In order to get the best in-depth look at the season opener, we’ve enlisted the help of each team’s expert bloggers. Justin Silberman from Ravens blog “The Purple Chaos” and Kim Constantinesco from Broncos blog “Predominantly Orange” put on the helmets and butt heads over which team will not only win but cover on Thursday Night Football.
WHY BALTIMORE WILL COVER
Justin Silberman writes for “The Purple Chaos”. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @ThePurpleChaos.
No ordinary Joe
Joe Flacco silenced his critics during last season’s AFC Divisional Playoff round matchup against the Broncos. This time around, he won’t have to worry about the talented pass-rushing tandem of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil wreaking havoc in the backfield, which should mean a more comfortable pocket for Flacco. Instead, the Ravens offensive line will be tasked with blocking Shaun Phillips and Robert Ayers, a matchup that favors the defending Super Bowl champions.
Speaking of Dumervil, he will be on the Ravens’ sideline after signing with the team in March. With Dumervil playing on the opposite side of a healthy Terrell Suggs - who had 10 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble vs. Denver in Janaury - coupled with Denver’s makeshift offensive line, quarterback Peyton Manning will be hard-pressed to establish any offensive consistency.
The Ravens are 5-0 under head coach John Harbaugh in season openers, but they will be playing in Thursday night’s annual kickoff game for the first time during the Harbaugh era. In Thursday night contests under Harbaugh, the Ravens are 2-1. To beat one of the best teams in the AFC, the Ravens have to win the mind game of playing on a short week, something Harbaugh’s track record has proven his teams have been able to do.
WHY DENVER WILL COVER
Kim Constantinesco is the senior editor for PredominantlyOrange.com. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @PredomOrange.
Mile High Air
The Mile High advantage plays a bigger role at the beginning of the season when conditioning for certain players is still an issue. At 5,280 feet above sea level, Peyton Manning is running his offense much faster than last year. A couple of no-hudde series that moves the ball down the field will gas the Ravens defense and the effects will really be felt in the fourth quarter. The three giant receiving threats in Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Wes Welker gives the Ravens too much to look after, particularly when they're tired
Heartbreak still hurts
People get over breakups in less than eight months, but the Broncos have not gotten over the crushing playoff defeat in January. How it happened and the fact that the Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl gives the Broncos enough fuel to light up that giant Joe Flacco banner hanging on Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Anger and revenge are enough to potentially turn this one into a blowout.
The thrill is gone
The Ravens lost keys guys in Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, and Anquan Boldin in the offseason. While the front office worked hard to find solid replacements, the Ravens just don't have the chemistry yet, particularly on defense. Meanwhile, the Broncos kept their main guys in place (other than Elvis Dumervil) and have a full year of experience under their belt.
Join the debate and tell us who you think will cover Thursday night: Baltimore or Denver?