Originally written on Chicks in the Huddle  |  Last updated 11/18/14
It’s been a long, desperate offseason of forcing myself to watch home makeover shows, Law and Order:SVU marathons and replays of Super Bowl XLIV…just to get through the day. But now, finally…FINALLY…NFL football is back. And none of that preseason crap. It’s the real deal, baby! The Super Bowl Champion Ravens take the field tonight against the still very bitter Denver Broncos. It’s a can’t miss match up for all the right reasons. Will Flacco Flake Out? After winning the big one, Ravens QB Joe Flacco finally got the paycheck he always thought he deserved. But will he be able to live up to the high expectations set for him? Some have suggested Flacco’s epic playoff run was more of a fluke than proof that he’s an elite quarterback. So once again, he’ll have to go up against one of the greats to prove himself. Are the Ravens Still the Ravens without Ray Lewis? Joe Flacco is the official face of the team but will he be able to fill the gaping hole left behind when the Ravens lost its heart and soul…Ray Lewis? Ray’s on the field production may not have been as prolific in his latter years, but there is no denying that he brought an energy and swag to the Ravens that kept them in the hunt year after year. With Ray gone and Ed Reed, the Ravens defense will have to rely on other veteran voices to lead them to glory. But none of them do The Squirrel…so do they even count? Peyton’s Revenge I wouldn’t be surprised if Peyton Manning spent the entire offseason in the fetal position clutching a bottle of Jack Daniels given how last season ended. His team was number one in the AFC and, if not for a miracle last minute play, were about to advance to the AFC Championship. It happened in Peyton’s comeback year…in HIS house. He’s stronger this time around and healthier. And you better believe that in between the tears, he found time to watch an unending loop of game tape to make sure what happened at Mile High never happens again. Not that it was on him, but Manning is a born leader and he is willing to do whatever it takes to coach up players on both sides of the ball. He knows the road to the Super Bowl this year starts with vengeance in Baltimore. Nola Chick’s Prediction: Broncos 28 Ravens 20

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