Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco both signed massive contract extensions this offseason. The combined worth? More than $223 million.
The Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens are two teams that are set at the quarterback position for the foreseeable future. But what about the rest of the team? Can the Ravens make a serious run at a second consecutive Super Bowl title? Do the Falcons have enough depth to survive the grind of the NFL season?
A Week 2 preseason game won't provide many answers, but Thursday night's game offers a look at two of the NFL's premier franchises going head to head. In August, that's something for which pro football fans can be thankful.
Meet the Falcons
The Falcons' offense will continue to live and die by the passing game. Ryan has one of the best wide receiver tandems in the league with Roddy White and Julio Jones catching passes. Oh, and the ageless Tony Gonzalez. But Atlanta's offense has added a new dimension. Steven Jackson will now be in the backfield, giving the Falcons a viable running game again. How much does he have left in the tank? We'll find out.
Desmond Trufant, Osi Umenyiora and Robert Alford are among the keys to a Falcons defense that has some question marker. Umenyiora struggled last season and will be tasked with replacing John Abraham. Trufant and Alford will battle it out to start at cornerback. The Falcons badly need one of them to step up.
Meet the Ravens
The 2013 Ravens will look quite a bit different than the team that won the Super Bowl in February. Flacco got a massive contract extension, but Anquan Boldin is gone and Dennis Pitta has been lost for the year. Baltimore will be relying on young receivers to make plays and hoping Torrey Smith can make the next step in his development.
On Defense, the Ravens' changes may be for the better. Gone are Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe, but rookie Arthur Brown and free-agent signee Daryl Smith should be able to pick up the slack. Ed Reed also left Baltimore, but the Ravens drafted his replacement, Matt Elam, in the first round back in April.
Local Takes: Falcons
After Atlanta's first preseason game against the Bengals, the Falcoholic analyzed the team's running game:
The first team run game was a bit of a mixed bag. Jackson mainly looked good bouncing outside -- something that wasn't much of an option for Michael Turner -- and he looked less good going up the middle right into Cincinnati's stout defense. Run blocking wasn't particularly impressive in those situations.
Local Takes: Ravens
There are a lot of reasons why the signing might not work out for the Ravens. He's 37 and nearing the end of his career. There is a good chance that his revitalized play last year was the result of one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history throwing him the ball. And he might take away game reps for younger receivers, hurting their long-term development.
But really, this is a low risk, high reward signing for the Ravens. Stokley has had huge success in the NFL as a slot receiver, which is currently one of the biggest areas of need of the Ravens since Boldin was traded to the 49ers. At worst, he's a steady-handed veteran who can step in if none of the current crop of young Ravens receivers separate themselves from the group in training camp. At best, he can go a long way to filling in the production gap that was left by Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta.
Follow the Fun
Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, the Falcoholic and Baltimore Beatdown, for more analysis and highlights from the game.
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The point spread opened with the Ravens as three-point favorites, according to Odds Shark.