Thursday night the NFL released it’s 2017 schedule, which includes our own purple and black. There are plenty of notable games and interesting story-lines but here are just a few thoughts that jumped out at me.
1) MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL .... AT HOME!
Yes Ravens fans, it's true, it's true. For the first time since 2012 Baltimore will actually host a Monday night football game. I'm usually not one that adheres to the alleged conspiracy that the league has against Charm City but it's hard not to take notice of how few times the franchise has hosted this game. For the record this will be number six and only the second in John Harbaugh's ten years with the club. The team welcomes the rising Houston Texans during Week Twelve which will be a few several days removed from Turkey Day.
2) FLYING ACROSS THE POND
The Ravens will finally get their chance to play in London during Week Three on September 24th. I'm not really all that excited about the NFL's need to showcase the sport in Europe, though I'm sure some Ravens ticket holders will be intrigued at the chance of watching their team in a unique locale. It seems like the league wants to Jags to one day become the representative of the U.K. so it only makes sense that we play them, I guess.
It should also be noted that the team had requested not to have the Bye week after the London trip, which would have put it as early as possible on the schedule. The league granted that request put then put the first meeting with the hated Steelers as the return game. Well, at least it's a home game.
3) START WITH DIVISION GAMES
The race for the division gets jump started immediately as the Ravens open the season on the road in Cincinnati. They also continue the semi-tradition of closing with the Bengals as well. But once we hit the quarter pole, the team will have played all three divisional opponents and that should give us an early indication if a Division title is within the team's grasp this year.
4) HOME COOKING
I really like how the home schedule shaped up. Each contest on paper appears winnable with only four of the eight against playoff teams from a year ago (Pittsburgh, Houston, Miami, Detroit). The Ravens finish out the regular season with back-to-back home games for the first time in their twenty two year existence. That gives them a great chance for a strong push for the playoffs.
5) LONG TRIPS
It's hard to complain when the schedule basically alternates between home and away from the first half of the season however the two longest road trips (London and Oakland) are sandwiched around the Pittsburgh game. Win or Lose that game traditionally is always a physical contest where emotional letdowns the following week are common.
This is one of the most balanced schedules in the league this year. And if the Ravens miss the playoffs for a third consecutive season they certainly won't be able to blame the schedule makers.
My way too early 2017 record prediction: (9-7)
Give me your thoughts on the Ravens schedule in the comments below.