Have you seen the Baltimore Ravens’ schedule?

Have you seen the Baltimore Ravens’ schedule?

What don’t we know? That’s the question I asked myself when I saw the Ravens’ schedule.

Did you see the first four games? And I’m not talking about noticing opening against the Bengals on Monday Night Football on Sept. 10, followed by a trip to Philadelphia on Sept. 16 before a home game against the Patriots on Sept. 23 and a visit by the irrelevants – I mean Cleveland Browns – on Sept. 27.

Take a closer look. Closer.

I look at the Ravens’ schedule and think: What did the Ravens do to piss off the league office? Those first four games are as much a punishment as they are a schedule.

I’ll say it now: A Raven will get seriously injured during that stretch, maybe two, or three, while I’m at it.

Week 1 at home against the Bengals on Monday Night Football – outstanding. It’s the Ravens first MNF home game since losing to the Patriots in a 2007 game in which Bart Scott got so mad at the officials he threw a penalty flag into the stands. Now, Week 2, a 1 p.m. game at Philadelphia. No problem, here. But then the Ravens return home for a Sunday night (8:20 p.m.) game against the Patriots.

Now here’s the problem: The Ravens’ next game is on Thursday, Sept. 27 against the visiting Browns. So lets get this straight: The Ravens will leave M&T Bank Stadium after playing New England no earlier than 1 a.m. Monday, Sept. 24.

That means they’ll have about 91 hours before kicking off against the Browns at 8:20 p.m. Sept. 27. Good news, Ravens fans: The Ravens have never lost to Cleveland since John Harbaugh’s arrival.

That’s four games in 18 days. I’ve never seen such hypocrisy from the NFL.

Roger Goodell has preached so much about “player safety” he should change his title from commissioner to cardinal.

All the league had to do was push the Ravens’ game against the Patriots to 1 p.m. Instead, they used the allure of Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Ray Rice, Tom Brady and Wes Welker on the same field to get NBC to book it for Sunday night.

The NFL gets paid, but the Ravens may pay for it.

3 storylines to the Ravens’ schedule

It ain’t easy: The Ravens and the 49ers are the lone teams who play both of last year’s Super Bowl participants. The Ravens play eight teams that made the playoffs last year, which tied Cleveland and Philadelphia for most in the league. Of those eight games, four are against squads that won a postseason game in 2011. The 13 teams on the Ravens’ schedule had a winning percentage of .523 last year, which makes the Ravens’ schedule the fourth-hardest based on opponents’ records.

Return to the scene of the beat down: When was the last time you’ve seen the Ravens get dominated as they did last year in San Diego when the Chargers posted a 34-14 win while amassing more than 400 yards of offense? The score really wasn’t that close. The Ravens make a trip to San Diego on Nov. 25. The showdown is sandwiched between games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who host the Ravens on Nov. 18 on Sunday Night Football and play at M&T Bank Stadium on Dec. 2.

Put up or shut up, Joe:  Joe Flacco made news during the offseason when he declared he was the best quarterback in the NFL. Strange, don’t the best quarterbacks generally play in well, like, the Super Bowl? Regardless, Flacco – provided he’s healthy – will face seven Pro Bowl quarterbacks in the final eight games. Flacco likely will face Oakland’s Carson Palmer, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (faces the Ravens twice during this span), San Diego’s Philip Rivers, Denver’s Peyton Manning (who is 8-1 against the Ravens), the Giants’ Eli Manning and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton.  Those quarterbacks have made 22 Pro Bowls, which are 22 more than Flacco. In 16 games, the Ravens face 13 quarterbacks who have made the Pro Bowl, and the other three games are against Cleveland, twice, and Washington, which likely will start rookie Robert Griffin III. As for Cleveland, does it matter? They could start you at quarterback and it the offense would be just as effective as it was last year under Colt McCoy.


(Feature photo by Chris Ammann)