The NFL Prop Shop opens its doors for another season of alternative wagers, starting with a look at the best prop plays for Thursday’s opener between the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos.
Total gross passing yards: Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (248.5 yards)
Most are expecting a significant dropoff in production from the Ravens offense this season. I'm not so sure.
Even with the departure of Anquan Boldin and the season-ending injury to Dennis Pitta, this is still a team that can thrive in the passing game with Joe Flacco even more comfortable in his second season running Jim Caldwell's offense.
With Elvis Dumervil suiting up in purple and Von Miller suspended, Flacco should have a little extra time to operate Thursday night. I expect him to throw early and often on the uneven Broncos secondary.
Take: Over 248.5 yards (-110)
Total receiving yards: Eric Decker, Denver Broncos (65.5 yards)
Much of the attention is being focused on two Broncos' receivers, Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas. I think it's important that the Ravens don't forget about Eric Decker, who could settle into a very productive role in the Denver offense this season.
Decker developed a nice chemistry with Peyton Manning last season and while he does take a step back in the depth chart, I still feel that the Broncos will find a way to get him the football. The Ravens defensive strength certainly doesn't lie in their secondary and I like the fact that we don't need a monster game from Decker to cash this ticket.
Take: Over 65.5 yards (-110)
Total QB sacks: Both teams (4.0)
While the Broncos gained in some areas in the offseason, they lost big time in terms of their pass rush, with Elvis Dumervil defecting to Baltimore and Von Miller suspended for a good chunk of the season. The Ravens haven't always been able to keep Flacco upright, but I expect their offensive line to hold its own in this matchup.
Meanwhile, the Broncos know all about Elvis Dumervil's exploits and will certainly gameplan accordingly. They can ill afford to have Manning getting rattled this early in the season. A healthy dose of their ground game, along with plenty of quick hitters, should help protect Denver's prize possession.
Take: Under 4.0 (+105)
Total points: Baltimore Ravens (20.5)
The Ravens offense isn't getting nearly enough respect heading into this matchup. While the Broncos possess a formidable defense, it's not an elite unit in my opinion. We saw some hiccups from Flacco in the preseason, but I'm confident he can orchestrate the three touchdown drives that are required to cash this ticket.
We saw Baltimore reach another level in terms of offensive efficiency after ousting Cam Cameron from the offensive coordinator role last year. With a full offeseason to implement and absorb Jim Caldwell's offense, I look for Flacco & Co. to perform well early in 2013, starting on opening night in Denver.
Take: Over 20.5 (-110)
Odds courtesy of the LVH Superbook in Las Vegas.