Denver came into last season's playoffs with an 11-game win streak and presumably a ticket punched to the Super Bowl. Led by a sharp Peyton Manning, they weren't supposed to lose to the Ravens, much less at home and in double overtime after Joe Flacco hit Jacoby Jones for a huge 70-yard touchdown pass with just over 30 seconds left to play in the game. It's a sting that has stuck with the Broncos and one they hope to avenge tonight.
The biggest new face on this year's Denver squad is wide receiver Wes Welker who will go from catching passes thrown by Tom Brady to Peyton Manning. Welker was relatively quiet during the preseason, but you can bet he wants to prove to Denver fans that his signing was worth every penny and that he can catch for Manning as well as he did for Brady.
When the Ravens take the field tonight, they will do so without the familiar franchise faces of Ray Lewis (retired) and safety Ed Reed (signed with Houston). The absence of Reed especially in the secondary could prove troublesome for Baltimore's defense as they try to slow down Manning's high flying offense. Something will have to give.
Normally the Super Bowl champion gets to start the season at home; however, a scheduling conflict with Major League Baseball has forced the Ravens to open up on the road. As a result, the NFL put up some Joe Flacco banners around Sports Authority Field including a big one right next to Peyton Manning. To say the Denver fans were taken aback by this move would be a gross understatement.
With Denver at home and the Broncos looking for payback, plus the Ravens not having two of their key players anymore, I would be shocked if the Broncos dropped this home opener and expect them to win by at least a touchdown.
Tonight's opening night of the 2013 NFL football season on Thursday Night Football featuring the visiting Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos will officially kick off at 8:30pm EST / 5:30 pm PST in high definition (HD) on NBC. The network is offering a free live online streaming version of the game viewable on mobile phones, tablets / iPads, laptops and other various mobile devices here at NBC Sports Live Extra starting roughly 30 minutes before the game begins.