Last season's playoff loss is in the past, so the Broncos need to move and be ready to play when it's time for kickoff.
The Baltimore Ravens were forced to open the season on the road, which is unusual for a defending champion. There's no more complaining about the schedule as it's time to play some football.
Bovada lists the Ravens as 7.5-point underdogs, so it would be quite the surprise if Baltimore were able to come out on top.
The offseason saw these teams go in different directions. Baltimore rebuilt its defense, and Denver added to its offense.
Receiver Anquan Boldin is now in San Francisco, but the defense lost more than just one player. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger and Cary Williams are all gone. That is a lot of talent to make up for. Linebacker Elvis Dumervil went from Denver to Baltimore, and he will have to be a part of the defense.
All of those missing pieces point to Peyton Manning and the Broncos spoiling the Ravens' season opener.
The Broncos got big numbers from Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker last season. Thomas had 1,434 receiving yards with 10 touchdowns on 94 receptions, and Decker added 1,064 yards and 13 scores on 85 receptions.
They put those numbers up with a quarterback coming off a serious neck injury. Nobody knew what to expect out of Manning, and he exceeded expectations.
Manning threw for 4,659 yards and completed 68.6 percent of his passes. He added 37 touchdowns while throwing only 11 interceptions. Those numbers were the best he had put together in over five years.
He should only be better this season. He had a full season to establish chemistry with his new team, and he has added an offseason to work with his teammates rather than rehab.
Wes Welker joined the team in the offseason, which will make the offense even tougher to stop.
With Denver's improved offense and Baltimore losing most of its defense, the Broncos will have an opportunity to start the season off with an important victory.
They struggled against playoff teams last season. Their record of 2-4 against playoff teams, including in the postseason, shows that the they beat up on the lesser teams.
Baltimore should be a contender, so this game gives Denver a chance to make an early statement. The Broncos play only five games against teams that made the postseason last year, so beating the Ravens would give the team confidence early on.
Denver will be without Von Miller, and Champ Bailey is dealing with an injury. Bailey has been ruled out, according to Marcas Grant of NFL.com.
The defense may not be at full strength, but the offense will be ready to put up points.
Manning and Co. are going to have a big night against a new-look defense, and it will be the start of a good year in Denver. The AFC West is going to be controlled by the Broncos, and they will show that they can handle the tough teams this season.
Winning Thursday night's game won't exact revenge on the Ravens, but it will be a promising start to the season for the Broncos.
*All stats are courtesy of NFL.com
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