The Denver Broncos get to host the Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night. Unfortunately for the Broncos, Von Miller has been suspended the first six games and Champ Bailey was ruled out of the opener on Wednesday September 4 with a sore foot. The loss of these two players is not very good news to the Broncos defense. Still, the Broncos come in as a 7.5 point favorite.
On the flipside, Baltimore is still riding high off of the Super Bowl victory, but they made enough changes to the roster to not become complacent. Part of the reason for all the changeover was to get younger on defensive side of the ball. However, the big reason was Joe Flacco’s huge $120 million contract.
With all of the new money, Flacco is the undisputed team leader, and he’ll have to run the Ravens offense without Anquan Boldin. Offensively, Baltimore might be more explosive down the field. Remember how Jacoby Jones got behind the Denver defense to set up overtime in the divisional round? Expect more of that type of offensive philosophy from the Ravens.
Since the Ravens lost Dennis Pitta for the long haul, Ray Rice should get more touches this season. Rice will look to take advantage of mismatches against Denver’s linebackers. The loss of Von Miller, will provide more room for Ray Rice to slip out of the backfield. It will be especially rough on the Denver defense if they have to bring blitzes to get pressure on Joe Flacco.
Although the Denver defense is missing some key components, the Broncos’ hopes of three straight AFC West titles rely on the arm of Peyton Manning. For the first few weeks, Denver may have to outscore opponents to win ball games.
Denver has three pro bowl caliber receivers with Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and newcomer Wes Welker. The receiving corps has the ability to get deep, run crossing routes, and take short passes for long gains. They also block well as a group.
The Broncos’ defense was one stop away from sealing the deal in the playoffs, but they underestimated the big arm of Joe Flacco. They feel that they let a Super bowl title slip away.
For the past 10 years, the Super Bowl champions began the season at home to have a large celebration of accomplishment and new beginnings. Due to baseball’s scheduling conflict, Baltimore is back at the scene of the crime from last years playoff game.
This will be a tough game for Baltimore for a multitude of reasons. The defense is brand new. It may take them awhile to find their complete roles in the Ravens’ system. Not only is it the first game, but they have to travel to the “Mile High” city and play in the altitude.
Baltimore will be mostly concerned with the passing game of Peyton manning, but Denver should have a promising running game with the addition of Montee Ball.
The Prediction: Denver will want its revenge if only for a short period of time. A win will prove that they are on the right track, but a loss could hinder home field advantage already. Despite winning it all, the new guys should come out with a sense of urgency. However, Denver will not lose two in a row at home.
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