The NFL released the 2022 schedule on May 12, so now the Ravens know that their journey to move past last year’s 8-9 injury-ravaged season will begin at MetLife Stadium against the New York Jets on Sept. 11. The Ravens will play the home opener on Sept. 18 against the Miami Dolphins.
The Ravens, in fact, will be a de facto AFC East team for the first month of the season, facing all four AFC East teams before playing any other team from any other division.
But after facing the Buffalo Bills in Week 4, the Ravens host the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 5, a rugged back-to-back stretch that should serve as an early benchmark for this team.
Here are five other takeaways about the Ravens 2022 schedule:
1. The grueling homestretch will define the season.
Fasten your seat belts for the final five weeks of the season, which includes both games against the archrival Pittsburgh Steelers and games against AFC North rivals Cleveland and Cincinnati, with three of those four on the road.
The Ravens have 12 earlier games to put them in position for a playoff run, but whether they get there or not will largely depend on what happens durig the final five weeks, beginning with a Dec. 11 clash at Heinz Field against the Steelers. From then on, they visit Cleveland, host Atlanta on Christmas Eve, then host the Steelers on New Year’s Day and close out the season at Cincinnati — again. This marks the seventh time since 2011 that the Ravens will end the season in Cincinnati.
2. The bye is in a good spot.
The Ravens bye comes in Week 10 after a Week 9 “Monday Night Football” matchup at New Orleans, and that should give the Ravens a decent chance to get healthy and rested for that rugged homestretch. Coming out of the bye, the Ravens have three straight home games, beginning with back-to-back games against Carolina and Jacksonville in which the Ravens should be strong favorites.
Pick up a little momentum with those wins, and then Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos visit on Dec. 4 before that five-week homestretch kicks off at Heinz Field. Every team welcomes the bye whenever it comes, but the Ravens’ bye seems well positioned for second-half success.
3. The Steelers games are both in back half of the season, as it should be.
Coming off a Super Bowl appearance, the Cincinnati Bengals are the reigning champs of the AFC North, but Ravens-Steelers remains one of the league’s great rivalries and it never made sense when these teams were scheduled to play early in the season.
Playoff implications are almost always on the line, considering at least one of these teams has made the postseason in 13 of John Harbaugh’s 14 seasons in charge (2013 being the lone exception) and each team has won a Super Bowl during that time.
Some will say the rivalry has lost its luster with the retirement of top villains such as Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Hines Ward, and now Ben Roethlisberger has joined them on the sideline. But the veterans know that this rivalry carries extra weight, and Suggs used to tell young players, “You aren’t truly a Raven until you beat the Steelers.”
The Ravens haven’t done that much lately, with Pittsburgh winning the past four meetings.
4. There are no shortage of subplots and intriguing reunions.
In Week 3, the Ravens visit New England and their former edge rusher, Matthew Judon, who registered a career-best 12.5 sacks last season. Then after facing the Cincinnati Bengals on “Sunday Night Football,” the Ravens travel to MetLife Stadium on Oct. 16 to face the New York Giants and their former defensive coordinator, Don “Wink” Martindale. He figures to be highly motivated against the team that showed him the door after the 2021 season.
The next week, the Ravens host the Cleveland Browns and their new quarterback, Deshaun Watson. Watson still could be subject to suspension related to the 22 civil lawsuits against him alleging sexual misconduct and sexual assault, and if he were to be suspended six games, the Week 7 contest at Baltimore would be his Browns debut. Some observers, though, suggest the NFL won’t act until the cases are resolved, which could push any suspension to 2023.
If he’s on the field, Jackson vs. Watson would be compelling theater and would conjure up memories of their 2016 college classic, when Watson and Clemson beat Jackson and Louisville, 42-36.
A week after hosting Watson and the Browns, the Ravens visit Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on “Thursday Night Football” in Week 8 (Oct. 27), their first of back-to-back prime-time games. They visit the New Orleans Saints on “Monday Night Football” in Week 9 (Nov. 7).
5. Enjoy the holidays.
The Ravens won’t be playing on Thanksgiving this year, and they aren’t scheduled for one of the league’s three Christmas Day games, either. The Ravens host the Atlanta Falcons on Christmas Eve.
The NFL decided to steal some of the NBA’s thunder with a Christmas Day tripleheader, but I’ll continue to contend that it’s a terrible idea. Sure, many fans would love to find tickets to a game that day under the Christmas tree, and plenty of people who don’t observe Christmas have no issue with scheduling a game that day.
But an NFL tripleheader requires thousands of low-paid ticket takers and parking-lot attendants and other stadium operations staff to work on a day that many would prefer to stay home. At least in Baltimore this year, they will be able to do that.
2022 BALTIMORE RAVENS REGULAR-SEASON SCHEDULE
|Sun., Sept. 11||at New York Jets||MetLife Stadium||1 p.m.|
|Sun., Sept. 18||MIAMI DOLPHINS||M&T BANK STADIUM||1 p.m.|
|Sun., Sept. 25||at New England Patriots||Gillette Stadium||1 p.m.|
|Sun., Oct. 2||BUFFALO BILLS||M&T BANK STADIUM||1 p.m.|
|Sun., Oct. 9*||CINCINNATI BENGALS||M&T BANK STADIUM||8:20 p.m. (NBC)|
|Sun., Oct. 16*||at New York Giants||MetLife Stadium||1 p.m.|
|Sun., Oct. 23*||CLEVELAND BROWNS||M&T BANK STADIUM||1 p.m.|
|Thurs., Oct. 27||at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Raymond James Stadium||8:15 p.m. (Prime Video)|
|Mon., Nov. 7||at New Orleans Saints||Caesars Superdome||8:15 p.m. (ESPN)|
|Sun., Nov. 13||BYE|
|Sun., Nov. 20*||CAROLINA PANTHERS||M&T BANK STADIUM||1 p.m.|
|Sun., Nov. 27*||at Jacksonville Jaguars||TIAA Bank Field||1 p.m.|
|Sun., Dec. 4*||DENVER BRONCOS||M&T BANK STADIUM||1 p.m.|
|Sun., Dec. 11*||at Pittsburgh Steelers||Heinz Field||1 p.m.|
|Sat./Sun., Dec. 17/18*||at Cleveland Browns||FirstEnergy Stadium||TBD|
|Sat., Dec. 24||ATLANTA FALCONS||M&T BANK STADIUM||1 p.m.|
|Sun., Jan. 1*||PITTSBURGH STEELERS||M&T BANK STADIUM||1 p.m.|
|Sat./Sun., Jan. 7/8*||at Cincinnati Bengals||Paul Brown Stadium||TBD|
*Flexible Scheduling Games
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox