The general feeling among Ravens fans about the team’s schedule is that it starts off a little easy and ends hard, at least on paper.
As far as the Week 1 opponent, the Denver Broncos, it will be a difficult game on the road, but the Ravens have shown that they can win there under pressure.
After that, three out of the next four opponents are the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. Those are – again, on paper – games the Ravens should win. The same could be said about the homecoming of Ed Reed with the Houston Texans in Week 3, if the way the Texans played in Foxborough in the playoffs last year is any indication.
Unfortunately, as Ravens fans we are well aware of the issues the Ravens have had in recent years of taking care of teams they “should” beat (see: Seattle, Jacksonville in 2011, Washington, Pittsburgh with Charlie Batch in 2012).
They need to avoid those costly stumbles in 2013.
Now let’s fast-forward to the second half the schedule. In week 10, you have the Cincinnati Bengals at home. Then after that, the Ravens travel to Chicago. Sitting here in April, 1-1 in those two games seems like a worst-case scenario.
Down the stretch, let’s look at the gauntlet the Ravens will try to tackle:
Week 12 vs. Jets
Week 13 vs. Steelers
Week 14 vs. Vikings
Week 15 at Lions
Week 16 vs. Patriots
Week 17 at Bengals
Four out of those six opponents won at least eight games last year; luckily for the Ravens three of those four are at home.
We all know that the strength of schedule means nothing in the offseason. But at the same time, do you really think the New England Patriots will fall off in the weak AFC East? I don’t. They usually just coast, and could have their playoff seed locked up by Week 16.
I wish the Ravens had it that easy.
Also, a little interesting note – is this some sort of tradition now to play the Bengals week 17 of every season? Since 2010, the Ravens have played the Bengals in week 17 every season, and since 2011 the game has been in Cincinnati.
This team should be up for the task…we know that. But the key will be the Ravens stacking wins in the early “easy” part of the schedule and not putting themselves in a situation where they are desperate for wins in the “tougher” second half.