Thursday Night Football Preview: Ravens vs. Broncos-9.5
The wait is finally over. After sifting through articles, projection, and all the rest of the off-season hype, the time has come for the cleats to hit the field because the NFL is back!
What a great way to kick off the 2013 season with a matchup of titanic proportions. The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens head into Sports Authority Field at Mile High to take challenge what many believe to be 2014 Super Bowl contenders in the Denver Broncos. While both teams kick off the season with high hopes, there have been several setbacks such as injuries and suspensions may take a toll for each club. That being said, there will definitely be some adrenaline pumping fantasy action going on. Here is what I see playing out.
The defending champs actually come into this game as the road dog. Major losses on both sides of the ball could affect the game plan. Look for the Baltimore offense to start off pounding the rock. Ray Rice should once again be the focal point of the offense, and coupled with second year standout Bernard Pierce, Baltimore could control this game. If the Ravens can get the running game going, and keep Peyton Manning off of the field, they have a great chance to win. With a true lack of receiving threats, look for Torrey Smith to be double teamed throughout the game, leaving Joe Flacco to throw short dump off passes. While far from the poster child for consistency, Jacoby Jones might be a nice desperation play, as Flacco has a rep with him as well as the ability to catch the Broncos sleeping with the long ball like they did during last years playoff matchup. Again the key to this game will be the Ravens controlling the tempo and keeping Manning off of the field, otherwise they could be in for a long night of catch up.
Peyton Manning returns for his second year of leading the Broncos. With his “return” year out of the way and the rust gone, look for vintage Peyton Manning in 2014. This offense has the potential to run circles around the rest of the league with its high tempo, no huddle offense. Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker look to once again be fantasy studs. While possibly losing a few targets, Eric Decker will still be a fantasy asset as well and could be a nice WR3 or FLEX play this week. Ronnie Hillman looks to be the started for now, but I look for this to turn into a committee situation between Hillman, Montee Ball and the veteran Knowshon Moreno. Also keep in mind John Fox’s history of using committees as well as veteran backs. Offseason sleeper Julius Thomas will be the starting tight end for the Broncos, and it will be interesting to see how many targets he gets. Could be a nice sleeper red zone target.
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MY Prediction: Baltimore has a huge test in front of them right off the bat. Given how the Broncos offense can be very high tempo, I think it will be hard for the Ravens to contain them. While I don’t think we will see a blowout, in the end I just don’t see the Ravens being able to keep up with Denver. Look for Denver to kick start the 2013 season with a bang!