The Baltimore Ravens have yet to sell a ticket and are still without team colors and a logo, but at least they know where they will be spending each Sunday this fall.
The National Football League released its 1996 schedule yesterday, and if Ravens owner Art Modell gets his wish, Baltimore will be battling for an AFC Central Division championship during the regular season's final month.
The timing could not be much better for such a scenario. The Ravens play all four of their divisional rivals over the last five weeks, including home games against Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and the regular-season finale against the Houston Oilers.
"That's one of the things that really sticks out, having four divisional opponents, three at home, over the last five weeks," Modell said. "I like the spacing of the home games overall. I like the schedule."
One of the schedule's most intriguing games pits the Ravens against the Colts in Indianapolis on Oct. 13.
Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda, who coached the Colts in Baltimore from 1975-79, left Indianapolis last year.
"It won't feel any different," Marchibroda said. "We only get one victory if we beat them, not two. So I'm not going to put too much importance on it."
Said Modell: "That will be Ted Marchibroda's homecoming, and I've been elected homecoming queen. I want to hear the decibel level on the [Hoosier Dome] field when he is introduced."
The NFL officially returns to Baltimore after a 12-year absence on Sept. 1. The Ravens play host to the Oakland Raiders at Memorial Stadium in a game with a curious, historical twist. Last year, the Raiders returned to the Bay Area after moving to Los Angeles 13 years earlier.
Baltimore then gets right into its divisional schedule when it travels to face the defending AFC champion Steelers -- longtime rivals of the team formerly known as the Cleveland Browns. Ravens wide receiver Derrick Alexander said the team's address may have changed, but the rivalry has not waned.
"They [Steelers] are still the same team," Alexander said. "Most of our guys are still here and had that rivalry in Cleveland. We're still the same team, just in a different uniform."
AFC Central teams will face four NFC West teams in 1996, and two of the more interesting Baltimore matchups are a home game against St. Louis (Oct. 27) and at San Francisco (Nov. 17). When St. Louis comes to town, Baltimore fans will get a closer look at running back Lawrence Phillips, whom the Ravens passed over in last weekend's NFL draft.
The Indianapolis game will be televised nationally on TNT at 8 p.m., as will the San Francisco game on NBC at 4 p.m. The Ravens, who were 5-11 last year, were not awarded a Monday game. Baltimore's bye weekend is Sept. 22.
Dates for Baltimore's four preseason games have not been set, except for a nationally televised Aug. 10 game against the New York Giants at the Meadowlands. The Ravens open the preseason at home against Philadelphia. Green Bay comes to Baltimore during the third weekend of the month, and Baltimore concludes its preseason a week later in Buffalo.
A team spokesman said the Ravens are in the final stages of setting ticket prices, and that a ticket purchase plan should be announced by mid-May.
Date .. .. .. .. Opponent .. Time
TBA ... . Philadelphia .. ... TBA
8/10 .. at N.Y. Giants .. ... TBA
TBA ... .. . Green Bay .. ... TBA
TBA ... ... at Buffalo .. ... TBA
9/1 ... .. ... Oakland ... 1 p.m.
.. . at Pittsburgh ... 1 p.m.
. .. . at Houston ... 1 p.m.
9/29 . ... New Orleans . . 1 p.m.
10/6 . ... New England . . 1 p.m.
10/13 . at Indianapolis .. 8 p.m.
10/20 . .. .. at Denver .. 4 p.m.
10/27 . .. .. St. Louis .. 1 p.m.
11/3 .. .. . Cincinnati .. 1 p.m.
. at Jacksonville .. 4 p.m.
11/17 . at San Francisco . 4 p.m.
. ... Jacksonville . 1 p.m.
12/1 .. .. .. Pittsburgh . 1 p.m.
.. .. at Cincinnati . 1 p.m.
. .. . at Carolina . 1 p.m.
12/22 . .. .. .. Houston . 1 p.m.
Pub Date: 4/25/96