OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The NFL's decision to add an extra game to the regular season changes the dynamic for all 32 teams.
The 17-game schedule means more pressure on the players' bodies and will change the outlook for the playoffs.
"I’m sure it’s going to have a lot of unintended consequences ... usually, you say to yourself you have to win 10 games," Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell said. "Ten games is kind of the floor to get into a position to get to the playoffs. I guess this year, you have to say at least – minimum – 11 [games]. And even then, there are years when [teams] won 10 games and didn’t get in, but that was kind of like the number you wanted to get to.
"So, the pace you go at during the season and just how every game matters, I feel like there are going to be a lot of changes when it comes to having that extra game there. Every game is important, always, but hopefully, it gives us the opportunity – if we needed – to be able to win that extra ballgame to get in, if we need to, if it’s a deciding factor."
The Ravens are home for nearly a month and hit the road for five of seven games late in the season with an unbalanced schedule.
Baltimore plays five AFC North games, including two matchups with the Steelers, over the final seven weeks of the season, which will likely decide the division.
The Ravens have the league's second-toughest schedule behind Pittsburgh. Baltimore's opponents had a .563 winning percentage last season, compared to .574 for the Steelers.
Baltimore plays on the road three times in the opening four weeks. The last time the Ravens faced such a tough stretch was a 5-11 season in 2015 — coach John Harbaugh’s only losing season.
The Ravens' 17th game is against the Los Angeles Rams.
"At the end of the day, the biggest thing is just getting to the ‘dance.’ Obviously, we would love to win the division and guarantee our spot there," Campbell said. "But just having 17 games, with the physicality of the way we play, it’s going to be a grind, and we’re going to have to have a lot of mental toughness. But I’m very confident in the guys we’ve got in this building. We’re very deep in a lot of places. I think we’ll be fine.”