The Baltimore Ravens begin their title defense on Thursday, but unlike most reigning Super Bowl champions, Baltimore will not be at home. Instead, the Ravens will be in Denver taking on the Broncos in a rematch of last year's divisional round playoff game.
While the Ravens won that game in Denver, the majority of NFL analysts are not expecting a repeat performance. Six of the eight CBS Sports analysts predicted the Broncos to win. NFL writer John Breech is among the CBS Sports contingent picking Denver, although he expects it to be a close game, predicting a 20-17 Broncos victory. Senior NFL columnist Pete Prisco also picked Denver, with a projected final score of 28-23. Here is what Prisco wrote about the matchup.
The Broncos have to love the idea of facing the team that knocked them out of the playoffs at home in the opener. Both of these teams are a lot different than last January when they met. I still expect another fun game, maybe not as good as that one. The Ravens are Joe Flacco's team now, and this is his first chance to show it. With the Broncos banged up on defense, he will have a good game, but not good enough to beat Peyton Manning, who will be better.
The early picks at ESPN were mixed with Mike Golic and Seth Wickersham picking Denver while Ron Jaworski and Tom Jackson picked Baltimore. Denver is still the favorite among oddsmakers; the Broncos opened as 7.5-point favorites, according to OddsShark.