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NFL Schedule Release: What we already know about 2017 Ravens slate

NFL Schedule Release: What we already know about 2017 Ravens slate

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

With the NFL schedule being released on Thursday night, the Baltimore Ravens already know which teams they will be up against to make postseason after missing out in back-to-back years. 

First the team will play six games against their division, both a home and an away matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Cleveland Browns. Throughout the past several seasons, the league has back-loaded the schedule with divisional matchups in order to keep most teams' playoff hopes alive. Typically three of those six games will be post-Thanksgiving, with one also within the season's first three weeks. As always (except last year), one of the Ravens-Steelers matchups will sure to be on primetime.

In this year's cycle, the Ravens will face off against the AFC South and the NFC North, which means three more playoff teams from last year, the Lions, Packers, and Texans. Tough road games will include at Green Bay and an 'away game' against the Jaguars played in London (typically scheduled in the middle weeks of the season).

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As the second place finishers in the AFC North, the squad will host the Dolphins and travel to Oakland for the 16 game schedule. Both those units took home the AFC Wild Card slots in 2017. 

The timing of the Green Bay and Oakland road games will be critical in the season. Field conditions inside Oakland Alameda Coliseum have never been the best when the Oakland Athletics games are still going on in September and potentially October. Meanwhile a trip to Lambeau in late November or December will surely be a dreaded matchup where temperatures hover around zero degrees.

Last year the team finished with a tough stretch against the Cowboys, Bengals, Dolphins, Patriots, Eagles, Steelers, and Bengals again. Make that three playoff teams and three divisional rivals in the final seven games. Odds would favor the Ravens getting a better balance this go around.

On Thanksgiving do not expect the Ravens to back in the limelight. With the team playing the Detroit Lions at home and the Redskins reportedly taking the primetime slot, there would be no room for Baltimore. In addition, they played against Pittsburgh on Christmas this past season. A shame for the team which is 2-0 on turkey day in their franchise's history.

There is also an indication for an uptick in primetime games for the Ravens with the team only having two last year, their lowest since 2006. Three total games were broadcast on national television. 

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Amid Eric Decker rumors, Ravens front office now shifts attention to offensive line

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USA TODAY Sports

Amid Eric Decker rumors, Ravens front office now shifts attention to offensive line

Following the signing of veteran receiver Jeremy Maclin, the Ravens were rumored to be a potential suitor for Eric Decker after his release from the New York Jets. 

Although receiver is a position that must improve, Baltimore owner Steve Bisciotti recently made it clear that the team needs to address the offensive line now. 

The Ravens offensive line faces major changes after right tackle Ricky Wagner signed with the Detroit Lions this offseason, center Jeremy Zuttah was traded to the 49ers, and guard Marshal Yanda is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. 

In the 2016 draft, the Ravens took Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley with the 6th overall pick. Stanley had an impressive rookie campaign, earning AFC North Rookie of the Year in a season where he only allowed three sacks while blocking for Flacco. 

The team added some young talent in this year's draft as well, taking guard Nico Siragusa (No. 122) and Jermaine Eluemunor (No. 159) both in the fourth round. 

However, it is unsure if either rookie is ready to be thrown into the starting offensive line right away.

The Ravens front office may have just made a big splash when signing Jeremy Maclin, but they aren't quite done fixing an offense that has suffered many departures over the years. 

RELATED: JEREMY MACLIN GETS FREE CRAB CAKES FOR LIFE

 

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In addition to signing a two-year deal with the Ravens, WR Jeremy Maclin is getting free crab cakes for life

In addition to signing a two-year deal with the Ravens, WR Jeremy Maclin is getting free crab cakes for life

Like they said in Wedding Crashers: "Crab cakes and football, that's what Maryland does!"

When word got out last week that veteran WR Jeremy Maclin was meeting with the Ravens to possibly pen a deal, one Maryland restaurant took matters into their own hands. 

Jimmy's Seafood, a well known seafood restaurant in Dundalk, Maryland, tweeted at Maclin and presented him with a delicious incentive. 

On Monday, Maclin signed a two-year deal with the Ravens. Maclin was also in talks with the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles, but I guess he prefers crab cakes over buffalo wings and cheese steaks. 

Soon after the deal became official, Maclin responded to Jimmy's Seafood's tweet.

The restaurant has strong relationships with many current and former Ravens such as Tony Jefferson, Torrey Smith and Jonathan Ogden.

CEO of the restaurant, John Minadakis, isn't too worried about supplying the wide receiver with as many crab cakes as he would like.

"How many crab cakes can one person eat?" Minadakis said. "It's not going to take us out of business. That's for sure."

The restaurant is even willing to offer up the same deal to other potential Ravens prospects like Eric Decker, who was released from the Jets on Monday.

Whether or not their offer had that much of an effect on Maclin's decision, the man will be eating good for a very long time. 

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