Baltimore Ravens schedule analysis

Breakdown: Getting off to a fast start will be important if the Baltimore Ravens want to take back the AFC North title. The Ravens play all three AFC North teams in the first three weeks of the season, including the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers at home. After Week 9 (Nov. 2), the Ravens will know where they stand in the division because they will have played five of their six divisional games. The only AFC North game remaining after that is the Dec. 28 season finale against the Cleveland Browns at home. It marks the first time the Ravens have finished the regular season at home since 2010.

The Ravens are scheduled to play only three games in prime time this season, which could be viewed as a slap in the face. It's the fewest nationally televised games for the Ravens since 2009. This could change because of flexible scheduling. But the Ravens had to expect this after failing to make the playoffs last season.

Complaint department: The brutal part of the Ravens schedule begins in October. The Ravens have a stretch in which they play on the road four times in five weeks. It begins Oct. 5 at Indianapolis, the Ravens' toughest out-of-division game in the first half of the season. The Ravens then play at Tampa Bay and home against Atlanta before traveling to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. This is what happens when there are three home games in the first month of the season. The Ravens can't be too happy with their bye either. It comes in Week 11, which means only the Steelers and Carolina Panthers have a later bye. It's the Ravens' latest bye since 2001. That just compounds a long opening haul for the Ravens.

Potential easy finish: If the Ravens have to make up ground, the schedule sets up favorably in the final month of the season. The Ravens finish up home against Jacksonville, at Houston and home against Cleveland. Those three teams combined to go 10-38 (.208) last season. If all three struggle again, it's not out of the question that the Ravens will see rookie quarterbacks in all three games. Getting the Browns in the final game is historically a luxury. Cleveland has lost its past four season finales, including the last two by a combined score of 44-17.

Strength of schedule: 28th, .461 | Vegas over/under: 8.5

Ravens Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7, Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

Week 2: Thursday, Sept. 11, Pittsburgh, 8:25 p.m.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21, at Cleveland, 1 p.m.

Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 28, Carolina, 1 p.m.

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 5, at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12, at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19, Atlanta, 1 p.m.

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26, at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2, at Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m.

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 9, Tennessee, 1 p.m.

Week 11: BYE

Week 12: Monday, Nov. 24, at New Orleans, 8:30 p.m.

Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 30, San Diego, 1 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, at Miami, 1 p.m.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21, at Houston, 1 p.m.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, Cleveland, 1 p.m.