As the Ravens close the book on their disappointing inaugural season against the visiting Houston Oilers on Sunday, they can look ahead to a 1997 season in which an old rivalry will be renewed.
Baltimore vs. Washington.
According to the NFL's scheduling formula for the 1997 season, the last-place team in the AFC Central will face every NFC East team except the division champion. That means the 4-11 Ravens, who have sewn up last place in the Central, will play everyone in the NFC East but the Dallas Cowboys.
In addition to the Redskins, who will play next year at a new stadium near Landover, the Ravens will face the Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants. The location of the Redskins game will be determined by Washington's finish in the division.
"Washington-Baltimore is made to order for anybody who loves competition," Ravens owner Art Modell said. "It would be a strong, contentious rivalry between these two organizations. That could be an attractive relationship."
The Ravens also will fill out their nondivisional schedule with games against the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and two of these three teams -- San Diego, Seattle and Oakland.
The scheduling formula dictates that the Ravens will play the third- and fifth-place teams from the AFC West, but that trio is separated by one game heading into the regular season's final weekend.
Modell compared a Baltimore-Washington rivalry to the one he left behind with the Pittsburgh Steelers when he pulled the Browns out of Cleveland.
The idea of re-establishing competitive ties with a team barely a 30-minute ride away is especially appealing to him.
"We'll play them [the Redskins] once every three years anyway, with the way the scheduling works," Modell said. "I think it's a relationship that should be sustained on a yearly basis, either during the regular season or the preseason."
Ravens' '97 schedule
Because of the NFL's set formula for determining future opponents, the Ravens' 1997 schedule is coming into focus because they are assured of finishing fifth in the AFC Central Division. A look at the opponents (dates and times TBA):
Home games ........... Road games
Pittsburgh ........... Pittsburgh
Cincinnati ........... Cincinnati
Houston .............. Houston
Jacksonville ......... Jacksonville
Miami ................ N.Y. Jets
Philadelphia ......... N.Y. Giants
Oak. or Sea. ......... Oak. or Sea.
or S. Diego -- w ..... or S. Diego -- x
Ariz. or Wash.-- y ... Ariz. or Wash. -- z
w-- AFC West 5th-place team.
x-- AFC West 3rd-place team.
y-- NFC East 4th-place team.
z-- NFC East 3rd-place team.
Pub Date: 12/17/96