The Baltimore Ravens take on the Denver Broncos in the first game of the season tonight. The Ravens will be traveling to Denver, where they won the AFC Divisional Round match-up just a few months ago. Now, the Broncos want revenge, and the Ravens want to get yet another "W" against Peyton Manning. Here are a few things to watch for in what should be an intense season opener.
- Ravens' Passing Game w/ Champ Bailey Out: The Denver Broncos officially ruled CB Champ Bailey out on Wednesday. Champ Bailey was burned multiple times by Torrey Smith in the AFC Divisional Round, so it may be a good thing that he isn't playing tonight. It is now up to CB Rodgers-Cromartie to cover mainly Torrey Smith, and it will be interesting to see if the Ravens can pass the ball well with the lack of cornerback play on the Broncos.
- How will the Broncos defense hold up?: One of the biggest storylines of this game is the fact that the Broncos have so many important defenders from last year that won't be playing. LB Von Miller, LB Elvis Dumervil and CB Champ Bailey are among those that will not be participating in tonight's game for the Broncos. Von Miller is suspended for the first six games, Elvis Dumervil is now a Raven, and Champ Bailey is out with an injury. It will be up to the guys that aren't too well-known to step up and stop the Ravens. Will they be able to succeed?
- Ed Dickson Returning to the Field: TE Ed Dickson hasn't played for the Ravens all preseason. He has missed all four games with a hamstring injury. He will make his debut tonight, as he will also be the number-one tight end, since Dennis Pitta is now on Injured Reserve. Ed Dickson hasn't had too great of a season since 2011, when he caught 54 passes for 528 yards and five touchdowns. Will Dickson be able to return to normal form after the injury? Will he be able to take over the number-one tight end job so easily?
- Marshal Yanda Set to Play: RG Marshal Yanda will be back on the field tonight, after he was out most of the preseason after having rotator cuff surgery in the offseason. Yanda is a huge help to the offensive line, and they seem to fall apart without him there. Since he will be on the field, I would look to see the offensive line play at a much higher level than they did in all four preseason games. Joe Flacco and the running backs should be well protected from the Broncos' defensive front