The NFL released its preseason schedule on Wednesday, and while preseason games are usually met with a collective yawn by fans, at least the Ravens 2014 preseason schedule has its advantages.
Most notably, the Ravens are home in Week 3 of the preseason, which is traditionally the game in which starters see the most action. The Ravens host the Redskins in that game, so if new Redskins coach Jay Gruden follows standard preseason protocol, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will probably play at least the entire first half at M&T Bank Stadium that night (date TBA). So that's a bonus for Ravens fans.
By the same token, the Ravens are away, at New Orleans, in the final week of the preseason, when virtually none of the starters play. Many starters didn't even make the trip to St. Louis for the preseason finale last season, and the idea that the league folds that final preseason game into ticket package pricing is a joke. So Ravens fans should be thankful that they don't have to endure (and pay for) a Week 4 preseason game at home.
The Ravens open the preseason on Aug. 7 against the 49ers at M&T Bank Stadium. Some will tout this as a Super Bowl rematch, which is a huge stretch considering the teams that take the field that night will bear little resemblance to the teams that squared off in New Orleans. And even those that did play in the Super Bowl will see only limited action. Still, it's Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh, and Anquan Boldin will be making his return to M&T Bank Stadium. Plus it's the preseason opener, when fans (and players) will be itching for some real football as training camp winds down.
Being home for Weeks 1 and 3 in the preseason is probably the ideal arrangement, and the 49ers and Redskins are quality, intriguing opponents for those games. Hey, it's only preseason, but it's not a bad way to kick off the season.