The NFL releases its schedule Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET. In the hours leading up to the announcement, here are some questions to ponder about the Baltimore Ravens' 2014 schedule:
What are the chances of the Ravens opening at home? Since the Orioles are out of town on the NFL's kickoff weekend (Sunday, Sept. 7, and Monday, Sept. 8), the schedule is open for the Ravens to start the season at home. By my estimation, the chances of this happening are high, especially after what occurred last season. In 2013, the Ravens became the first defending Super Bowl champions to open on the road since 2003.
Will the Ravens host the Pittsburgh Steelers in prime time? This would follow the NFL's trend. Since 2007, the Ravens and Steelers have hosted night games in two-year intervals. The Ravens played night games at Heinz Field in 2007 and 2008, as well as in 2011 and 2012. Likewise, the Ravens have had prime-time games against the Steelers in Baltimore in 2009 and 2010. So, with the Ravens and Steelers playing on Thanksgiving night last year, the odds say the Steelers are playing a nationally televised game at M&T Bank Stadium this year.
Are the Ravens expected to play on Thanksgiving again? Ravens coach John Harbaugh wants the Thanksgiving night game to become a tradition in Baltimore. The Ravens have hosted that game in two of the past three seasons. But owner Steve Bisciotti indicated other teams are interested in hosting this game, too. My guess is the Ravens will be enjoying a turkey dinner with their families that night.
Will the Ravens end the season in Cincinnati? This unofficial tradition has to end. The Ravens have played the regular-season finale at Paul Brown Stadium for the past three seasons. I understand the heightened drama that comes with closing the season against a division opponent, but let's mix it up a little bit. Since coach John Harbaugh took over as coach in 2008, the Ravens have finished the regular season at home only twice (2008 and 2010).
Here are the Ravens' home and away opponents for the 2014 season: