The Baltimore Ravens will begin the defense of their Super Bowl Championship on the road, despite the NFL's recent tradition of the reigning champs opening at home on Thursday Night Football. The NFL and the Ravens tried to work out a deal with Major League Baseball and the Baltimore Orioles, who already have a home night game scheduled September 5, but were unable to come to a deal. The Orioles and Ravens share a parking lot, which prevents both teams from having games at the same time.
"The Ravens will open the season on the road on Thursday night, September 5, in our annual NFL Kickoff Game on NBC," a release from the NFL has announced. "We are exploring potential fan activities in Baltimore around the Kickoff Game, including a pre-game concert."
With the Ravens and the NFL announcing the game will still feature the Ravens, but they will be the visitors, it changes who could be in that opening night game this year. The Ravens away opponents this year will be the Cincinnati Bengals, the Cleveland Browns, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Buffalo Bills, the Miami Dolphins, the Chicago Bears, the Detroit Lions, and the Denver Broncos.
The Bengals are ruled out, because they will have the same issue as the Ravens, with the Cincinnati Reds hosting a game that night. The best matchup for Week 1 would likely be the Ravens at the Denver Broncos, a rematch of their playoff match up in January.
But, the NFL might want to save that game for later in the season.
Which brings us to the idea of the Dolphins hosting that game. Miami is the offseason winner right now, and could be a good draw coming off a free spending free agency period and a draft with 11 picks. The game would likely give the Dolphins a true sellout, preventing the team from having to buy thousands of tickets, and the league could use the announcement of the game as a way to bolster positive feelings ahead of the proposed public referendum to fund the Sun Life Stadium renovations.
The Dolphins, who had only one prime time game last year, a Thursday night game against the Bills, could be an intriguing option for the NFL this year. There are plenty of storylines that could be hyped up for the game, including the Dolphins signing of the Ravens heir apparent to Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe.
Ravens at Dolphins on September 5 makes a lot of sense. We'll see if it happens. The NFL will release the full schedule on April 16.