NFL Betting: Opener Pits Defending Champ Ravens Against Heavily-Favored Broncos
by Bovada Sportsbook Staff | Sep. 3, 2013
It’s not often the case that the reigning Super Bowl champion is an overwhelming underdog in the season opener of an NFL game that very next fall, yet that’s exactly what seems to have played out with the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos on the Thursday night football moneyline. Can the champs beat the NFL odds and kick off their title defense with a victory?
With a projected win total of 8.5 games for the 2013 campaign – a mark Baltimore shares with the ho-hum likes of Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Washington – it’s no surprise that the Ravens are in for an uphill battle to repeat as NFL champions.
In fact, their odds of winning the Super Bowl sit at a relatively pedestrian 28/1.
But offseason roster modifications aside, this is still the same club that already beat expectations last fall – who’s to say they can’t beat a nine-point spread against a Broncos team they took down in the Divisional Round last postseason?
Peyton Manning and the Broncos might have an NFL futures-leading 6/1 odds of winning the Super Bowl and a projected win total of 11.5 wins for the upcoming campaign, but they were also favored last winter.
In the Week 1 opener, expect Joe Flacco to take his first step toward living up to the massive contract extension he signed last March. The $29 million signing bonus, however, won’t be the only reason all eyes will focus on the man under center.
With defensive wunderkinds Ray Lewis and Ed Reed no longer anchoring the Baltimore defense – and even with star receiver Anquan Boldin plying his trade elsewhere in 2013 – this team will need to learn to fight with less weapons.
That may not be great news heading into a nationally televised matchup with a team like the Broncos, but it’s a fate Flacco, running back Ray Rice and Baltimore fans in general are faced with.
Joining Manning in Denver this season is former New England Patriot Wes Welker. Having made a name for himself as one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets, Welker is more than up to the task of thriving in the Mile High City.
His debut will come in front of the Denver home crowd, which is just one of the many reasons why oddsmakers are leaning so heavily toward the herd in Week 1.
More than just the first look at a pair of contenders – and yes, we still consider the Ravens contenders until consistently proven otherwise – the Thursday night bout gives the NFL betting community a good look at what to expect out of some of the individuals who take the field.
In Manning and Flacco you have MVP-caliber superstars, threats to lead the game in passing yards. Manning’s 5/1 MVP odds may trump Flacco’s 50/1, but the gap between his 7/1 odds of leading the NFL in passing yards and Flacco’s 40/1 isn’t so significant.
When the conversation shifts to the running game, however, it’s the Ravens with the distinct advantage. Not only does Rice have 20/1 odds of leading the NFL in rushing yards, he has 66/1 odds of winning the MVP. The Broncos have yet to appoint one clearly defined primary half back.
Expect early action out of rookie Montee Ball (an 11/2 bet option to win Rookie of the Year), but don’t be surprised to see the 22-year-old splitting duties with the likes of Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno.
All things considered, there’s plenty to be excited for in the days leading up to the 2013 NFL debut. While preseason is a satisfying break from the boredom of summer, there’s nothing quite like the first game that genuinely matters.
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