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Let’s take a closer look at the NFL football odds for this AFC matchup at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Thursday, Sept. 5, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
Avoiding a hangover
Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh will certainly be challenged in trying to motivate his team and avoid a Super Bowl hangover, but I suggest that he references the season-opening point spread in the locker room.
The Ravens picked up a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers as 4.5-point underdogs in Super Bowl 47, which capped off a surprising run during last year’s postseason.
Back at it
Denver captured the No. 1 seed in last year’s AFC playoffs by finishing with a 13-3 record, but it didn’t matter in suffering a 38-35 overtime setback to the Ravens as 9.5-point home favorites in the divisional round on Jan. 12.
It was a surprising result due to the Broncos coming away with an impressive 34-17 win over the Ravens as three-point road favorites in Week 15.
NFL handicappers may be eager in fading the Ravens due to the numerous personnel changes they’ve endured during the offseason, but it’s important to consider they’ve covered the number in all five season openers under Harbaugh.
Baltimore will have a new look on defense, with linebacker Ray Lewis retiring and safety Ed Reed in Houston, but it still has a potent offense that’s capable of trading scorers with Denver.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning entered last season with a 45-38-1 against-the-spread (ATS) record when playing with revenge, as he prepares for his second year in Denver after missing the entire 2011 campaign with a neck injury.
The future Hall of Fame signal-caller has three talented wideouts to target downfield, with Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker combining for 297 receptions and 29 touchdowns a season ago.
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Ravens at this point in time in Week 1, as they’ve covered 11 of their last 16 games in September, while the Broncos are 2-8-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings in this series.
NFL Pick: Baltimore Ravens +8.5