The complete NFL schedule for the 2013 season will be announced Thursday evening at 8 p.m. But we already know who will play in the first game on the Thursday before the full schedule begins the following Sunday.
The World Champion Baltimore Ravens will travel to Denver to play the Broncos.
This intriguing matchup will witness changes on both teams, notably the Ravens’ defense, it’s gone.
The last time Baltimore was in Denver was for last season’s playoffs. After Peyton Manning threw an interception in the second overtime period, Justin Tucker trotted onto the frozen field and placed a field goal through the uprights, giving the Ravens a 38-35 win.
The results of this game are unlikely to produce the excitement of last January’s playoff marathon. And neither team has the exact same personnel as last season.
Manning already had two talented wide receivers in Eric Decker, and Demaryius Thomas, they acquired prolific slot receiver Wes Welker from the New England Patriots. This receiving corps will cause havoc with every NFL secondary this season.
The Ravens decided to give their quarterback, Joe Flacco, a paycheck equal to the elite in the game. To stay under the salary cap, after Ray Lewis’ retirement, they lost the core of their defense, including all-pro Ed Reed, and linebackers Dannell Ellerbe, and Paul Kruger, their best and only legitimate pass rusher. They are also without Flacco’s favorite target, Anquan Boldin, who joined the Ravens’ Super Bowl opponent, the San Francisco 49ers. They did pick up defensive end Elvis Dumervil from Denver, who I’m sure will have an additional reason to get to Manning.
If for no other reason, it will be interesting to see how a decimated Ravens’ team fares against a powerful Bronco’s offense. The Ravens ended the regular season ranked 22nd in defense overall. They carried the emotional boost from the announcement by Ray Lewis that he would retire at the end of the season into the Super Bowl, nearly losing to a 49er team rallying behind quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Denver’s defensive leader will now have to be linebacker Von Miller. Wesley Woodyard will help at linebacker, and Derek Wolfe needs to add numbers to his 6 sacks last season as their best defensive lineman. Champ Bailey will be the principal player in the defensive backfield, both emotionally and through his leadership.
As do most NFL fanatics, I say “let the games begin”.
Columnist-The Guardian Express