Denver Broncos: Stock Up, Stock Down Entering Week 2
The night got off to a slow start as kickoff was delayed for 33 minutes. After the game finally started, the Ravens outplayed the Broncos in the first half, leading, 17-14, entering halftime.
However, the second half was a different story.
The Broncos outscored Baltimore, 35-13, with Peyton Manning leading the way by throwing five of his seven touchdowns in the second half.
After thoroughly outplaying the defending Super Bowl champions in front of a national television audience, which Broncos players' stocks are trending upward and downward, as the Broncos prepare to travel to the Meadowlands to face the New York Giants in Week 2?
This is the most obvious selection of this slideshow.
Manning had one of the greatest single-game performances in NFL history. B/R's own Chris Trapasso ranked Manning's aerial assault on the Baltimore Ravens as the third-greatest quarterback performance in NFL history.
With numerous weapons in the passing game ranking from Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas, the 2013 Denver Broncos offense may go down as one of the greatest offenses in NFL history.
Despite an invisible running game that saw starting running back Knowshon Moreno run for just 28 yards on nine carries, the four-time NFL MVP carried the Broncos' offense en route to a 49-27 victory.
Expect more dominant performances such as these from Peyton as the season goes on.
The Denver Broncos decided to start five-year veteran Knowshon Moreno in the season opener versus the Baltimore Ravens.
Although Ronnie Hillman was listed as the No. 1 running back throughout the preseason—with Montee Ball playing on the second-team offense—Moreno received the nod at running back this past Thursday night.
The University of Georgia product was a non-factor throughout the game, rushing for just 28 yards, although he did make a contribution in the passing game with three receptions for 37 yards.
Although the lack of production from Moreno wasn't a problem in Week 1—and it likely won't be for the rest of the regular season—it will be a problem if Moreno and the Broncos' other running backs can't contribute when the postseason rolls around.
The breakout game that everyone has been waiting for from Julius Thomas finally became a reality in Week 1.
The Portland State product who had just one career reception prior to Thursday night's game made an impact early on.
Thomas had four of his five receptions in the first half, including two touchdowns that allowed the Broncos to enter halftime just three points down.
Manning and the Broncos' offense struggled early on to move the football, but Wes Welker and Thomas were the lone two receivers that Peyton could depend upon through the first two quarters.
Thomas' five-reception, 110-yard, two-touchdown performance was the best single-game performance by a Broncos tight end since 2002, according to NFL.com writer Chris Wesseling.
There is no doubt that the former college basketball player's future in the NFL is a bright one.
Going into the regular season, Julius Thomas was named the team's starting tight end, ahead of incumbent starters Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme.
With Dreessen still recovering from a knee injury, Thomas, Tamme and Virgil Green received snaps at the tight end position in the team's opener.
Tamme didn't contribute in any negative way for the Broncos on Thursday night. But due to Thomas' breakout performance and the fact that he played all 74 of the Broncos' offensive snaps, Tamme's stock has taken a hit for the 2013 NFL season.
According to Bronco Mike of Mile High Report, Green received 16 snaps, while Tamme received just seven snaps. Zero snaps saw Tamme run any routes.
If this is an indicator for what to expect in the near future, don't expect Tamme to make any notable contributions in the foreseeable future.
The former undrafted free agent who went from third-stringer in training camp to starting safety by Week 1 may have been the Broncos' most valuable defensive player in their victory over the Ravens.
Ihenacho led the Broncos with 12 tackles, including three passes defended. Of the 89 total snaps on defense, Duke played on 80 of them.
Not bad for an undrafted safety out of San Jose State.
With Thomas likely to be the Broncos' breakout star on offense, it's likely that Ihenacho does the same on defense in 2013.
Eric Decker entered the 2013 season after ending 2012 as Manning's favorite red-zone target. Decker led the Broncos with 13 touchdown receptions last year.
In Week 1 versus Baltimore, Decker was the only member of the Broncos' main quartet of receivers in Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas to not catch a single touchdown pass.
In fact, he dropped a touchdown pass.
Decker was targeted seven times in the game and had three drops.
That's not good.
Coach John Fox mentioned in the postgame press conference that Decker had suffered a shoulder injury, which may have affected his performance.
Let's hope this type of performance doesn't carry into Week 2.
The "aging" linebacker was one of Denver's defensive stars in Week 1's victory.
Shaun Phillips had 2.5 sacks, leading the way for the Broncos.
On 35 rush snaps, the 10-year veteran had seven pressures on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
Said Phillips, via Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post, on the topic of how the Broncos defense would perform without Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller:
I took it personally. Everyone was like, "What are we going to do about the pass rush?" I've got like 70-something sacks in my career. What am I, some bum or something like that?
Let's hope he continues to take it personally for the remaining 16 weeks of the season.
You could plug either Montee Ball or Ronnie Hillman into this slide, and you'd get the same reaction.
However, we'll put Ball in this slot, considering he was the Broncos' second-round draft selection who was supposed to do big things in his rookie season.
He could still do big things. He just didn't do any in his first NFL game.
The University of Wisconsin product carried the ball just eight times for a total of 24 yards. He received 18 total snaps in comparison to Knowshon Moreno's 40.
It's a long season, and things always change.
Entering Week 2, Ball will look to have a better start to his career than he did in Week 1.