Everyone get ready, because there are going to be burly men with tight pants hitting each other on live TV tonight. And it’s actually going to count for something. The Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens travel to Denver to take on the Broncos in the first game of the 2013 season. Normally these Thursday nighters will be a part of The Opening Drive, but this game is special. (‘Cause it’s the first one, ya dig?) I’m done not talking football. Let’s just get into this shiz.
Since the MLB is occupying the Ravens’ stadium this week, this game (which would normally be held in the Champs’ city) is at Mile High Stadium. These two teams met in the 2012 postseason, where the Ravens miraculously ousted the number one seeded Broncos and sent Peyton Manning packing.
Manning is going to be managing an even faster offense this season, so tonight will be its full unveiling to the football world. New slot receiver Wes Welker should have openings over the middle, with the Ravens’ top corner Lardarius Webb preoccupied with big-play threat Demaryius Thomas. And let us not forget Eric Decker, who has the size advantage over corners Jimmy Smith or Corey Graham. I’m still not convinced the Broncos can run the ball effectively with Ronnie Hillman as their starter, but Manning will try and keep the Ravens honest. I wouldn’t be surprised if Manning decides to spread out the Ravens in three or four receiver sets and tries running out of those formations instead.
Baltimore’s offense will have an easier night since Von Miller decided to be a drug-monkey and won’t be on the field. That means more time in the pocket for Joe Flacco to sling it down the field past this rebuilt Bronco secondary. Shaun Philips can’t afford to have a slow night coming off the edge for Denver. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie figures to match-up with the speedy Torrey Smith, as Champ Bailey’s legs would probably give out if he was on that duty. Rahim Moore, victim of last year’s Flacco bomb, can’t lose track of Smith or take any bad angles. If Flacco gets up on the scoreboard early, then John Harbaugh’s squad can ride Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce to victory, pounding the Denver defense.
I don’t really “do” regular season predictions game-by-game, but since this meeting is in Denver, I’d favor the Broncos and that offense.
And I’m out! There’s lots more predictions coming your way in the next few days, before I launch the first 2013 Editions of The Opening Drive and the Chicago Bears’ Gameday Preview! So stay tuned for more FOOTBALL.