The Baltimore Ravens are California bound — at least, they hope so.
The team is reportedly asking the NFL to schedule their away games at Oakland and San Francisco in consecutive weeks this upcoming season, sparing the team the rigor of two cross-country trips and allowing them to stay put in the Bay Area.
The Baltimore Ravens already have a travel-filled season. They play both the AFC West and NFC West this year, meaning they will also travel to Denver and Arizona in addition to the California visits. So being able to stay put between two of those games could save the team a lot of hassle.
Ravens president Dick Cass said there will be some logistics to sort out if the league grants the request — including finding a hotel where the team can stay for a full week and a practice venue — but is hopeful that it will work out.
“It presents challenges but I think it would be very beneficial if that could happen,” Cass said.
If the NFL does grant the request, Baltimore’s plan would not be out of the norm. Many other coaches have decided to keep their teams on the road if they will be playing two straight cross-country games. Jim Harbaugh was known for keeping the San Francisco 49ers on the East Coast when they had consecutive games there.
There could be an advantage in the long stay. As the team’s website noted, Ravens fans have a tendency to fill out opposing stadiums.
“If the Ravens do get the back-to-back games, it could make for a strong Baltimore contingent in the Bay Area, as Ravens fans have proven they travel well, especially to warm-weather cities. Ravens fans could take in two games and a week’s vacation in California.”
The road trip could end up being critical to the Ravens’ playoff hopes. Baltimore reached the playoffs in the final week last year, need a come-from-behind win over the Cleveland Browns.
The AFC North looks to be tight again, with Cincinnati Bengals a team on the rise and Steelers always close to contention. Saving a West Coast road trip could give the Ravens an important advantage that might meant the difference between going to the playoffs and staying home.
The Baltimore Ravens will find out soon if the NFL grants the road trip request. Schedules are set to come out next month.
[Image via LevisStadium.com]