The 2013 NFL season is set to begin on Thursday night when the Denver Broncos host the Baltimore Ravens. The defending Super Bowl champs will start the season on the road in a rematch of last year’s AFC Divisional Championship Game. The game is set to begin at 8:30 p.m. ET.
The Broncos begin the 2013 NFL regular season with the highest of expectations. They are the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl a year after leading the league in wins. On Thursday night, though, the Broncos do have some questions at key positions.
On defense, the defending AFC West champs will be missing a few players that made them a top unit in 2012. Elvis Dumervil will suit up for the opponent after leaving in free agency. Veteran cornerback Champ Bailey will be forced to sit with a left foot injury, and Von Miller won’t play for the first six games because of a suspension.
On the other side of the ball, Peyton Manning will have a few new weapons to work with. The addition of Wes Welker in the offseason gives the team three wide receivers that registered over 1,000 yards last season. Denver drafted Montee Ball in hopes that he would be their top running back, but head coach John Fox has yet to name a clear-cut No.1 option
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Baltimore may be coming off a Super Bowl victory, but they aren’t seen as a top team in the league by many experts. After losing several star players in the offseason, the Ravens aren’t even favored to win their division.
The Ravens defense, which is usually regarded as one of the best in the league, looks a lot different than it has in recent years. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are gone, both of whom were staples in Baltimore for over a decade. However, the Ravens could have an even better defense than last year. The unit has been revamped and gained players like Dumervil, Marcus Spears and Chris Canty. Rookies Arthur Brown and Matt Elam can provide the youth and speed on defense that was needed.
Offensively, Joe Flacco has lost two of his top three targets. Anquan Boldin was sent to the San Francisco 49ers in a trade, and Dennis Pitta could miss the whole year with a hip injury. Flacco struggled in the preseason without his best playmakers. However, Ray Rice and Torrey Smith might be able to find success against a banged up Denver defense.
Denver -7.5, 48.5
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