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Late For Work 4/17: Schedule Hurts Ravens, Helps Steelers

Flacco’s workout shows no rift exists. Rice laments ‘rough’ business side of football.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012 at 9:03 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Schedule Hurts Ravens, Helps Steelers

The 2012 NFL schedule will be announced this evening at 7 p.m.

But do we already know enough about it to try and predict the eventual AFC North winner?

ESPN’s John Clayton thinks so.

“The Professor” believes the Ravens may lose their current division crown to the Steelers in 2012, based on two thoughts:

First, seldom does either team run away with the division title. The past two seasons, both teams have finished with identical records (12-4) and tiebreakers had to determine a winner.

Second, Pittsburgh has a scheduling advantage over Baltimore because the Steelers play a slightly weaker overall schedule, based on opponents’ 2011 records.

The Baltimore Ravens could lose their one-year edge over the Pittsburgh Steelers because of the schedule,” wrote Clayton.

“They go from a .477 schedule in 2011 to a .523, a .046 change that could pull them down by two games from their 12-4 finish. Their .523 schedule is the fourth toughest in the league, tied with the St. Louis Rams.”

If the Ravens do go from a 12-4 to a 10-6 squad, while the Steelers produce another 12-win season, as Clayton suggests, the difference could be in Baltimore’s matchups against two 2011 playoff teams: New England Patriots (13-3 record, lost in Super Bowl to Giants) and Houston Texans (10-6 record, lost to Ravens in divisional round).

The Steelers won’t have to face either, as they instead take on the New York Jets (8-8, missed playoffs) and the Tennessee Titans (9-7, missed playoffs).

Other than playing each other, the rest of the two AFC North power houses’ opponents are identical: Cincinnati (twice), Cleveland (twice), Denver, Oakland, Dallas, N.Y. Giants, Kansas City, San Diego, Philadelphia and Washington.

Flacco’s Participation Shows No Rift Exists

Quarterback Joe Flacco would like to get his contract negotiation done, but that didn’t prevent the Ravens’ offensive leader from showing up on the first day of voluntary offseason workouts yesterday.

It may seem like a small gesture for Flacco to return to Owings Mills and throw a few balls to his receivers, but ESPN’s Jamison Hensley explains why it was a big deal.

“While there have been differing reports on the negotiations with Flacco – some say there has been progress while others indicate talks are at a standstill – it’s a positive sign for the Ravens that Flacco decided to show up when he had no obligation to do so.

“This suggests that the talks, however they’re progressing, haven’t created a rift between the team and its quarterback.”

Flacco indicated as much to our own Ryan Mink, saying he is treating this offseason like any other and that his contract is not an issue.

Contact or no contract, Hensley points out why this offseason won’t be exactly like any other for the Delaware product.

“The Ravens, though, may not want to get used to seeing Flacco around, and it has nothing to do with negotiations,” wrote the AFC North Blogger. “He and his wife are expecting their first child in June, which could cause him to miss practices this spring.”

Rice Laments ‘Rough’ Side Of Business

On the very morning he missed the first day of the Ravens’ offseason conditioning work, running back Ray Rice tweeted about his apparent aversion for the side of the NFL he is currently enduring: contract negotiations.

“To all college athletes getting ready to enter the NFL just remember the business side of the league is rough #fact,” he tweeted.

The Ravens designated the franchise tag on the two-time Pro Bowler in March and he has until July 16 to agree to a long-term deal or sign the one-year tender worth $7.7 million.

“Staying out of offseason camps is his only option to protest the team not committing to him beyond 2012 while the sides try to agree on a long-term deal,” wrote CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg.

“While Ravens coach John Harbaugh has stated he would like Rice to participate in the team’s offseason activities, the team isn’t concerned. Rice stays in excellent shape in the offseason. He reported in top condition after the months-long lockout disrupted the offseason a year ago.”

After seeing Rice’s tweet about the “rough” business side of football, former Ravens Super Bowling-winning receiver Qadry Ismail tweeted words of encouragement.

“I remember having that same conversation w you your rookie year! #Wisdom,” Qadry tweeted.

Responded the optimistic Rice, “Absolutely it will all work out bro.”

Quick Hits

  • “I don’t have any inside information on the schedule, but I’d have to think that the Monday night home drought will change this year with the number of high-profile opponents coming to M&T Bank Stadium and with the Ravens expected to enter the season as one of the favorites in the AFC,” wrote Jeff Zrebiec. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • RavensInsider: Per a source, among teams displaying most interest in Courtney Upshaw: Ravens, Steelers, Patriots, Cowboys, Bengals, Titans and Chargers [Twitter]
  • Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has been subpoenaed as a defense witness during the trial of former Bengals linebacker Nate Webster. Webster took Lewis’ No. 52 at the University of Miami after Lewis left was drafted by the Ravens in 1996. [The Associated Press]
  • RavensCommunity: Join the Baltimore Ravens and @OJBrigance for the 6th Annual Fiesta 5K. Proceeds benefit ALS research. Register [Twitter]
  • TorreySmithWR: The draft is the most unpredictable event ever…it sucks…still a blessing to hear your name get called though [Twitter]
  • The Steelers re-signed backup quarterback Charlie Batch to a one-year contract on Monday. [The Associated Press]

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