As is customary for the defending Super Bowl champions, the Ravens will host the first regular season game of the 2013 NFL season.
Start planning your tailgates for Thursday, September 5 now, Baltimore.
While the opponent has not been announced, there are several “juicy” matchups on the Ravens’ schedule next season that the league would be champing at the bit to showcase.
Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun names the most likely opponents for the opener as the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans, or Green Bay Packers.
I’d throw in the Minnesota Vikings to that list. The Vikings made the playoffs this season, and running back Adrian Peterson was just named by the AP as the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year for 2012. The league will assuredly want to feature “All Day” in prime time as much as possible next year.
If I was a betting man, I’d put my money on New England as the opponent.
Though it would be great to rub our shiny new Lombardi Trophy in the faces of the rag-wavers, Pittsburgh just missed the playoffs, and Ravens-Steelers will undoubtedly be shown in a later prime time slot during the season anyway.
Houston, while extremely young and talented, doesn’t have the national appeal to most fans. Pass.
Green Bay would be interesting. With Joe Flacco’s name now being muttered alongside (or near) that of Aaron Rodgers in the quarterback discussion, a Packers/Ravens tilt would have the appropriate amount of “hype appeal.”
Still the networks love Brady and Belichick. A rematch of the most recent AFC Championship Game seems most likely.
There is another side to the story, however.
Domenic Vadala of Birds Watcher notes that the other hometown team – the Orioles – already have a game scheduled for that evening. Thus, some jockeying must be done between the NFL and MLB to avoid a cluster of monumental proportions at the Camden Yards complex that night.
For the good of Baltimore sports, neither team can allow this to turn into the Orioles vs. the Ravens, or even MLB vs. the NFL. Previous to 2012, I feel like the O’s and Ravens mildly tolerated each other. However the two sides definitely put themselves behind each other’s playoff runs, and I feel that bodes well for everyone involved. I don’t think that either franchise will allow that to happen for the record. The problem will come from the NFL (and please don’t get me wrong folks, I say that as an NFL fan). With the exception of last year’s game which was moved to Wednesday night because of President Obama’s convention speech, the NFL isn’t really keen on accomodating others. If it were suggested to the NFL that they consider moving their game to Wednesday as they did last year, I suspect they wouldn’t take kindly to that concept.
Quite frankly, I feel that the Ravens deserve that moment as it’s construed to be (on Thursday night). It would seem that the obvious solution would be for the O’s to reschedule that game for noon or something along those lines. Parking might get a bit dicey for some of the shared lots, however there’s no real perfect scenario. I suppose it’s possible that they could move the Ravens game since the O’s are already on the schedule, however again I wouldn’t bank on that. The other option would be for the Orioles to schedule it as a split-admission day/night doubleheader on Friday or Saturday, with the originally scheduled Thursday game being in the afternoon. However teams try to stay away from doubleheaders as best they can, and I can understand why.
As a lover of both the Ravens and the Orioles, I am very interested to see how this plays out. As Domenic correctly points out, the two have recently gone from tolerating each other to huge supporters, and it’s been amazing to see. From Ravens players wearing O’s gear to O’s players attending games at M&T Bank Stadium (or elsewhere – Adam Jones went to every Ravens playoff game, including the Super Bowl), the love that the two teams have been showing each other lately warms the heart of every Baltimore sports fan.
Hell, look at this picture from during the Ravens victory parade on Tuesday:
The two sides have seven months to get something figured out. Let’s hope they can do so quickly, and amicably.