The 2013 NFL season is here as the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens kick the season off tonight (September 5th) at 8:30 ET. Last year saw the Ravens pull of a shocker after they beat Denver 38-35 in a Divisional Playoffs round. And this was only a prelude to Baltimore’s even more surprising run to the Super Bowl title.
But this is a new year, and the Ravens are a very different team. We recently broke down their chances of repeating as Super Bowl champions, and we think that it’s going to be a long shot. This especially the case when you consider that their team changed so much over the summer. For this reason, GTBets.eu has the betting line on tonight’s game as follows:
Baltimore (-115) Over 48.5 (-110)
Denver -7.5 (-105) Under 48.5 (-110)
With Denver being over a touchdown favorite tonight, they are definitely expected to win. But before you make a bet, you might want to check out our analysis of the matchup.
Preview of Denver for Tonight’s Game
The Broncos are fairly large favorites on our line mainly because they’re playing at home, and this team returns so much talent. In regard to the latter, quarterback Peyton Manning headlines the returners after a season in which he threw for 4,659 yards with 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
His receiving corp is going to be a huge factor tonight as well. Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are coming back after finishing 1-2 on the team in receiving. Wes Welker is a new addition to Denver as he came to them via New England in the offseason. After posting numbers of 1,354 yards and 6 touchdowns, he’s ready to step in and contribute immediately.
The Broncos running game is more of a question mark entering this year. As a team, they averaged 114.5 rushing YPG, which ranked 16th in the league. In an effort to boost their ground attack, Denver drafted Wisconsin standout Montee Ball in the second round, but he’s going to share touches with Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno to open the year. So it’s anybody’s guess as to how things will turn out in this first regular season contest.
This team will have more questions on the other side of the ball after losing DE Elvis Dumervil to a delayed fax in the offseason and LB Von Miller to a six-game suspension. These players combined for 29.5 sacks last year, so their absence will really hurt Denver’s pass rush tonight. Plus cornerback Champ Bailey will miss this game too. However, they still have interior lineman Terrance Knighton and Kevin Vickerson plugging the middle as well as new addition Shaun Phillips rushing the outside.
Preview of Baltimore for Tonight’s Game
Joe Flacco returns under center after inking a massive 6-year, $120 million deal this past offseason. Flacco’s incredible playoff run earned him this money, as he tossed 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the postseason. Now everybody wants to know if he can look just as impressive in the regular season.
He won’t be helped by the fact that receiver Anquan Boldin went to the San Francisco 49ers. But at least Flacco will still have Torrey Smith to throw to, who collected 98 yards and two TD’s in the last meeting between these squads. Running back Ray Rice will be a huge key to this game as well. He picked up 1,143 rushing yards and 478 receiving yards in 2012.
Most of the uncertainty regarding Baltimore stems from their losses on defense. Safeties Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard, linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe, and cornerback Cary Williams all went to other teams through free agency. Plus franchise linebacker Ray Lewis retired after winning his second Super Bowl.
But the Ravens did do their best to reload by picking up Dumervil, Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, Daryl Smith and Michael Huff during the offseason. This group will have to gel fast if they want to stop Manning and the Broncos vaunted passing game tonight.