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Jeff Zrebiec analyzes the Ravens' 2012 schedule
The Ravens won't get too many breaks in their 2012 regular-season schedule, but they will get their long-awaited Monday night home game -- and they won't have to wait long.
The NFL released its 2012 schedule Tuesday night and it has the Ravens playing four prime-time games, including a season-opening Monday night clash against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on Sept. 10.
It will be the Ravens' first home Monday night game since they took on the New England Patriots in December 2007. They've played six Monday night road games since, a fact not lost on Ravens fans who have long griped about the extended wait for another opportunity to host the week's most high-profile game.
Overall, three of the Ravens' first four games will be at home, at night and on national television. Following the opener against Cincinnati, the Ravens will face the Philadelphia Eagles on the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 16 at Lincoln Financial Field in their road opener. They'll then head home for back-to-back prime-time games: Sunday, Sept. 23 against the Patriots in a rematch of the AFC championship game, and Thursday, Sept. 27 in their first of two against the Cleveland Browns.
The Ravens' lone scheduled road prime-time game is on Sunday, Nov. 18 against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. They'll then host the Steelers two weeks later at M&T Bank Stadium in one of the oddities of the schedule which includes a favorable Week Eight bye.
Seeking to defend their AFC North title and get back to the conference title game and beyond, the Ravens will confront a schedule that is tied for the fourth toughest in the NFL based on the 2011 records of their opponents. The teams on their 2012 schedule had a .523 winning percentage last year.
The Ravens will play eight of their 16 regular-season games against teams that made the playoffs last year and they and the San Francisco 49ers are the only teams in the NFL that play both of last year's Super Bowl participants, the Patriots and the title-winning New York Giants.
The Ravens will host the Eli Manning-led Giants on Dec. 23, just a week after they are scheduled to face Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium.
Based on the expected starters heading into the season, the Ravens are scheduled to face 11 different quarterbacks who have made Pro Bowls: the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger, the Bengals' Andy Dalton, the Manning Brothers, the Patriots' Tom Brady, the San Diego Chargers' Philip Rivers, the Eagles' Michael Vick, the Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo, the Oakland Raiders' Carson Palmer, the Kansas City Chiefs' Matt Cassel and the Houston Texans' Matt Schaub.
Click here for a printable Ravens 2012 schedule.
-- Jeff Zrebiec
April 17, 2012