Wednesday, April 20, 2011

No Diggity, but Some Doubt

Leave it to Baltimore to have a team break out of an 8 game losing streak with an 11-0 victory, and still the sports rags all have the schedule for a team that is currently barred from having any contact with its players taking the prime spot on the front page. Then again, back in the town's sports heyday they were known for having a decent stable of very knowledgeable baseball fans that loved their team and a rabid fan base for the football team that led to Memorial Stadium being nicknamed "The World's Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum" (do a Google search for that and see what the results are). But since the sports talk of the town is the Ravens, let's take a quick look at the schedule and break it down a bit (home games in bold):

  1. Sunday 9/11/11 - 1pm vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Sunday 9/18/11 - 1pm @ Tennessee Titans
  3. Sunday 9/25/11 - 4pm @St. Louis Rams
  4. Sunday 10/2/11 - 8pm vs. New York Jets
  5. BYE
  6. Sunday 10/16/11 - 4pm vs. Houston Texans
  7. Monday 10/24/11 - 8:30pm @ Jacksonville Jaguars
  8. Sunday 10/30/11 - 1pm vs. Arizona Cardinals
  9. Sunday 11/6/11 - 8pm @ Pittsburgh Steelers
  10. Sunday 11/13/11 - 4pm @ Seattle Seahawks
  11. Sunday 11/20/11 - 1pm vs. Cincinnati Bengals
  12. Thursday 11/24/11 - 8pm vs. San Francisco 49ers
  13. Sunday 12/4/11 - 1pm @ Cleveland Browns
  14. Sunday 12/11/11 - 1pm vs. Indianapolis Colts
  15. Sunday 12/18/11 - 8pm @ San Diego Chargers
  16. Saturday 12/14/11 - 1pm vs. Cleveland Browns
  17. Sunday 1/1/12 - 1pm @ Cincinnati Bengals
Overall it is a decent schedule. As it stands right now the Ravens have the easiest schedule in the AFC (based on final standings of opponents in 2010). They have 5 primetime games (tied for most in the league), and are hosting the NFL Network's Thanksgiving night game (the 1st ever Thanksgiving game in Baltimore and the 1st time a Baltimore team has played on Thanksgiving since the Colts played in Detroit in 1965. Also the 1st ever matchup in NFL history where two brother head coaches face each other in a game). The bye week is early (the first week that teams have a bye) and the primetime matchup with the Steelers is back in Pittsburgh, but before the conspiracy nuts sink their fangs in this let's look at the facts. The Steelers also play 3 of their 5 primetime games on the road, last year they had a Week 5 bye, and they had to come to Baltimore for the now all but annual primetime matchup with the Ravens. And their season turned out pretty decently. So once again I say PLEASE don't start with the whole "the league is out to get us" whining.

It is WAY too early to go making predictions on wins and losses (my general rule of thumb is if the team is barred by federal law to interact in ANY way with the players it is too soon to think about which team of currently uncoached players will beat another team of uncoached players. Your results may vary). But it looks to be a good schedule, and while we are here we can look at some potential pitfalls for the team.

Having to travel across the country to face Seattle (one of the toughest places for a visiting team to play in any year) the week after travelling to Pittsburgh for a primetime Sunday game is going to be tough, both from a team energy standpoint and (if previous games are any indication) from a players in triage after the Steelers slobberknocker standpoint.

I'm pretty sure that this guy (he may not have invented the word "slobberknocker", but he pretty much perfected its usage) is the only man who can TRULY do justice to a Ravens-Steelers matchup. In fact, I would be okay with cancelling the game and just having the teams meet in a Hell In A Cell Match. I might go PPV for that.

The other west coast trip (to San Diego) is also going to be difficult, if for no other reason than it is a west coast trip and those are never easy. Add to that the game time of 8pm (which will be 5pm in San Diego), which could be problematic depending on how the coaching staff plans on preparing the team for the game as well as the fact that the previous week they are playing the Indianapolis Colts (and that Manning guy has an 8 game winning streak against the Ravens) and you have the possibility of a tough game for Baltimore.

Other than that it looks to shake out very much neutral if not in the Ravens' favor.

NOW you can begin the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth in the comments section.

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