Tuesday, August 28, 2007


When your team finishes a season in first place and with a 13-3 regular season record, you can expect that the following season the schedule will be brutal – that’s the nature of the divisional winner beast.

Take a glance at the Ravens 2007 schedule and the landing place for your eyes will almost certainly be the dates between November 25 and December 9. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere, you already know that those dates include slugfests with the Chargers, Patriots and Colts – a trilogy that the Ravens’ players have already dubbed murderers row.

Schedules certainly have a way of taking on a new look as a season unfolds. At times a very difficult schedule on paper may not be as tough as some teams fail to perform up to expectations. Conversely a schedule that may have inspired a smile or two prior to the season can bring sobering frowns as some teams exceed expectations.

Over the past few years on average, three teams from each conference that were playoff participants the previous year fall from the post season landscape in the subsequent year. So if you are keeping score, this adds up to six teams that will fall short of expectations and six that will exceed. That’s over 1/3 of the league.

Teams in the league will tell you that to make the playoffs the first order of business is to win your division. With that in mind, here is the strength of schedule as it stands today for each of the AFC North combatants:

Steelers (.512); Bengals (.512); Ravens (.508); Browns (.508)

Now to take this a step further, let’s look at the strength of schedule as it relates to road games, something that prior to 2006 the Ravens struggled with:

Steelers (69-59, .539); Bengals (63-65, .492); Ravens (63-65, .492); Browns (66-62, .516)

So if the Ravens can win 2 of 3 during that stretch heading into the Christmas shopping season (2 of which are at home), then relatively speaking you would have to conclude that the Ravens schedule isn’t all that unfavorable. They do however rack up more frequent flyer miles than their AFC North rivals.

The Ravens will log in 19,732 miles through the friendly skies while the Browns trip for 15,064, the Bengals 14,770 and the Steelers at 11,348. For the record the most battle tested road warriors in ’07 will be the Rams (34,352), Seahawks (33,586), Dolphins (29,724) and the Chargers at (28,398). Those staying the closest to home are the Jets (9,186), Bills (9,972), Eagles (10,119) and Packers (10,738).

You are now free to move about the country…

Flight miles courtesy of buffalobills.com.