Ravens could open 2013 season with Steelers, Patriots

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

There's no time to bask in a Super Bowl win. It's time to think about the 2013 season opener.

It's been less than 24 hours since the Baltimore Ravens were crowned Super Bowl champions, but it's already time to look ahead to next season.

The Ravens will open at home in 2013 -- we know that -- but what we don't know is who they will play. According to Chris Weeseling of NFL.com, the Ravens have eight potential opponents for opening day in early September:

The Super Bowl champion Ravens are expected to kick off the 2013 season in Baltimore on Thursday, Sept. 5. The potential opponents include the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns.

So who will it be?

Odds are the NFL won't want to schedule the defending Super Bowl champion against a team like the Jets or Browns. Even the Bengals, who had a successful season in 2012 and made the playoffs, could probably be eliminated from contention.

Baltimore will also likely face an AFC team. That eliminates the Packers and Vikings.

That leaves the Texans, Steelers and Patriots. The Texans are an intriguing match-up, as Houston was one of the best teams in the AFC until the last week of the season. The Steelers are also a good bet considering the long-standing rivalry and the penchant for blood to be drawn in Ravens-Steelers games.

But my bet is on the Ravens opening with the Patriots. It's only fitting that the Ravens host the Patriots, who were eliminated by Baltimore in the AFC Championship game just two weeks ago. It would be a game between the last two AFC champions, with the Patriots beating the Ravens in 2011 thanks to a shanked field goal in the final seconds.

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