Ravens To Open 2013-14 Season On Road… In Denver?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peyton Manning might get a chance to avenge his loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the recent NFL playoffs, as the Ravens are forced to play their season opener, scheduled for Thursday, September 5, on the road due to the Orioles citing their inability to reschedule their home game with the White Sox that same night.

Peyton Manning might get a chance to avenge his loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the recent NFL playoffs, as the Ravens are forced to play their season opener, scheduled for Thursday, September 5, on the road due to the Orioles citing their inability to reschedule their home game with the White Sox that same night.

For the first time since the Super Bowl champion was anointed the host of a season kickoff game at home, the Baltimore Ravens will be unable to continue this tradition, as the baseball team in town, the Orioles – who haven’t won a World Series in three decades – has decided to be a killjoy.

In a statement, the O’s claim all teams and leagues involved have done “everything possible to work with us to explore all options to reschedule the September 5 game.

“Given the limited options available to reschedule the game at that late date in the season, the parties jointly determined that even an earlier start time would still create such enormous logistical difficulties that it would greatly diminish the fan experience for both events which all parties realized would not be in the interest of their fans or the City.”

September 5 is the first Thursday of the month, on which the NFL has designated it its season “kickoff” night. The only exception was last year, when the New York Giants/Dallas Cowboys tilt was rescheduled to the Wednesday of that week, due to President Obama’s keynote presentation on the final night of the four-night Democratic National Convention, which was the Thursday of that week. (For the record, the Yankees and Mets were both on the road that day, but given their home stadiums are located outside the Giants’ field in New Jersey, there probably wouldn’t be that much of a brouhaha.)

And by the way, the first Wednesday of September this year is Rosh Hashanah, and the league had expressed at league meetings in Arizona this week¬†their desire not to reschedule a Ravens’ home opener to that night. The Orioles would be finishing a three-game series in Cleveland that night, before embarking on a four-game homestand against the White Sox.

“While we are disappointed for the fans in Baltimore, we appreciate the efforts of the Ravens, Orioles and Major League Baseball and understand the logistical problems in trying to schedule the teams on the same day,” said the Ravens in their own team statement. “The Ravens will open the season on the road on Thursday night, September 5, in our annual NFL Kickoff Game on NBC.”

Unconfirmed to this point is whose stadium they will be invading on opening night.

Just as I speculated on which team I thought the Ravens would be hosting on September 5 on the day after they won the Super Bowl, I am now going to predict which team will host the Super Bowl champions on that night.

I will admit that a lot of research and thinking went into that post, but upon taking a good look at the eight teams they’re scheduled to play on the road this season, this time around, I invested as much time in my prediction as you did in reading this sentence.

Broncos.

Yes, the Denver Broncos, who hosted the divisional round playoff game in which the Ravens vanquished them in overtime en route to their second Lombardi Trophy, is the odd team outside of the three rivals in their division, half of another division in the AFC (Bills, Dolphins) and half of an NFC division (Bears, Lions) that the Ravens will be facing away from M&T Bank Stadium.

Yes, despite his struggles in that game, Peyton Manning is still ratings gold. In fact, his Broncos debut opened the “Sunday Night Football” season last year.

And yes, there could be a new rivarly budding between Manning and Joe Flacco, he of the record contract he signed in the offseason. Manning vs. Tom Brady it isn’t, but NBC will take it.

Heck, NBC would gladly take a rematch of an overtime playoff game in which the eventual Super Bowl champions prevailed – a game that was played on CBS, by the way.

So is Ravens/Broncos on September 5 in the bag? Not right away. Remember, CBS, the NFL’s AFC broadcast partner, has owned-and-operated television stations in Denver (KCNC-TV) as well as Baltimore (WJZ-TV). I’ll remind you how CBS was as defensive against NBC swiping away a regular season NFL game between the New England Patriots (CBS also owns WBZ-TV in Boston) and the Tim Tebow-led Broncos, as the Orioles appear to be for the right to play a regular season baseball game as scheduled, at a point in the season where either the O’s or the White Sox may be well out of playoff contention by the time the first pitch in that game is thrown.

For the Orioles’ sake, I just hope there isn’t rain in the forecast on the evening of September 5.

But who knows? It might be raining touchdowns in Denver that night.

And the big winner would be NBC.

Stay tuned.

Baltimore Ravens Will Kick Off 2013-14 NFL Season On NBC Against… Pittsburgh Steelers? New England Patriots?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Baltimore Ravens will begin their defense of the Super Bowl championship with a Thursday night "kickoff" game on NBC, and it will likely be against the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers on September 5.

The Baltimore Ravens will begin their defense of the Super Bowl championship with a Thursday night “kickoff” game on NBC, and it will likely be against the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers on September 5.

There is but 213 days until the 2013-14 NFL season kicks off.

Not like we’re the only ones keeping track, or anything.

But with not even a single game scheduled (sans the two games taking place in London)¬†for the upcoming NFL season – the entirely of which is slated to be released in mid-April (and that hasn’t stopped me in predicting which games will be played this upcoming Thanksgiving) – this much is true: Your Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens will open the season with a “kickoff” game airing on Thursday, September 5, on NBC.

The question is, who will their opponent be?

In the seven years that NBC has aired the season kickoff game, only two of those games were divisional matchups: New York Giants/Washington Redskins in 2008, and the Giants’ Wednesday night loss to the Dallas Cowboys last year. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers have appeared in two of the three games that the AFC team winning the previous year’s big game have hosted the “kickoff” game in the ensuing year. Yet the Steelers, in their fifteen appearances on “Sunday Night Football,” have played the Ravens on “SNF” at least once during the last four seasons; the Ravens hosted the Steelers in 2009 and 2010; the Ravens would then win both subsequent “SNF” matchups against the Steelers at Heinz Field in 2011 and 2012.

So it’s very conceivable to think that the Ravens will host their division rival Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on NBC, when the 2013-14 season kicks off.

But let’s look at the rest of the opponents the Ravens will be facing at home for the remainder of the year. Right away, we can count out the other AFC North foes, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns. With AFC North teams scheduled to play interconference games against the NFC North division, the Ravens are due to host the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, both of whom made the playoffs this past season.

Then, there’s the rest of the slate of AFC teams that will be traveling to Baltimore next season: the New York Jets, the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans.

If the Jets were not undergoing their current image problems (read: had they made the playoffs), you could make an argument for them being the Ravens’ first opponent of the year, given Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s previous ties with the Ravens. In fact, both teams had opened up their respective 2010 campaigns on “Monday Night Football.”

But then you have the Patriots and the Texans, two teams that the Ravens had met in the playoffs in recent years: in the 2011-12 playoffs, they defeated the Texans, en route to a crucial missed field goal sealing a loss to the Patriots in Foxboro – a loss, of course, that the Ravens would avenge in the Patriots’ house just a few weeks ago.

On paper, a Patriots/Ravens game would immediately blow a Steelers/Ravens game out of the water as your season opener. And the fact that the Ravens and Patriots both faced each other in the playoffs over the past two years, combined with the Ravens just recently winning it all, would add to the storylines for such a game. People are already drawing conclusions as to whether or not Joe Flacco is a better quarterback than Tom Brady, and that discussion is sure to continue through the offseason – and a culmination on the Thursday night primetime stage would be something that the NFL would want.

But would CBS stand for it? Each year, the NFL’s broadcast partners file requests for “protected games.” And with CBS possessing an owned-and-operated broadcast affiliate in both Boston and Baltimore, to have a game that could be lucrative to the network as a juicy late-game broadcast taken away for airing on NBC, may not sit well with the Eye Network. (CBS also has an O&O in Pittsburgh, but the Ravens and Steelers play each other two times per year.)

You already know how influential Patriots owner Robert Kraft is, and how he wielded his power when the league had considered moving a Broncos/Patriots telecast from CBS to “Sunday Night Football” on NBC at the height of “Tebowmania” (yes, CBS also has an O&O in Denver).

To me, the strong favorite for the 2013-14 season opener would be Patriots/Ravens, as it should. But should CBS have a problem with that, then it’ll likely be Steelers/Ravens. I mean, it’s as if they’re destined to play another game on NBC this year by default, so you may as well upgrade it to a season kickoff game. And consider this: all four Steelers/Ravens games played on NBC over the last four seasons have been decided by a single field goal. The Ravens have won three of four, including the aforementioned road victories in Pittsburgh. NBC would be guaranteed a close game – which, in turn, equals great ratings.

And did I mention that the Patriots were actually flexed out of a few “Sunday Night Football” broadcasts?

It’ll probably be Big Ben Roethlisberger vs. “F—ing Awesome” Joe Flacco to kick off the 2013-14 season.

Or will it be Flacco vs. Tom Brady?

Which would you rather want as the 2013-14 season opener? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

Third Time's A Charm: Giants, Cowboys To Kickoff 2012 NFL Season, Play Third NBC Game In Nine Months

The NFL has announced that the Dallas Cowboys will square off against the New York Giants in the 2012 season "kickoff game" on Wednesday, September 5. This will be the third time in a row that these teams will be playing on NBC, and the third year in a row that the Cowboys will open their season on NBC.

A month ago, we told you that the 2012 NFL season would be kicking off on a Wednesday night. And, of course, it would involve the world champion New York Giants.

Now, we know who the first opponent in the Giants’ defense of their 2011-12 championship will be. It’s a familiar one. And it is a division rival.

But it won’t be the Washington Redskins, who opened their season with the Giants for the previous two seasons.

Instead, it’ll be the Dallas Cowboys. That’s right: for an unprecedented third time in a row, the Giants and Cowboys will be playing a regular season game on NBC. Their first regular season matchup of 2011 was not until Week 14, with their Week 17 contest flexed into “Sunday Night Football” given the “win and you’re in” factor of the game.

And now, these teams will be playing the first NFL game to be played on a Wednesday night in 64 years.

So it shall be the Giants opening the 2012 season against a team they swept last year (Cowboys), as opposed to the Redskins, who despite their 6-10 record, managed to win both games against the Giants in 2011.

No matter how much apathy you might exhibit at this decision (and there’s been quite a few on my own Twitter timeline after the announcement was first made), it was the right decision.

Considering the Redskins were players (albeit not favorites, but on the radar) in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes, had the former Colts quarterback headed to the Nation’s Capital, you can bet that it would be the Redskins, and not the Cowboys, opening the 2012 season, for the simple fact that it would be Peyton, barring a setback in his neck surgery recovery, against his little brother Eli, who has now won twice as many Super Bowls as his older brother. Of course, playing against his brother was a factor in Peyton choosing to stay in the AFC, and joining the Broncos.

And while Robert Griffin III, expected to be drafted by the Redskins, is as dynamic as the scouts say he is, he probably wouldn’t generate as much ratings gold as Tony Romo and company would deliver when they clash with the G-Men, as evidenced by their January 1 “playoffs or bust” showdown.

As for the Cowboys on NBC, the magic number is 3: Not only will this be the third consecutive time their game against the Giants will be shown on the Peacock Network, but it’s the third year in a row that the Cowboys have opened their season with a game on NBC. They hosted the Redskins on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 1 in 2010, and traveled to the Meadowlands to face the Jets in Week 1 last year. The Cowboys would lose both of those games.

And the odds don’t appear to be in the Cowboys’ favor for this year’s opener: The Super Bowl champion is a perfect 8-0 in the season “kickoff game” dating back to 2004. Throw in the Redskins’ win over the Jets in 2003, and you have nine years in a row that the home team won the “kickoff game.” (The lone road win was in 2002 by the 49ers; the team on the losing end of that one just happened to be the Giants.)

Also, as Inside Football’s Patricia Traina reminds us, the Giants have an astounding 5-1 record on games played on Wednesdays, including a perfect 2-0 in season openers played on “hump day.” (Note that these games were played way back in the mid-’20’s and early ’30’s.) This will be the first Wednesday game for the Giants in 78 years. (Efforting to get the last time, if at all, the Cowboys played a Wednesday game…)

The rest of the NFL schedule is slated to be released in the third week of April, possibly April 18 – though prior to, the league may share the matchups for certain games such as the trio to be played on Thanksgiving – the night game to be played for the first time on NBC.

But not before the first Wednesday NFL game since the merger is to be played on NBC.

Hump Start: NFL Moves 2012-13 Season Kickoff Game To Wednesday Night

Once again, the New York Giants find themselves in an interesting position: beginning their defense of their NFL championship a little earlier due to a conflict with an election convention. This year, the Giants will kick off the season on a Wednesday night, playing the first Wednesday NFL game since 1948.

Are you ready for some football? On a Wednesday?

As President Obama would say, yes, we can.

For the first time in 64 years, a regular season NFL game will be played on a Wednesday night – and it’ll be the very next NFL game, which opens the 2012-13 season.

And for the second time in five years, it’ll be at the expense of the World Champion New York Giants.

Here’s the deal: The game, which will be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, home of the Giants, was originally scheduled, as has been the case for the past dozen years, on the first Thursday of September following Labor Day.

This year, that would be September 6. Incidentally, 2012 is an election year, and each election year, the Republican and Democratic National Committees have been hosting four-day conventions during the final week of August and first week of September, alternating each year. The final day of the convention – Thursday – is the crescendo which closes with a speech from the main candidate (or sitting President).

There was no conflict in 2004 because the Democratic convention was held in July of that year. However, in 2008, so as not to step on Republican nominee John McCain’s address, the NFL moved up the time of the season opener – also involving the Giants, who had won Super Bowl XLII – from an 8:30 PM (ET) start time to about a 7 PM kickoff. The ratings were decent, but apparently not decent enough to the point that the Giants will be playing another early Thursday night season opener.

So on Tuesday, the NFL decided to simply move the game to the previous night, Wednesday, September 5. It will be the first time since the fall of 1948 that a regular season NFL game would be played on a Wednesday. On that day, September 22, 1948, to be precise, the Detroit Lions lost to the Los Angeles Rams, en route to a 2-10 season; the Rams finished 6-5-1. (In case you’re wondering, the Philadelphia Eagles won the championship that year.)

This will be the second time in three years that a regular season NFL game will be played on an unorthodox day of the week. In late December 2010, a Sunday afternoon game involving the aforementioned Eagles was moved to Tuesday night due to extreme blizzard conditions in Philadelphia. The visiting Vikings – playing out the string a la the Asheville Tourists after a blizzard back home impounded the Metrodome – won the game behind the unlikely arm of Joe Webb.

The Giants’ first opponents of the 2012-13 season is still to be determined. In 2008, the Giants beat the Washington Redskins in the season opener. With politics once again coming into play in the Giants’ defense of their Lombardi trophy, don’t be surprised if the Giants once again square off against Washington on September 5; the start time will remain 8:30 PM ET. (The two teams have actually faced each other on the season opener for the last two years.)

And in case you’re wondering: no, the Giants don’t play the Chicago Bears this season, so that was not a factor in moving up the season opener to Wednesday to accommodate big-time Bears fan President Obama the following night.

There Will Be No Tebow Time To Kickoff The 2012-13 Season On NBC

We won't know until April at the latest when the next installment of the budding rivalry between Tom Brady and Tim Tebow will take place. And while the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the Giants, there's still a good chance that they can open their season with the Broncos on NBC.

Regardless of the Broncos’ exit from the 2011-12 NFL playoffs, Tim Tebow has been a force to be reckoned with.

That was evident back in late December, when CBS and NBC fought tooth and nail (actually, “nail” may not be the best term to use when you’re writing about Tim Tebow) over who would air a regular season Broncos/Patriots matchup.

Even after the Patriots sent the Broncos packing in the playoffs, CBS expressed interest in having Tebow on their “NFL Today” pre-AFC Championship Game edition (he respectfully declined).

Then there’s the Super Bowl – and no, I’m not talking about the week leading up to it (though there is a mind-blowing update on that). How, you ask, could Tebow be a factor in the Super Bowl, which aired on NBC?

It has to do with who the eventual winner would be hosting on the Thursday following Labor Day – which will air on NBC.

And it’s all contingent on which team prevailed, based on their schedules.

On January 2, right after the conclusion of the regular season, the NFL released each team’s lists of opponents for the season ahead, home and away, based on records, but not the actual schedules – that will happen in April on a date to be determined.

Looking at the Broncos’ schedule, aside from the usual AFC West suspects, four of the other five teams they are scheduled to play on the road made the playoffs this year – Atlanta and Cincinnati, both Wild Card round exits, and both teams that just happened to play in this year’s AFC Championship Game, New England and Baltimore.

Indeed, the NFC division that Denver plays this year is the NFC South, including a home game against the Saints. Which means they would not play the Giants next year, especially on “kickoff” night, should the Giants win the Super Bowl – which they did.

So in order for NBC to start the 2012-13 season with some “Tebow Time,” they would have to be pulling for the Patriots to prevail – which they did not.

Granted, NBC might be happier that the Giants won: their home opponents for the 2012-13 season include New Orleans and Green Bay. Given how the Giants eliminated the Packers en route to their fourth Lombardi trophy, combined with the Saints traveling to Green Bay for the previous season’s Thursday night “kickoff” game, all signs point to the Packers opening the season in New Jersey on September 6.

But it will be a virtual lock that NBC ends up with at least one regular season Broncos game next season. The Broncos games that may likely be scheduled for primetime starts are home games against New Orleans and San Diego, as well as Pittsburgh, whom the Broncos eliminated in this year’s playoffs, and road contests at San Diego, Baltimore and New England.

You have to wonder if Robert Kraft is calling dibs on CBS’ behalf for the Patriots/Broncos game a second straight year.

But it would only be fair if the NFL scheduled that game on a Sunday night on NBC. Especially given CBS aired the previous two go-rounds, including a Saturday night playoff game.

It would only be fair if the Broncos’ third matchup with the Patriots in just the fifteenth game of the Tim Tebow era, was the marquee matinee for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” franchise for the 2012-13 season.

You would think CBS wouldn’t mind: with commitments to U.S. Open Tennis, FOX traditionally has a doubleheader in Week 1, anyway.

Perhaps the league can pull the wool over everyone’s eyes and schedule the game on ESPN or even their own NFL Network. But such a matchup with tremendous appeal is just too big for cable.

It’ll be interesting to learn where the Denver at New England game ends up in two months (or perhaps sooner; the league has been known to release schedule details for a handful of juicy matchups a few weeks prior to the release of the full schedule).

But make no mistake: NBC will get their share of Tebow Time yet.

Even if it doesn’t “kickoff” the new football season.

Just 212 days left.