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Breaking down Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers

Judging by history alone, the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens unlikely will meet again in Super Bowl XLVIII.

We haven't seen a year-to-year rematch since Super Bowl XXVIII (Dallas Cowboys vs. Buffalo Bills). Of course, that doesn't mean one -- or both -- teams won't take up residency at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2, 2014.

So what are the paths facing each team in 2013? Let's break it down:

 

Strength of schedule: 137-119-0, .535 (fifth-hardest)

Prime-time games: 4

2012 playoff teams on schedule: 6

How does it start? Thursday night kickoff game on the road against the Denver Broncos. Think Peyton Manning wants revenge?

Treacherous stretch: The Ravens will have to earn their way back to the playoffs in the season's back half. After a Thanksgiving night showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens face three playoff teams in the final four weeks (vs. Vikings, vs. Patriots, at Bengals). A Week 15 trip to visit the Detroit Lions is no gimme, either.

Weird quirk: The Ravens will be the first defending Super Bowl champion to open on the road since 2003. Rex Ryan thinks that's weak.

Did you know? Ravens coach John Harbaugh and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh are brothers. (kidding)


Strength of schedule: 132-122-2, .520 (eighth-hardest)

Prime-time games: 5

2012 playoff teams on schedule: 6

How does it start? Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are invited to San Francisco, where their season ended in blowout fashion in January. This is one of just two late afternoon games in Week 1.

Treacherous stretch: Right out of the gate. The Niners open with three consecutive playoff teams against the Packers, Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts (combined record of 33-15 in 2012). The Niners then have a road matchup with the St. Louis Rams, a team that gave them fits last season.

Weird quirk: The Niners don't face a team coming off a bye.

Did you know? This is the 49ers' last season at Candlestick Park. This isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Bottom line

The Ravens and Niners have challenging schedules, but it would be pushing it to say the league did either team a disservice. Eight primetime games between the two means America will get a very good look at both defending conference champs.

It's way too early to know how either side will fare in 2013 -- especially the retooled Ravens -- but both teams will be must-see TV in 2013.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.

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