In 2012, the Baltimore Ravens surfed the wave of momentum on their way to becoming Super Bowl XLVII champions. It would seem to reason that the NFL schedule makers would give NFL fans a steady diet of the Super Bowl champion Ravens in 2013.
While Baltimore will be featured in four primetime games in 2013, most of these particular games are decidedly nondescript. Recent tradition dictates that the previous year’s Super Bowl champion kicks off the new season with a Thursday night primetime game. However, the Ravens will open their Super Bowl title defense on the road against the Denver Broncos on Thursday, September 5th.
The scheduling snafu is due to the NFL being unable to reach some sort of compromise with MLB. The Baltimore Orioles will host the Chicago White Sox on September 5th. Imagining the traffic from M&T Bank Stadium (the Ravens’ home field) and Oriole Park at Camden Yards (home of the Orioles) was enough for the NFL to schedule the Ravens’ title defense on the road.
The Ravens will host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, September 15th, raising the Super Bowl banner to commemorate Baltimore’s Super Bowl championship. Unfortunately, the game will most likely be a regional game shown in the respective Cleveland and Baltimore markets. This isn’t the type of respect that should be afforded the Super Bowl champions.
Making matters worse, the Ravens won’t be shown on primetime again until a Thanksgiving Day home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers scheduled for 8:30pm. The timing of this game won’t guarantee stellar ratings for NBC. Most NFL fans may be stuffed full of turkey and falling asleep after watching the traditional Thanksgiving Day games hosted by the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions, respectively.
In defense of the schedule makers, the 2013 Ravens don’t resemble the 2012 championship team. Quarterback Joe Flacco remains, with his $126 million dollar contract in tow. However, legendary linebacker Ray Lewis has retired. Plus, gritty wide receiver Anquan Boldin was traded to the San Francisco 49ers. To make matters worse, playmaking safety and perennial All Pro Ed Reed left Baltimore to become a member of the Houston Texans. A team can’t lose that much talent without adequate replenishment and expect to be interesting.
No matter. The Ravens are the team with the bull’s-eye on their back. They’ll have to play the majority of their schedule in relative anonymity, while dealing with their opponents’ best efforts to defeat them. Maybe the Ravens can turn the scheduling slight of 2013 into another impressive playoff run. We’ll see what happens.