stadium this Sunday, but playing in a hostile environment is nothing new to head coach John Harbaugh and his team.
But as Baltimore prepares for its first road trip of the season, with a Sunday afternoon tilt against the San Diego Chargers, apprehension is absent from Ravens headquarters.
If anything, Harbaugh believes he has the simple answer to winning away from home.
"The thing about being successful on the road, we tell our guys, and I think our guys understand this – the best thing to take with you is a really good team," said Harbaugh. "If you're a good team, you tend to go anywhere and win. If you're not a really good team, you're going to struggle, on the road especially. If we go out and play well, then we'll have a really good chance to win the game. There's no magic to it.
"It's West Coast time, so we move the clock back three hours and we go play at 1 o'clock Pacific Time. That's what we'll do."
As deconstructed as that sounds, the mentality has worked in the past.
Last year, his first helming the Ravens, Harbaugh went 5-3 on the road during the regular season. The Ravens then won two of three playoff games on the road.
Conversely, the Chargers will be no slouches. Under head coach Norv Turner, San Diego is 12-4 at Qualcomm Stadium, something upon which they would like to improve Sunday. What's more, quarterback Philip Rivers boasts a 20-4 record in home venues, dating back to his time in college at NC State.
This week, the Ravens will travel to San Diego on Friday to get adjusted to the weather and time difference, have meetings and a mock game on Saturday at San Diego State University, and then wait for kickoff at 1:15 p.m. (PT). It is the longest trip of the year, as Baltimore is approximately 2,290 miles away by flight.
"Getting out there on Friday and getting acclimated to the weather, being on the West Coast is going to be different for me I'm sure," said New York native and Rutgers product Ray Rice. "This is their home opener. The crowd will be into it. They'll be into it. It's going to be a great environment out there. So this is different for me, but at the end of the day, once you start playing a few snaps it's just football."
To combat the bedlam for the Ravens' offense, Harbaugh had large speakers set up around the practice field to blast loud crowd noise while quarterback Joe Flacco called plays.
"If you're on defense and you play at home, you've got some crowd noise issues," Harbaugh said. "So, we work on that communication when we play at home. Obviously, it will be more toward the offensive side of the ball this week. The nonverbal communication is really important, and you've got to learn to shout really loud. At practice, we've got to talk really loud out here when the crowd noise is going [over the speaker system]."
Defensively, however, the defense actually likes playing on the road because it is quieter when the home offense is on the field.
"One thing about our defense, a lot of times we play better on the road because we can just hear," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "We can communicate a lot better and things like that. So you feed off the energy. They [cheer] with your offense, but when you step on the field you appreciate it because they're quiet for their offense. It gives us the flexibility of really hearing everything, getting every check, seeing everything that comes out.
"You always have your advantages [when] playing at home, but there are a lot of things with playing on the road as well."