Baltimore Ravens (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Denver Broncos (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday, September 13, 2015, 4:25 pm EST
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo.
TV: CBS, DirecTV 714
by Badger, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BAL. +5/DEN. -5
Over/Under Total: 49.5
A battle of perennial AFC powerhouses will highlight the Sunday afternoon card of the National Football Leagues opening weekend of 2015, when Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens visit Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the altitude at Mile High.
Despite the problems created by the Ray Rice situation the Ravens still had a solid 2014. With the continuity of John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome still at the top and a franchise QB in Flacco at the helm, the Ravens should be right back into the thick of things in the strong AFC North this season.
The same cannot be said of the Broncos however. After a disappointing early departure in the AFC playoffs last season the Broncos sent head coach John Fox packing to the Chicago Bears and hired former Texans coach Gary Kubiak to run the sideline. Considering left tackle Ryan Clady is already out for the season and the aging Manning broke down at the end of last season, the Broncos cant afford to have another lost season with the window of opportunity closing in on them like Indiana Jones.
Even though the Broncos certainly had the more turbulent offseason, it means little in the eyes of the oddsmakers in Las Vegas. Denver opened the gamer as 4-point favorites weeks ago and have since then moved up to minus -5 or even -5.5 at a few offshore sportsbooks. The over under opened at 52 and has dropped to 49.5 or 49 at most books.
Offensively the biggest change will be the fact that former Bears coach Marc Trestman is the Ravens new coordinator. Baltimore will have pretty much the same cast as last season, with the only exception being the loss of WR Torrey Smith. They will catch a slight break because the Denver defense will be without safety T.J. Ward, who was suspended for an offseason strip club incident back in 2014. Baltimore will need to win the battle at the edges because the LT Eugene Monroe -vs.- DE DeMarcus Ware and RT Rick Wagner vs.- DE Von Miller matchups will be crucial to their success.
Besides the aforementioned loss of Clady, the Broncos will swap TE Julius Thomas (to Jacksonville) for Owen Daniels (from Houston) on offense on the perimeter. Rookie Ty Sambrailo from Colorado State will get the first chance at left tackle to protect Mannings blindside, but you know the Broncos will likely be forced to slide extra bumps and protections Sambrailos way as he goes up against Terrell Suggs on certain passing downs.
These two teams havent met since the 2013 season, a 49-27 victory for the Broncos at home as 7.5-point favorites. Historically in head-to-head meetings the Ravens have been the team to wager on, going 8-3-1 ATS in the last 12 meetings. However, the favorite is also a favorable 5-1 ATS in the last six.
Despite the total dropping since it opened, the over wager might turn out to be the best play anybody could make on this game. The over is a solid 4-0 in the last four head-to-heads, it 5-0 in Denvers last five season openers, and it went 5-2-1 for the Ravens in their road games last season.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: With a majority of the money coming in on Denver driving up the spread, I cant help but back the Ravens and take the 5.5-points. I also like the over in this game to follow the recent trends and also go against the line movement. Im in on the over of 49.5 too.