Even though it is slightly odd that the champion Baltimore Ravens will open on the road this season, it gives the Ravens an opportunity to get their road schedule out of the way and make a big statement to start the year. Much has been made about the recent changes on the Ravens roster, but the team has slowly and smoothly changed and even upgraded some positions over the last two months. The additions on the defensive line such as Chris Canty and Marcus Spears will be noted as upgrades, by trying to improve on a defense that was not like themselves for most of last year, allowing 4.0 yards per carry which is the highest in team history. With Ray Lewis and Ed Reed leaving, it is more important than ever for the team to find their physical identity and impose their will quickly on opponents.
With the sure contenders in the AFC, the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans will be the main threats along with the Denver Broncos. Those games will ultimately decide who gets home-field advantage during the playoffs. The conference over the last couple of years has been more clear-cut than the NFC where any team can win, but we all know the strength of schedule doesn’t mean much before the season starts. The key number for the Ravens is one. Since 2000, when the Ravens start the season off 1-0, they have made the playoffs all eight times. They have nine total appearances over that time frame.
The Ravens will get their chance to host the Green Bay Packers in a game that features teams that have won it all two times in the last three years. M&T Bank Stadium is the only place in the league where the Packers have never won. Their only appearance at the stadium was back in 2005 when the Packers lost to the Ravens 48-3.
For the Ravens, the AFC North division will always be a tough task despite winning the division the last two years. The Cincinnati Bengals are improving, the Pittsburgh Steelers are never a team to take lightly and the Cleveland Browns are once again in transition. The division this year is up for debate more than any other year. Every team has their own questions to answer, but the Ravens are still champs until proven otherwise.