(Second installment of a month by month examination of the Ravens' 2012 schedule.)
Oct. 7Ravens at Kansas City ChiefsArrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, 1 pm
Skinny: The Ravens make just their second-ever regular-season trip into a stadium known for sellouts and noise. (They won on their first trip in 2006 and also won a playoff game at Arrowhead in 2010.)
Opponent: After winning their division in 2010, the Chiefs went into such a nosedive last season that head coach Todd Haley was fired, replaced by Romeo Crennel, formerly of the Cleveland Browns. The Chiefs will play solid defense under Crennel; the question is whether they can get their offense going. Running back Jamaal Charles is coming off an ACL tear and quarterback Matt Cassel was recently booed at a celebrity softball game.
Oct. 14Dallas Cowboys at RavensM&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, 1 pm
Skinny: Americas Team descends on Charm City for just the third time, guaranteeing close scrutiny by ESPN and the NFL Network, which monitor every breath taken by Tony Romo, Jerry Jones, et al.
Opponent: The voluble Jerry Jones recently said the Cowboys window for winning a Super Bowl might be closing, which is interesting as they havent even played in a conference title game since 1995. Romo is a highly productive signal-caller prone to crucial mistakes. DeMarcus Ware is one of the games most dominant rush ends. With a few wins early in the season, the Cowboys would send expectations soaring among their sprawling hordes of fans around the country. But they never seem to live up to those expectations.
Oct. 21Ravens at Houston TexansReliant Stadium, Houston, 1 pm
Skinny: Fans in Houston will be itching for revenge after watching their team lose three games to the Ravens in the past two seasons, including a close playoff loss last January.
Opponent: More than a few observers believe the young, hungry Texans just might be the best team in the AFC, even after losing All-Pro defensive end Mario Williams in free agency. The Ravens know all about their offensive line that blows open holes for running back Arian Foster, and their aggressive defensive front that collapses on quarterbacks. They almost beat the Ravens in the playoffs with a third-team rookie quarterback playing for the injured Matt Schaub, who is back.
Skinny: The Ravens get their week off at a nice time, seven games into the season, with nine to go.