Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 9/2/13
There's already been a lot of scrutiny around this rematch of the divisional playoff game from a year ago.  For starters, this game should be taking place in Baltimore, but the Orioles baseball team refused to move their game. This means the Ravens have to travel to Denver to play their "home opener" in front of an angry Broncos faithful that have been very vocal about their dislike for the huge Joe Flacco banner hanging from their stadium. Even the mellow, always-says-the-right-thing Peyton Manning came out and said the giant poster of their opponent was "weird" and he's never seen anything like it before. The NFL claims that they are trying to build excitement for the opening game.  Well, they definitely got the competitive juices flowing early so look for the stadium to be rocking on Thursday night. As for the actual contest, the defending Super Bowl champions are going to look much different than they did when they were hoisting the Lombardi trophy over their heads in February. Offensively, Joe Flacco signed a mega contract, but he lost his favorite receiver in Anquan Boldin, as well as tight end Dennis Pitta.  This will put more attention on the up-and-coming superstar Torrey Smith.  He will blow the top off of many defenses because of his speed, but with no other legitimate pass catchers on the field, he'll probably be doubled more often than not. Defensively, the Ravens lost Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, the heart and soul of that entire team, so look for that to leave a gaping hole not only in the defense, but in the leadership roles of this team.  Flacco is making the money that would suggest he's the leader of this team, but don't expect him to come out and give the heart thumping, over the top speeches that the players are accustomed to in Baltimore. The Broncos added some new weapons on offense for Peyton Manning to play with.  Wes Welker will be a nice addition to the short passing game that Manning loves, and should give Demaryius Thomas more one on one looks down field.  Von Miller's suspension will definitely hurt the defense, especially with Elvis Dumervil gone.  The Broncos are still Vegas' pick to win the Super Bowl at 5-1 odds.  In a weak AFC, they should have minimal trouble getting there.  I just hope for Peyton's sake he can step up in the playoffs and earn another ring before he's forced to hang up the cleats.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Todd Gurley says Rams believe they can win Super Bowl

Seven players who stood out in Rams' thrilling win over 49ers

Rams WRs Sammy Watkins, Tavon Austin evaluated for concussions

Alec Ogletree throws 49ers player to the ground

WATCH: Pierre Garcon tips his toes for beautiful highlight reel catch

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Aaron Donald called for horrible roughing the passer penalty

Brilliant pass-and-catch from Goff, Watkins highlight TNF

Gordon Hayward: Isaiah Thomas had big role in recruiting me to Boston

Arkansas RB Whaley will play despite reported fight with teammate

Pockets of empty seats for Rams-49ers on Thursday

Clippers hire Bruce Bowen as TV analyst

WNBA Finals preview: Lynx look for revenge against Sparks

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

NFL Week 3 predictions

The 'MLB is as powerful as ever' quiz

After a decade in the WNBA, MVP Sylvia Fowles is ready for the spotlight

College football 2017 Week 4 predictions

10 teams that can unseat the Warriors in 2018

NFL Referee Hotline: Mike McCarthy is sick of these calls

The 'Kevin Durant has mad (Twitter) handles' quiz

Baseball's most underwhelming teams of 2017

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

WNBA Finals preview: Lynx look for revenge against Sparks

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

NFL Week 3 predictions

After a decade in the WNBA, MVP Sylvia Fowles is ready for the spotlight

The 'MLB is as powerful as ever' quiz

10 teams that can unseat the Warriors in 2018

College football 2017 Week 4 predictions

NFL Referee Hotline: Mike McCarthy is sick of these calls

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker